Back Through The Barrier


Today I scanned the final batch of colour negatives from Norman’s 70th birthday boat trip on 6th April 2002.

Some of these are from the start of the journey soon after we left Westminster Pier and people settled down to eat.

The Post Office Tower and St Paul’s Cathedral are each visible beyond Tower Bridge.

Norman mingled with his guests on the upper deck.

Yesterday I featured our arrival at the Thames Barrier, a short distance beyond which was the turning point from which we returned to the pier.

Passing back through the flood barrier gave us unique views of three of the capital’s iconic structures. Even for me it is surprising to establish that it is the barrier that at 35 years old is the most senior. The first buildings in Canary Wharf were completed in 1991, and the Millennium Dome just about managed to open on the last day of 1999. The website opens its lengthy page on the Dome with:

‘The Millennium Dome was the centrepiece of British celebrations for the dawning of the year 2000.

Built on the site of the Meridian Line in north Greenwich – symbolising time – the Dome was, at the time of construction, the biggest dome in the world, occupying 300 acres of a formerly contaminated derelict gasworks. The former gasworks had been derelict for more than two decades and was the largest undeveloped site on the River Thames.

The Dome originally contained a theme park-cum-scientific exhibition entitled the ‘Millennium Experience’. This was a series of themed ‘zones’ representing concepts such as ‘money’ or ‘the body’, supported by live theatrical events throughout the day. The Millennium Experience closed on December 31 2000, and the Dome has since been sold to be converted into a 26,000 capacity entertainment and sports arena.’

There is much more about the controversy and financial mismanagement of what was, at the time, termed a ‘White Elephant’ on the highlighted website.

This afternoon Becky and Ian joined us for their Christmas visit which began with a meal at Lal Quilla. Service was as friendly and efficient as ever, and the food excellent. My choice of main course was king prawn Ceylon. Kingfisher and Diet Coke were the drinks consumed.


Paddling Along The Thames Part Two


Today I scanned another batch of colour negatives from Norman’s 70th birthday party, the first part of which I featured yesterday.

Norman’s guests soon filled their plates with items from the splendid buffet on the lower deck.

They then wrapped themselves up in order to enjoy convivial company in the crisp, bright, open air on the upper level.

Norman engaged in his usual animated conversation.

Canary Wharf

As we passed Canary Wharf which dwarfs the older buildings standing nearer the river, I reflected that, whilst running my London marathons in the early 1980s, I, and others had tracked their flattened site when One Canada Square and its neighbours were still on the drawing board. Less than two decades ago we were speculating about what would be filling the spaceGoogle has this information, among other entries: ‘Canary Wharf is a busy financial area filled with skyscrapers like the glittering One Canada Square. Canada Square Park hosts summer concerts and a winter ice-skating rink, while the Museum of London Docklands draws families with model ships and hands-on displays. Casual cafes bustle during the day and, come evening, post-work crowds gather in stylish wine bars and pubs. Ferries called Thames Clippers ply the river.’

I wonder whether the red framed gas holder in this shot is still extant.

A stir of spectators, raising of binoculars, and expressions of wonder

Trinity House 6.4.02

as we passed Trinity House, heralded our approach to

Thames Barrier 6.4.02 1

The Thames Barrier.

The website of Trinity House offers the following information:

‘Trinity House is a charity dedicated to safeguarding shipping and seafarers, providing education, support and welfare to the seafaring community with a statutory duty as a General Lighthouse Authority to deliver a reliable, efficient and cost-effective aids to navigation service for the benefit and safety of all mariners.

The Corporation of Trinity House was incorporated by Royal Charter in 1514 to regulate pilotage on the River Thames and provide for aged mariners.

With a mandate that has expanded considerably since then, we are today the UK’s largest-endowed maritime charity, the General Lighthouse Authority (GLA) for England, Wales, the Channel Islands and Gibraltar and a fraternity of men and women selected from across the nation’s maritime sector.

Our long-standing familiarity with the channels, hazards, currents and markings of our coastline also qualify us to inspect and audit almost 11,000 local aids to navigation, license Deep Sea Pilots and provide Elder Brethren as Nautical Assessors to the Admiralty Court.

Per annum the charity donates around £4m to the charities we support. These include the provision of cadet training schemes, welfare provision for retired mariners and educational programmes teaching safety at sea skills.

Our mission

Our mission as a General Lighthouse Authority is to deliver a reliable, efficient and cost-effective aids to navigation service for the benefit and safety of all mariners.

Furthermore, as a charity we help to ensure that British commercial shipping is crewed by well-trained men and women and that mariners in need of all ages and backgrounds are supported in a number of ways either directly by us or through grants to other maritime charities and initiatives.

Trinity House works closely with a number of highly-regarded national and international organisations, including the Northern Lighthouse Board, the Commissioners of Irish Lights, the Maritime & Coastguard Agency, the UK Hydrographic Office and the International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (IALA) , to name just a few.

Our vision

Our vision is to be a trusted world class organisation and regarded as such by our stakeholders.

We work hard to ensure that we are valued as much for our work today as for our reputation earned through over five centuries of service.

Although we are proud of the reputation afforded us by our many centuries of dedication to the nation’s maritime infrastructure, we are a forward-facing organisation; it is our ability to meet new challenges and the changing requirements of the modern mariner that keeps us relevant and effective.

We will continue to support the maritime industry that moves up to 95% of the UK’s international trade, keeping the lifeblood of our economy moving safely and swiftly and ensuring the UK’s place in the 21st century global economy.

Marine operations

At the business end of Trinity House we operate a fleet of vessels, working in our waters at the highest levels of seamanship.

We have been operating in the waters around England, Wales and the Channel Islands since 1741, using purpose-built tonnage equipped to the highest technical standard and manned by professionally qualified officers and crew.

Coordinated and monitored around the clock by our Planning Centre, typical vessel activities include wreck location and marking, aid to navigation maintenance, towing, buoy handling and surveying.

Working at sea is unpredictable and inherently hazardous; to preserve the safety of the mariner we take measures to make sure we can respond effectively should an incident occur, working closely with our partners at the Department for Transport and the MCA. We have a vessel ready to respond within six hours of the Strait of Dover, carrying our instantly recognisable Emergency Wreck Marking Buoys.’

Concerning the Thames Barrier’s flood defences, extracts from a Guardian article of 19th February 2015  show that ‘The Environment Agency’s “at risk” list includes the Houses of Parliament, Whitehall, City Hall, Canary Wharf, Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London, Kew Gardens, the O2 Arena, 51 railway stations, 35 Underground stations, eight power stations, more than 1,000 electricity substations, 400 schools, 16 hospitals and over half a million of Greater London’s roughly 3.3 million homes – not to mention 1.5 million of its people. Large areas of Southwark, Lambeth, Tower Hamlets, Hammersmith, Fulham, Wandsworth, Barking, Dagenham, Woolwich and Newham could find themselves under water, along with many settlements along the estuary in Essex and Kent.’ Also that during the period from ‘early December 2013 to the end of February [2014], its steel gates were closed a record-shattering 50 times, preventing the river from running riot. Previously, the barrier had closed only 124 times since it began operating in 1982. The agency described this sharp increase in demand as a “blip” and, apart from routine testing, the barrier hasn’t been closed since. However, during its lifetime there’s been a strong, overall upward trend: it was closed four times in the 1980s, 35 times in the 90s, and 75 times in the 2000s. There have been 65 closures since 2010, suggesting this climb is continuing.’


[This 6 minute video graphically describes how the structure works.

This celebration will require possibly one more instalment.

Jackie produced succulent chicken in a Nando’s lemon marinade on a bed of peppers and onions, accompanied by new potatoes and green beans. She drank sparkling water and I finished the Pyrene.