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The Thames has at all times been a river of dreams. In centuries previous sailors and explorers, merchants and adventurers, have all journeyed down the river from London to seek their fortunes or their destiny, whereas others from afar have sailed up the river on an identical quest or enterprise. For all of them the low Essex shore was all the time their first and final glimpse of England.
Up until the middle of the last century British ships sailing out of the Port of London dominated the commerce routes of the world. The Cunard Queens ruled the Atlantic. Royal Mail Traces carried passengers to Brazil and South America, with a few of their ships pushing up the Amazon as far as Iquitos. P&O and Orient lines serviced Hong Kong and Japan and Australia. The new Zealand Shipping Line sailed to Australia and New Zealand. The liners of Union Castle circumnavigated Africa. All these as soon as familiar names have disappeared now, and trendy container ships and plush cruise ships have replaced almost the entire previous passenger-cargo strains that when flew the Crimson Duster into each ocean of the world.
Times have modified, however there remains to be an countless variety of transport utilizing the Thames, and as you start to cross the Essex shore the river is now overshadowed by the magnificent, Queen Elizabeth eleven Dartford Suspension Bridge, which was opened in 1991. Vehicles circulation continuously overhead on the congested arc of the M 25, and four concrete towers with their spider-internet tracery of cables soar into the sky.
Nonetheless, the remainder of the long, flat Essex shoreline, which many a younger sailor used to look at with either the slight tang of rapid homesickness, or the buoyant elation of homecoming, remains to be pretty much unchanged. Most sailors had their minds fastened on the more exotic locations at the far finish of every voyage, however they have been lacking one thing, for there is much to be explored and loved along the Essex facet of the nice river.
Cruise ships still come as much as Tilbury, where the outdated passenger liners used to select up and disembark passengers before making the last lap up to KG5 or Victoria docks, but Tilbury has expanded and is now the principal container port for the Port of London. It is also the positioning of the massive, star-shaped, moated and earth-walled fort that’s one of the best preserved of all of the fortifications that had been as soon as strung out along both river banks to guard London’s most vulnerable gateway.
There was a blockhouse here at the time of the Spanish Armada, and the current Tilbury Fort was built to replace it in the late 17th Century. It was repeatedly garrisoned via the Napoleonic wars and by way of the primary World Struggle. There has at all times been the potential threat of an enemy fleet, our mercantile rivals the Spanish, the Dutch, the French, and finally the Germans.
The big artillery pieces still level out from the east and west gun lines along the embankment and the day I strolled there a Royal Navy destroyer and an old, red-sailed Thames sailing barge have been each transferring up the river. The Navy ship gleamed gray and sleek in the sunshine, brisk and direct about her business, while the barge tacked slowly and lazily, a nostalgia picture of a bygone age.
Observe the river and you will come to Canvey Island, which is connected to the mainland by the bridge at South Benfleet. The island was as soon as a lonely wasteland of mudflats and tidal inlets, till the land was reclaimed and protected by a sequence of embankments and drainage dykes constructed by a Dutch Engineer in 1623.
Despite this the island continues to be vulnerable to distinctive tidal flooding. In 1953 the terrible combination of North Sea storms and Spring tide surge that devastated the whole of the jap counties coastline swamped Canvey and drowned 58 individuals. Nevertheless, that hasn’t stopped it from filling up with summer season cottages and camper websites. If you enjoyed this information and you would like to get additional facts regarding Textile kindly visit our own page. Small pleasure craft abound, because it is particularly in style with the boating fraternity.
Canvey is now also the site of an enormous petroleum refining business, a big conglomeration of massed storage tanks and writhing pipelines, just like the silver steel entrails of some distorted industrial monster laid bare.
Top-of-the-line views of the entire island is from the ruins of Hadleigh Castle, which overlook the huge sweep of the estuary. Hadleigh Castle was constructed within the eleventh Century to guard the mouth of the Thames and for centuries its nice stone towers and partitions stood equal to the duty. Sadly, immediately solely the south east tower stays nearly intact, with just a few crumbling partitions marking the rest of the site, and the cut up wall of the north east tower standing like some great shattered tooth.
A couple of miles further down the river is Previous Leigh, as soon as a small fishing neighborhood overlooking a small marshy inlet, the village has now been nearly swallowed up by the expansion of sprawling Southend. Nevertheless, the taste of Previous Leigh continues to be there, with its cobbled high avenue and rows of fisherman’s cottages and a handful of fishing boats moored up among the pleasure craft at its previous wharves.
There may be an previous black clapboard sail maker’s loft at Victoria Wharf, which is now a primary Help Post manned by the St. John’s Ambulance Brigade, and the scene here seemed to sum up Outdated Leigh. A small pleasure yacht was moored on the quay and nearby was a small sandy seashore where families performed and sunbathed.
Not far away was the Essex Yacht Membership, the place scores of younger people had been bobbing around in shiny-sailed small boats, or wrestling with them up and down the slipways on both side of the Bembridge, an ex-cruising pilot cutter that now serves because the clubhouse. Club racing occasions are monitored from the old wooden bridge where there are tremendous sea views over the bows.
Through the Georgian period the south end of Prittlewell was changing into a small, fashionable seaside resort for the nicely to do. It was a place of sedate beach huts where ladies in knee and elbow size bathing fits discreetly emerged to paddle their toes. From there it expanded rapidly.
With the coming of the railway in 1856 Southend was only an hour away from the capital and promptly turned the favorite holiday resort for the East End of London. The city is practically divided by the far protruding pier, with on both facet the amusement arcades, fast rides and the youngsters’s paradise of Adventure Island. Here and to the left of the pier is the wild, brash and noisy face of Southend, the middle of all the vivid lights, fish and chip retailers and enjoyable. Go to the precise and you will find the extra genteel aspects, with all of the peace and sweetness of its many manicured lawns and cliff prime flower gardens.
Go up from the promenade and walk along the Royal Terrace, the place the Royal Lodge was in-built 1791 to commemorate a visit by Princess Caroline, the wife of the then Prince of Wales. Her visit helped to establish much more firmly the fashionable status of Southend. The terrace was restored in 1978, and in summer time there may be usually a massed array of glorious, coloured hanging baskets decorating the modern lodge fronts.
Additional along the white statue of Queen Victoria, flanked by palm trees, overlooks wealthy pink and yellow rose beds. Beside her there may be an elegant Victorian bandstand the place waltzing couples glide gracefully on sunny afternoons. Reverse is Prittlewell Sq.Southend’s oldest surviving park, with its excessive splashing central fountain framed in white wrought iron entrance gates. Everywhere there are sumptuous flower beds.
In Priory Park stands the old Prittlewell Priory which was as soon as a Cluniac monastery and is now a museum. Beside it stands the strong gray Crow Stone, which once stood on the seashore at Chalkwell to mark the eastern extent of London’s jurisdiction.
Down on the Western Esplanade is the place the annual London to Southend Traditional Car Rally finishes, usually with three hundred or extra vintage vehicles assembled there on the big day. This is simply certainly one of the large annual occasions in this pleasure-geared seaside resort, ranging from the Old Leigh Regatta and the Thames Sailing Barge Match, both held out on the river, to the high-flying Air Present within the skies above.
If you can’t face an hour’s brisk stroll a full measurement train now takes you out to the far end of the pier, which was almost at all times my last glimpse and first sight of the mouth of the Thames. The pier was built in 1889, and has survived seven boat crashes and three fires. One and a third miles lengthy, it is the longest pier on the planet.
Rows of fishermen cast their traces over the rails, hoping to haul a fat bass or mullet up on to the deck boards, and there is a pier head viewing tower with extensive-ranging views. From right here anything from a cockle boat to an oil tanker could hover into view.
Shoeburyness occupies the last elbow of land earlier than the shoreline turns away to the north. Until the middle of the 18th Century it was a smuggler’s haven of misty marshes and hidden creeks. Then came the Royal Artillery Garrison and college of Gunnery and the village started to grow. Between the wars its secure bathing beaches made it one other holiday spot.
Plans have been put forward for an additional future barrier right here to span the complete mouth of the Thames. London and the marshlands of Essex have always been susceptible to flooding, as a result of slow increase of river and sea ranges over the centuries, and now that fee of enhance is accelerating as a consequence of International warming.
The Thames Barrier high up the river at Greenwich which was football hooligan stone island formally opened in 1984 is now not considered adequate protection for the nation’s capital. More flood and storm tides of the 1953 selection are predicted as a excessive probability, and the continuing battle in opposition to the hungry sea will proceed. If the proposed barrier is built it will likely be a massive structure stretching far into the marshes on either facet which will change the shore and skyline for ever.
However, for the moment the Thames has reached the chilly North Sea with out further hindrance. Having started far inland within the Cotswolds, passing through the good heart of London, and caressing the winding Essex shore, the river nonetheless flows by in all its many moods, timeless and steady, on its romantic strategy to the far, large world.
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