The Pier Was Inbuilt 1889
The Thames has at all times been a river of desires. In centuries past sailors and explorers, merchants and adventurers, have all journeyed down the river from London to hunt their fortunes or their future, while others from afar have sailed up the river on an analogous quest or enterprise. For all of them the low Essex shore was all the time their first and last glimpse of England.
Up till 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 dominated the Atlantic. Royal Mail Strains carried passengers to Brazil and South America, with a few of their ships pushing up the Amazon so far as Iquitos. P&O and Orient strains serviced Hong Kong and Japan and Australia. The brand new Zealand Shipping Line sailed to Australia and New Zealand. The liners of Union Castle circumnavigated Africa. All those as soon as familiar names have disappeared now, and trendy container ships and plush cruise ships have replaced almost all of the outdated passenger-cargo strains that once flew the Red Duster into every ocean of the world.
Times have modified, but there continues to be an infinite number of shipping utilizing the Thames, and as you start to pass the Essex shore the river is now overshadowed by the magnificent, Queen Elizabeth eleven Dartford Suspension Bridge, which was opened in 1991. Vehicles move continuously overhead on the congested arc of the M 25, and 4 concrete towers with their spider-web tracery of cables soar into the sky.
Nonetheless, the remainder of the long, flat Essex shoreline, which many a younger sailor used to watch with either the slight tang of speedy homesickness, or the buoyant elation of homecoming, is still pretty much unchanged. Most sailors had their minds mounted on the more exotic locations at the far finish of every voyage, however they were lacking something, for there is far to be explored and enjoyed along the Essex facet of the nice river.
Cruise ships nonetheless come up to Tilbury, the place the previous passenger liners used to choose up and disembark passengers earlier than making the final lap as much as KG5 or Victoria docks, but Tilbury has expanded and is now the principal container port for the Port of London. Additionally it is the positioning of the massive, star-formed, moated and earth-walled fort that’s the best preserved of all the fortifications that were as soon as strung out along each river banks to guard London’s most weak gateway.
There was a blockhouse here on the time of the Spanish Armada, and the current Tilbury Fort was constructed to exchange it in the late 17th Century. It was recurrently garrisoned via the Napoleonic wars and through the first World Struggle. There has all the time been the attainable risk of an enemy fleet, our mercantile rivals the Spanish, the Dutch, the French, and finally the Germans.
The massive artillery items still point out from the east and west gun traces alongside the embankment and the day I strolled there a Royal Navy destroyer and an old, pink-sailed Thames crusing barge were each moving up the river. The Navy ship gleamed gray and sleek in the sunshine, brisk and direct about her enterprise, whereas the barge tacked slowly and lazily, a nostalgia image 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, until the land was reclaimed and protected by a series of embankments and drainage dykes constructed by a Dutch Engineer in 1623.
Regardless of this the island remains to be weak to exceptional tidal flooding. In 1953 the horrible combination of North Sea storms and Spring tide surge that devastated the whole of the japanese counties coastline swamped Canvey and drowned 58 individuals. Nonetheless, that hasn’t stopped it from filling up with summer cottages and camper websites. Small pleasure craft abound, because it is particularly popular with the boating fraternity.
Canvey is now additionally the site of a huge petroleum refining business, a huge conglomeration of massed storage tanks and writhing pipelines, like the silver steel entrails of some distorted industrial monster laid naked.
Among the finest views of the entire island is from the ruins of Hadleigh Castle, which overlook the vast sweep of the estuary. Hadleigh Castle was built in the 11th Century to guard the mouth of the Thames and for centuries its great stone towers and walls stood equal to the duty. Sadly, as we speak only the south east tower stays almost intact, with a couple of crumbling partitions marking the remainder of the positioning, and the cut up wall of the north east tower standing like some nice shattered tooth.
A few miles additional down the river is Outdated Leigh, once a small fishing community overlooking a small marshy inlet, the village has now been virtually swallowed up by the expansion of sprawling Southend. Nonetheless, the flavor of Previous Leigh remains to be there, with its cobbled high street and rows of fisherman’s cottages and a handful of fishing boats moored up among the many pleasure craft at its previous wharves.
There’s an outdated black clapboard sail maker’s loft at Victoria Wharf, which is now a primary Assist Submit manned by the St. John’s Ambulance Brigade, and the scene right here seemed to sum up Old Leigh. A small pleasure yacht was moored on the quay and close by was a small sandy seaside where households played and sunbathed.
Not far away was the Essex Yacht Club, the place scores of young individuals were bobbing round in vibrant-sailed small boats, or wrestling with them up and down the slipways on both aspect of the Bembridge, an ex-cruising pilot cutter that now serves as the stone island jacket casual clubhouse. Membership racing occasions are monitored from the previous wooden bridge the place there are superb sea views over the bows.
Through the Georgian interval the south finish of Prittlewell was turning into a small, fashionable seaside resort for the nicely to do. It was a spot of sedate beach huts where ladies in knee and elbow length bathing fits discreetly emerged to paddle their toes. From there it expanded quickly.
With the coming of the railway in 1856 Southend was solely an hour away from the capital and promptly turned the favourite holiday resort for the East End of London. The city is practically divided by the far protruding pier, with on both side the amusement arcades, fast rides and the youngsters’s paradise of Journey Island. Right here and to the left of the pier is the wild, brash and noisy face stone island jacket casual of Southend, the center of all the vivid lights, fish and chip outlets and enjoyable. Go to the precise and you’ll discover the extra genteel features, with all of the peace and beauty of its many manicured lawns and cliff prime flower gardens.
Go up from the promenade and walk alongside the Royal Terrace, the place the Royal Hotel was built in 1791 to commemorate a visit by Princess Caroline, the spouse of the then Prince of Wales. Her visit helped to determine much more firmly the fashionable repute of Southend. The terrace was restored in 1978, and in summer time there’s usually a massed array of glorious, coloured hanging baskets decorating the fashionable resort fronts.
Additional alongside the white statue of Queen Victoria, flanked by palm timber, overlooks wealthy pink and yellow rose beds. Beside her there is an elegant Victorian bandstand the place waltzing couples glide gracefully on sunny afternoons. Opposite is Prittlewell Square, Southend’s oldest surviving park, with its high splashing central fountain framed in white wrought iron entrance gates. In every single place there are sumptuous flower beds.
In Priory Park stands the previous Prittlewell Priory which was as soon as a Cluniac monastery and is now a museum. Beside it stands the strong grey Crow Stone, which once stood on the seaside at Chalkwell to mark the jap extent of London’s jurisdiction.
Down on the Western Esplanade is the place the annual London to Southend Traditional Automotive Rally finishes, often with three hundred or extra vintage vehicles assembled there on the big day. That is simply considered one of the massive annual occasions in this pleasure-geared seaside resort, ranging from the Old Leigh Regatta and the Thames Crusing Barge Match, each held out on the river, to the excessive-flying Air Present in the skies above.
If you can’t face an hour’s brisk walk a full dimension train now takes you out to the far finish of the pier, which was nearly always my last glimpse and first sight of the mouth of the Thames. The pier was in-built 1889, and has survived seven boat crashes and three fires. One and a 3rd miles lengthy, it’s the longest pier on the earth.
Rows of fishermen solid their lines over the rails, hoping to haul a fats bass or mullet up on to the deck boards, and there is a pier head viewing tower with wide-ranging views. From right here something from a cockle boat to an oil tanker might hover into view.
Shoeburyness occupies the final elbow of land earlier than the shoreline turns away to the north. Till the middle of the 18th Century it was a smuggler’s haven of misty marshes and hidden creeks. Then got here the Royal Artillery Garrison and college of Gunnery and the village began to develop. Between the wars its secure bathing beaches made it one other holiday spot.
Plans have been put ahead for an additional future barrier here to span the total 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 improve is accelerating resulting from World warming.
The Thames Barrier excessive up the river at Greenwich which was formally opened in 1984 is now not thought of enough safety for the nation’s capital. Extra flood and storm tides of the 1953 variety are predicted as a excessive likelihood, and the ongoing battle against the hungry sea will proceed. If the proposed barrier is constructed it is going to be a large structure stretching far into the marshes on both side which is able to change the shore and skyline for ever.
Nonetheless, for the second the Thames has reached the cold North Sea without additional hindrance. Having began far inland in the Cotswolds, passing by the nice coronary heart of London, and caressing the winding Essex shore, the river nonetheless flows by in all its many moods, timeless and continuous, on its romantic method to the far, extensive world.
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