The Thames, London
This picture was taken from the bridge itself and shows a good point for us to take a boat to cruise on the Thames.
Going across Westminster Bridge to the south bank, we now will find the London Eye, a massive ferris wheel that was the city's millenium gift to itself... I missed it... unfortunately I was there a little early...
Following back toward the Tower on the south bank, we will find the Royal Festival Hall, Gabriel's Wharf, and the Royal National Theater.
I love the example VT suggest for your general tip, "Blue skies and beaches". I can't think of anything other than the Sahara that's further from that than the Thames is on a murky autumn day.
None of which is to construe for a moment that I didn't enjoy it. My youngest son used to work casual shifts on one of the pleasure craft in the foreground but my favourite memory from here is of "Cleopatra's Needle", just visible, left rear.
Read all about it in the next tip
Update April 2014: extra photos added
Like many cities, London would not be where it is today were it not for its river. Yet for many years the city seemed to turn its back on its famous waterway, regarding more as a barrier between the north and the south of the city than as a feature to be enjoyed and celebrated. Nowadays though the river is one of the delights of London, and a walk on its banks (preferably the south bank where there are fewer roads) is a wonderful way to spend a few hours. My own favourite stretches are near the Southbank Centre where Sunday afternoons are particularly lively, and further east near the modern buildings surrounding City Hall. From both of these stretches there are particularly fine views across the river to some of London’s most famous landmarks – Parliament and Westminster from the former, the Tower of London and Tower Bridge from the latter. In 1802 the poet Wordsworth was inspired by the view from Westminster Bridge to write his famous sonnet, “Composed upon Westminster Bridge”, which still for me has one of the most beautiful views in the city:
Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth like a garment wear
The beauty of the morning;
Not all visitors realise that the Thames is tidal for all of its length in the centre of the capital - ocean tides move up the river as far as the south-western suburbs. You can see the effects of this at low tide, when muddy stretches are revealed on either bank. Years ago poor children would eke out a living as “mud-larks”, searching for anything of value that had been buried in the mud, and treasure hunters still do the same today.
The river has long been a focus for public celebration, for instance with the famous 17th and 18th century Frost Fairs, held on the river when it occasionally froze, with barbecues, stalls, fairground amusements and performing animals. The winter of 1813-14 saw the greatest and last Frost Fair. The replacement of the old London Bridge in 1831 meant that the river flowed faster and no longer froze sufficiently to bear public events.
This tradition of using the river as a focal point for events has however been revived in recent years, with the current city administration organising wonderful fireworks displays on New Year’s Eve, and a series of free festivals on its banks throughout the year. For instance in September is the Mayor’s Thames Festival, an annual free event celebrating the river. The Festival takes place in the heart of London, between Westminster Bridge and Tower Bridge, on the river banks and on the adjacent riverside walkways and public open spaces.
Directions If you spend any time at all in London you won’t be able to avoid the river. Try Embankment (District & Circle lines), Waterloo (Jubilee, Northern & Bakerloo lines), London Bridge (Jubilee & Northern lines) or Tower Hill (District & Circle lines) to be sure of getting quite close.
For many centuries, the only crossing in Central London was London Bridge.
Many attempts to get authorization for building a bridge at Westminster were denied by the city council.
Finally in 1734 Charles Labelye, a Suisse, could present a plan that got their approval. 1736 the Earl of Pembroke and his “crew” granted the act. However raising funds to finance this construction was still a kind of an obstacle. No problem however as they combined pleasure with need and held a lottery to gain money. It would result in the nickname given “The Bridge of Fools”.
The works started in 1739. A lot of misfortune happened during the construction: financial problems, wars, sabotage, accidents, construction failures causing some stones fell down from one of the arcs, even a small earthquake happened to occur! Ten years later the bridge got finished and opened in 1750. However the Earl of Pembroke died just small time before and was not able to “enjoy” the inauguration. Labelye, tired after this decade of worries, retired and went to the South of France. He died there in 1781.
The 1.038 feet long and 44 ft wide bridge was never really stable and trusted, in time the foundations were so damaged that it became dangerous. James Walker (was that Johnny’s little brother? Joke!) started a 10 year long reconstruction. Together with Charles Barry, Thomas Page and George Rennie, he submitted a plan for a replacement bridge.
The new bridge became 827 ft long and 84 ft wide and opened in 1862, after 8 years of construction. Attention was given to the meaning of the colour in which the bridge got painted. It was painted green along the Common Benches of the House of Parliament, whilst the Lambeth bridge got red paint referring to the benches of the Lord’s.
Now that there was made a new trustful passage to the other side, the South Bank lied open for development.
Fondest memory: Leisure tip: You can embank at the Westminster Pier.
Panoramic picture!!! Click on the picture to enjoy the full view!
When you have time left (and money) you might consider to visit the Tower Bridge inside.
I however lacked the time so I keep it for a next visit.
Do have a look at the official website! You will find already quite some information here!
If there is as much money in your wallet as there is water flowing through the Thames, you might be seduced to take a trip on a cruise ship combined with lunch or even more romantic: combined with dinner while you enjoy London by night. You can book a trip at Bateaux London at Embankment Pier, Victoria Embankment. Phone +44 (0)20 7925 2215.
Trainstation: Charing Cross
Don’t worry, there are different kind of boats and boat trips and even with a smaller budget you might want to enjoy a trip on the Thames, if not by cruise ship, you can do it a cheaper way: with just touring without trop de tralala !
The boat on the picture is just departing from Embankment Pier and passing underneath the Hungerford Bridge.
Fondest memory: Watching the scenery from the City Festival Hall 2nd floor balcony!
IbPanoramic picture! Click on it to enjoy the full view!
The river's name appears always to have been pronounced with a simple "t" at the beginning; the Middle English spelling was typically Temese and Latin Tamesis. The "th" lends an air of Greek to the name and was added during the Renaissance, possibly to reflect or support a belief that the name was derived from River Thyamis in the Epirus region of Greece, whence early Celtic tribes are thought to have migrated. However, most scholars now believe Temese and Tamesis come from Celtic (Brythonic) Tamesa, perhaps meaning "the dark one".
Fondest memory: The Thames has a length of 346 km (215 miles).
The Thames is a motif in many books. My favorite - Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome describes a boat trip up the Thames..
I have always loved cities/towns that are lucky to have a river running through them. The Thames gives a lot of character and beauty to London and I think one should take enough time to walk along the banks of the Thames. I would suggest to walk on the South Bank of the river, perhaps starting from the Waterloo Bridge (or Westminster Bridge if you don't mind walking longer) and going until the Tower Bridge. You will have some amazing views!
Another option is to take a boat trip/cruise along the Thames, although I don't think it can beat the walking option!
Along from the London Eye is this Bridge which runs along side a railway track.
There are various bridges which you can walk along to cross the Thames, this one takes you between the South Bank at the Royal Festival Hall and Embankment Tube Station (Charring Cross Station is just up from Embankment).
Any visit of a week or more should include at least one walk across the Thames.
The city makes it easy, by offering a number of pedestrian bridges. Two favorites are the Waterloo Bridge (which you will share with road traffic) and the minimalist Millenium Bridge (pedestrians only, pictured here). To walk the circuit created by these two and their connecting walkways is a day's adventure. It spans the spectrum of London history.
This is a view of Charing Cross Station, Hungerford Bridge and the Thames taken from the Royal Festival Hall during the VT meeting we had on 19th June.
The RFH is Europes largest cultural complex and there are many free foyer events throughout the year.
Tel: 020 7960 4242 (box office) for more information.
Is that the name by the way ? couldnt recall any other name..
However This bridge is just a few meters from Embankment station. walking at night on this bridge is really Lovely. the river and the lights are beautiful... everything feels really nice and romantic....
Fondest memory: I think it was in my first or second visit at that year... one night we walked at that area and my Bf wanted to walk on the bridge and show me its beauty... it was such simple walk and felt wonderful....
I miss this moments chamudi....
You will surely take a walk on the South Bank on the way to London Bridge or H.M.S. after checking what's going on at the Tate Modern. You can't miss the "pocket" with snack stands and small shops on your way, to your right. You can snack on a bagel, have a Nero coffee or shop around at a smaller version of Monsoon (dreamy outfits), accesorize (for bijuterie) etc... You will also find these statues made of steel, to co-memorate the happenings of the WW II. They're modern and kinda cool..
Of course, I'm such a wonderful traveler that I don't remember the name of this spot and never actually paid attention! Anybody who knows; please let me know? Thanks...
Fondest memory: Countless times, I sat by the river with a coffee in my hand, alone or with many of my friends who were so kind to visit me... On happy days, sad days, lonely days, the day that I got promoted, the day that I thought I'll never find a job, an apartment, etc... The river, just has this calming effect, reminding you of life flows just the way the Thames does...
The south bank of the river Thames between Waterloo Bridge and Tower Bridge has got a pedestrianised pavement and leads along many interesting sights. It is a nice walk which offers scenic views of the opposite side.
Among the many sights in this area are the London Eye, the Royal National Theatre, Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, Tate Modern Museum, the Millenium Footbridge, Southwark Cathedral, Hays Galleria, the HMS Belfast and the new City Hall.
The real name of the new bridge that, with Peter's Hill, links St Paul's to Tate Modern is the Millenium Bridge because it was built for the Millenium celebrations. However, in the mind of Londoners, it is doomed to be remembered as the Wobbly Bridge. This is all due to a well-known physics problem.
The bridge was meant to be revolutionary in terms of construction. It is a suspended bridge. Nothing exceptional there. However, the suspension cables are not suspending the bridge from above, as is normally done, but from the sides. This gives the bridge a low and very slender profile. And it was the first bridge to be built on the Thames for decades. Perfect for a great PR campaign and a pompous opening.
What really happened was rather unexpected.
Fondest memory: The bridge had a natural swinging phase of approximately one second, which is very close to the natural human step. It was therefore asked whether the army regiment phenomenon would apply.
Any person walking on a bridge makes it swing, albeit very slightly. But when an infantry regiment, walking in step, crosses a bridge, the effect is magnified and the bridge starts swinging violently, until it breaks. This is why infantry regiments always break step before stepping on a bridge.
Thus, the question was asked whether this would apply here. The answer was that, because the bridge would never have army regiments crossing it in step, there was no problem. This was counting without the human body's built in behaviour.
The bridge was open, with the due amount of newpapers and famous people doing speeches with the word 'Millenium' in it. Then, they started crossing it. Obviously, being members of the public, they were all walking at their own step. However, the natural phase of the bridge being 1 second, close to the human step, an interesting phenomenon occured. The bodies of the people crossing the bridge automatically reacted to the swing and, to make the walk more comfortable, automatically synchronised with the bridge. Thus everybody, unexpectedly and without realising it, started walking in phase with the bridge and with each other, like an infantry regiment. And the bridge started to swing and swing, making people physically sick.
No need to say that the bridge was closed just after being officially opened. Newpapers threw the expected amount of verbal fire and satire to everbody responsible, deploring the state of a country where such gross mistakes could be made at the expense of the taxpayer, and so on. Everything newpapers would do on such an occasion. Some expensive works were done to stiffen the bridge and significantly shorten its natural swing phase. It re-opened in 2002, with no PR campaign, having missed the Millenium celebrations.