Thames Path walk day 19 travel day 35

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September 20th 2019
Published: October 29th 2019
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Premier Inn at Putney Bridge was a good hotel with good food.
20 September 2019, Friday
Day 19 on Thames Path Putney Bridge to Southwark Bridge along the south bank of the river, day 35 of travel.

Today was to be shorter but the 2 hours at and around the US Embassy added several miles, so, another 15.5 mile day. But the buildings, sites, and parks are most interesting.

We enjoyed a lovely breakfast at the Premier Inn at Putney Bridge. Then we crossed over the Thames on the bridge with its ornate lamp posts to begin our walk for the day. The first building was St. Mary's Church with its history of having hosted, in 1647, the debates by Oliver Cromwell and other parliamentarians about constitutional matters.

A unique candelabra from a sister Swedish church was on display. The altar is in the center so services are more in the round than traditional churches.

We had to deviate from the path because of construction and renovations. This brought us past the home of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.

It is interesting that our focus shifts from counting the locks on the river as we walk to now, in London, counting the bridges we pass.


The girls walking beneath the lamp posts on Putney Bridge along with rush hour traffic
walk through and out the curved archways of Blade News and find ourselves in the wonderful Wandsworth Park. Harlan stops to speak to one of the teachers of a group of young children that are boisterly and happily playing in the park.

We follow a tarmac path that seems to lead into infinity, shaded by giant old trees arching overhead.

We cross over the two part footbridge of Wandle Creek and head south in order to cross the Wandsworth bridge.

Now hugging the river's shoreline we come to two matching apartment blocks with curved balconies. We trod between them and then turn left to find ourselves passing the Battersea Heliport.

Reviving ourselves with coffee we enjoy watching a group of preschoolers, out for some fresh air, some in wagons. They are so excited when a helicopter comes flying down the river and then lands and takes off. I will admit we found it all pretty exciting also as all the action takes place in pretty tight quarters.

St. Mary's Battersea churchyard, built in 1775, dark brick wall, with round headed windows, is passed.

Ahead is Battersea Bridge. Bridge crossings are always unique. We make

The interior of St Mary's Church restored after an arson fire in 1973. This configuration features an alter in the center of the sanctuary.
a short detour for the bridge on this one and go under the bridge, then back to the river, pausing for a quick look at two huge geese statues tucked in next to bridge. They are ready for flight but it will be difficult as they are in such cramped space!

Battersea is another bridge by Joseph Balzagette and has beautiful gold spandrels in the corners of each span.

In short order we now arrive at Albert Bridge. This bridge was the idea of Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria. However, he died of typhoid before work began. Originally designed as a cable-stayed bridge, with rods from the top of the towers to support the roadway, it proved unstable. Bazalgette to the rescue; he installed new suspension chains. When we saw it the entire structure was painted white, almost like a primer. In a few places pink peeked through. Our book says that in the 90's it was painted pink, blue and green.

Battersea Park, site of first football game played by rules of newly formed Football Association in 1864, is between the Albert and Chelsea Bridges.

The Terrace Walk, right next to the river, has

The Putney Debates held here in 1647
nice benches to rest weary feet.

The Peace Pagoda, completed in 1985, by a Buddhist order is adjacent to the path and Norma and I take a welcome break.

As we approach the Chelsea bridge we follow the sign to Queens Circle Gate (roundabout) we are now following a path parallel to the road approach to the bridge, but going away from the bridge. We partially circumvent the Queen's Circle, after departing the park through the Queen's Circle Gate. This 'detour' if you will, is occasioned by the huge Battersea Power Station, no longer in use but now being turned into a residential and commercial center. The financial backing is led by a Malaysian consortium. The power plant was shut down in 1983 and many regeneration schemes failed in the interim.

We pass by the Battersea Dogs' and Cats' Home and are welcomed by frenzied barking.

Now we are overshadowed by 'hoardings,' around the old power station. Hoardings are construction barrier walls. The power station started operating in 1933 and has Art Deco interior fittings and Italian marble in the turbine room. It would burn over a million tonnes of coal a year. The smokestacks have

Swedish Advent candelabra
been retained in all of their architectural glory. Detested for its design in early years it is now loved. So much for the fickle public and their taste for art.

We see New Covent Garden followed by the new U.S. Embassy.

I want to have a second form of I.D. and think perhaps the embassy could aid me in obtaining a military I.D. To make the long story, of being shuttled from one desk to another, short--they could not help me. It was a kind member of the security detail that tracked the phone number that led us to the office that could help us--but the only person who could issue the replacement card was away on temporary duty assignment. During this fruitless fiasco we had plenty of time to study the new embassy and it is impressive. It is in an area in the middle of a comprehensive redevelopment program and the area is hustling and bustling with cranes, cement mixers, and other construction equipment.

The landscape consists of a partial moat/partial pond, that is part of the security program but also is part of the stormwater management. The area is planted with native trees, tall

Swedish Advent candelabra
grasses and wildflowers.

The design of the building itself is a crystalline like cube. The project received LEED Gold ratings. The nice bottom line is the new facility was entirely funded by sale of U.S. property in London that was not as functional or as well located as this new site.

These two websites, ( copy and paste) give differing viewpoints on the building.

Well, now that we have segued into architectural aspects of embassies we will return to counting bridges!

Next up is the colorful 1906 Vauxhall Bridge with its bronze statues on piers that represent captains of industry and the arts.

The bridge is sandwiched between St. George's Wharf and a building that has been called a Babylonian ziggurat, among other more colorful names--the home of MI6, Secret intelligence Service. It has been featured in films and is quite a presence on the river, considering the government did not acknowledge its existence, officially, until 1994, when the new building was dedicated.

We walk along the Albert Embankment which will have a site for a new shaft that will be part of the new super-sewer for the London area.

Looking back toward Putney Bridge.

A more pleasing sight is the first of the cast iron sturgeon lampstands, originally designed by George Vulliamy in 1870. They will keep us company as we keep wending south along the river.

Tamesis Dock, an old barge turned into a pub, is hopping. It has fantastic views downriver of Westminster and environs.

Lambeth Bridge coming up! What--we don't have a picture!!! Well, we were probably gawking at Lambeth Palace, the London residence of the Archbishops of Canterbury. Unbelievably it is London's Open House weekend and this residence is always one of the most popular attractions. How I would love to visit the bishop but all I can think of is getting to the next lodging and putting my feet up!

Ah, now we approach the famed Westminster Bridge. This 'rendition' of the bridge in 1862 was a design intended to be in tune with the new Houses of Parliament. It is the oldest bridge in central London and its distinctive green color is taken from the color of the leather seats in the House of Commons. There are Gothic quatrefoils in the spandrels of the arches and there are three fold light fittings above each

Sovereign Military Order of Malta
pier. We have expanded our bridge lexicon on this trip😊

We stride along the huge Italianate former Greater London Council building; that body was unceremoniously abolished in 1986. I wish we could abolish some of our government agencies, committees and bureaus. County Hall is now blemished with the uninspired entrance to the London Aquarium.

But all is forgiven as the London Eye is in view. Erected in 1999 for an exhibition, it rapidly became one of London's most treasured landmarks. We are all hot, tired and the line is long so the Eye is passed by.

Our guidebook says the following plaza is uninspired but our common taste finds it rather entertaining. There are street artists, buskers and other performers. It is a constantly swirling promenade. We pass the Royal Festival Hall.

One intriguing scene is watching expert skate boarders zoom around the grafitti covered undercroft area under the Hayward Gallery and Queen Elizabeth Hall. This area has been skateboard heaven for around forty years and, as yet, no developer has managed to get a foot in the door for development.

We have passed a foot bridge and are approaching Waterloo Bridge. It has the

Like that red door!
unfortunate history of being a suicide spot.

On past the Royal National Theater and we stop to rest. It has been a day of climate change demonstrations throughout the city and there is a comic figure that is suffering from climate change on this little plaza. The little bunny's car is sinking into melting ice.

We have now made a big turn in the river and are headed toward Blackfriars Bridge. Its arches are edged in red as are its pillars. Recessed semicircular areas resemble pulpits, reminiscent of pulpits in the old Blackfriars church--long gone. One goes under this bridge and are treated to reproductions of the designs of the bridge over the years.

After Blackfriars we are treated to the divisive Tate Modern Gallery. This building formerly housed the old Bankside Power Station. Key features of the old power station were retained such as the vast turbine hall that houses temporary exhibits.

Care to view a Monet, a Matisse, a Picasso or Warhol? Stop in--admission free☺️

The Tate Modern opens onto the Millennium Bridge, a footbridge built for a new era. Unfortunately the large number of people on the bridge caused it to sway

Pre-School kids morning exercise
and it had a new name--"Wobbly Bridge." Another addition to Thames bridges that do not initially perform as planned.

The bridge leads across the Thames and opens onto a dynamite view of St. Paul's. There is a ruling in place that bans construction of any edifice between St. Paul's and the river that would block this view.

Also in the Thames, nearby the Tate Modern, is The Ship of Tolerance. It is "dedicated to connecting children from different cultures and identities and giving them voice through the universal language of art." The sails and support for the sails feature childrens' art work.

The Globe Theater of Shakespeare fame is nearby. It was painstakingly modeled after the original, destroyed by fire in 1613. It has authentic timber-framing and the first thatched roof allowed in London since the Great Fire in 1666.

At last, the final bridge for the day--Southwark. The Southwark Cathedral was originally built in the 13th and 14th c.

We now angle off from the river, passing the striking building called The Shard, on the way to Premium Inn at Tower Bridge. It is located in Bermondsley, the site of an old flea market.

Avenue of oak trees-Wandsworth Park. For some reason this picture reminds me of France. It was such a beautiful walk
Alas, we did not make it back. I am on the hunt for old door knobs and I dream there were many there, waiting for my discovery.

After some extra turns made trying to find the entrance we collapse in our room after 15.5 miles and crossing over or under the approaches of 18? bridges: rail bridges, foot bridges, vehicle bridges. Harlan and I cannot get the the same count--we will just remember it was the "day of bridges."

Additional photos below
Photos: 47, Displayed: 30



A residential marina

The Wandsworth Causeway

Battersea Reach

Now in the residential districts of London

Low tide in the river at Wandsworth Bridge.

Sales of the residential apartment complex. High end apartments

Battersea Heli pad. This heli pad in London attracted a class of preschoolers to watch the helicopter take off and land. Only heli pad in London and quite busy

Residential boats resting on bottom of river during low tide

Decoration in a yard

Lots Road Power Station which supplied electricity to the London Underground network from 1904 to 2002. And what is its next life--of course, luxury housing!

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