The next day we didn't have to leave early as the tide meant the lock wouldn't be opening until 1000. We filled up with water and left the lock with two or three other boats, none of which were going to Brentford with us. It was another lovely day
Once clear of the lock and heading up river the first thing we saw was the Royal Barge. It was under tow and going a much faster lick than it would have done under oars but it was still a great sight to start the day off.
I could hear on the radio that they were preparing for a tall masted vessel to pass Tower Bridge and they were going to lift it. Unfortunately I couldn't go slow enough with the tide from astern to get there at the same tiome for us to go under when the bridge was lifted. Still it was enough of a thrill to do it anyway. Mind you I had been through with the bridge lifted when I came up to the pool of London on the 'Salvageman'.
A few years ago we had had a tour of the Houses of Paliament but the outside is equally as fantastic, especially from the river. I'm sure that most will know that 'Big Ben' is actually St. Stephen's Tower and it is the main bell in the tower that is Big Ben. It was the originally the Palace of Westminster and that it became the parliament building in 1550. Westminster Hall with in the current building is the only part of the original palace left and is a great spectacle even today. The current building dates from 1847 and was designed by Sir Charles Barry and Augustus Pugin. It contains 1100 rooms, 100 staircases and two miles of corridors and sounds as though it is all crumbling from the recent media reports!
We were soon at the Vauxhall Bridge that was built in 1906. It replaced an earlier bridge built in 1816 that was the first iron bridge across the Thames in the capital. The current bridge is adorned with bronze figures that you wont really see from the road way itself. They represent Architecture, Agriculture, Engineering, Fine Arts, Astronomy and the one above which I think is Learning.
Battersea Power Station has been bought by a Malaysian conglomerate I believe and they have started to convert the building designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott and erected between 1932 -4. It finished work as a power station in 1980. There was a lot of controversy as there was talk that they were going to knock down at least some of the chimneys as they were unsafe and Londoners rose in protest it seem that they are having to take of the tops of them and rebuild back again to make them safe. I understand that they are keeping the discharging cranes and wharfs too. It will will eventually be a vast hotel/office.apartment shop complex.
Albert Bridge joining Chelsea and Battersea was built around 1872 as a cable stayed bridge but as it was found to be unsound a little over ten years later it was strengthened using a suspension bridge design by Sir Joseph Bazalgette. In 1973 it required strengthening once more and two concrete piers were added in to the river to support the span so it is also a beam bridge. At this stage it was to have become a footbridge but this was overruled and it is still open to traffic up to 2 tonnes. In it's early years it was known as the 'Trembling Lady' as it vibrated, especially when troops from the nearby barracks marched across. There are still signs up today ordering marching troops to break step.
After Battersea the river widens and becomes less busy with ferries etc. The main problem now becomes the very many rowing boats on the tide way. It seems that every Tom, Dick or Harry school has a boat club here and they are out in the afternoons rowing up and down. Of course they are going backwards so they don't always know you are there and you have to guess what they are going to do. Some times, like above, they have their coach with them and he will advise them. but there are many in single and double skulls, and larger, that are just left on their own. My simple rule is to make early and positve action to keep out of the way so they are sure what you are doing.
I think these are school rowing club boats houses on the south bank between Wandsworth and Putney Bridges. The cruiser at buoys was in beautiful condition too.
Craven Cottage was the next landmark, the home ground of Fulham Football Club. As you go past you can still see the original brick and wood club house in the corner. I wonder how many balls they have lost being kicked out of the ground?
Harrods Furniture Depository was built for the company in 1894 to store the larger items that could not be placed in the Knightsbridge store. The terracotta fronted buildings are from 1914. The buildings were converted in 2000 to 250 apartments know as Harrods Village.
We saw an RNLI RIB every time we were out on the river and they made a reassuring sight. It seems that we were just close to a base at Chiswick Pier. There is another at the Victoria Embankment in Central London and one at Teddington.
We found the entrance to the canal easily enough after Kew Bridge and at the end of Brentford Ait. We couldn't raise the Thames Lock Keeper on the radio or phone but we had earlier left a message with our ETA and sure enough as we approached his head popped up and he set the lock for us. We were then off the tidal times, well all most as the canal between Thames Lock and Brentford Guaging Locks is semi tidal. On big tides you may not be able to get under High Street Bridge but we were okay, and if not we would have been able to tie up and wait. So with our safe arrival at the Brentford Visitor moorings but moored next to an empty boat as there was no room at the inn we had had another exciting day.