Monday, 10 October 2016

A walk along the river in 1951


This from an (undated) Telcon House Magazine - probably late 1951 or early 1952.  This is a walk most of us can still recognise although it is going fast now. It runs from what is now the Alcatel factory - there and back.  I've put a short commentary at the end.

After lunch - a walk down the river when it’s all set fair for a stroll.

Through the factory, sleeping restlessly, to the towpath, presided over by the towering" Monarch," resplendent in her new autumn coat of paint and on past the wharf to Piper's. A stop for a moment to study the battered barges awaiting attention, and a look in the yard at one yet to be launched, sparing a quick glance into the murkiness of Providence Wharf, and then under the towering cranes, between walls of corrugated iron, brilliant in the watery sunshine, and fascinating in their play of light and shade, then led by the path back to the water again.

No time was available for loitering and the path was still leading on, by the tavern with its ambiguous "FREE HOUSE" sign and beyond, into the shadow of the Generating Station, its chimneys belching forth its filth, and its body, splintered as though wounded, lying in a  labyrinth of steel scaffolding; past ugly gaps in the adjacent houses which revived fading memories of diving planes and screeching bombs; the junk yard, full of things that once had meaning, and with its locked gates mocked by the broken fence.

Children were playing in the road, soldiers with crude wooden swords the eight-year-old in charge ordering.. Wait there while I go and do something important," and returning with an ice cream for his  four-year-old sister. Two more were staring longingly into the sweet shop window, without hope, for their pennies were spent already.

Into the main road, threading through the busy lunch-time shoppers and those who, like myself were merely lookers-on ; failing to resist the attraction of Woolworths, succumbing to the lure of buying ‘Just what I want to do that job;' and realizing on glancing at the clock that time was short and speed essential.

Christchurch Way was elastic, and had been stretched that day by an evil genius to it limit, but the gate was passed on the stroke of .time, and 1 was left with just my impressions of a well- spent lunch hour. 


He has had his lunch and is walking from what is now the Alcatel factory - which was then Telcon. You could then of course get straight onto the riverside path from the factory - unlike now when you are blocked by B*****s.  Monarch is of course a cable ship waiting at Enderbys to be loaded and set off.  He is going towards Greenwich, past Pipers, Lovells  - he mentions Providence wharf, which was inland and I don't know why it was murky.

On to Ballast Quay - with what was still then The Union Tavern.  I don't also know what the scaffolding he mentions round the Power Station is  - I have never heard that it was bombed?? The junk yard is, I guess, Anchor Iron Wharf with the Robinson scrap business.

Then round and back via Trafalgar Road.  Woolworths was what is now the AldLife Charity Shop - it has had an extra floor added but if you look up you will see along the roof line the remains of a classic Woolworth's frontage - perhaps someone could confirm if it had a clock on it?

- oh - and - the pictures are tiny on the original - I know you will think they are too small - but I have actually enlarged them

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