We recently went walking along the Thames-side at Imperial Wharf. We have been looking for a place where we could walk along the river since we moved into London – one that was not crowded like the South Bank and the normal Embankment etc. Where we used to live we often drove along to Bourne End which is a very picturesque scenic marina and moorings and small village on the Thames path. Here the train bridge crosses the river, but until a few years ago – certainly within our memory – there was no dedicated footbridge as such to cross over to the other side. This was an interesting situation as there were a small number of houses on the other side and a pub! The pub was easily reached – and indeed was very popular with – the summer boaters. They could moor up alongside and eat fish and chips – yes it was a ‘pirate’ themed pub and really old in fact. We often went to the pub for a bag of crisps or plate of chips and an evening stroll around and beyond.
On each side of these houses and also behind them were the Thames flood meadows – so you can imagine how wet and boggy it could be walking this side of the river – but it was still very popular. Sometimes they had cows or horses in the fields also which just made the mud worse, as there were a number of beaches where they came to drink, and also where the swans and geese set up home. This was the first time we saw Egyptian Geese in the wild.
This small hamlet fascinated us and there was a particular house that I really coveted – it had a very long glass porch all across the front and I just so wanted to set up office and write there with a view of the river. We did in fact look at one bungalow on the other side of the river when it came up for quick sale due to sudden death but dropped out rapidly when we found out the ground floor was below regular flood level.. then my dream home came on the market and we could afford it. Some small snags appeared though. 1. There was no actual road access to the property. We had sort of assumed that there was a track somewhere nearby where you could bring a truck or car or… but no, your garage was across the water. 2. There was a boat and mooring attached to the property on both sides of the river so you could row across to pick up your car. Our daughter and I had great fun at this moment dreaming about how we could rig up some sort of bell that visitors had to ring to be ferried across and then we could screen them in some way, perhaps by camera to see if they were worth the row. We then wondered how the pub got its beer and on asking found that it was delivered by barge. So 3. All large items of furniture etc on moving would need to be moved by barge. The dream was just not practical when we needed to get into work regularly but what a home for a reclusive writer!
So we tried out Imperial Wharf as we could reach it quickly by public transport.
Imperial Wharf and the associated Chelsea Harbour is now a large collection of quite recently constructed very smart flats bordering a small park the Imperial Wharf Park – and alongside the Thames river. They have flourished due to the building of a new Overground railway station at Imperial Wharf. The shops are not yet fully occupied and indeed no small café/tea-shop is yet installed, just a small number of rather expensive restaurants. The park is delightful with modern plantings of grasses and plants for the senses and the bees….
The river is very wide here as we are past the Embankment built by the Victorians to install the new drainage systems but still tidal even including the Chelsea Creek on the north bank.
Originally this was a very industrial area of the river with a great many harbours and unloading areas – some of the pilings still being visible including the one with railway lines where the coal was unloaded to supply the Lots Road power station which supplied electricity to London underground. The coal being here transported by small rail wagons from area to area along the river bank – and some of the rail lines being still visible in the path outside the supermarket which is built on this old coal wharf.
http://har.caldes.com/extrafiles/bespokeweb/Info/History/history_home.html gives a great history of the area dating back 300 years when the area was still fields.
The approximate price for a flat similar to the one we own is around twice the value. Which is cheaper than we thought. But difficult to judge as we have a lot of land associated with our flat being as it is ground floor and has both front and back gardens and a garage [or store really although a previous owner did use it as an office] and a side passage which is the width of the driveway –which takes a small car. However, you can buy a small studio flat here, as a first time buyer with 30% off at £186,000 as advertised locally.
That said, it would be expensive to eat locally. We ended up in a riverside establishment where we had to have one dessert between us as a. no cake; and b. so expensive! So it failed dismally on the tea and cake selection for a walk – and this is very high indeed on our criteria for what makes a good walk and a good place to stop on our journeys. See other posts on Tea and Cake notes as we travel around…