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  • Day197

    Downstream South Bank

    September 19, 2020 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ☁️ 18 °C

    South Bank refers to the lively area around the Royal Festival Hall in Waterloo but it could just as well apply to another vibrant area downstream on the Greenwich Peninsula. It used to be, and in some places still is, an industrial district until the redundant activities were swept away in the 1980s and gradually redeveloped. First to arrive by 2000 was an exhibition centre was the Millennium Dome (now called the O2 Arena) followed by an excrescence of flashy apartments with glorious views of the Thames. And what a mighty river it is! Quite apart from being the raison d'etre of London since Roman times, its snakelike trajectory offers unexpected geography and views. Hence various places south of the river lie actually north of those on the "wrong" side and why the original South Bank, rather than being banished to a B & T (bridges and tunnels) existence, forms a significant quarter of the central London map.

    Today it's a glorious Saturday September morning which feels like July. I'm with a small group (limited to 6 by the current Covid ruling) from my photographic society, simply called The Camera Club. Photographers being photographers, we never stay in one group throughout anyway until a final sandwich and coffee at the finish. We start near the O2 Arena, noting current sanitary precautions at every public space from cafe to 5-star hotel.

    A short walk down river takes us past some luxury flats where a couple of well-meaning security men warn us about photographing private places. What they're concerned about is respecting the privacy of the local residents---following the spirit of the law---although there's nothing in the letter of the law forbidding photography if you're standing in a public place. Turns out that our feet are standing in a private enclave. We part as friends and continue to the cable car service connecting both banks of the river, running nearly a mile. and opened in time for the London Olympics in 2012. It isn't a commercial success but the photo-opportunities are pretty.

    Continuing down river, the meandering of the Thames offers views of an earlier development, Canary Wharf, London's second financial centre. With the obligatory grit of "sarf" London in the foreground. The final shot shows a long-abandoned passenger ferry; thankfully the Woolwich free ferry slightly downstream of here hasn't met a similar fate. In the words of the late illustrator Geoffrey Fletcher, "wonderfully depressing" if you like!
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