The riverside town of Greenwich in south east London is a World Heritage Site renowned for its maritime history and its association with astronomy and time – it gave it’s name to the Greenwich (0 degrees longitude) and Greenwich Mean Time. It is also the home to the Cutty Sark, the famed tea clipper.
On my recent visit I ignored most of this.
I was interested in a rather more obscure landmark a little further along the river.
Everybody knows about the former power stations at Battersea (now recently refurbished for residential and retail purposes) and the one at Bankside (now the Tate Modern art gallery) but there is another one in Greenwich and it is still running.
It was opened in 1906 by the London County Council, a precursor of today’s Greater London Authority, to provide the electricity for London’s expanding tram network. The trams are gone but the power station is still there and running to provide emergency generation for the Underground and as a back-up for the National Grid.
The power station at Greenwich is not on the scale of its more famous and decommissioned neighbours. It is not as tall and it is tucked back a little from the river. However the feature I was drawn to was the wharf where once the coal used to power the station would be offloaded. It stands dramatically on the riverside with in the distance, the grand buildings of Greenwich and the rest of London.
There was something else I came to photograph which was a little more in keeping with the development of the area in the 18th Century.
I have written about the Fifty New Churches Act before, an Act of Parliament passed during a period of political and religious turmoil in England and designed to impose religious authority on the London populace. One of the architects involved in the project was Nicholas Hawksmoor and he designed some of the most striking buildings to grace London’s skylines. I have photographed most of the other churches but not the one in Greenwich.
Unlike some of the churches built under the terms of the act in the East End, St Alfege’s was not a new church. There had been a building on the site since medieval times but a storm in 1710 destroyed almost all of it – only the tower remained.
King George II
Hawksmoor had also been involved in the design of the Royal Naval College (along with Christopher Wren) and I did spend a little bit of time walking their grounds as I came back into town from the Power Station. My eye was drawn to the shrouded statue in the centre. Usually it would display George II in Roman garb but at the time of my visit it looked like it was undergoing restoration.
The Cutty Sark
As I walked past the Cutty Sark at the end of the day a fairground ride was being erected for the Easter Holidays and I loved how the rigging of the venerable ship seemed to sail high above it. What a ride that would make!
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