In the bleak midwinter

Dark, cold, threatening to rain. What’s not to like?

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It was very nearly midwinter when we made our last scheduled visit of 2015. Considering how rainy it’s been, you won’t be surprised to hear that the site was pretty muddy upstream of Vauxhall Bridge.

As we had already planned to have a look at the dock entrance of the Effra outflow, Roger and I braved the mud to take a good look at our target. Looking at the walls either side of the dock entrance, it’s clear that at least two phases of building are visible. There are the large stone blocks and then the brickwork butted up against them.

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There’s a certain amount of patching and filling involved,

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and it was here that we first noticed a new addition to our site.

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It could be a survey peg, but we weren’t sure. We spotted many more of them and wondered if they were put there as part of the preparations for the Thames Super Sewer works.

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The track on the right hand side of the dock entrance has been intriguing us, and set us off looking for other dock-related fixtures and fittings.

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As we were primarily peering at the embankment walls at this point, we ended up carrying on well outside the site area and all the way up to where the new American Embassy is currently being built, near Nine Elms.

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On the way we spotted other fixtures and fittings, presumably the remains of lifting equipment for loading/unloading barges.

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We took a good look round, mostly at the industrial archaeology and the surface of the foreshore, but also at possible access points in case we decide to investigate this area further when we lose our site

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We also decided to make a plan for 2016, as this will probably be the last year that we’ll have regular access to the site. Work on the Thames Super Sewer will probably begin by the end of the year or early in 2017 and  we may already be seeing signs of  pre-works beginning.

So, as our feet were now freezing and it was starting to drizzle, we headed off to the Portuguese cafe for breakfast and hot coffee (it was only about 9.45 by the time we started to make our way off the foreshore) and here, in a nutshell, is the plan.

We’ve started some documentary and map research on the Effra dock. At the moment, we’re just logging the businesses that sit either side of the dock, around St. George’s Wharf. We know that there were industries including a water-works, a gas-works, a candle factory, breweries, that sort of thing. The idea is to create a timeline, and we hope to include things like dates when there was rebuilding of the embankment wall, or other major works.

We’ve already been looking at possible associations between some of the features on the foreshore and these industries, so we should be able to make some more stabs at this.

As we are likely to be losing the site, we as aim to write up our observations over the past 4 years.

And so, to say goodbye to 2015, a little message from the foreshore…

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