In our endeavour to bring you all the information you need about the hugely varied riverside stretches of London that we can access with our fleet of Thames boats for hire, we travel East along the capital’s great River to one of the most charming and historic areas of London: The Royal Borough of Greenwich.
Part Three: Greenwich Piers and North Greenwich Pier at The O2
Greenwich is the Royal Borough since 2012 when it received it’s regal title officially. So, when it comes to the riparian London boroughs (riverside) this area is London royalty and it’s official, the Queen says so. It’s regal in many senses certainly. From it’s Royal Palaces to The Old Royal Naval College you are royally spoilt. The Naval College – or “ORNC” if you are feeling lazy and want to show off and pretend you are in the know – is one of the most magnificent sights from the Thames that you will ever see. A Thames cruise that glides past this magnificent building, completed in the early 18th Century and one of Sir Christopher Wren’s great masterpieces, is memorable indeed. If you can do this at dusk, then even better. You will feel the connection between London and its river distinctly. This building was part of the symbolic and operational heart of the Royal Navy through the great peaks of the empire and beyond.
Greenwich From The River
Apart from the grandeur of the ORNC, there are many other buildings which make up the Greenwich skyline, some well known, others less so. From the river you will be able to see perhaps the world’s most famous Tall Ship, the tea clipper Cutty Sark. The Cutty Sark – or ‘CS’ for those ‘in the know’…only joking! – is a beauty of a ship. She is one of the other premier attractions in the portfolio of the Royal Museums Greenwich organisation, along with the ORNC. The Cutty Sark is one of the world’s last surviving tea clippers, the elegant ships that raced to transport valuable cargoes of tea around the British Empire to help satisfy the homeland’s never-ending thirst for what became its national drink. She was the fastest of the lot, and as such became one of the most famous ships in the world and certainly is today one of the world’s most popular and famous tourist destinations.
Now, DID YOU KNOW: a team of accomplished enthusiasts and maritime heritage experts are in the process of building and operating a new exact replica Cutty Sark? Using traditional materials and methods the ship will sail the world, spreading the message of traditional sail and heritage, and demonstrating the potential of sail-powered cargo shipping. If this floats your boat, ahem, then visit their website to find out more and even better, help them reach their funding goals by donating towards the project. A couple more did-you-knows: there is a world famous Cutty Sark whisky (one-time sponsor of the Tall Ship Races in fact) and also, of course, there is a Cutty Sark pub in the heart of Greenwich. It’s a diamond too, visit if you can. Maybe have a whisky?! It’s also another of the local famous sites you’ll be able to see from our Thames charter boats as you cruise by.
Other Greenwich sights you can spot from the river and that are all must-sees for tourists include the Royal Observatory and the Queens House. You can find more about them on the Royal Museums Greenwich website. For those who like something more unusual, see if you can spot one of London’s oldest power stations. It’s industrial, but we like it.
From Land to River and Back: Greenwich Pier
Greenwich Pier (link to the pier on Google Maps) is slap-bang in front of the Cutty Sark and at the heart of Maritime Greenwich and its highlights. All our Thames river boats, including our busiest boat River Cruiser William B can pick your guests from there. The journey into central London varies between 30 and 45 minutes dependent on tide and exactly where you are heading. Talk to us for more detail of course.
The ‘Other’ Greenwich and the Other Greenwich Pier: The O2 and North Greenwich Pier
Greenwich is a big old borough! It’s not all historic buildings and maritime marvels either. For a window into modern Greenwich, head to the Greenwich Peninsula. Sprouting developments, driver-less cars, super-modern educational establishments and of course, one of the world’s most successful entertainment venues, the O2, this is Greenwich driving full pelt (albeit driver-less) into the new millennium. Talking of which, the O2 was once was known as the ‘Millennium Dome’. Controversial when it opened and before it became loved by sponsorship, this enormous structure, big enough to house 14 Old Trafford football stadiums, (and Barry Manilow, June 23rd 2016, be there or be square) is enormously popular for all sorts of events from music (don’t forget our date with Barry) to sports, and huge club nights. In fact, one of the reasons our biggest boat, the mighty Dutch Master, visits North Greenwich Pier is to drop off our regular clubbing and party boat fraternity to their next event. Our friends at xclusivetouch.co.uk are one such promoter who does such link ups with The O2, particularly for their Halloween Twisted Circus events (legendary and brilliant, by the way).
To conclude, Greenwich is historic London and vibrant brave-new-world London at its best. It also incorporates Woolwich and the heritage site of Royal Woolwich Arsenal and Woolwich Arsenal Pier, another one of our charter vessel stops. Woolwich, along with Maritime Greenwich is also the site for regular Tall Ship events, wonderful festivals of sail and adventure which see stunning Tall Ships from around the world come to London. We regularly use our Thames charter boats for ticketed events so everyone can get the chance to see these great ships from the best place, the river. Look out for our next events later this year and especially in April 2017 for a particularly big event, the ‘Rendez-Vouz’.
Finally, if cruising past Greenwich after sunset, look to the skies. There is one other Greenwich landmark – a truly famous one, that has played it’s part on making a mark on the whole world. You can see one physical representation of that mark very clearly at night. It’s the Greenwich Meridian laser, the laser which marks the line of the Greenwich meridian’s path around the entire world. Greenwich is the home of navigation and in a sense time itself, and it’s this laser that marks that out. Take a look next time you cruise by.