Tall ships in Woolwich and Greenwich: How were they for you?

Tall ships at Woolwich, 7 September 2014

I couldn’t face the crowds in Greenwich, so nipped down to Woolwich on Sunday afternoon to see what the fuss was about.

And you know what? The Tall Ships Festival looked rather decent. At least in Woolwich, anyway.

Tall ships at Woolwich, 7 September 2014

A big crowd, nice atmosphere – it looked like a good job, well done. And it’s been lovely watching the ships go up and down the river this weekend.

Tall ships at Woolwich, 7 September 2014

I did pass on the opportunity to buy a £16 Royal Greenwich Tall Ships t-shirt for half price, mind.

Firepower, Woolwich, 7 September 2014

And here’s the most graphic demonstration of why the Firepower museum is closing down – its doors were locked on one of the busiest days the Royal Arsenal complex has ever seen. Madness.

It was a funny experience watching the ships by bike, though. Nowhere to park in sponsor Berkeley Homes’ Royal Arsenal compound – well, apart from this one rack…

Tall ships in Woolwich, 7 September 2014

Greenwich Council later tweeted me to say there was bicycle parking in Beresford Square, but there were no signs from the Thames Path to indicate this. Which mattered, because loads of cyclists were using the path on Sunday.

At least there was some parking at Woolwich, however hidden it was. I thought I’d peek at the ships moored at sponsor Barratt Homes’ Enderby Wharf. But security guards were ushering cyclists off the recently-installed bicycle path.

Drawdock Road, 7 September 2014

So I trundled down Tunnel Avenue, surprised by the numbers of people coming away from Enderby Wharf towards North Greenwich. Was there anywhere to park the bike? Well, I could have taken my chances here…

Tunnel Avenue, Greenwich, 7 September 2014

After a couple of minutes trying to get a D-lock through a wire fence, I gave up and went home.

So that was my Tall Ships Festival. I know there’s been some gripes about it in Greenwich (see the comments on Friday’s post), and the traffic’s been murder this weekend, with packed roads and overcrowded buses. But it was fine in Woolwich.

Imagine it being called the Woolwich Tall Ships Festival, acknowledging where most of the action was…

Remember, though, it’s all about reputation-building. Here’s a naughty slip from Greenwich Council’s Twitter account.

Mehbooh Khan tweet retweeted by Greenwich Council

Retweeting praise aimed at the council leader? Cheeky.

Cllr Mehboob Khan

Even cheekier, because the original tweet, sent on Friday night, was it was amended the following night by Mehboob Khan, who juggles being a Labour Party adviser to London Councils with being a councillor in Kirklees, West Yorkshire. Very naughty. The original tweeters weren’t impressed.

Enough of what I saw, how were the tall ships for you? Share your praises or gripes below.

43 comments

  1. Egn

    I enjoyed the first part of my visit to the Tall Ships on Friday afternoon when I took the clipper shuttle out to Enderby Wharf but was disappointed at the lack of ships near Greenwich Pier. Seeing that more were moored near the Dome I decided to cycle along and see them. Unfortunately that was where the enjoyment of the afternoon stopped. I decided to avoid the people on the Thames Path and use the back streets to get to Enderby Wharf and cycle on the Thames Path from there. Unfortunately I missed the turning to Enderby Wharf, (no signs to the river from anywhere even for pedestrians, my first gripe). I am not familiar with the Thames Path between Enderby Wharf and the Dome because of all the redevelopment but assumed there would be access somewhere further on. How wrong I was. Having cycled along unpleasant Blackwall Lane and even more unpleasant Tunnel Avenue I at last found a way to the river only to be told by an officious security guard that no bike’s were allowed on the Thames Path because of the festival. I tried further on only to meet more officious security guards who told me there were lots of signs to the river and lots of signs saying no cycling. I hadn’t seen one of either sort and when I tried to explain the route I had taken they obviously had no idea what I was talking about and said they were not familiar with the area. In the end I locked my bike to a railing round a tree, the only possible place anywhere near Victoria Deep Water as far as I could see as there were no cycle racks in evidence anywhere. Sadly by that time it was nearly 6 o’clock so the ships were closed and everyone was being moved away so I saw very little. I was also then faced with having to return along unpleasant and polluted Tunnel Avenue and Blackwall Lane because I was told that I could not even walk along the Thames Path with a bike. Eventually I found my way back to Enderby Wharf. By the time I got there no one was stopping cyclists on the Thames Path and various pedestrians told me that the they had walked all the way along the river from Enderby Wharf to Victoria Deepwater. I didn’t bother to continue at that point to find out as I had had enough and needed to get home but maybe if I had found Enderby Wharf in the first place my afternoon would have been better. On the other hand maybe the security stafff were there earlier turning cyclists away, who knows, all I know is that it was a very unpleasant cycle ride I don’t wish to repeat.

    The whole experience left a sour taste and I hope the weekend was better for others. The above post indicates however, that the Tall Ships event was not cycle friendly. Having advertised the event as something to travel to by sustainable means I think cyclists had a raw deal with no provision. Considering all the effort that went into discouraging car users with extensive (and presumably expensive) extension of controlled parking zones more could have been done for cyclists. Some cycle parking on the Thames Path and better signage would have been a first step.

    With regard to signage, the map on the leaflet posted through my door was completely useless, it didn’t show footpaths and was inaccurate in the location of the ships. No wonder some other people I spoke to were also disappointed because they couldn’t find the ships. Hopefully those who arrived at the weekend found better information and had a good time. If Greenwich hold an event like this again I do hope they will realise that better information, signage and clear facilities for cyclists would make a huge difference.

  2. Rod

    Well, I’ve made my opinion clear in your last post, I think.

    For most of the weekend, Greenwich Reach was empty of ships, with just the one (albeit beautiful) ship moored at Enderby’s Wharf – probably a bit too far from the town centre for a lot of families with children, and you couldn’t visit the ship from Enderby’s anyway.

    Greenwich town centre was absolutely heaving with people, many of whom had come a long way (I spoke to one couple from Dorset) and who got to see….. well, nothing very much.

    I really do think that people came to Greenwich expecting to see, and be able to visit, quite a few ships, and came away very disappointed. If the experience at Woolwich was better, with more ships etc, then probably the Council should have called it the Woolwich Tall Ships festival, and advised people to go there to see and visit ships.

    The traditional ships river parade at Greenwich on Saturday was pretty unimpressive and the royal river pageant on Sunday was laughable – I hadn’t realised how small the Queen’s barge is, and you can see rowing boats anytime.

    I think the reason that there weren’t any of the larger ships moored off Greenwich is that the deep water berth had been booked by the Hapag-Lloyd cruise liner Europa – as always in Greenwich, money talks.

    Without the Dutch vessels which were running commercial cruises up and down a couple of times a day between Woolwich and Greenwich for paying customers, there would have been virtually no activity upon the Thames at Greenwich at all. These ships were here last Summer, and I would be happy to see them here again next Summer, but they’re a commercial operation which originated in Amsterdam, and almost peripheral to the main Tall Ships event. Also, it was thanks to them, I believe, not the Council, that we got fireworks on Thursday and Sunday evenings.

    I think that this was way more than just a wasted opportunity – I think it may have put a lot of people off coming back to Greenwich at all. I heard a lot of people complaining about overcrowding and saw people queuing to get into pubs, cafes and restaurants. People were actually queuing to get into Desperados, and even even Village was nearly full – that’s how bad it was. I fear that a lot of these people came to Greenwich with unfairly raised expectations, had a disappointing day with unhappy children, and simply won’t come back.

  3. Darryl

    Thanks Rod. That’s a shame to hear about central Greenwich – I wonder if more could be done to spread crowds along the river, there were so many quiet spots through East Greenwich, Charlton and Woolwich (Dockyard) where you could watch the ships.

    It’d be great, for example, to have walking/cycling tours of the riverfront.

  4. Lynne Barry

    Well I had a good Tall Ships, maybe mostly because I had practically no expectations of it and didn’t even intend to go and have a look at it. We had a leaflet through the door (Plumstead.) In the event, we decided to go down for the fireworks on Saturday night in Woolwich. We caught the bus there and the place was busy and good atmosphere – I didn’t realise what a big do it was going to be. Saw lots of tall ships and enjoyed the fireworks. On Sunday, we had booked (ages ago) a history/archaeology walk on the beach at Greenwich with the Thames Discovery Programme. Caught the bus there but got off early as traffic bad and walked through the back streets. Meeting place was the steps in front of the Naval College so there then ensued a tedious battle to gain access to the closed-off footpath with security guards who didn’t want to let us through. However, was a brilliant event, with the ships gliding by as the sun set while finding shards of Tudor pottery. Then another firework display which we weren’t even expecting!

  5. Rod

    Darryl, Lynne –
    You both seem to have had a good experience at Woolwich, with ships to see etc. This completely reinforces my impression that the Council publicity got the whole thing wrong, and should have centred attention on Woolwich, where there was more to see and do.
    As it was, a lot of people thought the centre of the event was Greenwich and had a disappointing day, which could, and should, have been avoided.

  6. Steve

    We went to Woolwich on Sunday. Provided you arrived on foot, it was well marshalled. I saw the bike parking in Beresford Square – good idea but not well advertised and no use if you’d cycled in from Thamesmead along the Thames Path.

    The area around Firepower was busy with things to look at (I particularly enjoyed the “drunken sailor” who was wandering around and the sea shanty singers). Not really that much in the way of tall ship action but thanks to the warm sunny weather it was nice just to look out at the river anyway.

    Plenty of low-quality food outlets but only one seemed to have a vegetarian option (two if you include the crepe wagon out alongside the Thames Path which most people wouldn’t have noticed).

    Overall – nice day out thanks to the weather but my goodness what an over-hyped event it was and, as others have said, aimed at pleasing the commercial interests rather than the locals or even the people wanting to see the tall ships.

  7. mark

    it absolutely didn’t meet my expectations – we had a lunch at the Anchor and Hope and walked between there and the o2. saw a few ships but to be honest in my mind I was expecting an armada. Nice to see so many people about but I got the impression there were a lot of disappointing people.

  8. John James

    I concur with the comments about over-crowding, but can comment favourably on the circular boat trips running between the various points, for us that turned out to be the best way of seeing as much as possible.

    We live in East Greenwich and wandered into the town on Saturday. We’d pre-booked a circle cruise on Thames Clippers, and although initially the queue looked horrendous (in spite of us pre-booking we were told to queue with people who hadn’t pre-booked), it didn’t take too long (maybe 15 mins?) to get on to a boat which then took an hour’s tour via the Peninsula and Woolwich. For just over a fiver each, it was good value and we got to see numerous tall ships either moored or sailing.

    It was interesting to hear other passengers’ comments at Woolwich – most people alighted there, but some were heard to say that it didn’t look as interesting as the Greenwich waterfront, so they stayed on board.

    The other plus-point was the road closures (unless of course you were stuck in traffic) – pleasantly surreal to walk along a traffic-free Trafalgar Road (at least at the town centre end).

    Did anyone see the helicopter carrying a car yesterday evening, flying over Greenwich? What was all that about?

  9. grahambenbow

    I walked home Friday night from work along the north side of the Thames expecting to see tall ships at Canary Wharf and possibly Deptford, nothing until I hit Greenwich, three boats a little disappointing, saw a great little steam tug at Moathouse Pier.

    On Sunday caught the 08:35 clipper to London Bridge City, no one about was able to park at the riverside car park. Was able to see tall ships up close at the clipper pier and the trip up river was good. Coming back crossed the river by the Woolwich Ferry and thought we were going to collide with one of the tall ships!

    However, my highlight was the departure of the bulk carrier Lake Deer from the Tate & Lyle refinery wharf assisted by two tugs and then the arrival of another bulk carrier. What with the ferry, the tall ships going up and down it was the busiest I’ve ever seen the river!

  10. Michael D

    I went down to Greenwich yesterday and saw one Dutch ship float past but apart from that all I saw were 2 boats moored past Nandos (cringe) and a third in the distance at Enderby Wharf. The town was thronged but there were no ships to see – what a weird ‘tall ships’ festival with no ships. Rather than improving Brand Greenwich I think the Council in their Woolwich-centric way has actually damaged this festivals reputation by promising people ships in Greenwich and sending the shops to Woolwich – how strange!

  11. Shivanee

    Walked from the Peninsula on the riverside through East Greenwich and there was a lot of people. A lot more than I (or probably many, if not most people) expected. The atmosphere was great and everyone, especially kids, looked very happy and enthusiastic. Didn’t hear any moans or expressions of disappointment and the shops/stalls were packed. Even Greenwich Park was really busy so obviously many families made a great day out of it.

    Most surprisingly, the Peninsula festival village was packed with a great vibe (and music) as lots of visitors made the trip away from the expected tourist hotspots of Maritime Greenwich, and appeared to be genuinely interested in the change of landscape (avid photographers) as the Thames Path meanders through E Greenwich onto the Peninsula. Even the other side of the Peninsula path was busy (including The Jetty quickly after opening). It would be hard to criticise this ‘over-crowded’ event as not being a great success. Though I suppose if less visitors had turned up, then commentators would be surely happy that the council had invested in a significant disappointment?

    Yes, the developers branding was everywhere but that pretty much confirms the role of tourism in regeneration. Seemed to work if it got visitors to the Peninsula and Woolwich. (Can’t see ‘Woolwich Tall Ships Festival’ as having appeal to Telegraph readers where this was heavily promoted?). Pleased to see the cruise terminal being marketed, hopefully signifying positive progress. Certainly didn’t hear any complaints that there weren’t enough boats! As for cyclists, I was never aware this was billed as a cyclists event? Can you take a bike onto a Tall Ship?

  12. Amanda

    We went on Friday having walked into Greenwich through the park. We saw a few of the larger boats and some of the barges going down but we decided to go a bit down river.. On arrival at the path which runs along the gates to Naval College we were ‘advised’ by a shaking of the head (perhaps they thought we could not speak english) which implied that the public were not allowed on the path. We walked back and into the Naval College to arrive precisely where were wanted to be and found that the path had been opened! Grrrr!!

    We decided it was too busy, so walked to the Cutty Sark pub where it was no busier than a normal sunday afternoon. I got some nice pictures but there is no doubt the event was over hyped but I am glad its happened and that the weather was kind.

  13. elthamwatcher

    Egn: having been informed by the security guard, officious or not, couldn’t you have chained your bike to some railings and walked to the river? Just like you can’t always drive everywhere, and sometimes there are restrictions if an event is on, the same applies to bikes. Personally, although I do cycle all over, I decided to go to the event by public transport, thinking a bike might be a bit of a nuisance in a crowd situation.

  14. Deborah

    I went to Woolwich on Saturday. I enjoyed the entertainment from local community groups and classes and the atmosphere was good. The re-enactment people were interesting to talk to. There were a few ‘street entertainers’ who were so-so – maybe some circus-type acts would have stopped people in their tracks. I think that the Council would do well to look to English Heritage to make more of the re-enactment people, so that people could get involved more. I believe the Heritage Centre was running some activities for children, but this was not sign-posted, other than having a door open. There could have been more stalls providing activities and information – maybe this was due to lack of space because of areas blocked off by builders’ hoardings or, more likely, the cost (I have been told this was £1,000 plus 25% of turnover!), which would explain the exhorbitant cost of the food, with one stall selling a burger and chips at £15. There was a giant whale for children to go inside, a carousel and, as we were leaving, a rather worthy-looking drama group arrived. There were a couple of ships moored at the Arsenal with another across the river. Three more came down to Woolwich in the early evening. Where are 50 ships hiding? My biggest gripe would be about the guides. They had no information at all (the programme was £5 and I saw no-one buying a copy, the leaflet was useless and the filters on the website were no good). One was telling people there was no entertainment, even whilst dancing was happening immediately behind her. A friend who was working as a guide said that they had been given no information at all. I know of one family who were sent by guides from Greenwich to Canary Wharf to the 02 and finally Woolwich to find a ship to board. They met a couple who had travelled from Derby who had the same problem. It was not the guides’ fault – they had no briefing. This is definitely something the council needs to sort out. I have done an awful lot of moaning but, believe it or not, I did actually enjoy myself. If this is one stage towards RBG bidding to host the Tall Ships Race, however, they do need to seriously review their organisation.

  15. runner500

    I really enjoyed it but as you have alluded to they didn’t make use of all the waterfront. I ran along the river from Woolwich to Greenwich on Saturday afternoon – there was lots going on at Woolwich but for the whole stretch between there and the deep water wharf (Victoria?) there was nothing. There wasn’t even much obvious information as to if and when ships would be sailing along the river if you had, say, wandered down to the O2. In fact there are lots sailing by, no little information. Past the O2 and the narrow path couldn’t cope with the volume and down at Enderby it was a little chaotic not helped by the path being narrowed so that Barratts could hide the wasteland on the shore with their 3m high hoardings. The Woolwich fireworks were OK, but only OK and badly stewarded in places. One other thing that was missing was much about Greenwich’s boat building history – there was one Charlton built ship, but rather than have it in SE7 it was at Canary Wharf. Those gripes aside, it was a really good event.

  16. Darryl

    Elthamwatcher – there’s nothing to chain a bike to down there, the only provision was some impromptu chaining of bikes to a wonky wire fence on Tunnel Avenue, as you’ll have read above. The nearest fixed stands would have been the pair outside the Pelton Arms, I think.

    Considering cyclists are very heavy users of the Thames Path, it seems particularly short-sighted not to have anticipated how people would travel to the event and cater for them.

  17. Plumstead Resident

    It was a pleasant atmosphere on Saturday. Never seen RA so busy. Hadn’t spotted Firepower was closed – how stupid!

  18. fromthemurkydepths

    Though I fully support the event I found it a bit underwhelming given the lack of boats. I saw about 2 on Friday in Greenwich the hour I was there. I was possibly expecting too much and imagined the banks of the Thames lined with ships. It was lacking compared to festivals like the Bristol Harbour Festival which is impressive with the sheer teeming number of boats. They are helped by a permanent harbour though so probably an unfair comparison. I didn’t make it to Wood Wharf so maybe it was a bit more like this, which is a bit like what I hoped for – http://goo.gl/aeQvrs

    Even if visitors (the many first timers and those who havn’t been in a while) were perhaps underwhelmed by the boats they would undoubtedly have been very impressed by Greenwich – the riverside views, naval college, market etc, as well as the great views from the riverside path around the peninsula and many will undoubtedly now return. It can be a bit easy to take these things for granted when seeing them so many times if living locally or having grown up nearby, but for a new visitor they would have been the stars of the show and less so the boats, no matter how nice they were. Same with the Arsenal too at Woolwich which is a great example of urban redevelopment in many ways. People would leave with a good impression. So it was definitely worth doing and I support the council 100% in putting it on.

    Festivals like this are also great for local civic pride and all the benefits that flow from that, as well as reaping the benefits as visitors spend money and then return. It should be on every year.

  19. John Norman

    Went on Saturday @2:30 with my wife and 3 year old.
    Walked from East Greenwich – glad to see the road closure of Trafalgar road was sensible (open for access).
    Lovely sight seeing the ships as we walked along the Thames.
    Lots of people, but at this point still all good – it was worth it.
    Then got closer to Greenwich Village and so many people !! – Eager to see what was around.

    Then disappointment mounted – my 3 year old, had passing interest in the parade setting off – but quickly bored of that. She got thirsty so in search for a drink. Couldnt find anywhere. Got to Greenwich village (after squeezing past lots of people – saw one juice shop (with tall ship bunting) – totally empty because of the railings – didnt fancy climbing those, so went to M&S :-(. My 3 year old said ‘I want to go on a boat’ – so braved the crowd again – (the website said you can go on ships) – but couldn’t find any you could go on.
    Pushed through the crowds again – looking for interesting stalls
    – nothing. absolutely nothing. Tat and poor standard food stalls. What a wasted opportunity.
    (3 year old tired and crying at this stage)

    The atmosphere was good. I did hear lots of comments in the crowd about cost + too many people + where is everything?
    – I’ll try again next time (my wife wont come after this year experience)

    Probably the fireworks could have been nice (but would have preferred the money being spent on blackheath fireworks).
    – But the number of ‘security’ personnel hanging around was amazing !! For me it really brought the tone down. If they were there to help – put something friendly on their florescent vests.

    Finally I would love to know from shop owners – if you wanted to mention tall ships – did you have to pay to do it? Or could you put a hand scrawled notice saying ‘tall ships special’ – without being told to take it down?

    Also do the council offer any sort of report to whether it was profit making or a loss to host that event?

  20. Barry

    Went to Greenwich,late morning,on Friday.Was not impressed by the lack of “tall ships”.Nothing going on in the grounds of the Naval College.Walked along the tow path,which was surprisingly empty,towards Enderby Wharf to get closer to the only ship that i would describe as tall.Avoided Greenwich on Saturday and Sunday.Went into Woolwich this morning (Monday).Still only a handfull of not very tall ships to see so i got on the DLR to Canary Wharf to see the smaller ships at Wood Wharf.Counted around 30.So,all in all,there should be around 50 ships as advertised but the majority are far from tall.Let’s hope they look more impressive when they gather in Greenwich tomorrow.I’m going through the foot tunnel to Island Park this time to get our beautiful historic buildings in the background instead of new riverside appartments.

  21. Kate

    Are the tall ships gathering in Greenwich at about 1.30 today as per GC’s Twitter feed?
    I’d thought of cycling down to North Greenwich or Royal Arsenal along the Thames Path to see the ships leave today (worth it? where to go?) but having read this blog and comments it may not be the best idea?

    I hope the security guards and Thames Path restrictions aren’t a sign of things to come, with the gentrification and overdevelopment of the land bordering the Path, especially Enderby Wharf.
    (What is the legal status of the Thames Path for cyclists and is it subject to Council policy?)
    There’s never been adequate cycle parking at Royal Arsenal for some reason. I’ve submitted a cycle parking request using this site, which has had some success before eg Westcombe Park station
    http://www.cycleparking4london.org.uk/

  22. renbod

    I had avery enjoyable day on Sunday, walked along from Greenwich to the Peninsula and saw lots of ships, both moored and moving up and down the river. The footpath is too narrow and was too crowded to allow cyclists, though I agree the information could have been better. It’s a pity the path is still through a building site which can’t have impressed visitors.The atmosphere was great and I didn’t get any sense that people were disappointed.The food was expensive, but what do you expect? I did get the leaflet, which I agree was useless, and there was also the pullout in Greenwich Time which had a bit more.

  23. Tina

    A bit off topic, I went down to Enderby Wharf yesterday and saw the ship there – nice enough, what surprised me though was the amount of development taking place! Blocks of apartments right up next to the Thames Path, couldn’t the council insist on wider clearance – it’s all going to become a walk past peoples front rooms.

    Also I could only access the Path via 3 flights of stairs off Banning street, there used to be a level pathway connecting it, does anyone know if this will be reinstated when the developments are done?

  24. Hedley

    I’m sure our newly elected local Peninsular councillors will be able to shed some light on others’ comments about the various accessability issues during after this event eg Tina, Kate etc …. but thinking about it I haven’t heard a murmur from any of them since the election …. mght be nice to hear from them about progess on local issues and any future proposals which they might want to hear views on

  25. PaulO

    I live opposite the Trafalgar Tavern and although I’m at work my wife has said there are loads of ships lining up for the departure. I can understand how people who turned up to Greenwich to see ships saw very little. The whole riverfront was jammed and unless your visit coincided with one of the ships passing you’d be wondering where the ships were. I was going to cycle along the Thames path to Woolwich early Sunday but judging by the comments I’m glad I didn’t.

  26. Rod

    Now that was much better!

    This afternoon’s Parade of Sail was what I think most people were imagining they would see over the weekend. It was great – a flotilla of ships that never seemed to stop coming, sails billowing, flags flying, cannons booming (yes, really).

    I was down on the waterfront near the Peter the Great statute, and there were quite a few people there, but I could see crowds at Cutty Sark Gardens and Island Gardens. Lots of graceful ships, lovely late Summer sunshine……..

    I can only suppose that there’s a very compelling reason why this couldn’t have happened yesterday and/or Saturday, when there would have been far more people able to watch?

  27. John Norman

    Oh yes – typical – the lift in the foot tunnel broken for the festival. Sorry disabled people, and people with prams coming from/to Island Gardens.
    (and that poor girl this morning being attended to by paramedics who fell down the stairs whilst trying to carry her bike down)

  28. Joe

    The sail procession was enjoyable from Greenwich this afternoon. I think the parade type thing was what many people had in mind and I think this should have been the emphasis, with less about paying to go on a boat ride. Perhaps day one could have been boat rides and day two a parade? Then people wouldn’t have gone along expecting to see lots of boats and only seeing a few and could have seen a fine procession at the weekend.

    Also the organisation could have been clearer – the timetable today said 1-4pm for Greenwich and Woolwich, but they’d all gone past Greenwich by about 2.45 I think – so anyone trying to catch them after 3pm would have been disappointed. A more precise time would have been good.

    Also, in Woolwich, apparently people trying to see the Russain replica warship could only see the flag and tops of the masts – it would have been better to have moored them in full view to be admired even when the boats weren’t doing anything!

    So… it was beautiful, and one of the Council’s more thoughtful ideas, but it was not made easy for the average visitor to coincide with a spectacle. Clearer guidance and planning is needed and more thought about how to show off the boats as much as possible so there’s something to see at all times.

  29. Neil

    I travelled up from Surrey on Saturday and decided to go to Woolwich Arsenal, which by the sound of it was a good choice. It was getting a bit busy when I arrived and not altogether organised with security telling people different things…..people getting a bit frustrated. I decided to head in the direction of the Thames barrier, poor signage got one woman so angry she gave up and went home. I persevered and made it to the barrier where I stayed for a good hour, saw a number of ships pass through. I continued on to the O2, where the crowds were making their way along the path………the number of people put me off going any further, but I saw more than most by the sound of some the comments on here. I was accosted at least 7 times walking from the DLR station at Woolwich Arsenal to the waterfront from people spaced about 10 yards from each selling programmes….which narked me a fair bit…..other than that I had a fair day. The light was not great on Saturday for great photos, a bit murky but I had a good day out.

  30. Barry

    Lift out of order,said the sign as i entered the foot tunnel.Over 100 stairs it said.So i headed for the DLR and went one station to Island Gardens.10:30,one Cafe,me and 6 others in the whole park.Sat myself on a seat dead in the center of the two domes of the old Naval College,looking towards The Queen’s House and Plum Pudding Hill.What a background for such a special occasion.It kicked off at around 13:00 with the ships heading upstream to Deptford Reach.Later,they turned around,unfurled a few sails and headed back home.Easily the highlite of the festivities.I almost ran out of camera memory.

  31. Ken Welsby

    Slowly recovering from four days at the festival (running a river website is such a hard life). I did quite a few vox pops with visitors and the overwhelming majority of comments were positive. A coach party from Leicester said they had “the time of their lives” and called the farewell parade “a sight we will always remember”.

    One woman from Hertfordshire – whose daughter was one of the trainees who sailed up from Falmouth – told me “We’re coming back to Woolwich next weekend to look for a flat, it’s obviously turning into a good place to live”. Delete the “turning into” and I’d obviously agree.

    Both from visitor comments and my own experience, the one big drawback was lack of information and particularly signage. Timing of events involving sailing vessels – particularly on a river such as the Thames which has a volume of scheduled and regular traffic – can never be exact, but the timetable for Monday’s parade of sail could have been more explicit and more public: I didn’t see the detailed timings by location until late on Sunday.

    Shame about the poor provision for bikes, but overall I would give the council 9/10 for the effort. And as for the experience of sailing the river on a traditional sailing vessel, that merits 11/10. Lots of stories and pix to work on, but it will be the end of the week before they are all posted on londonsriver.com

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  33. Jill

    I really enjoyed the finale yesterday – the Parade of Sail passing Woolwich. But have every sympathy for the Firepower staff: if you’d head that you were going to be made redundant via a News Shopper article I think you might say, when asked to turn up for work on a Sunday, ‘Actually, I think I’m busy that day!’ You were there to see the ships – go to Firepower another day!

  34. marymills

    Couple of small things – the person who asked about the status of the path – it is, of course, SUSTRANS no.1. which means it has a lot of status as a cycle path. It is also a right of way – enforced by High Court actions in the 1870s and the 1990s by the Council and its predecessors – but the legislation on rights of way is different in London to the rest of the country and I am not sure of the exact thisis and thatses.
    I didn’t know about the problems with the foot tunnels. I am Chair of FOGWOFT and am asking others what we know. Usually the lift breaks down because the hi tech machinery doesn’t like sunshine. But will find out.
    I was away at a Conference for the entire time of the event – but I did try to get some stall space for material on the history of the riverside path, the industries – and, of course, Enderbys. I kept emailing for information but never managed to get anything back on access and costs (I guess they know we are unfunded).
    – and – finally – yesterday we were at the riverside by Enderbys filming for this new Greenwich TV channel – the incomeing tide was right over the path and people were having to jump and run and get their feet wet.

  35. Chris

    How much was spent on the tunnel refurbs?
    And the (unmanned) lifts now won’t work in sunshine?
    Depressing, and, in many respects, disgraceful.