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Welcome to the world of the Vincent D'Onofrio obsessed - and a bit of real life thrown in.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Bridge Too Far

As someone who, in my teens, twice walked 26 London bridges for charity, I know full well that crossing the Thames gets a bit tricky once you get east of Tower Bridge:

The first crossing you come to is the Rotherhithe tunnel, which was opened in 1908:
As you can see, it's rather narrow, and, scarily, it doubles as a pedestrian tunnel. Unfortunately, if you meet a large vehicle coming towards you, you have to mount the pavement to make room. Pity the poor pedestrian, then...

Next comes the Blackwall Tunnel:

This one is older, opening in 1897. It too is very narrow, and in 1967 it became the northbound tunnel when a new, wider southbound tunnel opened.

When you go several miles downstream to Greenwich, you will find this folly, marking the entrance to a foot tunnel constructed between 1899 and 1902:

Yes, you have to walk through it. If you have a bike you have to push it. And the Thames is a very wide river.
Once you get to the bottom in the lift, this is what confronts you:
It looks like it could do with resurfacing, and is that a drain? I find it worrying that you get puddles down here...deep underneath a B-I-G river! I've only ever used it once.
A few miles further east you come to the Woolwich foot tunnel:
This one was opened in 1912, and I have never been through it.
Nearby is the only way to cross the Thames in a vehicle for some miles:
This is the Woolwich ferry, which takes cars, lorries and foot passengers. Never been on that, either. Though I'd like to.
There's no other crossing at the eastern end of London, and it isn't until you get to Dartford in Kent that you can make your way to the northern side.
The Dartford tunnel was opened in 1963, and consisted of two tunnels, a dual carriageway in each direction. But it was so busy that eventually they decided to relieve the pressure with a bridge. Now both tunnels take traffic northbound, the bridge takes things southbound. The Queen Elizabeth II Bridge opened in 1991:
Well now, I dislike both tunnels and heights so, as you can imagine, the journey from Kent to Essex and back is not one I enjoy making by road.
To add insult to injury, though the toll on the Dartford crossing was supposed to last only till the capital investment was repaid, they decided to carry on collecting it - and even increased the rate.
Today I went into Essex for the first time in ages, to take my ring made from my darling Shelley's ashes to be re-engraved (they'd misspelt his name, which I didn't notice at first as it was so small, and I couldn't bear to put it in the post to them).
The company is in a craft village, so while I was waiting for the ring to be done, I went for a stroll round the craft shops. I bought some earrings for which the woman had made the glass for the beads herself. I also fell in love with a clock with a skeleton mechanism surronded by an oak frame made by the seller.
I have to stop buying myself late birthday presents...

8 comments:

sixtwosue said...

Thanks so much for this, Val. It is so interesting. I'm fascinated with bridges and tunnels. I don't think I would like that pedestrian tunnel with the drain one bit, though. But the ferry is impressive.

JoJo said...

Well it sounds like a successful shopping trip. Would love to see the ring. What colour is the stone?

The Thames crossing info was AWESOME. I had no idea there were any pedestrian tunnels under the river but I admit, I'd be scared to walk them.

vikeau said...

Wow and I thought crossing the Brooklyn Bridge was a feat. Fasinating reading. Getting my passport renewed-- may have to try the crossings as you've described.

vikeau said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ruby said...

Very interesting, Val!

Diane said...

I don't like the idea of the Channel Tunnel either; imagine all that SEA on top of your head!!! Saw something the other night about how Norway's motorists pay tolls on new roads until said roads are paid for, then they're free; an idea that would NEVER occur to ANY Government in the UK.

I'm also wondering how long we'll be fighting the Napoleonic war. I believe income tax was introduced to pay for it, and we still seem to be paying for it.......

Sandy said...

I, too,enjoyed the pictures , Val. They look fascinating to me!

val said...

I did go through the Channel Tunnel, Diane, and it wasn't as awful as I'd thought. Did take half an hour, though...Or did it just feel like it?

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