Sunday, October 25th 2015
You might think that Imperial Wharf was one of London’s docks for overseas trade, perhaps specializing in cargoes from the Empire. In reality, it takes its name from the Imperial Gas Light and Coke Company that bought land here and started producing gas in 1829. The wharf was built to receive the necessary supplies of fuel.
The company spread like a rash over the surrounding area, laying out its own streets independently of the council but also causing pollution. The company’s nemesis came in the form of North Sea gas in the 1970s, causing it to close the gasworks. The area is now undergoing development comprising the usual blocks of luxury apartments together with token amounts of affordable housing.
We came for a little look around. It was late afternoon by the time we arrived which, combined with low winter sun, gave contrasting highlights and shadows.
The local railway station is also called Imperial Wharf and is a typical suburban two-platform train stop, now served by the Overground and by Southern Railways.
As befits an area under development, most buildings are modern, many of them of considerable height. In the above photo you can see the 20-floor Belvedere Tower in Chelsea Harbour.
Trains from Imperial Wharf Station cross the Thames by the Battersea Railway Bridge which opened in 1863. It was intended for freight traffic and did not begin carrying passenger trains until 1904. Trains crossing the bridge are limited to a speed of 15 mph, making this the slowest railway crossing on the Thames.
Whatever we may think of the buildings that line it banks, the Thames always provides impressive views. As buildings become ever taller, confining us to dark and windy canyons between them, the river preserves much needed stretches of clear sky.
Though more cautious than pigeons and less tolerant of the presence of humans1, crows have adapted to the city, especially where there are parks and gardens, and were active as we walked along the river’s edge.
Pleasure craft and yachts can be moored in Imperial Wharf Marina.
In contrast to water-borne folk, landlubbers find a berth in the blocks of apartments on terra firma.
On our journey home, we needed to change trains at Willesden Junction. While there I took this photo of the moon sailing in a mottled evening sky.
1This is of course understandable because humans have traditionally persecuted crows and treated them abominably, falsely accusing them of all sorts of supposed misdeeds. These highly intelligent birds therefore fear and mistrust humans and give them a wide berth.