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1967 -2017

Spring Park Film Makers

The Movie Making Club in West Wickham

The Rotherhithe Ramble           

Rotherhithe has a long history as a port with many shipyards from Elizabethan times until the early 20th century and with working docks until the 1970s.  In the 80s the area along the river was redeveloped as upmarket housing, through a mix of warehouse conversions and new-build developments.  This summer (2017) the club set out to discover a few secrets of the area. Below are some of the interesting sites we visited on our ramble. We thank Graham Ralls, club member, for organising this interesting walk.

St.Mary’s Church

This Anglo-Catholic church dates to 1716. Two bishop’s chairs and a communion table are made from the wood of ‘The Fighting Temeraire’, which Turner’s famous painting shows on her way to a Rotherhithe breakers in 1838.

A free school was founded in the parish of Rotherhithe about the beginning of the last century, endowed with a small annual income "for the education of eight sons of seamen”, with a salary of three pounds per annum for the master." A pair of Bluecoats stand above a plaque marking the school’s history.

The Hope Wharf buildings are in the heart of Rotherhithe Village. It became a “sufferance wharf” in the early 20th century.  Customs regulations stated that all goods where duty was payable had to be offloaded in legal quays but as a consequence the legal quays were unable to deal with the volume of cargoes so sufferance wharves were established that allowed, or suffered, the landing of goods to ease the bottleneck at the legal quays.

This memorial is to the captain of the Mayflower, Christopher Jones.  The figure looks back at the Old World while the child looks forward to its future in the New.

In July 1620 the Mayflower sailed from Rotherhithe for Southampton to begin loading food and supplies for the voyage to New England. Even after they had sighted land at Cape Cod, the ship might well have been wrecked had it not been for the Captain's skill in navigation.

Christopher Jones died at the age of 55 shortly after his return in 1621 and buried in an unmarked grave at St Mary's Church.

Our walk continued to the bascule bridge and a walk through what was the Grand Surrey Dock. It is Rotherhithe's oldest bascule bridge, 20m long and was built to cross the lock into Surrey Basin, which in turn led into the Surrey Commercial Dock network. 

Here is the grave of Lee Boo, Prince of the Pelew Islands who died in London from the effects of the small-pox in 1784, when only twenty years of age, after he had learned the manners and studied the civilisation of Europe, with the view of introducing them into his native country. He was the son of Abba Thulle, king of the island of Coo-roo-raa, one of the Pelew group in the Indian Ocean. In August 1783, the Antelope frigate was wrecked off the island, and so great was the kindness of the king to Captain Wilson and the crew, that the captain offered to take his son to England to be educated. Young Lee Boo, accordingly visited this country, but died in the following year.The epitaph on his tomb concludes with the following couplet:

"Stop, reader, stop! Let Nature claim a tear,
A Prince of 
mine, Lee Boo, lies buried here."

We made our way to the Old Salt Quay for lunch and then on by bus to Lady Dock Gate.

Most of London’s timber was once unloaded at Surrey Docks.  A massive timber fire during World War II bombing devastated the area.

Rotherhithe had the last case of the Great Plague in 1679 and it is thought the last victim is buried at St Mary's Church in the small grave yard.

The churchyard was protected by the police to stop body snatching for anatomy lectures in medical schools.

The Sunbeam Weekly and the Pilgrim’s Pocket

This sculpture shows a 17th century pilgrim who is looking with astonishment at a newsboy reading a 1930s paper with the story of The Mayflower and the modern USA as a Staffordshire terrier begs for attention. In his pocket is a London A-Z, dated 1620. 

A small Venice like housing estate to Greenland Dock, the largest of the once Surrey Docks.

Canary Wharf is located on the West India Docks. From 1802 to 1939, the area was one of the busiest docks in the world.

Many interesting locks, bridges and artefacts to be seen.

We made our way back through the marina to take a boat trip along the Thames to London Bridge.

Photographers: Keith Sayers and Richard Troughton

Click here to visit last year’s visit to Wapping