River Thames in Its Glory Days As Shown By Black And White Photos

November 30, -0001
  • Revealing images show London’s many docks and shipbuilding yards that once dominated the riverside
  • One picture shows the Napier shipyard – where Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s Great Eastern vessel was built
  • Another shows the magnificent Royal Yacht Britannia on her way out of London through Tower Bridge
  • The fascinating photographs have been revealed in the book, The Thames Through Time: A Liquid History

Incredible images from a new book have revealed the history of what was once the world’s most important transport hub – the River Thames.

Like a paper time-machine, the images show London’s many docks and shipbuilding yards that once dominated the riverside.

One picture shows the Napier shipyard – where Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s Great Eastern vessel was built.

Launched in 1858, she was the largest ship in the world at that time.

Another image shows the magnificent royal yacht Britannia on her way out of London through Tower Bridge. The boat served the royals for over forty-four years and travelled all over the world for state visits and holidays.

The pictures have been revealed in the book, The Thames Through Time: A Liquid History by Stephen Croad, who provides commentary on their significance.

The Pool of London, which stretches from London Bridge to Limehouse, is seen from Tower Bridge. Here, boats are seen lined up as they wait for their imported cargo to be inspected and assessed by customs officers

The Pool of London, which stretches from London Bridge to Limehouse, is seen from Tower Bridge. Here, boats are seen lined up as they wait for their imported cargo to be inspected and assessed by customs officers

The Royal Yacht Britannia is seen departing from London through Tower Bridge
During her 43-year career, the yacht travelled more than a million nautical miles around the globe, serving from 1954 to 1997

The Royal Yacht Britannia is seen departing from London through Tower Bridge.��During her 43-year career, the yacht travelled more than a million nautical miles around the globe, serving from 1954 to 1997

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A image shows men working at the Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Company. Located at Bow Creek, it was in business from 1837 to 1912, and counted Isambard Kingdom Brunel among its clients

A image shows men working at the Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Company. Located at Bow Creek, it was in business from 1837 to 1912, and counted Isambard Kingdom Brunel among its clients

A busy Billingsgate market
It would soon move to a larger area due to the growth its fish trade, now located in Poplar
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A busy Billingsgate market. It would soon move to a larger area due to the growth its fish trade, now located in Poplar

This photograph shows a view of Tower Bridge shortly after it has been built at the turn of the century, between 1886 and 1894

This photograph shows a view of Tower Bridge shortly after it has been built at the turn of the century, between 1886 and 1894

‘There are many references in this book to working boats on the Thames,’ said Stephen in his book’s introduction. The Thames was London’s reason for existence.

‘Since the foundation of the settlement by the Romans the river had been a busy highway and a magnet for trade and industry.’

The book takes the reader on a one-hundred-mile journey from Staines in the west to Yantlet where the Thames meets the sea.

 

The black and white images by various photographers show views from Putney Bridge, Billingsgate Market, Custom House Quay and Tower Bridge.

The pictures show how the Thames had to adapt to accommodate the high volumes of river traffic.

‘Sadly, the names of many of the early photographers are no longer known, but their work remains as an enduring record of long-lost buildings and a past way of life.’

Thousands of spectators gather on the Thames to watch the Oxford and Cambridge University Boat Race. The first race was in 1829 and the event has been held annually since 1856

Thousands of spectators gather on the Thames to watch the Oxford and Cambridge University Boat Race. The first race was in 1829 and the event has been held annually since 1856

An aerial shot shows the Thames running alongside Hampton Court Palace
The building is located in Richmond Upon Thames and is found about two miles south west and upstream of central London
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An aerial shot shows the Thames running alongside Hampton Court Palace. The building is located in Richmond Upon Thames and is found about two miles south west and upstream of central London

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A photograph of David Napier's shipyard, where Isambard Kingdom Brunel's Great Eastern was built by J. Scott Russell & Co

A photograph of David Napier’s shipyard, where Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s Great Eastern was built by J. Scott Russell & Co

The view from Putney Bridge showing Putney Wharf
It has changed massively over the years, and now features, among other things, a tall apartment building
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The view from Putney Bridge showing Putney Wharf. It has changed massively over the years, and now features, among other things, a tall apartment building

A black and white photograph shows hundreds of barrels containing wine and spirits vaults lined up at the London Docks

A black and white photograph shows hundreds of barrels containing wine and spirits vaults lined up at the London Docks

A barge heavily-laden with hay makes its way down the Thames in front of the Old Billingsgate market. The Tower of London's White Tower can be seen dominating the city skyline in the far right

A barge heavily-laden with hay makes its way down the Thames in front of the Old Billingsgate market. The Tower of London’s White Tower can be seen dominating the city skyline in the far right

The riverbank of London is a million miles away from what it was like 100 years ago, with skyscrapers dominating the skyline

The riverbank of London is a million miles away from what it was like 100 years ago, with skyscrapers dominating the skyline

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