“The society which has abolished every kind of adventure makes its own abolition the only possible adventure.” Paris, May 1968

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Deptford Creek

Despite the worst efforts of gentrification and the dreaded heritage industry, Greenwich is a beautiful riverside town. The Park and Observatory, the amazing Painted Hall of the old Naval College and (perhaps best of all) Goddard's Pie and Eel Shop are all well worth a visit. But turn into Creek Road walk a couple of hundred yards away from the tourists and you will come to the much more gritty reality of Deptford Creek. As a teenager I worked on JJ Prior's sand barges running aggregates from the Essex pits up the London River to Brewery Wharf immediately upstream of Deptford Creek Bridge. Over half a century later the wharf and barges are still there.

Not that the area has escaped change, the Stirling Prize winning Laban Centre and the Creekside development attest to that, but Deptford High Street looks pretty much the same and the creek itself remains timeless.
In 1497 the Cornish made one final effort to free themselves of the Norman Yoke and 15 thousand marched on London. It was at Deptford Creek that they were finally defeated.

A couple of years after working for Priors I was trading backwards and forwards to the Continent on tiny coasters, Again Deptford Creek featured in my travels. We used to load bales of waste paper at a wharf further up the creek and yet further up was a scrap metal yard where we loaded scrap  for Caen of Normandy Landings fame. In Caen we would load steel bars to bring back home. It made no sense to me at the time - I'm not sure that it does now. Have a look at Deptford if you are in that neck of the woods. But I wouldn't leave it too long. It's only a matter of time.

1 comment:

Dr Llareggub said...

Thanks for posting this. The area has always interested me, although I have only been there a couple of times. My lad is a regular explorer there.