Down the Thames from Tower Pier, 9 July 2000

Images and text by Martin Longhurst

On the Sunday of Balmoral's last weekend on the Thames, she sailed down river from Tower Pier to Tilbury, Southend and then passed close to the Thames Towers.

Moored alongside HMS Belfast, in the Pool of London, was the Norwegian cruise ship Seabourn Pride

She had just finished disembarking her passengers by launch to the new reception facilities on Tower Pier

Passing through the raised bascules of Tower Bridge

At Greenwich, we passed HMS Invincible moored there for a week as part of the Navy's Recruitment Drive

Perched on her flight deck were three Sea King helicopters ...

... and two Harrier jump jets at the bottom of the take-off ramp

The angle of the ramp hides the two jets from this angle

The Shivering Sands Fort, once the home of Army anti-aircraft gunners (in the '40s and '50s) and the pirate radio station Radio 390, in the '60s. Captain Gellatly took the Balmoral on to the Red Sands and Knock John Forts before turning back to Southend

The passage upstream was punctuated by frequent heavy downpours. Approaching the Thames Barrier, the red and green traffic lights stand out although there is still over three hours to dusk. The freighter on the north (right hand) bank has brought sugar cane to Tate & Lyle's Silvertown Refinery. The Canary Wharf tower has been obscured by the rain clouds.

In torrential rain, Balmoral passes through the Barrier. Note the next span is in the closed, or defence, position.

Leaving Limehouse Reach we had our second encounter with the Seabourn Pride, now loaded with new passengers and headed off on her next cruise

The low cloud makes a startling view

Only light rain now, and the pointed Canary Wharf building is clearly visible

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