Thames Portrait – From Westminster to Southend

Eileen Arbuthnot (aka Arnot) Robertson (1903-1961) was an English novelist, critic and broadcaster.

1931

Among her books was the 1937, “Thames Portrait”, based on a motor-boat trip from Lechdale in Gloucestershire to Southend, in which she tells stories of the places and people along the Thames. Liberally distributed throughout the book are photographs taken by a ‘H. E. Turner’, her husband about whom I can find little information.

The photos from Westminster to Southend are included here. I am thus drifting off my usual subject, the history of the Isle of Dogs, and I don’t usually post an article with only photographs (unless I do so by accident by pressing the ‘Publish’ button instead of ‘Save’ πŸ™‚ ). However, the photos represent so well the hive of marine activity that was the Thames – and just two years before the outbreak of World War II – I could hardly not share them. Hope you enjoy them too….

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Westminster

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From Southwark Bridge

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Blackfriars

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‘St. Paul’s broods over the river’

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On London Bridge

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Dutch eel-boats (on Saturday), at Billingsgate

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Tower Bridge

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‘Loading in the Pool’

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‘Almost dead at low-water’

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Two hours before high-water, the Pool wakes up’

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Wapping

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‘The past looks at the present’ (is that Deptford Power Station?)

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Probably Millwall Docks, complete with Lascars.

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‘…an arduous business…’

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Woolwich Reach

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‘Woolwich Free Ferry Types’

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‘Dockland’s Children (“Skinny Liz”)’

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‘Brailing the mainsail’

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‘Barge menders’

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‘First of the ebb’

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‘The saddest sight on the Thames: the old men watching the young men work’

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‘Southend on Bank Holiday’

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‘The loveliest craft in our waters’

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‘Salt water’

 

 

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9 Responses to Thames Portrait – From Westminster to Southend

  1. Nicholas Sack says:

    Striking photographs. Info here (from Wiki) about the photographer, the author, and their tragic deaths:

    Robertson took her first job, on the London-based magazine Answers, at the age of 19. In that year she also sat anonymously for the painting A Red Haired Girl by James McBey. On 26 February 1927 she was married in Kensington to H. E. (from 1951 Sir Henry) Turner (1891–1961), secretary-general of the Empire Press Union, later the Commonwealth Press Union. They adopted a son, Gordon Turner, in the late 1930s. The Turners moved to Heath Street, Hampstead, in 1946. They were passionate sailors, as the sailing background of Ordinary Families shows. Turner’s death in a boating accident precipitated Robertson’s suicide five months later.

  2. Rich says:

    Great photos of the river Mick
    Certain buildings I recognise along the way.
    Thank s for sharing πŸ‘πŸ‘

  3. Wonderful photos – thank you! I can’t help but notice the young men in the pictures – I wonder what happened to them in the coming few years? And the romantic in me wonders which P&O ship that was, and where it was bound on its next voyage – Bombay, Colombo, Singapore, Hong Kong… perhaps down to Australia? And, wow, Southend Beach! Seems “overtourism” isn’t just a 21st-century phenomenon.

  4. Joyce Calvert says:

    Wonderful photos, loved the one on the shore, was that at the tower? I remember going there with my aunt & cousin one summer after the war and playing on sand.

  5. Kathy Cook says:

    Really enjoyed those photos Mick – thank you.

    x

    Kathy Cook

    MA, BA Hons, DipSW, PGCD, Cert FE,

    Life is short – so, break the rules,forgive quickly,

    kiss slowly, love truly, laugh uncontrollably and

    never regret anything that made you smile……..

    ……oh! and dance like there is nobody watching!

    ________________________________

  6. AlanT says:

    These are great photos, with lots of foreground interest. They include a lot of barges still under sail. Not too easy on a bendy river with a strong tide.

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