Transport for London commissioner Mike Brown has given an update on plans for an upgraded ferry service between Rotherhithe and Canary Wharf to replace the cancelled bridge project.

“We are continuing to examine options for a new ferry service, with work focused on route planning, fares, vessels, piers and connectivity to the local area,” wrote Mr Brown in his report to the TfL board.

“Initial feasibility work has been completed and an informal update was provided to the Programmes and Investment Committee in October.

“We are now continuing work to develop our requirements for the service, identify preferred infrastructure options, and determine a suitable delivery and operating model.

“By the end of November 2019 we expect to appoint a specialist consultant to support us in the next stages of work and have recently issued a Prior Information Notice seeking feedback from industry on how best to
take forward the scheme.

“The work on a new ferry to improve connectivity for people who walk or cycle between Rotherhithe and Canary Wharf is alongside the wider investment we are making in walking and cycling across the area, including delivery of Cycleway 4 and new cycle routes from Rotherhithe to Peckham and from Hackney to the Isle of Dogs.”

The Rotherhithe link is also featured in TfL’s new passenger pier strategy published last week. That document says that: “Options include new or improved piers at Rotherhithe and Canary Wharf, together with roll-on, roll-off electric or hybrid high frequency ferries to reduce waiting times.

“The Rotherhithe to Canary Wharf ferry would serve as a test case for assessing the feasibility of providing similar high-quality pedestrian and cycle links in other locations in east London, including Opportunity Areas, where the river is currently a barrier to encouraging healthier travel choices.”

SONY DSC

Thames tour boat firm City Cruises, which operates from Bermondsey’s Cherry Garden Pier, has been sold to Chicago-based Hornblower Cruises & Events.

City Cruises was founded in 1985 and now has operations in York and at Poole Harbour in addition to its core Thames business.

“We are incredibly excited to acquire City Cruises, which we believe to be the best leisure cruise operator in Europe today,” said Terry MacRae, CEO of Hornblower.

@We have long had the ambition to enter the European market, and it makes perfect sense to start our journey in one of the most iconic cities in the world.

“Under the expert stewardship of Gary and Rita Beckwith, City Cruises has earned an enviable reputation, and we are honoured to build on their legacy in 2020 and beyond.”

Gary Beckwith OBE, City Cruises founder and CEO, said: “We believe the sale of City Cruises to Hornblower will take the brand to the next level of success. 

“We have always been at the forefront of change and believe our growth and success over the years is testament to our commitment to embracing innovation, constantly investing in our vessels and our customer experiences, and our dedication to providing outstanding customer service every day of the year. 

“We have been honoured to be at the helm of City Cruises and believe the business we started will further flourish and grow under Hornblower’s ownership.”

Hornblower Cruises & Events President, Kenneth Svendsen, leads the combined company. All staff will be retained, with founders Gary and Rita Beckwith assisting in the transition.


The Bank of England has revealed the design for the new £20 polymer note to be introduced in 2020 – and it has a Rotherhithe connection.

The new polymer banknote features artist JMW Turner and his painting The Fighting Temeraire.

Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, said: “Our banknotes celebrate the UK’s heritage, salute its culture, and testify to the achievements of its most notable individuals. 

“And so it is with the new £20 banknote, featuring JMW Turner, launched today at Turner Contemporary in Margate.  Turner’s contribution to art extends well beyond his favourite stretch of shoreline. 

“Turner’s painting was transformative, his influence spanned lifetimes, and his legacy endures today.

“The new £20 note celebrates Turner, his art and his legacy in all their radiant, colourful, evocative glory.”

One of Turner’s most eminent paintings, The Fighting Temeraire, depicts HMS Temeraire which played a distinguished role in Nelson’s victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

Painted in 1838 it depicts the Temeraire being towed to Beatson’s yard in Rotherhithe to be broken up.

Timber from the ship was used to create an altar and two chairs which can still be found in St Mary’s Church in Rotherhithe.

The painting is currently on display in the National Gallery and was voted the nation’s favourite painting in a 2005 poll run by BBC Radio 4.

Image by Loz Flowers used under a Creative Commons licence

Southwark Council’s cabinet this week agreed to launch a consultation on the future of South Dock Marina and Boatyard.

Tuesday’s cabinet meeting heard a public question and a deputation from members of the bertholders’ association who aired concerns about future residential development which could generate complaints from residents about noisy activity at the boatyard.

In his foreword to the cabinet report, Cllr Richard Livingstone wrote: “The ideas set out in the report include how the marina could be expanded to better meet the demand for people to live on the marina; how the infrastructure of the area could be improved to meet the needs of berth holders and the broader community; how the space at the boatyard could be developed to both enhance its operation and provide new council homes; and how to give berth holders greater certainty on future fee increases.”

You can watch the cabinet meeting here:

Transport for London has delayed the next round of public consultation on the Rotherhithe to Canary Wharf Bridge as it tries to trim the cost of the scheme, a City Hall committee has been told.

TfL has allocated £330 million to the walking and cycling scheme in its business plan.

Public consultation was due to open last month but has been delayed whilst TfL tries to tweak the scheme to try to keep the cost of the bridge within £330 million.

David Hughes, TfL’s investment delivery planning director, told the London Assembly budget & performance committee: “We’ve deferred the start of the consultation to allow further work on value engineering aspects of the scheme, going back looking at certain of the requirements around alignment [and] the navigation requirements of the Port of London to see if we can take out part of the cost before going to consultation.”

Alex Williams, TfL’s director of city planning, added: “We will seek contributions from the private sector to help deliver it” – but he warned that the amounts to be extracted from Canada Water developers British Land and Canary Wharf Group “are not going to be huge”.

Mr Hughes was unable to give Assembly members a new timetable for the next public consultation on the bridge.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has defended plans to build a bridge across the Thames linking Rotherhithe with Canary Wharf.

Mr Khan was speaking at the People’s Question Time event in Bexley on Thursday night where he was challenged from the floor about plans for a “£400 million vanity bridge” at Rotherhithe.

The Mayor said: “I don’t apologise for wanting to make sure that we have a cycle and pedestrian bridge at Canary Wharf and Rotherhithe.

“Actually it was one of the campaigns that Caroline Pidgeon talked about during the mayoral campaign.

“I was initially not sure of my views but was persuaded during the mayoral campaign that it was a good idea.

“We have worked cross-party to get this scheme up and running.”

Liberal Democrat London Assembly member Caroline Pidgeon said: “It’s so important for pedestrians and cyclists to be able to cross the Thames.

“At the moment on this side of London you have a choice: you go through the Rotherhithe Tunnel – literally taking your life into your own hands – or you have to trek further east and go through the Greenwich Foot Tunnel.

“We need to make sure that people can get across the Thames in a healthy, safe way.

“I think this is a fantastic project and it will be a real triumph for London to see a brand new bridge at that location.”

This week we reported that Canary Wharf Group is opposing the bridge and favours an improved ferry service instead.

The owners of Canary Wharf have criticised plans for a bridge across the Thames linking the Isle of Dogs with Rotherhithe.

Canary Wharf Group’s hostility to the scheme has been known for some time but is now a matter of public record thanks to the firm’s submission to the London Plan examination in public currently being held at City Hall

“We are concerned about the proposed walk and cycle river crossing between Rotherhithe and Canary Wharf,” says CWG in its written statement on transport schemes in London.

“This is a very expensive and environmentally intrusive scheme and we believe the significantly cheaper ferry proposal should be properly considered as a more viable and attractive (to users) proposition.

“With public finances heavily constrained, it is vital that investment in infrastructure is spent wisely on the most important, beneficial and deliverable initiatives.”

Last month Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “Transport for London (TfL) is continuing to develop the scheme, including aspects of design, construction and operation of this important new crossing.

“As part of this, TfL is engaging directly with a number of stakeholders, including the Port of London Authority, London boroughs, land owners and local community groups.

“This work is helping to develop greater detail on the scheme, which TfL will share as part of a formal public consultation, which is currently planned to launch in spring 2019.”

In its London Plan EIP submission, Canary Wharf also argues that greater capacity is needed on the Jubilee line in order to meet future demand.

Plans to light up some of Rotherhithe’s landmark buildings to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower in 2020 have moved a step closer.

More than £30,000 has been raised to allow a feasibility study to be undertaken. £20,000 has been contributed by the Greater London Authority with the balance coming from local people, businesses and organisations.

WE HIT OUR TARGET TODAY – 3 DAYS BEFORE MONDAY’S DEADLINE – AND WE’VE EXCEEDED IT!  We never believed for a moment that it would be possible to raise such a significant sum in such a relatively short space of time, but thanks to YOU and all the other 176 generous pledgers we have actually managed to achieve our goal.  
 
We are now in overfunding mode!  This is a wonderful – and very unexpected – position to be in.  It will still be possible to make a pledge for the next couple of weeks, and as stated on our Spacehive project page all the additional funds will be held in reserve to put towards the cost of the installation of the lighting scheme later on, after the technical feasibility study has been completed.  

It’s been suggested that there is potentially funding available in another mayoral funding pot to cover part of the cost of the installation, and last week I was given a promise of corporate financial support for the installation, which is very exciting! But there is lots more work to do.

We want to move the process forward as quickly as we can now, and we are still hoping that there might be time for this legacy lighting scheme to be installed by July 2020 when the Mayflower 400 celebrations/commemorations begin.  We have already arranged to meet with the conservation architect and the lighting designer in January to discuss next steps.  And if you would like to learn more about the proposed scheme, evening lighting demonstrations will be available for local friends and neighbours – and for anyone else who’s interested – before design development.
 
Please help us by sharing this good news with all your networks and your social media.  
 
THANK YOU AGAIN for your support and for your enthusiasm and for making it possible for us to take our exciting vision forward to the next stage.
 
Festive greetings and very best wishes for 2019.
 
Clare and the Illuminate Rotherhithe! campaign team

Here’s the update that Clare Armstrong – who devised the project – shared with backers on the Spacehive crowdfunding site: