Industry and Decay: Photos of a Journey Along the Thames from Greenwich to Woolwich


Storm clouds over Greenwich Yacht ClubThe O2 viewed from Murphy's WharfA storm over Murphy's Wharf aggregates plantThe beach at Murphy's WharfA watery grave for supermarket trolleysMurphy's Wharf in the rain
The Thames BarrierCanary Wharf and the O2 from the Thames BarrierArt Hub Studios, WoolwichA brooding sky over WoolwichThe Victoria, a wrecked pub in CharltonThe White Horse, Charlton
The bookies is closedThe weather-worn warehouse, WoolwichIron stainsRiver stairs at Warspite Road, WoolwichThe corroded railingThe rope and the railing, Woolwich
An alien glow: corroded metal and seaweedBack in black, Woolwich"They've got more choice!"Self-portrait in WoolwichWolverine shadowRiverhope Mansions

Industry and Decay: A Journey Along the Thames from Greenwich to Woolwich, a set on Flickr.

On July 11, as part of my ongoing project to photograph the whole of London by bike, I cycled east from Greenwich, intending to travel to the Thames barrier, on the border of Charlton and Woolwich, but then carrying on, through Woolwich to Thamesmead, the satellite town originally built in the 1960s, and used as the setting for Stanley Kubrick’s notorious film “A Clockwork Orange,” and back via Belmarsh prison and Plumstead, before rejoining the Thames Path once more for the journey back west, and home.

I’m posting these photos in four sets, and this is the second, following Chasing Clouds in Greenwich: Photos of a Journey East Along the Thames (or see here), in which I recorded the first stage of the journey, through Greenwich under a brooding, rain-filled sky. In this second set, as the rain fell, I passed some of the surviving industrial sites alongside the river, in east Greenwich and Charlton — or, to be strictly accurate, New Charlton — and on past the Thames Barrier to Woolwich, through industrial estates, and with a diversion to an evocative set of river stairs. The rain had passed by the time I reached Woolwich, and the sun was shining once more, but the weather was so restless that there were wonderful lively skies, as captured in the next photo set, which I’ll be posting tomorrow.

I hope you enjoy these photos of a part of London that is not generally on any tourist itineraries — although intrepid visitors do make it out to the Thames Barrier — and if you’d like to see more of the 500-plus London photos I have so far uploaded — bearing in mind that there are many more to come! — then feel free to check out my photo sets or collections, or to search for photos via tags. I have also been locating all the photos on a map, as mapping is a major part of my project to photograph London by bike.

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed — and I can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Digg, Flickr (my photos) and YouTube. Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in April 2012, “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” a 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, and details about the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and available on DVD here — or here for the US). Also see my definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all my articles, and please also consider joining the new “Close Guantánamo campaign,” and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.

9 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    On Facebook, Jennah Solace wrote:

    Love the sinking shopping carts! ‘An alien glow’ looks like an abstract that belongs in the Tate, the self portrait – very nice – you are as handsome as ever — and the shadow with the claws — very fierce! Great photos! 🙂

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Zilma Nunes wrote:

    ‎”A watery grave for supermarket trolleys.”
    This photo seems a surrealist picture , would represent the end of the market era…

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Jennah and Zilma. Good to hear from you both, and glad you liked the shopping trolleys. The end of the market era, eh, Zilma? We can but hope.

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    On Facebook, I posted the photo, “An alien glow”:
    and I wrote:

    So this is one of my favourite photos from the set I posted yesterday — as part of my ongoing project to photograph the whole of London by bike — of corroded metal beside some obscure river stairs at the edge of an industrial estate in Woolwich, in south east London. Beauty can be found anywhere, I reckon.

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    David J. Clarke wrote:

    These are my favorite kind of shots too.

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, David. It’s been interesting finding out what I like photographing. I like it when the opportunity for some abstract close-up work appears, but I’m also constantly fascinated by the built environment, the old buildings that define a sense of place, and, in a different way, the new ones that, in so many cases, are a show of money or intended to make money. Not that old buildings are necessarily any different, but time has at least worn them, and they have had the time to establish themselves as being lived-in and used. A lot of new builds are just cold. I also enjoy nature, amidst the signs of man, and alternate between liking photos of empty spaces and liking the presence of people. All of this makes my bike rides fascinating!

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    Mara Ahmed wrote:

    that’s a great picture andy. didn’t know u were into photography. keep them coming 🙂

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    David J. Clarke wrote:

    Landscapes and architecture can be a great source of inspiration. If only more of the London’s historic buildings had been saved from the wreckers ball (and the bombs) there would be less of Blake’s ‘dark satanic mills’!

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for the support, Mara, and yes, David, far too much that is old and has character has been swept away for the uniformity that feeds the bank accounts of investors and that enslaves society to an idea that house prices can keep on going up, up, up, as though that was either desirable or feasible!

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo and We Stand With Shaker. Also, photo-journalist (The State of London), and singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers).
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