Memories of Summer: Photos of the Thames Festival on London’s South Bank


The yellow platformThe Southbank Centre's Roof GardenThe roof garden and the houseboatLooking downAcross the Thames to Charing CrossRoyal Festival Hall and the London Eye
Flogging the Olympic VillageBig game huntersE20 map (the East Village)Helter skelterLondon beachBernie Spain Gardens
ZebrasVideo in the Royal Festival HallCanary Wharf from Reeds WharfCanary Wharf from Rotherhithe

Memories of Summer: The Thames Festival on London’s South Bank, a set on Flickr.

Sunday September 9, 2012 was the final day of the weekend-long Thames Festival, established in 1997, and run by the Thames Festival Trust, which regularly attracts tens of thousands of visitors, and did so again this year, even though it was the last day of the Paralympic Games, and had been a summer so saturated with cultural events that it was possible to have thought beforehand that cultural saturation might well have set in.

Instead, the banks of the River Thames were packed, and nowhere more so than along the action-packed shoreline that stretches from Butlers Wharf in the east to Westminster Bridge in the west, via Tower Bridge, City Hall, Shakespeare’s Globe, Tate Modern and the Millennium Bridge, Gabriels Wharf, the South Bank Centre, the London Eye, and the cluster of largely unappealing corporate attractions in the former County Hall.

In the absence — this year — of the favourite attraction of myself and my family — the Feast on the Bridge, when Southwark Bridge is filled with long tables and excellent food outlets (and even some visiting farm animals) — we stayed mainly around the South Bank, which was the most popular area, although we promenaded at one point down to Bernie Spain Gardens, owned, managed and maintained by Coin Street Community Builders, a community action group that worked, successfully, to establish local, community-owned housing on a site sought by developers for offices in the 1970s and the early 1980s — something that is desperately needed again today, as rapacious developers pillage every spare piece of land in the whole of London for overpriced housing developments.

I hope you enjoy this set — a reminder of those heady days at the end of summer, when it is so lovely to be in Britain that it is sometimes possible to forget that it will come to an end, and that winter will strip the leaves off the trees and shorten the days with darkness.

It was also almost possible to forget that life in modern Britain is supposed to — according to those pushing the levers of power — revolve solely around money. Apart from the unfortunate presence of salespeople trying to flog the Olympic Village, the shrieking of big money was largely absent from the Thames Festival, as arts and culture held sway, and mostly small-scale operations sold people food and drink and gifts.

Thanks for taking my time machine back to September with me. For those keeping count, it’s the 68th in my ongoing project to photograph the whole of London by bike. There will now be a short break, as I post a set of Christmas photos, before I return to post two more sets from September, of central London, and then return once more to the here and now, with more photo sets of winter.

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.

2 Responses

  1. Damo says...

    You know wot Andy there is nothing like ridding along the embankment on a hot honey summer night seeing all the lights

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, I’m glad you agree, Damo. Apart from the bits that have been privatised, where jobsworths are employed to tell you to get off and walk. I’m thinking about More London, where City Hall is, as this photo shows:
    Happy Christmas, by the way!

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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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