London Landscapes Magazine – Tower Bridge Moorings At Downings Road Are Under Threat



London-Landscapes-PDF-2For regular attendees of the Open Garden Squares Weekend, held annually every June, the Downings Road Ancient Moorings will certainly be familiar, and quite probably also memorable and special. However, for those who have not yet explored this superb example of river-based urban regeneration it would surely come as a revelation to find this thriving, almost hidden, floating community in close proximity to majestic Tower Bridge and with a City of London backdrop.

These historic, ‘ancient’ or private barge moorings have been in existence since at least the first half of the 19th century, possibly longer, and over 100 residents live here in historic, former working craft. The infrastructure of the Moorings is provided by seven Garden Barges, planted with trees, shrubs and annuals; fruit trees include plum, quince and medlars, and vegetables are also grown. On a recent visit I was captivated by the Moorings’ quirkiness and inventiveness: it’s a thoroughly contemporary space, with sustainability at its heart, and has won numerous UK and international awards for the community gardens, yet the Moorings date from a time when the Thames was a very busy communication and trading artery through London. It struck me that possibly the Moorings could only be in London, not just because of the river, but more due to the palpable sense of collaboration with and integration into the locale, which will have surely contributed to their longevity, and for which Londoners themselves would possibly like to think they have a reputation.

London-Landscapes-PDF-21But, sadly, this year will be the tenth in which Nick Lacey, the Moorings’ owner since 1983, has battled for their existence – an on-going threat which seems to be missing a clear legal argument, but which hinges on the issue of licensing in the Thames and importantly the exemption of private moorings from this requirement. What is certainly evident is that legislation governing the conduct of the tidal Thames defines a private mooring as ‘’a mooring chain placed in the Thames before 29th September 1857’’, and documents show that in 1855 the Moorings at Downings Road were in existence and were recognised as such. Unless some sensible compromise can be reached, the case might yet go to trial at the High Court as a date in May has been fixed. Quite apart from the considerable expense this would entail, London risks losing an historic site on the Thames with its beautiful floating gardens and unique craft.

Read the full article here.


Comments are closed on this post.

All rights reserved for Tower Bridge Moorings