London is full of great walks, and one of my favourites is the fairly short walk from North Greenwich tube station to the Thames Barrier and back, taking in The O2 (formerly the Millennium Dome) on the way.
I think I was one of the few people who actually enjoyed the Millennium Dome ‘experience’ when it first opened at the turn of the century.
I found its quirky mix of attractions, aerial dance displays and interactive widgets rather pleasing, but I understand why people expecting some kind of blockbuster entertainment spectacular were disappointed.
Although the Dome was widely seen as a financial flop, it kickstarted immense amounts of regeneration in the area, sadly with a disappointing focus on expensive ‘lifestyle’ living.
The dome is one of the largest of its type in the world, with the structure supported by twelve 100 m-high yellow support towers – one for each month of the year, or each hour of the clock face – representing the role played by Greenwich Mean Time.
The time theme continues with the diameter measuring up at 365 m (one metre for each day in a standard year), with the canopy being 52 m high in the middle – one metre for each week of the year.
The architect for the project was Richard Rogers and the contractor was a joint venture company, McAlpine/Laing Joint Venture (MLJV) formed between Sir Robert McAlpine and Laing Management.
Where aerial dancers once glided down from the roof, the interior has been turned into a wallet-emptying “indoor city” complete with faux streets and buildings.
In line with its quasi-public status, the area is patrolled by eager security gardens who will be on your case the second you produce a camera which they deem to be ‘professional.’
It’s all a bit daft really, because my phone (a Huawei P30 Pro) is capable of taking pictures every bit as good as a ‘real’ camera in many circumstances.
Walking along the faux avenue.
Inside the shiny, Instagram-primed shopping mall.
Dangling silver baubles hope to lure you into a spending frenzy.
It looks like a cross between an airport and a Dubai shopping centre. It’s all a bit grim, to be honest.
Time to leave.
New high-end developments outside the Dome.
One of the 12 supports for the structure.
A look up at the Emirates Air Line cable car which whisks you across the Thames at considerable height. It’s a great trip which I thoroughly recommend.
View photo reports from previous trips:
- Cable car across London – a return to the Emirates Air Line in East London
- A trip on the Emirates Air Line cable car from North Greenwich to the Royal Docks, London
The Quantum Cloud sculpture, designed by Antony Gormley, is located next to The O2 in London, and at 30 metres high, it is Gormley’s tallest sculpture to date.
The sculpture was commissioned for the site and completed in 1999.
Boats bobbing on the Thames.
New riverside developments, fresh off the developer’s mood board. Not for the poor.
A sailing boat heads west.
Looking back you can see some of the Dome’s supports, surrounded by upmarket developments in self-proclaimed ‘iconic’ buildings.
Old and new.
The walk gets a bit industrialised as you get closer to the Thames Barrier. This is more like it!
Huge conveyor belt for transporting aggregates to ships.
Disused railway lines on abandoned pier.
A local wag writes…
The Anchor & Hope pub on the Greenwich Peninsula – right by the river – looked busy when I passed. It’s a decent boozer.
The pub’s distinctive golden dome.
A local takes it easy.
A Thames Rocket speedboat zips by.
The rather magnificent Thames Barrier is a movable barrier system designed to prevent the floodplain of most of Greater London from being flooded by exceptionally high tides and storm surges moving up from the North Sea.
Operational since 1982, the concept of the rising sector gates was devised by (Reginald) Charles Draper, who constructed a working model in his parents’ house, with the novel rotating cylinders based on the design of the taps on his gas cooker.
The £535-million Thames Barrier was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh on the 8th May, 1984, with the unique flood control structure spanning 520 metres across the river Thames at Woolwich Reach.
Heading back to North Greenwich, you can see the corporate towers of Canary Wharf. Babylon!
Passing back under the cable cars.
Cut up piece of shipping.
A last look at the Dome as the skies darken.