Woolwich - MV Royal Iris
The MV Royal Iris is a diesel-electric, former Mersey Ferry built in 1950 at a cost of £256,000.
The Royal Iris was licensed to carry 2,296 passengers on normal ferry duties, or 1,000 for cruising. Onboard amenities included a dancefloor and stage, tea room, buffet, cocktail bar, even a fish and chip saloon. The latter giving the Royal Iris the nickname "the fish and chip boat".
In 1951 the battleship HMS Duke of York was under tow on her way to being broken up at Gareloch when she collided with the Royal Iris. Some passengers enjoying a cruise were hospitalised as a result of the accident.
During the 1960s numerous acts associated with the Merseybeat scene performed on the ferry, Duke Duval played on the first Cavern Cruise, followed by The Beatles and Gerry & The Pacemakers.
After a refit at Harland and Wolff in Bootle in 1971 she was mainly used as a cruise vessel. A new steak bar and dining area replaced the original fish and ship saloon.
In 1977, the Royal Iris carried The Queen & The Duke of Edinburgh on their Silver Jubilee Mersey Review.The ship was used by Granada Television during the summer of 1979 as the setting for the ITV Saturday morning children's television series The Mersey Pirate.
The Royal Iris ran a farewell evening cruise in 1991, prior to being taken out of service & sold to a consortium for conversion into a floating nightclub, restaurant and conference centre, based in Liverpool under the name of 'Mr Smith's Nightclub'.After abortive plans to move her to Cardiff she was moved to her current site on the Thames in Woolwich awaiting a possible refit as a floating Thames nightclub.Since then she has severely deteriorated & is flooding at high tide and resting on her hull at low water which is putting more strain on her structure. Campaigns have been made to take her back home the cost of taking the vessel back to Merseyside is now estimated to be in 6 figures.
Squatters are currently living on the upper levels of the Royal Iris gaining access via a home made portable bridge structure which they remove once onboard thus preventing anyone else casually boarding the vessel. These pics of the Royal Iris were taken in November 2015.
West Silvertown - The London Regalia
The London Regalia, a floating pub was moored at Swan Pier, on the North bank of the Thames between Cannon Street Railway Bridge and London Bridge.
The permanently moored vessel offered The lower Orlop deck incorporating a stage and dance floor along with a bar and seating for 130. The galleried Mezzanine deck had a large bar with additional seating for 100 persons. The bar was very popular with City workers during Summer evenings. It also sold food from BBQs to private hire silver service functions such as wedding receptions.
The London Regalia was closed in approx 2011 and was towed downriver to West Silvertown where it currently remains disused and gradually decaying away.
Deptford Creek - Deptford SE8
Today Deptford is overshadowed by nearby Greenwich, but it, too, has played an important part in London’s history. A fishing village in the Middle Ages, it witnessed the Battle of Deptford Bridge in 1497 on a site adjacent to Deptford Creek when Cornish rebels under their leader Lord Audley were soundly beaten by the king’s forces. A few years later Henry VIII created a royal dockyard here, and it was at Deptford that Elizabeth I knighted Francis Drake on board the Golden Hind on his return from circumnavigating the globe in 1580. The Golden Hind remained moored in the creek until it broke up. Later still Captain Cook’s ships Resolution and Discovery were equipped at Deptford before his last voyage to the Pacfic.
Deptford’s fall from grace has been dramatic, although regeneration of the area is now well under way. In the meantime the abandoned industrial landscape has produced a lively local wildlife habitat.
RAINHAM MARSHES - Concrete Barges
Some sections of the floating pontoons/concrete barges on the Thames that were made to construct the artificial harbours off the coast of Normandy just after D-Day in June 1944.
A Mulberry harbour was a type of temporary harbour developed in World War II to offload cargo on the beaches during the Allied invasion of Normandy as part of the D-Day invasion in 1944.
"During the Second World War, steel was in short supply. Governments in the UK and the US ordered the construction of barges made of reinforced concrete. The barges now abandoned on the Thames mud at Rainham were towed across the channel as part of the immense project to create artificial harbours for the Normandy landings on D-Day. They formed part of one of the Mulberry harbours. Then in 1953 they came to the rescue a second time when they were used to shore up the flood defences of the estuary which were damaged by a huge storm and surge tide. Towns along the river estuary were inundated and devastated by the worst Thames floods in living memory." Description From "Abandoned Relics of War"