A short section of footpath has opened along the Thames, finally consolidating the riverside walk.
It's fair to say that the North Bank of the Thames seldom sees the crowds of the South Bank. There are many reasons for that, but a small share of the blame must lie with the idiosyncratic footpath, which forces walkers up beside the awful Thames Street just east of Millennium Bridge.
No longer. A recent development in the Queenhithe area has opened up a section of Thames-side path that's been out of reach for over 20 years. We're talking about the bit shown below, perhaps best known for the Samuel Pepys pub.
You can now walk along this stretch, ambling under those white columns and behind the facade of that seven-storey warehouse building (Globe View apartments).
It's a scheme that's been many years in the making, with various planning and funding complications that needed unpicking. Finally, though, an enrobement of City dignitaries gathered at noon on 22 March 2023 to cut the ribbon.
One can now walk from the Houses of Parliament to well beyond Tower Bridge without once leaving the river's side (well, except to duck under bridges).
The new walkway passes beneath an old warehouse building and is entirely covered. Architects Rivington Street Studio have done a handsome job of rescoping old brickwork and opening up this formerly private space. In the process, they uncovered an old cast iron supporting column that had long been concealed. To continue a recent City trend, it's been painted the same colour as Blackfriars Bridge and Holborn Viaduct, both newly redecorated.
The other highlight is the favourably positioned rectangular opening, which perfectly frames the Shard. Expect to see it on a million Instagram feeds (including mine) soon.
Everyone's a winner, but especially the once-cul-de-sac'd Samuel Pepys pub. It finally has some passing trade.
The architects also ensured that the openings at each end are wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs and buggies. A double buggy should just about squeeze through on a tight fit.
Overall, a sterling job. Though we did notice that some of the signs are going to need an overhaul. There's nothing at the Queenhithe end to point people in the right direction (the passage beside a hotel looks intimidatingly private). And then there's this:
The North Bank through the City will always be the path less trodden, when compared to its southerly sibling. But now that it is finally connected-up, perhaps more people will pass through and enjoy the rich architectural medley that a walk in these parts affords.