National Geographic : 1958 Jul
"I'm thick," he complained. "Sick!" exclaimed the irre pressible Hoolahan. "Oh, no! Come help me fix the engines. That will cure you." By the next morning the wind had dropped and we were able to get on to Leigh, famous for its cockles and its yacht club, one of the few in the world to use a ship-the Lady Savile looks rather like an excursion steamer-as a clubhouse. Then to our last port of call, Southend on Sea, where estuary and ocean meet. It was Sunday and trippers from London had inundated the seaside resort. We parted regretfully from Herbert and Denis, who left to sail the Goshawk back upriver. Southend is the British Coney Island. At night the waterfront bursts into millions of colored lights. The pier, one of the longest in the world, even has its own seven-car trains to transport people from shore to pierhead. At the end the pierhead broadens to become a pile-sup ported island three stories high, populated with thousands of trippers. Here at the mouth A barge ski of the Thames they visit shops captain never Ssa c merely offered and shows and concerts and jump." The enjoy the bravest illumination between the in England. They gaze open- Barge Club m mouthed at enormous fire breathing dragons, a vast luminous mosaic of Queen Elizabeth I and her square-rigged ships, another of the present Elizabeth and her castles and palaces, a replica of the Statue of Liberty to please visiting Americans, a doll's theater, Mother Goose, Miss Muffet, Santa Claus with his reindeer, and many other characters from fact and fiction, all blown up to gigantic proportions and blazing with color and light. Gaiety on the Somber Thames There are cafes and bars and booths where you may nibble cockles and whelks and jellied eels. There are games of chance to suit any taste. And there are the people, with green, red, or blue faces, according to the colors that happen to be flashing at the moment, all strug gling cheerfully to get past, under or over pper feels his way down the foggy Thames. "The gave an order," reports photographer Sisson. "He I suggestions, but Heaven help the crewman who didn't sailing barges, now reduced to six, still carry cargo Thames and English coastal ports. The Thames Sailing aintains one of the vessels as a feature of London's river. other people, all laughing and screaming and ignoring the grave old Thames which cannot smother this gaiety with its dark, silent mantle. There is a place where you can get away from all the uproar, at the far end of the pier projecting darkly into the river. We were a mile and a third from shore and yet far short of the middle of the mighty stream, here some six miles wide. We stood in the dark and thought of the thousands of ships that pass this point in a year, thought of the fabulous port and the city of cities that owes so much of its greatness to this stream. We thought of all that the river has meant to England and the world. It was hard to believe that this was the same Thames we had stepped across at Seven Springs and taken up on the tip of a finger at Thames Head.