Totally Thames, formerly known as the Thames Festival, eases the city out of the intensity of summer into the more reflective days of autumn. For me, part of that reflection is about the distant past. I like to imagine those ancient Romans turning up, scratching their heads and deciding that the things we now call Cornhill and Ludgate Hill would be handy places to set up base (even though we can’t be certain that that’s exactly what occurred). Later, they linked the north and south banks of the Thames with a wooden bridge, positioned about 100 yards to the east of where London Bridge is now. “It would have seemed a majestic and even miraculous construction, not least to the native people who had settled under the Romans,” wrote Peter Ackroyd.
When I walk along the Thames’s banks the whole place seems majestic and miraculous to me. I took such a walk on Friday afternoon, beginning by crossing Tower Bridge then heading west past City Hall followed by one bridge after the next (I’ve pictured Southwark Bridge, above), Bankside, the South Bank and the London Eye, before crossing back to take the Underground from Westminster.
Totally Thames, which goes on throughout the whole of September, was only just getting going. An exhibition called Rivers of the World, involving work by children from Ethiopia, Nepal, Vietnam, Essex, Reading and Hull as well as London is trailed along the walkway past Tate Modern and the National. On Potters Fields Park, next to City Hall, stood a work by artist Maria Arceo called Future Dust (pictured above), in which plastic litter found in the Thames is sorted, caged and displayed. It will move to different locations during the month (it’s at Oxo Tower Wharf until Wednesday).
The full Totally Thames programme includes a heritage exhibition, music of various kinds, poetry, archaeology, boat trips, walks, more art and those ancient Romans, of course. The full programme is here.