Hammersmith

Photo: Adrian Evans

Hope Pier​

Situated on the riverside at Hammersmith, on a site previously marked as ‘Hope’s Wharf ’, various Ordnance Survey maps show a landing stage where Hope Pier currently sits, which backed onto Hope Wharf.

An advert for the sale of Hope Wharf in Public Ledger and Daily Advertiser from December 1826 advertises the site as “well adapted for barge-builders, timber-merchants, or a wharf of any description” [1]. It is also described as including “two well-built sheds, with convenient launching pads… two sawpits, shed, large yard, and counting-house, a comfortable dwelling containing four good bedrooms, parlour, washhouse, roomy cellaring…with small garden at the back, walled in.” Another article from 1932 refers to a pesticide company, Seedolin Co. Ltd. occupying the site at Hope Wharf. It is unclear at which point Hope Wharf ceased operating as an industrial wharf [2]. The moorings at Hope Pier have reportedly been in the See family for five generations [3]. It is believed that Charlie See established the Hammersmith moorings in the early 20th century, he obtained permission from the vicar of St Paul’s living at Westcott Lodge. Charlie was a local waterman, who hired out skiffs and punts, as did other watermen along that stretch of the river. The moorings passed to his son Walter and grandson Alan, both of whom were licensed watermen. When Alan died in 2005, the moorings passed to his son Gary, who is the present owner. Gary See is listed in 192 Directory as a boat builder. In June 1981, Clive Wren – an architect still living at Hope Pier on his narrowboat Dubhe – first moved on to the Hammersmith moorings now known as Hope Pier [4]. Dubhe was the first full-time residential boat and the first narrow boat on the moorings. At that point, the mooring was occupied by various river cruisers, which were taken out over weekends or in the evenings.

Clive had previously lived on the Thames in Kingston for a time when he was a student. He was drawn back to the river by the way of life. However, financial considerations were also leading people to afloat at that time. In the mid-1980s council housing was increasingly difficult to come by, encouraging people to look at alternative housing options. Consequently, during this time the number of residential boats at Hope Pier increased. In 1983 another residential boat arrived at the pier and over the next few years there were many more boats. Although Dubhe was the first narrow boat on the moorings, many more followed as well as Dutch sailing and motor barges and purpose-built houseboats. Over time, as more people have arrived the size of Hope Pier has increased, with additional pontoons and berths introduced. Gradually the mooring has been extended and pieced together. In the early 1980s the riverside at Hammersmith was not massively popular and the pubs and gardens enjoyed few visitors. In 1986, the local council lowered the river wall at Hammersmith because flood risk was reduced when the Thames Barrier came into operation in 1985. As a result the people of Hammersmith rediscovered the river and started to frequent the nearby park and riverside pubs once again and thereby opening people’s eyes to the prospect of living on the river. An article dated 1988, which pictured The Riverside at Hammersmith, states "there is little investment to maintain moorings" [5]. In 1990, following an incident in which the moorings were almost dislodged by a tree trunk floating down the river, a planning application was made to install piles to secure the pier. This was approved on appeal in 1991 [6]. As can be seen in an article by the Illustrated London News, this area of the river has long been a tidal magnet for driftwood [7]. The Thames Reach article 1988, sites a planned meeting for the autumn of that year "possibly in the London borough of Hounslow" to include the London River Authority, Residential Boat Owners Association, local authorities, water authorities, boat owners and landlords "to lay the foundations for a much needed set of national guidelines for residential moorings". Items on the agenda were security of tenure, health and safety agreements, licences and amenities.

In a 2006 article in the Daily Mail, Gary See feared the licence fee charged by the PLA, which was £5000, could be raised to £38,000, "which he says will force him to double what he charges his tenants". The article states "boat owners already pay up to £5000 a year to moor at the site" Clive Wren, who is moored on a narrowboat at the pier said, "it's extortionate." There are currently twenty-eight residential boats at Hope Pier. A group of residents have just succeeded in buying the moorings from Gary See. They will run the pier themselves as Hope Pier Ltd. and take over the River Works Licence from the PLA. This is a move that will provide greater security of tenure for the residents of the mooring.

Notes

[1] Public Ledger and Daily Advertiser, 14 December 1826
[2] North Devon Journal, 10 November 1932
[3] Interview with Clive Wren, London, 29 March 2016
[4] Interview with Clive Wren, London, 29 March 2016
[5] Thames Reach, by London River Authority "Getting Residential Moorings Right", 1988
[6] Interview with Clive Wren, London, 29 March 2016
[7] The Illustrated London News, 1 January 1966

Dove Pier

Located at the southwestern corner of Furnival Gardens in Hammersmith, Dover Pier hosts eight residential boats, as well as a floating garden and pier house.

Furnival Gardens, which lies just upstream from Hammersmith Bridge, is on a site that was once the mouth of Hammersmith Creek, which had a thriving fishing industry until the early nineteenth century, and was navigable almost to King Street. The area had high quality housing in 1830 but by 1850 infilling had started and it became a dense mixture of factories, housing and other uses. In the 1920s Hammersmith Council began development of the area as part of its Hammersmith Southern Improvement Scheme and the Creek was infilled in 1936. 

Existing and new housing suffered damage during the Second World War, and in 1948 the decision was taken to create a public open space on bomb-damaged land between the river and Great West Road, to be completed for the Festival of Britain. The public park was laid out in 1951 and was named after Dr Frederick James Furnivall (1825-1910), scholar and founder in 1896 of what is now the Furnivall Sculling Club, originally called Hammersmith Sculling Club for Girls and Men.

A pier was constructed by the Port of London Authority in the south-west corner of Furnivall Gardens, which opened on 5 May 1951 [1]. According to The Mall Conservation Area Character Profile 1997, "the pier was constructed for river steamers…by Hammersmith Council in 1951 to celebrate the Festival of Britain" [2] and allow residents of west London to visit the festival's attractions at Battersea Park and the South Bank. These steamers were passenger boats, for which the pier would have acted as a stopping point. The pier consisted of a bridge connecting the gardens to a single pontoon with a ticket office on it. The ticket office still exists today and operates as the pier house [3].

The pier is thought to have gone out of use after the Festival of Britain and to have ceased to generate an income [4]. This seems to have been a general trend along parts of the Thames according to an article from 1970, which described the further decline in the use of the river: "for most Londoners and most planners it goes unnoticed". It went on to quote the River Thames Society: "between Chelsea and Richmond there are...a twentieth of the pleasure craft that the river could bear" [5].

Eventually, the pier was sold by the Port of London Authority (PLA) to the owner of a nearby pub, The Dove. It is assumed that it was at this point that the pier came to be known as ‘Dove Pier’. It is unknown to what use the pier was put at this time. However, by 1988 despite being in a rather derelict state, there were eight residential boats moored at the pier. John Everett, who bought the pier in 1988 with his wife Diana, remembers that the pier had been extended in 1987, with the addition of two further pontoons to make it much longer in length. 

The Mall Conservation Character Profile 1997, supports a more idyllic view of this part of the river saying "recreational and residential boats moored" in the area provide "interest and activity" and that "at present these are at the correct balance without overwhelming the river and blocking views of the river." [6]

In 1999, there was a study commissioned by the Thames Strategy: Kew-Chelsea Steering Committee, a committee comprised of various official bodies. They earmarked Dove Pier for potential enhancement. [7]

In a Guardian article from January 2005, about the possibility of using the Thames as a commuter route, John Everett, owner of Dove Pier said, "I have an aluminium boat that takes three people and we do the shopping by boat, but we have to pay enormous fees to the PLA to moor” [8].

The moorings are still privately owned and is now managed by Diana Everett [9]. There continues to be eight residential boats at Dove Pier, just as when it was acquired. Although she denied there being a ‘type’ of person who likes to live afloat, Dove Pier has seemed to attract a number of creative an artistic people (Diana herself is a botanical artist) [10].

Property advertisements boast that Dove Pier is a popular and expensive mooring, describing it as "arguably the most picturesque mooring in West London...enjoying uninterrupted views that encompass a wide swathe of the more rural River Thames" [11]. The advert goes on to say that Dove Pier is "at a pivotal point in the Cambridge & Oxford Boat Race; on the bend between Hammersmith and Chiswick", as well as being "enviably close to the transport links of Hammersmith" [12].

Dove Pier is one of the few piers along the Thames to have what is called a "garden barge" a landscaped barge for exclusive use as a garden. Diana Everett owns this barge, which is moored next to her houseboat and spends much of her time tending to the garden. Along with the garden, Diana said that what she likes most about living afloat is “the light and the space and the sense of freedom. I’m in the middle of London, yet it feels a though I’ve got all the space in the world.”

Diana designed the interior of the boat herself along with a Marine Architect and made sure to be consulted at all stages of the build to get everything just right. Although she didn’t raise any of her children   aboard she is visited regularly by her grandchild who “particularly think it’s wonderful and a bit weird. They love it.”

Notes

[1] http://www.londongardensonline.org.uk/gardens-online-record.asp?
ID=HAF018
[2] The Mall Conservation Area Character Profile 1997. Published by Hammersmith and Fulham Environment Committee. Hammersmith Library reference: H911.2 LOW
[3] Interview with Diana Everett, London, 29 March 2016
[4] Ibid.
[5] (Picture) ‘Recapturing Thames Glory’, The Times, 8 September 1970
[6] The Mall Conservation Area Character Profile 1997
[7] Thames Strategy Kew to Chelsea Newsletter
[8] http://www.theguardian.com/mon...
observercashsection.theobserver7
[9] Ibid
[10] Interview with Diana Everett, London, 29 March 2016
[11] http://www.rightmove.co.uk/pro...
[12] Ibid