Look Closely

Contributed by on 04/06/12

If you peek out of the window and look across the muddy swirl of the Thames to the opposite bank, you might think you were suspended over a thriving, industrial waterway which feeds a great city with the profits of spices, tea and wool.

But you’d be wrong. The cranes and the ships and the teams of men hurling sacks from warehouse windows, building a thriving capital with their sweat and muscle are long gone and now their sons work in sterile offices in the suburbs. The working docks lie empty, heavy machinery now ornaments. The barges, the backbones of trade, have been replaced by pleasureboats, tours to come and see what once was.

The warehouses, including the one whose window you’re looking out of, have been converted to expensive riverside, aspirational homes. Now the profits go into the pockets of the few and the commodity being sold is the character of the docks, a sense of history which fades as the years pass. What will be left to sell then?

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