Above: A small part of the mural, showing the reference to the establishing of the dock at Queenhithe with a picture of Alfred the Great below from the mural.
On Tuesday 18 November 2014 the official unveiling of the Queenhithe Mosaic was made, in the presence of The Rt. Honourable The Lord Mayor of London and the Alderman of the Queenhithe Ward Club Gordon W Haines. The unvielling took place at Queenhithe followed by a private reception at the Painters Hall.
Commissioned by the City of London and paid for by 4C Hotel Group, who are constructing a new hotel on the waterfront around Queenhith Dock, it was designed by Tessa Hunkin and executed by South Bank Mosaics.
Queenhithe Dock, on the North bank of the Thames between Southwark and Blackfriars bridges, is believed to be the only remaining Anglo Saxon dock in the world. The mosaic celebrates the key events and personalities that built, used and lived around Queenhithe in the form of a 30m long timeline mosaic on the wall of the Dock. The layers of meaning and symbolism in the 160 mosaic panels and 240 river tile surrounds echo the Bayeux tapestry in telling the complex story of Queenhithe.
Above: A photograph of the dock from the Southwark shore, takes in the 1970s, showing the derelict Victorian warehouses standing around the disused dock.
In medieval times the dock was a busy landing place for all manner of cargo, often by sailing barges. The dock was still in constant use until the early 1900s, with lighters delivering goods to the large Victorian warehouses that surrounded it. Those warehouses were to be demolished in the 1970s and a bland red-brick apartment block replaced them. With the need for better flood prevention, the height of the river defences were raised along the Thames with the result that a very thick ugly concrete wall was built around the three sides of the dock. Although essential for safeguarding against flooding, the large wall did little to enhance the general scene.
Within the last year an ambitious plan has been put forward to demolish some of the apartments and redevelop the remainder into a large hotel complex. Planning permission has already been given and the whole dock will take on quite a different atmosphere once the work has been completed. The developers have paid for this mural and things can only get better for what have been grim times over the past 50 years with the dock remaining isolated and hardly visited, except for the enthusiastic walker who passes by on the riverside path and probably never realises the significance of this dock, whose origins go right back to Saxon times.