Above: In spite of the pub standing right next to a cement works for loading lorries all day long during the week, if the view is taken from the right place, the venue looks idyllic. Quite why the Thames sailing barge was moored alongside the pub. It was there for some time but it is not there now.
When the Thames was a working river – particularly in Victorian times – most of the banks of the river were endless wharves and quays where hundreds, if not thousands, of men toiled. Some wharves were where sea-going vessels moored to loaded or unloaded with goods. Some parts of the river bank were where river craft were built on small slipways. Other parts of the riverfront were in use by large factories and this type of activity continued well into the latter part of the 20th century. Today most of the riverfront has fallen silent as almost all the land has been redeveloped with large up-market housing estates.
When all the factories and wharves were in use, there were many pubs along the Thames – providing food and drink for the thousands of men who not only worked beside the river but, in many cases, lived only a short distance away, walking each day to their place of work. As the working aspect of the Thames has declined, so have the riverside pubs. Such hostelries, with premises that actually stand beside the Thames, are very few today.
Above: View looking west from Wandsworth Bridge. The pub is tucked away, out of sight, in line with the Thames sailing barge. The trees in the distance are part of Wandsworth Park.
One such pub is the Ship which is ‘alive and well’ and busier than ever – mainly due to the many riverside apartments nearby but also due to the many people who enjoy a long walk beside the Thames (on the newly laid out footpaths) and who have discovered new watering-holes for them to enjoy.
The Ship was probably built to serve the needs of local workers. Its first recorded mention was 1809. The address is 41 Jews Row, SW18 – standing just west of Wandsworth Bridge, on the Wandsworth side of the Thames. Of recent years the surrounding land has become gentrified, with many apartments and also several restaurants. All these factors have contributed to the large number of visitors to the locality, especially over the weekend in the summer months.