Another FROG trip today, less formal than Greenwich, just three of us catching the early low tide to see what the foreshore by Trig Lane riverstairs was up to. This stretch of the river is quite different to Greenwich – there’s a good account of it on the Thames Discovery Programme website.
We spent some time puzzling over timbers in front of Broken Wharf, trying to work out how they relate to a barge bed further down the bank, before looking at a barge bed nearer the riverstairs that is still in reasonable nick – the smooth beds used to protect the bottoms of barges as the tide went out. Inside the timber frame, the construction seems rather like a flat dry-stone wall.
I also photoed this pipe – it probably came from one of the warehouses along the waterfront; as it has a name and a date (1902), it’s useful to record.
The tide doesn’t really leave lines of driftwood along the foreshore, but rather lines of tiles and bones and all the waste that has been dumped in the river at one time or other. Different stretches of the river have their own character from what washes up – here there is quite a deal of coal mixed in with old roof tiles and building materials. There’s a fair amount of bone too, butchery waste presumably, although not as much here as other places where it looks like driftwood until you’re up close.
Also scattered about are quite a quantity of clay pipes – some with makers marks on them. The Museum of London has a user-friendly database of these, although the ones I found I think are C18 and outside its scope. One with a ‘W’ mark is similar to this the one on page two of this; this other had an ‘I’ and a ‘G’ on the sides of the heel.
Although we’re not really there to collect ‘finds’, if there is something interesting we do pick it up, and if it’s really interesting, take it home (treasure rules abiding, of course). Here is a selection of the things that we found (including a cheeky marble). There was nothing particularly unusual about any of it and we left most of it for the river. The bone on the left is overly flat and a fellow frog thought had perhaps been used as an ice-skate – I hadn’t known but from medieval times people used to use animal bones to skate along the Thames when it froze.
I did take home this flint, which I think has been worked – there are concentric rings and I found the retouched edges were indeed still sharp enough to cut myself on. Ouch. The bulb of percussion is missing; I think it’s been broken since.
And to remind us that it is still a working river – the water today was slicked with petrol.