Overlooking the Upper Pool
|The Pool from London Bridge. © NMM|
London Bridge was not just a vital link between the banks of the Thames.
It was also a convenient place for watching the ships in the Upper Pool. For most Londoners, it was their only window into the port.
As the docks were surrounded by high walls and the wharves backed on to large warehouses, only from London Bridge could the average Londoner could see the workings of the port.
|The Lotta seen from London Bridge. © NMM|
'Another life below'
Henry Major Tomlinson (1873-1958), one of the most sensitive and perceptive commentators of his time, liked to watch 'that multitude who cross London Bridge every day'.
|The Virgen de Valme alongside the New Fresh Wharf. © NMM|
He noticed that most people preferred the east side of the bridge – the one overlooking the Pool.
|The Nils Gorthon seen from London Bridge. © NMM|
Once there, they could not 'resist a pause to stare overside' at 'another life below, with its strange cries and mysterious movements'.
'The view from London Bridge'
Tomlinson thought many of the spectators seemed under a spell. He wondered what they thought as they returned to their offices or their homes.
|A spritsail barge approaching London Bridge. © NMM|
Henry Vollam Morton (1892-1979), another great observer of London, also felt the 'unsettling' power of 'the view from London Bridge'.
'The gates to the outer world'
Morton felt that the sight of a foreign ship leaving the Pool conjured up 'a vision of foreign towns, blue waters and coral reefs'.
|The Upper Pool and Tower Bridge. © NMM|
For Tomlinson, a ship departing towards Tower Bridge evoked wistful thoughts of a 'world beyond the one we know'.
The spell ended only with the lowering of Tower Bridge, when 'the gates to the outer world close again'.
|An early postcard of Tower Bridge. © NMM|