The riverside wharves
|'Another life below'|
The window into the port
To most people now, the docks and the port mean the same thing. Few would have thought that way in the past.
The docks were hidden by high walls or fences. Only those who worked there could get in, and neither the dock companies nor the workers welcomed strangers.
Far more visible were the busy wharves lining both banks of the Thames.
Even here, access was difficult, as warehouses separated them from the districts beyond.
For average Londoners, the real window into the port was London Bridge.
'Another life below'
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'
H. V. Morton (1892-1979), another great observer of London, felt the 'unsettling' power of 'the view from London Bridge'.
'The gates to the outer world'
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'.
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