WHEN you live in Henley, the Thames is the focus of most things during the summer
WHEN you live in Henley, the Thames is the focus of most things during the summer months. But let’s not forget the river’s end destination.
Last August it was announced that the Thames will be getting new river bus routes and marinas, in an effort to see it utilised more as a transport means for Londoners.
Ex-London mayor Boris Johnson described the river as London’s “forgotten highway” and said the new river bus (Clipper) routes and marinas could see passenger numbers double from six to 12 million a year by 2020. We will have to see if new mayor Sadiq Khan will make any more changes to the plans.
Better river transport is an extra incentive to buy a home at a waterfront development — and a river bus trip is the best way to check out the numerous housing schemes springing up along the banks of the Thames.
Currently, there are two main river bus routes along the central Thames — Putney to Blackfriars via Chelsea Harbour, and from the London Eye to Woolwich via Canary Wharf.
There are 19 piers in total. In addition, there is a Tate to Tate service between Vauxhall and Bankside, plus a spur from Rotherhithe to Canary Wharf, linking two parts of Docklands either side of the river.
MBNA Thames Clippers is the main commuter operator. When the service launched in 1999, only 87 passengers a day used it. Now there are more than 10,000 passengers a day — nearly four million a year.
Boats depart from central London piers every 20 minutes. All passengers are guaranteed a seat and, unlike the Tube, you can get an internet connection. There is also a bar on board where you can buy coffee and alcoholic drinks.
Adult single tickets cost from £3.90, and you can tap in and out with an Oyster card. Annual season tickets cost from £752.45.
“It’s relaxing, reliable and faster than most people realise,” says Tom Burke, of Savills Waterfront. He adds that the western shuttle route from Putney to Blackfriars — a journey of 42 minutes — is a boon for City-bound bankers. The extra hop to Canary Wharf takes only another 15 minutes.
“Demand for what might be called ‘property-upon-Thames’ has never been so strong,” says Candice Matthews, director of property consultant firm DTZ. “Londoners have always gravitated towards the river, but the riverside lifestyle is a recent phenomenon. People can now buy into a prestige development with amenities on the doorstep, a 24-hour concierge, spa, security, underground parking and a long lease.”
This applies even in distinctly un-posh parts of the riverbank, such as Deptford, where the giant 3,500-home Convoys Wharf development is coming soon.