Greenwich & the Thames Barrier


We leave Central London to the South East and discover the Royal Observatory in Royal Greenwich Park.

Scientific and Royal History

The old Observatory, designed by Sir Christopher Wren, houses a collection of clocks and watches plus, in the adjoining building, telescopes and other astronomical exhibits. Outside the Observatory you can see the meridian line, which divides the world's longitude east and west. Below are the National Maritime Museum and the old Royal Palace buildings with their world renowned highlights of Queen's House, Chapel and Painted Hall, all open to the public.

Maritime History

By the Thames we see the splendid tea clipper the Cutty Sark, built in 1869, and also Sir Francis Chichester's Gypsy Moth, in which he single-handedly circumnavigated the world in 1967.

Engineering Versus Nature

A short journey down river takes us to one of the wonders of the modern world: the Thames Flood Barrier at Woolwich, which now protects London from river flooding at high tide. The barrier was built between 1974 and 1982 and is a triumph of British engineering; it is 520 metres (570 yards) across and each of the main steel gates weighs 3,700 tonnes.

On special dates throughout the year it is possible to see the gates being closed, which is truly awe-inspiring.