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Embankment Pier

Peter Ackroyd on Embankment

'On the Embankment itself there were the boom of fog signals and the muffled roar of motor-cars mixed with the whistle of the trains and the ringing of the bells of the City churches. These were also the circumambient sounds of the river, as if the Thames itself had become the echo-chamber of the city.'

'But no judicial proceeding could pre-empt the greed or selfishness of the monarchy. The proposed construction of the Embankments, in the 1850s, precipitated a protracted battle in the courts between Crown and City. The solicitor for the Crown put forward the case that 'the Thames being a navigable river and an arm of the sea prima facie belongs to the Crown, by virtue of its prerogative, as far as the water ebbs and flows'. The legal proceedings continued for thirteen years. It was eventually agreed that the sovereign owned 'the bed and soil' of the river and the seashore, at the same time as the Crown gave a newly established Thames Conservancy the title and right of the management of the river itself.'

'The steep climb from the Embankment to the Strand, by Charing Cross underground station, is the indication of a rift that took place over aeons of time. The rise between the middle and upper terraces of the Thames can in turn be seen beside the National Gallery to the north of Trafalgar Square. We are treading upon prehistory.'

Peter Ackroyd's Readings on Embankment

Listen to Peter Ackroyd's Readings on Embankment

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History of the piers

History at Embankment Pier.

Download the exclusive Dark Waters history of the piers pdf here (pdf - 2MB).

Buildings around Embankment Pier

  • Number Key for Dark Waters Map Side One
  • 19, 20, 21, 23, 25, 27, 28-32, 38
  • (12 buildings)