THESE days, the Thames is tamed by its Barrier. Its tides rise
and fall obediently, and the floodwaters are kept at bay by that
magnificent piece of engineering at Greenwich. It was not always
so, and, if global warming goes on and the North Sea rises further,
even the Barrier might not be able to contain it.
Meanwhile, the river is a living presence through the city: it
is the reason that London is where it is, and the means of pleasure
and profit for many; but it is not without its menace, and can be a
fatal temptation to the despairing. So, each year, it receives the
After a choral eucharist in Southwark
Cathedral, the clergy and congregation process on to London Bridge,
the most ancient of the Thames crossings, to meet their
counterparts from St Magnus the Martyr, in the City, and join
together at the point where the boundaries of the Southwark and
London dioceses meet.
The prayer of blessing was said together by the Bishop at
Lambeth, the Rt Revd Nigel Stock (above, right), and the
former Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe, Dr Geoffrey Rowell, now an
Assistant Bishop in the Chichester diocese. A cross was then thrown
from the bridge into the river, as a sign of the two churches'
prayer and concern for the river, for those who work on it, and for
all those to whom it is important.
The ceremony was watched from the river by the crew of the RNLI
lifeboat based at Tower Lifeboat Station, which was established
after the inquiry into the collision between the pleasure cruiser
The Marchioness and the dredger Bowbelle in 1989,
when many young lives were lost. The memorial to the 51 victims is
in Southwark Cathedral.