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Greenwich sits on the curve of the River Thames

Relationship with the River Thames

The Royal Greenwich Hospital with Six Royal Yatchs

Attribute 7

The establishment of early settlement and the foundation by the Romans of the city which became London owes much to use of the River Thames as a highway. The ‘ox-bow’ form of the Thames provides a natural approach to Greenwich from both up and down stream. The great buildings have always been designed to be seen primarily from the river. They have provided a magnificent spectacle throughout the various epochs, and make a statement of royal power.

View from the Observatory timeball towards the river

The evolution of Maritime Greenwich to become a centre of scientific discovery gave a new link to maritime navigation. The ‘home of time’ has its daily expression in the Observatory time-ball, which was first used in 1833 and still operates daily at 1.00 p.m.

Modern river transport

The World Heritage Site was not developed as part of London’s Docklands although, until driven out by late 19th century river pollution, it had a significant local and more distant fishing fleet based on the small docks now associated with Cutty Sark Gardens and the north end of Park Row. The use of the Thames declined in the latter part of the 20th century but there has been a revival of it as a highway with riverside development and the link to the City of London by riverboats including the Thames Clippers. Once more the great composition may readily be seen by many visitors from the approaches by river.


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  • Old Royal Naval College
  • Royal Borough of Greenwich
  • Royal Museums Greenwich
  • The Royal Parks
  • St Alfege
  • Trinity Laban
  • University of Greenwich
  • Visit Greenwich