Wesley and I walked in the footsteps of thrifty Victorian mudlarkers as we explored the North Thames shoreline just to the right of London Bridge, parallel to Lower Thames Street. Here for a few hours, the small, modest beach (if it can be called that) provided a wealth of interest. Perhaps the thing we noticed the most was the sheer amount of oysters - presumably from the days when they were commonplace. That, and clay pipe stems; I was excited by my first one, but I was soon chucking them away in hope of finding something more.
The next day we returned to the foreshore just off Wapping High Street - we had planned to follow the tide as it went out, but we were a bit late so had less time to search for objects. Other places we have explored include the 'beaches' of North Greenwich and further into the centre of town by the Tate Modern. However the places where we found most 'stuff' (I refuse to call it rubbish!) was on the northern banks of the river.
Items from Wapping and the City include an old 'angry face' from a Bellamine witch bottle (16th/17th century?) and many clay pipes. The earliest clay pipes seem to have a small bowl and have little decoration. Our later (19th century?) pipes had beautiful leaves decorating the bowl and small initials (of the maker?) on them.
The intimate views of the city from the Thames shoreline in the crisp January weather were stunning. Being at the same level as the water made me wonder who would have been upon the shores of the Thames in the past, and what might they have seen? It was far more magical than viewing the river from a bridge or embankment, or even a boat. The metal barges docked in the river rattled together and made great booming sounds, their chains and ropes collecting a treasure trove of bits of pipe, china, glazed ware and shingle. I ended up extremely muddy. Wesley managed to avoid the mess I was making - as he somehow always does!