Nick Ardley is an eccentric, an anachronism from a simpler age, for the way he sails his clinker sloop around the Thames estuary. In Rochester to Richmond: A Thames Estuary Sailor’s View. The book is a reflective journey between Rochester and London, a path once of commerce, but now pleasure. Rochester was of immense importance to Britain’s past trading richness too. The belching chimneys pouring acrid fumes and cement dust have evaporated. Oil refineries have slipped away, but wharves lining the banks survive. As a distraction, he wanders a little above Rochester and then again, a little above the Pool of London towards Richmond. Between, he lands amongst the marsh and mud, finding graves and farmsteads enveloped in purslane and lavender. Many towns sailed past were part of this heritage, supplying building materials and food carried by the tan-sailed barge to London. Ardley dips and dabbles into these communities and explores how they have transformed.
Nick will have copies available on Whimbrel at the Queenborough Classic Boat Festival on 9+10 September.