Curious Carvings in the Thames Wall

Here’s one of those Greenwich oddities that gets my mouth watering. It was spotted by local author David Ramzan (it’s in his book ‘Royal Greenwich Through Time‘) but he knows nothing more about it and is wondering whether anyone here does.

It’s in the Thames Wall up by the power station and David says:

None of my friends or relations who know riverside Greenwich well, had any idea this inscription was on the riverside wall close to the old Power Station, and it would be interesting to find out if anyone knew any more about it. 

For example would this type of inscription have been commonly found along the riverside walls close to old historic landing places? Unfortunately like a lot of the historic Greenwich riverside architecture, these little curiosities are also gradually beginning to be lost to time. 

To me it looks like re-used stone, though from what and when it was built is a mystery. Perhaps it was built when the power station was built, between 1902 and 1910, but the stone could have come from anywhere.

It also looks as though they broke the stone – either in transport, during the build – or, how about this for a theory – actually at the stonemason’s yard, when the junior carver got a clip round the ear and a month’s wages docked for spelling ‘friends’ wrongly..? Perhaps the master mason decided to sell the stone off for scrap and it ended up here?

I wonder what the message was – all I can make out is

Neighbours and Freinds (sic) welcome ar (e?) XXXXwill strangers XXy XermiXX

Okay – let’s see who can fill in the gaps with the best phrase… (Scared of Chives, I still haven’t forgotten ‘…and gut your first octopus‘…)

In the meanwhile – does anyone know anything more about this – or, indeed, has anyone ever actually noticed this before? Do you know of any other places strange messages are carved into the river wall?


the attachments to this post:

curious carvings david ramzan low
curious carvings david ramzan low


8 Comments to “Curious Carvings in the Thames Wall”

  1. Dazza says:

    Try moving the second stone before the first.That would give you

    Welcome Ar(e) Neighbours and friends……

    and how about…

    Permit T(hem/hey) XXX will stranger s m(a)y….

    Although the spacing on the S at the end of Stranger could be for the following word…..

    I do love a good mystery…..thanks Phanty…..again!!!!

  2. You could be right there Dazza – just because the stones are in that order now, doesn’t mean they’re supposed to be that way…

  3. Bad Witch says:

    Reminds me of “Speak Friend and Enter” on the gates of Mordor in Lord of the Rings :)

  4. Bad Witch says:

    I should, of course, said “Speak Friend and Enter” on the gates of the Mines of Moria. Any text on the gates of Mordor would be more like “Speak Fiend and Enter”.

  5. Franklin says:

    Thank you Bad Witch for not making me expose my nerdiness by correcting you. ;-)

  6. Don’t worry, Franklin, you’re among nerdy friends here…

  7. Donovan says:

    I’m definitely getting Permit or Permitted on the bottom right. “Freind” was actually a relatively common spelling of the word in the eighteenth-century – in the same way that you can sometimes find people with the name Feild rather than Field. Though I do notice that if you google “neighbours and freinds” one of the first items is a from Thames Valley Police, or is it Themas Vellay Piloce.