Five Foot Formalities

Here are the two Joans, Joan Trathen and Joanie Valentine, civil servants from the Royal Naval College snapped in 1982. It’s pretty clear where they’re walking – but what do we call it?

The fabulously-monikered Townly Cooke is currently putting together a collection of his photographs of Greenwich from 1970 to 1212 but he finds himself with niggling questions about some of the locations.

For example, the Five Foot Walk. It’s clear where it runs – it’s five-foot wide and it’s a walk (save for the silly cyclists who insist on barging through when the best cycle lane in Greenwich is mere feet away from them the other side of the railings…) But what happens to it when it reaches either end and widens out? Do we still call it the Five Foot Walk, wonders Townly?

I guess so, though frankly if I was talking about one end I’d probably be talking about Bellot’s obelisk and the other the Trafalgar Tavern and not need to mention the walk. Anyone have a clue as to what to call it?

Townly also wonders if we “know the reason for the steps and ramp that feature in the photo and why they were demolished ? A friend said it may be to do with anti-flooding?”

I think your friend might be right, Townly – it’s not much cop as a wheelchair ramp as it appears to come to a sudden end with steps on it. Maybe it was just an awkwardly levelled piece of ground that needed a bit of brute force in the design? That bit of pier has been designed and redesigned many times over the years (the delightful little Victorian waiting room would still have been in use in 1982), perhaps the levels had started to reach silly proportions?

I assume they were demolished in the recent redesign as part of Progress.


the attachments to this post:

Five Foot walk Townley low
Five Foot walk Townley low


6 Comments to “Five Foot Formalities”

  1. Steve says:

    I seem to remember that there used to be a big pipe running under it – sewage perhaps?

  2. Dazza says:

    I’m sure I read somewhere that it is down to flood protection. (Hence the rather incongruous ramp/step outside Trafalgar Tavern) So if path floods it doesn’t run into buildings/roads.
    I also recall that the new regulations require it to be higher (Global Warming?. Just look at how high they have made them at Drawdock Road!

  3. scared of chives says:

    I thought it was something to do with a pipe too.

  4. 58frankh says:

    At some stage before the completion of the Thames barrier the river walls were raised by about 4 foot (that’s when the concrete wall inside the naval college railings was installed). The slope and steps in the photo are what was put in place as part of those defences at that time.

    Another part can be seen at the patio in front of the Cutty Sark pub. If you look over the brick wall by the river you can see the old wall top which is what you could have sat on before that.

  5. Benedict says:

    10 ft path, Twin 5 ft path, Double path,perhaps you should ask the Path’ological Society…..I’ll get my coat……

  6. Darren says:

    Looking forward to some of those photo’s from 1212 :-)