London has many great attractions, but this one is not near the top of my list. This cable car across the Thames was originally promoted a means of transport, for commuters and for people wanting to reach the Millennium Dome (now The O2) in Greenwich from the Royal Docks area north of the Thames. Truly a ferry service across the river.
But it became yet another politician’s vanity project, another white elephant. It is operated by Transport for London as part of the city’s transit system, but the number of people actually using it for transport is negligible—most users are tourists, and out of season it’s pretty quiet.
I was born and bred in London, but back for a short spell in August 2012 as we’d managed to get tickets to the 2012 Olympics closing ceremony, and were taking that opportunity to see some different bits of the city. London during the Olympics was a joyous place—
there just seemed to be a friendly, positive feeling among everyone then. We took the Tube and a bus to North Greenwich, and poked our noses in The Dome for a couple of minutes just to say we’d done it. Then we paid our fare and climbed aboard the cable car.
All views look better on a clear sunny day, but this was one of those dreary, overcast downers that London endures all too often. The ride was fun, and despite the gloom we got good views up and down the Thames—
the Thames Barrage, the Woolwich Ferry
, Canary Wharf, and down onto London City Airport. A few miles to the north east we could see the Olympic Stadium where we had been the day before, with the Orbit Tower beside it (white elephants come in all shapes and sizes.) And of course we could look down onto the roof of the Dome.
We “landed” at the terminus on the Royals Docks side, and then took the short walk to the Royal Victoria station of the Docklands Light Railway, and headed off through the East End to find some more things to see in London.
Sure, it was a fun little experience. Obviously an impractical means of commuting. A great way to get some brief views from up high of the old docklands and scrap yards. But that’s not what the average tourist to London is looking for—better views are to be had a few miles further up the Thames.