Tower Bridge is one of London’s most iconic landmarks, and a birdseye view of the bridge can be had from the nearby residences of Tower Bridge Moorings – where a sustainable community live aboard historic barges.
Located just below Tower Bridge, on the south side of the river, Tower Bridge Moorings is a flotilla of more than 40 historic boats strung together in a block on the water, created to offer people an alternative and sustainable way to live in central London.
One of London’s oldest remaining river moorings, boats have been docking at the Downings Roads Moorings since the 19th century. Since architect Nicholas Lacey bought the moorings more than 30 years ago, it has become a permanent space for its community, which includes more than 100 adults and children.
Converted Thames lighters, the one-time workhorses of the river, have been converted into brightly lit residential studio spaces. And on the roofs, communal gardens serve as walkways leading to berths for individual classic barges.
Downings Road is one of the top recycling communities in London – with 75% of all its waste diverted from landfill. The community now recycles as much of its rubbish as possible. Most kitchen waste is now composted in special boxes located on the garden barges. Recycling bins for newspaper, glass, plastics and cans are sited on a platform interconnected between the two access brows of the moorings.
At present two barges are adapted for accessing alternative energy. The floating village is looking at the use of sun, light, wind and river to power, initially, the communal areas of the moorings, and eventually each individual barge. Tower Bridge Moorings is hoping that the initiative will prove a model for other river communities.
Tower Bridge Moorings is also home to one of the city’s few floating gardens, providing a habitat for a broad range of flora and fauna.
The garden barges, converted from old Thames Lighters, are interconnected with special designed brows which expand and contract with the movement of the river. Together they form the infrastructure of the moorings, and the their roofs act as roof gardens with walkways.
Tower Bridge Moorings gardens can be viewed from the shore or river anytime but is only open to the public twice a year. These occur annually in May and June for the National Garden Scheme and London Open Squares weekend.
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief @rosamedea