A windswept stretch of English creekside echoing to marsh birds’ calls and the thud of shipwrights’ hammers, Standard Quay is straight from Dickens. Wooden ships have been built and rebuilt here for a thousand years and, to some, this scruffy wharf is a magical vision of living history.
A centre for ancient maritime crafts, the quay is a haven for the few dozen surviving Thames sailing barges. But Standard Quay’s latest owner, a property developer, plans to turn it into a tourist trap with shops, restaurants and luxury houses. The Quay is the story of a traditional working shipyard’s final year.