Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Sailing ships and the City of London from Greenwich Park

This is the first of the sketches from the Greenwich Park Panorama - my 48 inch wide panoramic sketch of the view from the top of the hill in Greenwich Park.

The City of London and the River Thames from Greenwich Park
11 x 16" pen and ink and coloured pencils
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
Sailing Ships and Maritime History

While people looking at this view typically pick out all the tall buildings around and about the City of London, few realise that they are also looking at a place which has played a huge part in British Maritime History.

Here are the site of the Prime Meridian - which helped sailors navigate; the place where the Royal Dockyards were located for 350 years; the place were Brunel built enormous steam sailing ships in the ninteenth century and finally the home of the Cutty Sark - one of the fastest tea clippers ever built,

What's in the sketch

Looking left from the hill - past the trees and bushes which populate the slope below the Royal Observatory at Greenwich you can see a variety of buildings which I've annotated on the Flickr version of this sketch.  Hold your cursor over the image in Flickr to see where all the places and buildings are located.

You can see - from left to right
  • The path up to the Royal Observatory and the marker site for the Prime Meridian zero degrees longitude aka the Greenwich Meridian (just off to the left and out of frame)
  • The 34 storey tower at Guy's Hospital - the tallest hospital building in the world
  • The Shard - the tallest building in the UK and Europe at 309.6 metres / 1,016 feet high
  • the area in Deptford which used to be the Royal Naval Dockyards - building sailing ships for war and exploration for 350 years - after it was commissioned by King Henry VIII in 1513 (see image below).  It built and refitted many famous ships in British maritime history.
Deptford Dockyards by Joseph Farrington
  • St Paul's Cathedral - now a rather smaller landmark in the City of London when compared to......
  • Three tall buildings in the City of London
    • the former NatWest Tower
    • the Gherkin at 30 St Mary Axe
    • Heron Tower - now the tallest building in the City of London
  • In front of these is the Wharf in Millwall on the western shoreline of the Isle of Dogs where Isambard Kingdon Brunel built the steam sailing ship the SS Great Eastern which was the largest ship in the world when it was launched from Millwall in 1853.  This is also where the famous photo of Brunel was taken - against the background of the chains used to launch the Great Eastern
  • Peeping above the trees in the middle ground are the two masts of the Cutty Sark - the tea clipper which has recently reopened after the massive refurbishment project
  • On the right and in the foreground are the Equestrian Arena and other buildings built for the  London 2012 Olympics
The sketch was the first to be drawn on 15th September when I drew the panorama of the view from the top of Greenwich Hill during the course of the 2nd Sketchcrawl hosted by Urban Sketchers London.


  1. This is a visual history course, Katherine. Thank you so much. Looking forward to the rest.


  2. OK. Having become a follower of Making a Mark, I find this blog, Kathrine. The Press Gang got me, and hence I'm a follower here - fantastic post BTW

    I'm an ex-shipwright, member of the Royal Dockyards Society, who did his apprenticeship in the the Thames Estuary is Samuel Pepys dockyard at Sheerness. From a draughtsman of Naval Architecture, I somehow ended up a 'pen & ink artist.


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