Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Brewery Wharf

Or more locally known as Prior's Wharf, is a hard working, successful survivor of a once industrious Deptford Creek. The Prior family have run this wharf since 1870 and have a fleet of barges all named after members of the Prior family. The barges are a regular sight on Deptford Creek, travelling daily to and from Fingringhoe in Essex bringing their cargo of sand and aggregates. In a recent report by the Mayor of London the wharf retained it's safeguarded status and was also thought viable for cargo handling, increasingly important as the landscape around it changes dramatically.

Below is a painting I made in 1990, it features in my book 'Visions of Greenwich Reach' and looking back now it's amazing how much the surrounding landscape has changed.

Bert and James at Deptford Creek, oil on canvas, size approx. 21" x 26".  £1500.

Here is an extract from 'Visions of Greenwich Reach';

'It is rare to see both vessels together in the Creek and I spent the whole day drawing every detail, soaking up the cadmium reds confidently emphasising the bulwarks. On the quay behind, piles of bleached sand created a pleasantly organic depth, arrested by an assortment of ancient warehouses. The sky in such a busy scene was crowded almost out of existence but the tiny strip remaining was vital for the painting to breath'.

As you may guess it's a much loved subject and the painting below was made in 1989, in my notes I wrote;

'I ran as fast as I could to Creek Bridge, just in time to see [the ship] edge alongside the quay by the cement wharf. Simultaneously and much closer to me the motor barge 'Bert Prior' swung its stern around in order to pass under the bridge in reverse. Its birth at Prior's Wharf is just beyond but at this point the canal is too narrow for a craft of this length to turn again.'

Motor Barge and Coaster, oil on canvas, size approx. 28" x 32" £2500
Priors Wharf is a much valued local industry helping keep traffic off the roads, not only that, from an artists point of view it is a much cherished local landmark that lifts the soul, long may they continue.

There are a couple of excellent sites relating to Priors Wharf. You can take a trip on Mark Prior here and follow the journey from Fingringhoe to Deptford Creek with Skipper Peter Barc, and Mate 'Fraggle' (filmed in April 2015). You can see some great photos and a full list of the family fleet past and present, including Mark, Brenda, Bert, James, Francesca and many more here.

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