The site of a riverside pier that was removed in 2012 is set to be rebuilt, restoring a riverside access that had been in use for 400 years.
The location next to London Bridge was of considerable importance, and Samuel Pepys once described disembarking at Old Swan Stairs to avoid the dangers of passing through the old London Bridge arches.
It’s thought that this painting of the frozen Thames in 1677 shows the Old Swan Stairs.
The first floating pontoon at Swan Lane was built around 1830 to improve access to the new steamboat services and this was replaced in around 1950 and again after that to accommodate the Regalia floating Pub/ Bar.
The old pier that was removed in 2012 had fallen into a state of disrepair that made the structure uneconomical to re-use and whilst the land-side structure and mooring dolphins remain, the pontoon and canting brow were removed.
Following the removal of the previous pier, there has been an absence of mooring facilities on the central north bank of the river between Blackfriars and Tower Pier.
The proposal, which has been put forward by the boat hire company, Thames Leisure will see the existing dolphins reused and a new floating pontoon installed with walkway and refurbished riverside access.
The steps and lift up and over the to the walkway are so that the river wall is not breached, as it’s currently set at the 2065 year flood defence level (+5.85m AOD).
The main impetus for the development is the arrival of a large event ship, the OceanDiva, which can host as many as 1,500 people on board.
Although the pier is being proposed by the boat hire firm, it will be open to other users. Discussions have also commenced with light freight operators who have expressed interest for using the pier to serve cycle and electric vehicle deliveries to the City.
Images from the planning application by Beckett Rankine.