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London's river and waterways
No, it is not the City, not the West End, not the South Bank, this is a focus on London’s river and waterways. It is a part of London that is steeped in history, offers stunning views, and is suitable for business as much as it is for the leisure visitor, which makes the River a mouth-watering prospect for those who are looking to be inspired.
If it were not for the River Thames, London would not exist in the form that is does today. The Roman city Londinium grew up around the point of the river that was easiest to cross and where the Romans eventually erected the first London Bridge. Through its history, the Thames has brought life to London. During the days when Britain was a heavily industrial country, the docklands in the East End were the gateway to the world, teaming with cargo laden ships bringing in supplies and sending out Britain’s produce to the world. This commerce made London the rich and internationally important city it is today.Today, the Thames remains at the heart of what brings people to London. It is used by commuters as a fast and convenient way to get from one part of the city to another and offers many different forms of recreation, both on the river and along its banks.
At the beginning of the summer Visit London launched a campaign to promote the wide choice of things to see and do on and around the capital’s rivers and waterways. The campaign targeted the domestic market, with a particular focus on London and the South East. Visit London is now taking part in a joint venture with Silver Fleet – Woods River Cruises to produce a guide called ‘Your guide to organising an event on and around the River Thames.’ Even people who know London well will be inspired to discover new things to see and do along the capital’s rivers and waterways not only in their ‘work time’ but also in their ‘me time’. The guide will be launched at International Confex .Silver Fleet, the family run business that has called the Thames home for several generations, is one of the leading luxury fleet of vessels for corporate hire on the river. Its fleet of luxury vessels providing conference and meeting space for up to 251, banqueting and party events for corporate and private requirements for up to 586 people. Other river boat operators include Thames Clippers, who offer one of the most efficient commuter services in London, the exhilarating London RIB Voyages and Bateaux London who offer a stylish and elegant dinner cruise experience.
On the River
The River is a great place for corporate events; you just have to stand on one of the many bridges that cross the river and watch for a few minutes, and you will witness the vitality, diversity and the vibrancy of the Thames, which is reflected in the diversity of the venues on offer.
On the banks
Christmas parties, product launches, concerts, conferences, weddings, summer parties, private dinners and more can be held along the banks of the River. Venues along the banks of the river include Hampton Court Palace, Somerset House, the BA London Eye, Tate Modern and Vinopolis to name but a few.
- Hampton Court Palace - With facilities for 250 dinner guests, 300 for a reception, Hampton Court Palace provides a royal setting for events to entertain and impress. Over the centuries, it has been the scene of many great events and lavish entertainment and today many of the magnificent state rooms are offered as unique and regal settings for banquets, receptions and other prestigious functions.
- Somerset House - Somerset House offers a choice of eight spectacular venues within one building and is able to cater for events from eight to 2,000. Recently transformed, Somerset House is one of Europe’s leading centres for culture and the arts, providing an inimitable venue for corporate entertaining.
- British Airways London Eye - The world’s largest observation wheel, the BA London Eye is one of the most visually dramatic additions to the capital’s horizon and is the perfect location for any event, offering exclusive private packages ranging from individual capsule hire to the exclusive hire of the entire wheel.
- Tate Modern - Created in the year 2000 from a disused power station in the heart of London, Tate Modern displays the national collection of international modern art. The Tate Modern Restaurant, East Room and Members Room are all available to companies for dinners, reception and meetings. Level 7 offers versatile event spaces with stunning panoramas across London. Access for guests is via the newly redesigned River Entrance, directly facing the Millennium Bridge.
- Vinopolis - Vinopolis is London’s only wine attraction offering a wide variety of spaces, which can accommodate everything from the most spectacular special events to more intimate receptions. Able to accommodate from 20 to 1,250 guests, Vinopolis offers a combination of culture, wine tasting and impressive corporate event capacity.
Not only the Thames
If you’re looking to mix a little pleasure with your business, the experiences available on London’s waterways are not limited to the Thames. The Grand Union Canal and Regent’s Canal both offer their own individual activities and attractions. Starting at the traditional Thames Lock at Brentford and ending at the steel and glass glory of Paddington Basin, the Grand Union Canal meanders through diverse areas of west London, whilst the Regent’s Canal starts at Little Venice and ends at Limehouse Basin in Docklands. A quiet and atmospheric backwater, it passes by parks, a zoo, Victorian warehouses and celebrity hangouts. A journey along the canal by narrowboat goes from Little Venice to Camden Lock Market in a 90 minute round trip, with all the traditional colour and character you could hope for.
The future role of the Thames
The Thames is one of London’s richest assets, one that should be developed to its full potential. The London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games will see the Thames play a major role in the Games and activities that surround them. Visit London and its partners will continue to ensure that both business and leisure visitors get the most from the capital’s river and waterways, and that those organising or attending an event on or beside the River will be left with great memories and inspiration for the future.