A trip to London last weekend, took me close enough to Tower Bridge to visit, for the first time, the Hermitage Riverside Memorial Garden in London. In 1976, this particular stretch of the Thames riverbank was still a wasteland, and had not been redeveloped since suffering repeated bombings during the Blitz.
With the iconic Tower Bridge in the background, and no city traffic to contend with, the area made an ideal place for director Pennant Roberts to shoot the sequences from Lights of London II in which (during a motorbike sortie for supplies) Manny attempts to shoot dead the dissident Wally. The on-location staging of this short sequence helps to reinforce the ‘sense of place’ in the episode. That said, it was not obvious (from how the area was framed on screen) that the wasteland was immediately adjacent to the River Thames.
Today the area is completely unrecognisable, and the site of a huge development of luxury flats. The building of the commemorative garden, in memory of those Londoners who died during the bombing of the capital in World War II, is dominated by its large dove sculpture. Its creation was a contractual requirement for the developers of the surrounding apartment complexes.
Hermitage Riverside Memorial Garden commemorates the civilians who died in the London blitz which commenced on 7 September 1940 and ended on 10 May 1941. London was initially bombed for 57 consecutive nights. Many other cities and areas suffered but the East End of London was one of the worst hit areas due to its proximity to the docks with 436 Londoners killed and 1,666 injured on the first night alone, and with total casualties near to 30,000
Hermitage Riverside Memorial Garden, Wapping High Street, London E1 (see Google maps)