A Perspective view of the River Thames

(Updated, January 2019) Copper-plate print entitled 'A Perspective view of the River Thames' and also inscribed; 'Taken from the Kings Arms at Blackwall; Shooters Hill, Woolwich; The East India Dock Yard. From London Magazine Mar 1782.' The Blackwall shipyard is on the left, Woolwich in the centre distance on the right (south) bank of the Thames and Shooter's Hill on the far right. The ship in the river mounting ten guns a side is probably a small Indiaman. Under her stern on the edge of Greenwich Marsh (Blackwall Point) can be seen the body of a pirate or smuggler, hanging on the Greenwich 'upper gibbet' (i.e. upstream) as a public warning to seamen, probably after being hanged at Execution Dock (for which see PAJ0887). There is a well-known early 19th century woodblock in Charles Ellms's 'The Pirates Own Book' (1837/ 1844, p. 178: NMM image D3864-15) of which the caption states it shows 'Capt.Kidd hanging in chains', as he was when gibbeted at Tilbury after execution in 1701: however, the dress of the figure shown is quasi-naval seaman's clothing of around 1800 and with the 1793 masthouse of Blackwall Yard shown across the river behind, albeit the background is generally imaginary. The image - which may not be original to Ellms but reused from elsewhere - is therefore a later one of a malefactor (real or imagined) gibbeted at Blackwall Point, as in the present print, though prrobably on the 'lower gibbet', which was at Bugsby's Hole, just downstream on the Woolwich side, near the later and still-surviving 'Pilot' inn. Later charts show the 'upper gibbet' a little way south of the also still-surviving 'Gun Tavern' on the Blackwall side of the river.

Object Details

ID: PAD1370
Collection: Fine art; Special collections
Type: Print
Display location: Not on display
Creator: Unknown
Places: Blackwall; Shooters Hill
Date made: March 1782
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Green Blackwall Collection
Measurements: Mount: 230 x 354 mm
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