The RNA Conference is where like minds meet, and with so many people travelling from all over the country, and indeed abroad, to attend, it is an opportunity for them to extend their stay for sightseeing. This year, delegates who arrived the day before had a chance to go on a 'school trip' to the River Police Museum at Wapping, organised by Jean Fullerton. Jean was born and lives not so very far from Wapping and, as an historical novelist, she not only sets her stories in this part of London but also virtually recreates the area as it might have been in the Victorian period. In her second novel Glimpse of Happiness, the 'Town of Ramsgate' (below) features, and it is in that pub that fifteen of us romantic novelists congregated at lunchtime on Thursday 8 July.
The 'Town of Ramsgate', situated beside an alleyway leading to a part of the river front called Wapping Old Stairs, is over 300 years old. Another riverside pub, just along the road and just as old, is the 'Captain Kidd'. You can see it mid-picture in the photo below. The building at the far end to the left, the one with the angled bays, is the River Police Museum. This was our ultimate destination, but not, of course, until we had had lunch and a good old natter!
The London River Police have a remarkable history. The unit was formed in 1798 by magistrate Patrick Colquhoun and Master Mariner John Harriott to counter major thefts from ships anchored in the Thames. The museum has a collection of uniforms, equipment, illustrations and documentation. It is open to the public only by special request so it was a real privilege to get a chance to visit. So thank you Jean, and thanks to to our informative guide.