THE PORT of Tilbury haa invested £250,000 into restoring a historical landmark, which features prominently on the Thames skyline.
The cupola, the ornate dome structure which can be seen atop the London Cruise Terminal at Tilbury, has been in situ since 1929 and has recently been taken down in order to perform essential restoration work.
As the cupola is a listed landmark, which has been a distinctive part of the architecture at Tilbury for many years, the nature of the restoration is extremely delicate. At entirely their own expense, the Port of Tilbury have undertaken an extensive renovation project in order to preserve the cupola and prevent it from collapsing.
The projects, which is being carried out by the port in conjunction with Haydn Evans Consulting and J.W. Steele & Sons Ltd is set to take 14 weeks. Many materials are being custom built for the project, such as bricks which are being cut and designed to match those used during original construction of the cupola 84 years ago. Much of the steel frame has corroded and the expansion of the metal over the years has been placing pressure on the brickwork – both steel and brickwork now need to be replaced. Some of the wooden framework is also being replaced with sustainable Indian teak.
The cupola has a long and colourful history at the London Cruise Terminal. When the Empire Windrush sailed into Tilbury in 1948, the cupola was the first identifiable landmark to her 500 Jamaican passengers, wishing to start a new life in Britain. It was also the last piece of British architecture that the Ten Pound Poms would have seen before embarking on their life changing journey to Australia.
The London Cruise Terminal has also seen a number of famous visitors over the years, ranging from novelist George Orwell, to Cliff Richard to the Queen.
Jonathan Catton, Thurrock’s Heritage and Museum Officer said: “The cupola on top of the London Cruise Terminal is an extremely important piece of architectural history for Thurrock and the surrounding area. Many a historical event has taken place at the London Cruise Terminal since its opening in 1930 by Prime Minister J. Ramsay MacDonald and we are very grateful to the Port of Tilbury for investing such a great deal in restoring it.”
Perry Glading, Chief Operating Officer for Forth Ports Limited, owners of the London Cruise Terminal said: “It is of utmost importance for us to maintain the structural integrity and aesthetic façade of the cupola, which has sat proudly on top of our baggage hall at the Cruise Terminal for many years. We believe that it is entirely worthwhile investing in such a distinctive landmark which truly shapes the skyline of the Thames.”
Scaffolding in the Baggage Hall has restricted the circulation area causing some minor inconvenience but it will be business as usual over the next few weeks as Cruise & Maritime Voyages’ MARCO POLO moors alongside the London Cruise Terminal for Festive Parties and Christmas Mini-Cruises before it sailed off for a 14-night cruise to Canaries and Madeira on Sunday 22nd December.
Restoration work will be completed early in the New Year in readiness for a busy year with an increased number of cruise calls and Fred. Olsen returning to operate from Tilbury in the autumn.