The Thames is your Oyster

From this month pay-as-you-go Oyster Cards can be used to take the Thames Clipper. Ruth Bloomfield finds new homes if you would like a river run to work
The Thames Clipper takes in some of London’s most famous riverside landmarks
The Thames Clipper takes in some of London’s most famous riverside landmarks on its journey to the City and beyond
As the River Thames is one of the most glorious reasons to live in the capital, then the hellish daily commute on the Underground is surely one of the most grim.

So a boat journey to work would be an ingenious solution. And if you become a trend setter and buy your new home on the "Cinderella stretch" of the Thames, which runs eastward from Waterloo to Woolwich, from this month you can pay a daily fare with your pay-as-you-go Oyster card on the Thames Clipper services.

A journey by boat from Woolwich to the City takes less than half an hour. "In terms of value for money, if you want to see the Thames out of your window this is the area where you will get the most for the least price for a home," says Chris Early, manager of the Surrey Quays branch of Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward.

"Average prices for a river-view two-bedroom purpose-built flat would cost in the region of £350,000. In Battersea or Wandsworth the same thing would cost half a million."

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The area is served by Greenland Pier, as well as the Docklands Light Railway. A Crossrail station will be up and running by 2017.

As yet, like all early settlers, you have to put up with quiet evenings in for a while unless you travel into town. Along with a series of regeneration schemes over the next few years, prices look likely to buck the London average and facilities will grow. For parents, schools are something of a challenge, with Bacon’s College being the most popular.

Jigger Mast House, Woolwich
From £250,000: Jigger Mast House, Woolwich. Waterside apartments on the Mast Quay development, each with balconies and private parking; close to the Royal Arsenal Woolwich Pier. Through Knight Frank (www.knightfrank.com)
If you don’t want a flat you could consider a three-bedroom town house, from £450,000, or a warehouse conversion at Globe Wharf or Canada Wharf, where a one-bedroom apartment costs about £310,000. There are virtually no other period properties nearby, but Deptford - convenient for Greenland Pier - has classic Victorian three-bedroom houses from £350,000.

John Kennedy, head of Knight Frank’s Canary Wharf office, recommends homes on the western edge of the Isle of Dogs, close to Masthouse Terrace Pier on the north bank. "There are more than 100 bars and restaurants in Canary Wharf, there is a cinema and an airport," he points out. Prices reflect the facilities. A two- bedroom flat costs up to £500,000.

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The final stop of the Thames Clipper is the Royal Arsenal Woolwich Pier, close to the Armouries at Royal Arsenal Riverside development (www.royal-arsenalriverside.co.uk). One-bedroom flats cost £242,500 and three-bedroom mews houses, £480,000.

The Thames Clipper service will boost interest in the whole stretch of the river. Bradley Martin of Knight Frank says: "It’s an incredibly posh and romantic way to travel. The Oyster deal will make it easier, and I’m sure people will start to see the river run as a great way to get to work."

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Isabel O'Connor
© Nick Cunard
Isabel O’Connor on the Thames Clipper

'It is just so civilized and the views are so pretty'


Isabel O’Connor lives in Greenwich Village and uses the river boat to get to work in SW1 about twice a week.

"It is just so much less stressful than getting the Tube," said Isabel, an account manager for Indigo PR Co. "No one is crushed, you always get a seat and there is a little bar area. It is just so civilized and the views are so pretty.

“You never usually get to see London from those angles: all the old warehouses and the new towers.

"It takes me a little more time to get to work. If I go by boat I get up about 25 minutes earlier but I don’t mind that. Going on the Tube or the DLR is such a horrible way to start the day and this is so much more enjoyable that it is worth it, even though it is a little more expensive.

"I really enjoy getting to work, and not many people can say that."

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River commuting


Trips from Woolwich to London Bridge take 38 minutes, or 24 minutes from Greenland Pier (Rotherhithe) to Blackfriars.

The standard ticket price is £5.30 single, or £10.60 return but with the new Oyster-card deal the price will drop to £4.80 single and £9.60 return.

Travelcard holders pay £3.55 single or £7.10 return.

Shorter journeys include Greenland Pier to Canary Wharf, which is only four minutes one way. The standard price is £3.20 single or £6.40 return, but Oyster-card passengers will pay £2.90 single or £5.80 return. Travelcard holders pay £2.15 single or £4.30 return.

For information on Thames Clipper services, visit www.thamesclippers.com.

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