Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Rivers Lost in Time

Today, London is a city along the Thames. But its history is built beside many other rivers, now subverted, built over, or formed into sewers. During the Medieval times (roughly 400 - 1200 AD) the rivers Langbourne (possibly), Walbourne, Fleet, Tyburn, Westbourne, Neckinger, Effra, as well as Tyburn Brook, Counter's Creek, Stamford Brook, and Hackney Brook all formed a watery landscape beside which the villages which became what we know today as London were built. Some were large enough to be navigable by barge - 12 feet or more wide and more than 30 feet deep.

The waterways still exist - in one form or another - and can be detected in the landscape, sewer ways, culverts, storm drain systems, and small brooks throughout the city. Many still are tributary to the Thames as well.

The ghostly presence of these disappeared waters are a fascinating link to London's history, while also serving as a commentary on the huge ecological impact of historical, as well as modern, human development.

BOOKS:
Lost Rivers of London by Nicholas Barton

LINKS:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subterranean_rivers_of_London (very good and informative overview of the rivers)
http://www.barryoneoff.co.uk/html/lost_rivers.html (interesting tracing of the rivers through London - no maps though)
http://lndn.blogspot.com/2005_08_01_lndn_archive.html (really interesting, though mainly on the biggest Subterranean river, the Fleet, including a map, and pictures of the modern clues to its existence)

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