The Secrets Of London's Lost Rivers

Rachel Holdsworth
By Rachel Holdsworth Last edited 39 months ago
The Secrets Of London's Lost Rivers
The mouth of the Effra, by Tom Bolton
The mouth of the Effra, by Tom Bolton
Along the Effra, by SF Said
Along the Effra, by SF Said
St Saviour's Dock, by Tom Chivers
St Saviour's Dock, by Tom Chivers
Westbourne waters, by Tom Bolton
Westbourne waters, by Tom Bolton
Along the Walbrook, by Tom Chivers
Along the Walbrook, by Tom Chivers
Mouth of the Fleet, by Tom Bolton
Mouth of the Fleet, by Tom Bolton

London's lost rivers... It's an intoxicating idea. Beneath our feet are the tributaries that have fed the Thames from ancient times, just covered or turned into sewers, popping up in unexpected places like the Westbourne piped through Sloane Square tube, or the occasional unfragrant re-appearance of the Fleet sewer into the Thames during heavy rain.

Although we call them 'lost', there's still plenty to discover about these rivers. And there are no two people better placed to impart all the river geek knowledge you'd ever want to know than Tom Bolton, who literally wrote the book on lost rivers, and poet Tom Chivers, whose ADRIFT project made urban pilgrimages down the courses of the Neckinger and Walbrook. The pair are unloading their brains as part of Londonist's Totally Thames talks during the weekend of 20-21 September.

Find out about the old dyeworks of the Wandle and the distilleries of Clerkenwell, the Necropolis railway and legends of coffins being washed away from West Norwood cemetery. There are vanished places like Agar Town and Tyburnia, holy wells, hangings and much, much more. They also want to hear your stories and thoughts about London's lost rivers, so come prepared with anecdotes and feel free to pepper them with questions.

It all takes place on HMS President and Londonist contributors will be hanging around the bar for a chat too (oh yes, there's a bar for a cheeky lunchtime snifter). And this writer will be hosting the event — see you there.

London's Lost Rivers: The Geek Off is on Saturday 20 September, 11am-12.30pm, on board HMS President at Victoria Embankment. Tickets £7.50, £5 concession per talk, or day pass (entry to three talks) £15, £12.50 concession. Tickets and more information are available online.

This event is part of Londonist Afloat: Terrific Tales of the Thames events for the Totally Thames festival.

Last Updated 10 September 2014

Chris West

I am looking forward to your Talk and would love to hear how the streams were diverted as the docks were being built at Wapping and St Katharine's.

Tom Chivers

Thanks for your question, Chris. I may have to defer to Mr Bolton on that one, because I'm not aware of any significant streams in that area. As I'm sure you know, Wapping (south of the Highway) was originally part of the river's alluvial flood plain and subsequently very marshy so would probably have been riddled with little rivulets.

The nearest 'lost river' to Wapping is the Black Ditch, which flowed from somewhere in or around Shoreditch east towards Limehouse, outflowing into Limekiln Dock. To the east, your nearest is the Lorteburn/Langbourne which reputedly ran south-west from Aldgate/Fenchurch and flowed into the Walbrook.

Hooligan

Being someone who lives a few hundred yards from the route of Counters Creek in W10, I will try and come. By the way the people who live above Counters Creek around here have to have sumps and pumps in their basements. It does come to the surface in Litttle Wormwood Scrubs most winters.

Stephenmid

Great book on "Lost" Rivers in Haringey: http://www.ariver-runsthroughi...