London’s Lost Rivers

Image from Wikipedia

The River Thames is well known in London, but have you heard of the Lea, the Tyburn, or the Fleet? Many of the tributaries and smaller rivers that once feed into the Thames, have been built over and forced underground.

Since Victorian times, London’s population has exploded. In order to build on an already impacted space, the answer was to reclaim the land from Mother Nature.

Walking along the streets of London today, if you had ever stopped and wondered why so many of the streets curve, it is because they follow the original pathways of the rivers below them. The rivers are still present. They run through the pipes that comprise the sewage system of London.

Did you know London could have looked like Venice?

After the Great Fire of 1666, the plan of Sir Christopher Wren was to build a series of canals and bridges to prevent another fire. Unfortunately, the populous of London failed to respect their waterways and rivers became overly polluted.

Perhaps most famous of all is the 1954 discovery of a Roman temple to the god Mithras dating back to 240 AD. When excavating through the rubble of World War II, archaeologist EF Grimes dug down into the ancient riverbed and hit a treasure trove of Roman artifacts.

There are several brilliant article to explore. I would start here.

If you fancy watching a calming London river walk, check out this series here by John Rogers.

There are so many stories to uncover. Until next time, stay safe.