Subterranean rivers of London

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The subterranean or underground rivers of London are the tributaries of the River Thames and River Lea that were built over during the growth of the metropolis of London. Since it is difficult to stop water from flowing downhill, the rivers now flow through underground culverts. Many have been converted into sewers.

Many London localities started their existence as small villages along these rivers, and their placenames reflect their origin. In recent years, with the restoration of the UK's waterways network gathering pace, parts of some London rivers have been restored to their previous above-ground state, and in some cases fish have been reintroduced.


[edit] Subterranean rivers in London

Incomplete List

River Thames - north bank from east to west:

River Thames - south bank:

River Lea:

[edit] Langbourne

An article on London's Lost Rivers mentions a Langbourne as running along Fenchurch Street, Lombard Street, and Sherbourn Lane, but gives no further details. This route looks unlikely, running parallel with, but in the opposite direction to, the Thames. Whatever it was, it has given its name to the Langbourn Ward of the City of London. One possibility is that it was a medieval euphemism for the open sewers that ran along these streets.

The article also mentions a St Clement’s (as in the Oranges and Lemons song) stream. This would presumably be in Clement's Lane, which runs south from Lombard Street. This may have been another open sewer. Likewise for the Oldbourne (or Holbourne) cited as alternative names for the Fleet.

[edit] The Wandle

On the south bank the next river upstream from the Effra is the Falconbrook, also underground. The next river is the Wandle, which is not subterranean. To quote from an article formerly on the London Borough of Sutton website: "Today most of London’s Thames tributaries flow underground or are imprisoned in concrete. The Wandle remains one of the few that are accessible for most of its length." The River Brent is also above ground for most of its course.

[edit] See also

[edit] References:

[edit] In popular culture:

The Christopher Fowler crime thriller The Water Room 2004 [ ISBN 0-385-60554-4] uses the River Fleet as a key setting, and mentions other London rivers.

[edit] External links

Subterranean rivers of London

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