Network of green walks proposed along the roads of the forgotten rivers of London | London


There are clues to their existence in the names of the streets, in the winding alleys and in the sound of water at the bottom of the capital’s sewers. For centuries, London has been shaped by its rivers. Today, however, although some remains remain visible, most are buried under sidewalks and submerged in the sewage system.

Now the Ramblers walking charity is calling for a network of new green roads retracing the paths of some of London’s “forgotten” waterways. He wants the mayor to support the signage and map plans to guide walkers around these historic underground routes.

“We have the London Loop, the Capital Ring and the Thames Path. But we don’t have a lot of radial routes going in or out of London. Hidden Rivers are great radial walks, ”said Des Garrahan, of Inner London Ramblers, who leads guided walks on the buried rivers of London.

Hampstead Heath Ridge contains the sources of four London rivers: the Brent, Westbourne, Tyburn and Fleet.

Paul Talling covers 22 rivers in his book and on his website, London’s Lost Rivers. “But there are plenty of small tributaries that feed them. So we are talking about dozens and dozens of lost waterways in London, ”said Talling, who also leads guided walks on the lost river.

As London’s population grew, the rivers became open sewers, heavily polluted and smelly. By the 1820s, most had been covered. In the 1860s, following the great stench of 1858, most were integrated into Joseph Bazalgette’s sewer system.

“Before that, London was really a river city,” Talling said. “They were used for market gardening. There were mills. There was a mill in Clerkenwell, where the well was used by convent workers, and a myriad of small underground springs that fed the well. There is Sadler’s Wells. The clues are there in the names.

The fleet, sinking from Hampstead to Blackfriars, is the best known. The Tyburn branched out to form islands, on one of them, Thorney Island, Westminster Abbey now stands. The Effra is still visible to a storm outfall outside the MI6 building near Vauxhall.

“They are forgotten. The average person walking around London doesn’t know them, ”Talling said. “People should be aware of what is under their feet. They say look up, but I always say look down, listen to the pipes, look at the names of the streets.

An exhibition at the Museum of London in 2019 traced the history of many secret rivers. Its co-commissioners, Kate Sumnall and Thomas Ardill, said at the time: “Polluted and neglected, some of the rivers have disappeared underground, but they are not entirely lost or forgotten. Some continue to flow like sewers and drains, and their traces can be seen throughout modern London in the names of places, the shape of streets and boundaries, and in the location of buildings and landmarks.

Among the routes offered by hikers, there is one following the course of the fleet to the Thames, passing through Old St Pancras Church and along the Regent Canal. The Silk Stream Trail connects Hampstead Heath to the London to High Barnet Loop, and the Counter’s Creek Road follows a hidden river path along the border between Hammersmith and Fulham and Kensington and Chelsea, passing two graveyards at Kensal Green and Brompton and connecting with the Thames Path, Putney and Wimbledon Commons, the Capital Ring and the London Loop.

Phil Marson, Vice-President of the Inner London Ramblers, said: “The past year has shown how essential access to quality outdoor space is for the health and fitness of Londoners, and highlighted the importance of the city’s “green lungs” – from the city center to its rural fringes.

“Making major hiking routes easier to find and use, and making them part of the daily lives of Londoners, is a critical part of building a sustainable post-pandemic recovery, by connecting to other transport and by enabling travel and active leisure. This is why we are asking the next mayor of London to add six new strategic routes, improve and promote the existing ones, and measure their use, as the GLA does for other modes of transport.

The most beautiful hidden rivers in London

The fleet Polluted by industry and the carcasses of Smithfield butchers, this stinking waterway was a plague of London and lined with slums. Fagin’s Den in Dickens’ Oliver Twist took place here. Author Ben Johnson (1572-1637) compared it to the Styx in Hell. After the great stench of 1858, sections were integrated into Joseph Bazalgette’s sewage system. The sound of its flowing waters can still be heard through some manholes.

The Tyburn Also native to Hampstead, the stretch through Regent’s Park to Pimlico was once a premier stream for salmon fishing. Proposals from the Tyburn Angling Society to restore it were unsuccessful, possibly because it could mean the demolition of Buckingham Palace. The reason Marylebone Lane isn’t straight is because she took the Tyburn’s course.

The Walbrook Long covered, the Roman Londinium grew along its banks. It passed under the Roman Wall in London.

The Westbourne George II’s wife, Queen Caroline, ordered it to be dammed to form the Serpentine and beautify Hyde Park in 1730. The remains still flow in a pipe above Sloane Square tube station.

Fright The earth excavated during its enclosure was used to build the raised banks of the oval cricket ground. Torrential rains overflowed the sewers that flooded the cricket ground in the 1950s. In 1992 there were bogus proposals to bring the buried Scare back to the surface, with posters saying “Wet, Dark and Buried”. “. It still remains buried, like a storm drain serving a stretch of South London from Norwood to Vauxhall.


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