Lost Rivers of London

Sunday , September 24, 2017

Lost Rivers of London
Lost rivers of London town
Long lost rivers of London town
Canute sailed the Effra
On the high spring tide
Now the black river hides
Under Turnagain lane

“Lost Rivers of London” From the EP “Wassail”. Words and music by Greg Spawton

Our first full day in London!  We’ll be posting pictures from our travels, but the focus will be on the sites and sights that are inspired by, or remind us of, Big Big Train songs. Today’s tune:   “Lost Rivers of London.”

Dozens of rivers and creeks once flowed through London, on their way to the Thames. As London grew, some were dammed, some were tapped as sources of water for the city. As their flow diminished, they could no longer flush out the human and industrial waste being dumped into them and they became open sewers. When the smell became intolerable, these rivers and creeks were culverted, paved over, built upon and forgotten. But still they flow.  Sunday we  walked part of the route of the River Westbourne in the Bayswater neighborhood near our hotel. No evidence of the river remains, but we visited sites where it used to flow, and where it still makes it’s way beneath the pavement. Next week, when we return to London, we will explore several other Lost Rivers of London.

Carol’s Note: I used to think I was the only person geeky enough to be drawn to the idea of London’s lost rivers.   As I read histories — fiction and non — of England through the centuries I’d read references to the Fleet, the Effra, the Westbourne.  And I wondered, “where did these rivers go?”  I learned they were all still there, flowing beneath the streets of London, draining the waters from the surrounding hills into the Thames. Something about that fascinated me — ghosts of once mighty rivers flowing underground. I remember the moment, as I first explored the music of Big Big Train, and found they’d written a song about the lost rivers, I knew I was hooked!

Our Tour of the Route of the River Westbourne

We also stopped by Cadogan Hall to pick up our tickets for the shows.

And stopped for a refreshing pint (or two).


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