The Thames, the best known feature of the London landscape; is probably the least known and certainly the least understood river the further one travels east from Greenwich towards the sea.
From Gloucestershire where the river rises and its route to the capital city are well known, studied and protected. Dons and their attendants will do battle if the Isis is threatened, it’s tributaries; Cherwell, Kennet and Ock, among them are loved and nurtured as any doting parent may fuss around its offspring. Even the names of the ‘lost rivers’ under the capital’s streets are now used in common parlance; the Fleet, Tyburn, and even Beverly Brook All are part of the tapestry of English history, myth and fable.
This river is well known to most people, who have travelled as far as the M25 crossing at QE2 Bridge and still further eastward, but now this is leaving London and entering the other realm; Dickens writes of marsh and mist, when journeying towards Rochester or Chatham. This was the realm of hulks holding their cargos static; awaiting their transportation to Van Diemen’s Land. On the other bank on the north side, are marshes and mineral working sites; sand and gravel being fetched out from the huge alluvial deposits and going to feed the ever growing city: and it’s need for ballast as if it needed anchoring further to the London clays. Once these vast holes have been dug out the voids have been filled with the unrelenting stream of solid refuse that spew down river on lighters and barges from the city; by special train for such deemed to nocuous to take by water. This, even in the recent past has been co-disposed with liquid wastes from the industries that used to ring the eastern portion of the metropolis. Even when the river mists had dissipated in the morning light suspect coloured vapours crept across the Pitsea creeks to the river.
Some notes on thoughts after the first seminar on ‘An Environmentally Sustainable Thames’, 07:11:11 at 85 Southwark Street. London. Organised by the Centre for London and Allies and Morrison. Can be read by clicking here.
Continuing the theme of the last event, the Environmentally Sustainable Thames; the River as a Transport Corridor. 18.11.11.
This seminar was more a laying down of need and definition for the proposed long view that is considered necessary for the future of the city’s continued sustainable growth and the need to allow the population to have a river based transport facility that can be popular and more dynamic than it is at present.