Saturday, 7 October 2017

Bucket List - part 8: The River Thames its history and health ...



The River Thames rises near Cirencester, Gloucestershire and flows roughly eastwards for 215 miles (346 km) out to the North Sea.  It is our longest English river and the second longest, after the Severn, in the UK.
Course of River Thames across England



It drains the whole of Greater London and is tidal up to Teddington Lock … 68 miles from the sea … the rise and fall of the tidal section is 7 metres (24 feet).



It now has 45 navigation locks with accompanying weirs; there are over 80 islands; its waters vary from fresh to almost salt water as it reaches the North Sea.


River Thames flowing into Rhine



Surprisingly the River Thames can be identified as a discrete drainage line – as early as 58 million years ago.  Until about half a million years ago, the Thames flowed on its existing course through Oxfordshire, before turning to the north-east, reaching the North Sea near Ipswich, East Anglia … and was a tributary of the Rhine.





In those early days its course changed, the last ice age came and altered the landscape dramatically – creating the English Channel from the melt waters, leaving Britain as an island.  The river became more as we know it today … flowing ‘happily’ through our capital  - providing, over time, London with a great deal of history.


Our major rivers
It was a place of pilgrimage and devotion, a sacred river but also now a frontier between warring factions – those from the south could not cross, nor could those from the north – never the twain shall meet?  Well we know they did …


Heathrow – interestingly – has connections with Caesar following his expeditions to Britain in 55 and 54 BC.  There is a ‘shrine’ at Caesar’s Camp to the north of Heathrow airport – they are doing a more thorough investigation now.


It is likely the Romans chose Londonium as the Thames, wider before it was tamed and contained, could be bridged, yet was still tidal … we are now at Cornhill, near Bank tube station. 


River Thames, with St Paul's in background ..
by Canaletto (1746)


There were two other ‘hills’ that of Tower Hill, site of the Tower of London, and of Ludgate Hill, crowned by St Paul’s Cathedral.  The highest point of Cornhill is 58 feet (17.7 m) above sea level.




As our knowledge and abilities increased the river and its tributaries was used for trade and transport – more movement up and down the river occurred … so when the Romans ‘bridged’ London at Cornhill in about 43 AD – London was in place to be the capital.


Old St Paul's with its spire before the
Great Fire of London 


Trade was very important to London and great use was made of the Thames’ tributaries into the city – bringing in coal, wood, silver, cloth, food stuffs for animals and peoples … while watermen acted like taxis.




However by the Middle Ages the trade routes around the world were expanding … we had tea, silk, spices coming in from the east; sugar from the Caribbean, timber from Norway and iron ore from Sweden.


London Bridge (1616)
by Claes van Visscher


The river became clogged up – but ships were getting larger and went from sail to steam … new docks were demanded.  As we’ve all seen in our lifetimes – so much change has gone on.




It’s interesting to remember the Little Ice Age which occurred from about 1540 – 1750 when occasionally the Thames froze over – some times for three months.


The frozen Thames (1677)
Frost Fairs were held and Henry VIII is said to have travelled to Greenwich by sleigh along the river, even Elizabeth I took walks on the ice in the winter of 1564.


The last frost fair was held in 1814 lasting just four days … but during that time they managed to lead an elephant across the river below Blackfriars Bridge.


As the river passed through ever increasing urbanised areas it became more polluted and by the Victorian era was in a sorry state.  It had until the early 1800s been a thriving salmon river.


Michael Faraday giving his card to
Father Thames - caricature commenting
on a letter of Faraday's on the
state of the River in 1855
The heatwave of 1857 sent the putrid stench of the Thames wafting into the House of Parliament – they tried to keep ‘the stench’ out … to no avail – they closed down … but a plan in 1865 for new sewers would be agreed.


The system worked in central London, but seriously fouled the water system downstream until a sewage treatment system was introduced in the late 1800s.


Bazalgette’s sewers (I just love that name!) were pretty mammoth … so large that they’re still effective today – just – London is a-growing and we’re not terribly responsible with our waste etc.


World War II’s bombing damaged the sewers and treatment plants, which together with the increasing use of detergents after the war, added to the river’s pollution.  A clean-up operation was begun in 1960.

Satirical cartoon by William Heath
showing a woman observing monsters
in a drop of London water in 1828

The natural flow of the river will break down sewage … but the bacteria use up oxygen in the process – leaving little for other life forms … so by 1957 the Natural History Museum declared the Thames biologically dead – that clean-up operation had not come too soon.



The river began to breathe again … and we became more environmentally aware of the damage caused by pesticides, fertilisers etc … there are stricter industry regulations … however occasionally another spin-off occurs – silver was a pollutant - but with people switching to digital photography this has helped nearly eliminate that polluting substance.


Oxygenating Barge

Now there are ‘bubblers’ in the Thames … these are oxygenation craft to be deployed during or after periods of heavy rain, when sudden storm water surges decreased the dissolved oxygen levels in the river.  These are still needed and provide reactive systems to ensure the continued improvement of the river Thames.


Perch


Simply by cleaning the river – the fish came back (naturally) and there are now 125 species of fish in the Thames, up from almost none in the 1950s.  The fish in turn feed marine mammals, including seals, birds and so the cycle of life goes on …





Sea Lamprey - ugly aren't they?!


We now get seals and porpoises in the Thames and on occasions a whale – which is not good news – they rarely survive, unless they can be turned around to head out to sea once again.





Short-snouted Seahorse

There are other exciting species that have returned – salmon have been seen, eels, the really ugly! lampreys and out in the reeds of the Kent marshes delightful sea-horses – all are very sensitive to pollution … another plus in the life of the Thames.




Yet, as we know plastic is now a serious threat to wildlife as a whole … it affects smaller creatures that are prey for the larger ones.

Trap on Thames to catch some of the
rubbish as it floats down stream


A Cleaner Thames campaign was launched in September 2015 to combat plastic waste … it’s a difficult battle, because there are so many sources.




There are other things … as more river taxi boats/cruisers use the river to transport people which disturb the river bed … also making the river noisy and crowded – while it is fast flowing (because of the high walls to contain the river) that makes another challenge for the wildlife …
London City Airport in a dock
alongside the Thames



But we go on looking after the Thames as best we can from its early origins as the Tamesas (from tamessa) recorded in Latin flowing out further north into the Wash, Lincolnshire/Norfolk.



Father Thames - a Coade stone sculpture
by John Bacon in the grounds of
Ham House, Richmond

Father Thames has called time on me and this post! … wild life is in a better position, the banks of the Thames flourish with birds, insects, plants … giving everyone who lives or visits the river and its environs a feast for the senses – 40% of London is green space … so let’s get out feel the wind in our hair and enjoy the great outdoors.




There will be one more of these Bucket List posts … as I have booked (later in October) to climb 60 feet into the scaffolding to check out the art work in the Painted Hall  (part 5) - as they make their restoration work – should be fascinating … my goddaughter’s mother is coming to join me… a good meet up ...

Once this series got going ... it became more about Greenwich than anything else - so perhaps I should end tidying up that side of harbourage (if that's a word) ... but I'll leave it to you to look at this brilliant site on the History of the Port of London - whose link is below: so I shall now retire.  

An adapted quote at the beginning of their site: "A plot of firm soil by the river's bank made a landing place, which became a port and city of the world - that is London."


Here are some links:

11th century delicacy - Lampreys - one of my very early posts in 2009

A Judge, Gardens and the Great Stink - another of my early posts 

St Alfege Church, Greenwich - Henry VIII was baptised here ...but there's a lot more history?!

Plume of Feathers pub in Greenwich Park

History of the Port of London pre 1908 ... 

The Londonist - gives us more details on Father Thames ... and the song 'Old Father Thames...' which you may find interesting ... 

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

54 comments:

Elephant's Child said...

What a fascinating story - of an incredible water way.
I started delving into British Rivers after reading Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers of London. Fiction which had me hankering to learn...
Thank you so much for the research you put into your posts. I learn and marvel at each and every one.

RO said...

My goodness, what amazing history tied to this river, and I had no idea. It's clearly more that a clue on Jeopardy. Every time I visit, I learn more and more important info, and love it! Hugs...RO

Keith's Ramblings said...

Once again you have taught me things I should already have known but didn't! Perhaps it's because your style of writing is so much engaging than that of those stuffy old text-books of yore!

Click to visit Keith's Ramblings

John Holton said...

This was an interesting post. Mary and I keep talking about taking a geography class because there are a bunch of new countries since we took it 50 years ago. It'd be a good refresher, too, for all the things that haven't changed, like the rivers and mountain ranges.

A Cuban In London said...

Another fascinating post. The Thames was central to London's economic development. I love sitting on its banks. I know it's not my Havana's seawall (for that I have to go to Brighton :-D) but the Thames still does the trick.

Greetings from London.

Lisa said...

I am so very glad to hear of the cleaning up of the Thames and that it is a continuing effort. Such a beautiful river and such a big place in history. London wasn't actually the "first" capitol of the Romans in Britain, Colchester was, but London grew to overshadow Colchester quickly because of the Thames! Thanks for dropping by!

Janie Junebug said...

I've read about the terrible pollution in the Thames in the past so I'm glad to know that it's much better. Thanks for the detailed information. Everything I wonder about I can count on you to explain without me asking the question.

Love,
Janie

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

What a wonderful history lesson and also one that shows we must constantly protect our waterways from whatever threatens them.

Inger said...

I'm so sorry to have missed so many parts of your bucket list. Will go back and read later. When I lived in London at the end of the 1950s beginning of the 1960s, there were few fish in the Thames, you are so right. How wonderful to read about all that has been done since then.

Deborah Weber said...

What a fascinating post Hilary. Years ago I found myself interested in learning more about watersheds, and since then I've been quite curious about river ecology and such. Throw in the interesting historical facts of such a major river as Thames and you have my rapt attention.

klahanie said...

Hey Hilary,

A fascinating article, as per usual. The story of the Thames brings back some fond and not so fond memories for me. I was about to board a very expensive cabin cruiser, full of very posh folks. Just as I boarded, the boat moved out a bit and I ended up in the river. Fortunately, it was early September in the summer of 1976.

Speaking of Greenwich, when I was a little boy, I lived in Blackheath. One of the other tenants, who lived above us, was the brother of James Robertson Justice. I cannot remember what his name was.

Thank you, Hilary.

Gary

Sue Bursztynski said...

A fascinating history! I keep getting this tune in my head, "Old Father Thames keeps rolling along, On to the mighty sea..." And goodness, a tributary of the Rhine? Amazing!

Recommended: The Rivers Of London by Ben Aaronovitch. In it, the rivers are people, and there is a Mother Thames....

Finally Got Around To Reading...Every Breath By Ellie Marney

Liz A. said...

So nice to hear the fish came back. Cities need access to water and waterways, so it's sad when those waterways get so polluted.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ EC – I’ve noted Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London series –thank you. I just was fascinated to be able to sort of do a Thames time line … pretty rough – but still told its tale …

@ RO – human life always needed a river … so lots happened along their banks … but I learnt so much writing this up …

@ Keith – thanks so much … I try and write to engage – so am chuffed that you acknowledge that … blogging is about engaging and interacting, as well as educating sometimes … thank you!

@ John – Geography and Geology are fascinating subjects –the only ones I was any good at in my school days … and yes sport. But you’re right … lots has changed – plate tectonics wasn’t validated until the 1950s/1960s … so I hope you can find a suitable course or just talk, which you’re able to attend …

@ Lisa – thankfully we’re more aware of what new products we use on a daily basis are doing to our land and waterways … and so concerns are raised.

Yes Colchester was Roman Britain’s ‘capital’ … but it was north of the Thames … so when a settlement was possible because of the bridging of the Thames at Cornhill, uniting the country, this spurred the growth of London and ultimately that ‘town’ into being the capital of England and Britain. But you’re right about Colchester …

@ Janie – I think we’re more aware of pollution and what things can affect our land and rivers. Thank you – I try and tie my posts up … as I know there’s always questions … but that’s great if I usually manage to answer yours before you get to ask them …

@ Arleen – I was quite pleased to have found all this information and be able to put it up here … and you’re right we need to protect our lands and our waterways …

@ Inger – not to worry … it’s always very good to see you – and one thing about blogging is – that the posts are there to be read whenever it suits people. Delighted you’ll be back to read …

London in the 1950s and early 1960s was pretty ‘grotty’ – war had taken its toll … but we seem to have upped our game since – just need our populations to realise how important it is to protect things around us and our people …

@ Deborah – thanks so much … I couldn’t go into the tributaries … because I’d still be writing the post – but a glance at things occasionally (as I do here with the Thames) opens the door to enquiring minds … and I leave a few links for extra information if one is interested or has time …

@ Gary – delighted to see you … oh what fun (perhaps for you?! – at least you can tell the tale now) to know you fell in the Thames …must have been a wee bit of a shock at the time. 1976 was the very hot year wasn’t it …

I wonder how many people we’ve met who go on to be famous, or who are related to well-known people … James Robertson Justice was a very interesting character …incredibly talented … I wonder what happened to his brother and other family members … and did ever you meet James …

@ Sue – thanks for the reference to the song about Old Father Thames – I’ve found a bit more information, which includes Gracie Fields singing ‘Old Father Thames keeps rolling along, …’ updated as the last link on the post … Yes, it seems strange that the Thames was tributary of the Rhine … but true …

Thanks – I’ve noted Ben Aaronovitch’s book … and one day I’m sure I’ll read it …

@ Liz – yes thankfully we seem to be learning to protect some of our natural resources …

Thanks so much everyone – so pleased you’ve enjoyed the history of the Thames … cheers to you all - Hilary

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Sea lampreys are just weird.
Amazing how much the tide raises the water level. Also impressive is how big the Thames becomes in such a short distance.

Patsy said...

It's interesting how a body of water can both divide people and bring them together.

Jacqui Murray said...

That was fascinating. I'm sure the history of the Thames is the history of many great rivers--our Mississippi included. It takes a while for man to realize nature needs a touch of help.

Robert Bennett said...

I remember the first thing I ever learned about the Thames was that it was horrible, dirty, and stinky. haha

Anabel Marsh said...

Interesting read about the Thames clean up.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Alex - lampreys are just amazing aren't they ... really odd 'critters'. The Severn has a 48 feet tide height ... the Bay of Fundy has the highest tidal range ... at 55 feet. The estuary is relatively rather large I agree ...

@ Patsy - it is interesting how the Thames has helped create our country ... now thankfully we rush over the river ...

@ Jacqui - I think you're probably right - I'm sure other rivers have similar histories ... just the British history is so well recorded. Eventually we realise we need to look after nature ...

@ Robert - well I'm sure it was true ... I don't remember it being 'stinky' even though we lived fairly nearby ...

@ Anabel - thanks... it was interesting to write up ...

Cheers and thanks for your comments - Hilary

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Can't imagine the smell. Thank goodness that they were able to fix the issue. Fascinating post, Hilary. So much to learn about my grandmother's birth place. Thanks for teaching me.

Joanne said...

Tina Turner sang "Rollin' on the River" and that's a good tune as you explored the Mighty Thames Great history and I rowed along with you.

Rhodesia said...

Wow Hilary you are a mine of information and there is very little of this post that I knew before.
It is great that the marine life is returning, beautiful and otherwise, and I had no idea that there were seahorses anywhere in the UK.
Wonderful and very informative post.
Have a good week Diane

Ann Bennett said...

So much history in the river, I'm glad the fish knew their way back home.

DMS said...

Wow! I learned so much! I had no idea about the history of this great river. So glad people have become more environmentally aware because it is obviously having a big impact on this river and many other places. Plastic has caused lots of problems in places we wouldn't expect. Thanks for sharing. :)
~Jess

Linda said...

So much I didn't know about the Thames. I knew there were pollution problems at one time. I am glad to see that have improved. We are our own worst enemies at times.

Kay G. said...

What a wonderful informative post, as always!
I keep thinking that I want to do a post about plastic, and you might inspire me to do so!

sage said...

We have treated our rivers badly, but it is amazing how well they respond once clean up efforts begin. Thanks for the journey along the Thames.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Joylene – I think the stench must have been pretty potent … it spurred action and a lot of it … the sewers in Victorian London are extraordinary historical building works … very forward thinking …

@ Joanne – that’s a great song to roll along old man River Thames …

@ Diane – I managed to find quite a few things that let this post roll from source to the estuary … things I didn’t know either … I was pleased to see how much marine life there is in the Thames, along its banks and then in the areas of mud, marsh etc … Yes – there are seahorses along the Dorset coast too …

@ Ann – it’s surprising how nature comes back to life … and our history: so much around the Thames …

@ Jess – this post opened my eyes to more history of the Thames …and thankfully we are becoming more environmentally aware and looking after our wildlife. Plastic is a very serious matter …

@ Linda – I learnt rather a lot too – and yes there is awareness about pollution – though things still happen. You’re right there …we are very clever, yet don’t appreciate the damage we end up doing …

@ Kay – so glad you enjoyed the post … I’ve written a few posts that include plastic pollution and three years ago I wrote about sustainable fishing and marine conservation reserves … including plastic …

@ Sage – I’m amazed at what nature does to correct our mismanagements of land and seas (waters) … glad you enjoyed the Thames journey …

Thanks everyone – it’s good to see you all here and lovely to have your comments … cheers Hilary

Marja said...

Wow what a knowledge. Great how this river came alive through all it's history. Amazing to think that it already flew 58 million years ago. How fantastic to read that they brought the Thames back to life after it was biologically dead, which gives hope. Maybe they can learn from it over here.
I hope you enjoy the art work in the Painted Hall and love to read about it later

Rhonda Albom said...

Very interesting history on the Thames. I did not realize so much was done to bring the river back to life.

Deborah Barker said...

Ah, such an amazing history! It's great that the Thames now has so much life in it but sad it had to go through such bad times. Life would be so different had we remained joined to our neighbours wouldn't it? I like being an island but I imagine we would have been just as happy as part of the larger land mass. The Teams, like life, flows on...

Pat Hatt said...

Interesting how it changed throughout the ages. Be fun to go across on a sleigh, but not for an ice age. Good that people are turning it around too.

cleemckenzie said...

Fantastic historical overview, Hilary. I'm interested in knowing what the investigation around Heathrow might turn up. I'm imagining a Roman soldier coming onto that place as it is today!

Great to know that there's a battle against plastic contamination in the Themes. Such a beautiful place to ruin.

Michael Di Gesu said...

Always a fascinating account about your county, Hilary...

Thanks for sharing!

Karen Lange said...

What an interesting post, as always! You never disappoint, Hilary. Appreciate you sharing this installment of the bucket list. Thought of you this morning upon learning of friends who are now visiting London. I'm sure they are enjoying the sights. :) Have a great week!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Marja - thank you ... it was a fun post to write up ...and that 58 million years' discrete showing in the landscape - I thought was fascinating ... so glad you did too! More people in the middle of the 20th C realised that the environment, landscape and our waters - sea and river - needed to be looked after. Thanks re the Painted Hall ... I'm sure I'm going to love the Painted Hall scaffolding trip ...

@ Rhonda - it was so interesting to find out all these snippets about the Thames ... especially how it was brought back to life ...

@ Deborah - yes after WW1 the Thames wasn't revered, nor the land ... but after WW2 we realised the errors of our ways and could start off again.

Talking about being joined to Europe as part of the continent - life would be extremely different - would William have conquered, the Romans would have walked across - let alone the Vikings and Angles ... et al ... I have to say I'm happy being an island - what now ... is another matter ... ?!

@ Pat - I hope the Thames doesn't freeze over ... it'd make life very chilly! I remember the 1962/3 freeze up - it was really uncomfortable -though we live more easily today ...

@ Lee - thanks so much ... well we'll have to wait to see what else they find at the Heathrow site ... with the new investigative technology we have access too now ... it was originally excavated in 1723 by William Stukeley ... he believed it to be a Roman settlement. This site is about a quarter mile to the south of the Bath Road -which runs to the north of the perimeter of the airport.

Terminal 5 to the south of the main airport was excavated 14 years ago - seen here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/3072211.stm

There's major battles going on about plastic ... in the Atlantic, in the Pacific ... and on land and major rivers ... it's a challenge. But you're right the Thames and its banksides have some wonderful scenery ...

@ Michael - thank so much ... good to see you ...

@ Karen - thanks so much ... oh how lovely that your friends are over here - the weather is still reasonably warm and relatively dry! I sincerely hope they're enjoying themselves - expect they are.

Cheers to you all ... so good to have your comments - all the best - Hilary

Sandra Cox said...

What marvelous information on a wonderful body of water. I'm so glad they've gotten it cleaned up. Our waters do tend to suffer from pollution don't they?

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

It's amazing to read how waterways were the homes where civilization started. I read so much historical fiction that describes how polluted the Thames was at one time.

Nilanjana Bose said...

I always learn something new every time I am here! Didn't know Thames was a tributary of Rhine :0

For some reason your post reminded me of P D James' Original Sin, where Thames is the setting for Innocent House and both are characters in their own right in the story.

Have a wonderful week!

Lynn said...

Amazing - I wouldn't have thought of the sewage issue. Oh my - I'll bet that was terrible!

I've missed commenting on the last few posts, but I did just read them all while having lunch at my desk. This is a lovely history lesson - written so beautifully, too.

Nick Wilford said...

Another wonderful post, full of so many nuggets of info. You can grow up somewhere fairly near London, and think you know about the River Thames, like I did, but I was wrong. Imagine following the Thames and joining up with the Rhine... and the elephant on the ice must have been a sight to behold. I did know about the terrible sewage and stink, but not about the spread of wildlife we're now getting - seahorses? Hope it all continues to go well!

Kelly Steel said...

This post was so fascinating. I loved reading about the River Thames. And was it really frozen all solid? OMG, that would have been a sight to see.

Sandra Cox said...

215 miles is a lot of river......
:)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Sandra - thank you ... I could have put so much more information into the post - but enough is enough. Thankfully it is much cleaner now - and is regularly monitored ... which is able to spot leakages when they happen - which helps -

@ Susan - yes water for living was essential, but led the way for hunter gatherers to bring the food in and for the curious to travel further. I'm sure novelists will bring in stories about the stinking Thames ... ghoulish mists ...

@ Nila - yes it's odd to think of the Thames as a tributary (at one time) of the Rhine ... and as we were one planet at one time - before the plates moved apart ultimately to become our seven continents. So the Thames and Rhine could be linked to other major river systems ... haven't explored that thought yet!!

I must make a note of PD James' Original Sin ... sounds an interesting read ... thanks for that thought ...

@ Lynn - sadly throughout the ages ...our sewage has gone to the easiest place we can 'chuck' it or to the nearest river course ...

Thanks for reading through all the posts ... and for the compliment about the writing ... appreciate that!!

@ Nick - oh don't I know - I write these posts ... and in doing so learn so much ... especially about things that I have a superficial knowledge about, like you. It's been interesting to find out about the life of the Thames ... and yes I hope we continue to clear up our waterways, seas and land ...

@ Kelly - good to see you ... and so pleased you enjoyed the post. Apparently they were able to hold people, animals and stalls on the ice - so it must have been pretty solid ... but I'm sure there was a waterway at the bottom ... because it ran to the sea ... but it was solid as such. I'm glad it doesn't happen today - way too cold!!!

@ Sandra - it's a big river for us here in the UK ... and is the life blood of the south east ...

Cheers to you all - thanks so much for coming by ... and for being interested in our English river that enlivens so much of our historical and day to day life ... Hilary

Sara C. Snider said...

Fascinating history of the Thames. Glad to see the fish and other wildlife have returned, especially since it was once biologically dead. Gives me hope that our current and ongoing efforts to improve the environment aren't futile endeavors.

Elsie Amata said...

It's difficult to imagine the Thames frozen. Almost as hard to imagine it being stinky. :)

Father Thames reminds me of King Neptune. Wonder if they are "related" in stories and myths somehow.

Enjoy the rest of your week!
Elsie

Mary Montague Sikes said...

Wow, Hilary, that is quite a story. Thank you for sharing. Have you thought about writing a children's book using info from this story and some of your photos?

H.R. Sinclair, Southpaw said...

Really cool information, my favorite bit was about the bubbler. That is totally fascinating.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Sara - I was quite interested writing it up ... sort of tying it all up made sense - I probably should do more re the wildlife and at one stage perhaps I'll write a more detailed post. You're right about our efforts ... at least we'realising we need to keep and protect our environment ...

@ Elsie - it is difficult to imagine any river being frozen over... easier to think about the stinky inlets ... but not so nice. Sculpture is always interesting to know where they got the ideas from ... like you I'd guess probably similarly related ... Father Thames and Neptune ... not so far apart (apparently sculpturally) ...

@ Monti - thanks so much ... I could do a mini A - Z on the Thames like this couldn't I ... hadn't thought about that - good idea ... books are at the forefront of my mind in the near future.

@ Holly - thanks ...I hadn't heard about the bubblers in the Thames - strategically positioned along the river for when they are needed.

Thanks for your comments - we are in a better world more caring about many things ... looking after our countryside, rivers, oceans etc is so important to having a healthy country ... the Thames is a good example of what can be achieved - cheers Hilary

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

I had no idea the Thames had ever been declared a dead river. The thoughtless things we've done to the environment over the years is horrifying, but it's also heartening that steps have been taken to reverse the damages. The plastics problem is another issue. I don't know if the massive amount of plastic (and other debris) that's floating in the oceans will ever be removed.

That lamprey is UGLY. Not at all cute like the ones we used to have in our aquarium...

Cheers! Have a super weekend.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Susan - yes ...especially in the lower reaches of London ... but that was post war. Since then - eventually we catch up with ourselves and are realising the error of our ways ... at least we can do what we can to get and keep the river clean.

Plastic is another matter - a serious one all over the world - and whether the oceans can be cleaned up ... possibly in a 1,000 years - rather beyond our time here on this planet.

Poor lamprey ... but they are unique creatures - coming from an ancient lineage of vertebrates ... I certainly didn't know there were aquaria-type lampreys - able to survive in a tank ...live and learn!

Thanks for coming by ... and yes the weekend is lovely and warm! Cheers Hilary

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Hillary - I think nearly everyone has heard of the Thames, but their knowledge base is limited. Thanks for all the details. Your posts are always so well researched and interesting.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Thanks Susan - well honestly when I started writing up these recent pieces about the Thames I learnt so much ... I'm just so glad you enjoy reading the posts - lovely to hear ...cheers Hilary