My original plan for writing this piece had been to follow the course of one of London’s ‘Lost Rivers’ downstream to the Thames. The aim was to take a walk, meandering around side streets and trickling along ‘A’ roads, as somewhere far beneath, the ghost of an old river, perhaps now in a gutter, ran towards its mouth.
London is home to several such lost rivers, including the Fleet, the Walbrook, Falcon Brook, Neckinger, Ambrook and my local, the mysterious sounding Effra, which are just some of the city’s vanished, or vanquished, Thames tributaries.
If you’re of a certain disposition, it is hard not to feel the tang of romance that such names can evoke. For many of these old watercourses, at least in written records of their senile stages, the story is one of human-driven decline, as they silted up, slowed, flooded inconveniently and began to stink of the…
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