Monday, February 22, 2016

Secret London: Better than Effra

Hang out with me long enough and you will find out I love be underground in London. We very rarely stop to think about the subterranean London beneath our feet. Not just the tube, there are countless other tunnels and chambers itching to be discovered (well some maybe not). In fact, one of our 'coffee table' books is Subterranean London.

One aspect that has always intrigued me are the hidden rivers of London. There are quite a few, but only a handful really stand out. Most know of the Fleet, but there are actually 8 majors ones? These rivers fed into the Thames and shaped London into what it is today. And what happened to them? Built over and diverted into sewers most of them- so very little can now be found of them above ground. However, if you know where to look, you can see traces of these beauties.

I have already run the Wandle River, probably the most visually prominent of the rivers, so I want to cover the other seven:
  • Westbourne
  • Fleet
  • Neckinger
  • Effra
  • Tyburn
  • Wallbrook
  • Earl's Sluice/River Peck
I used the book, "Londons Lost Rivers" by Tom Bolton as my guide, and if you are more a walker I suggest you take a copy and go try these yourself. I used the directions to create a GPX route of the route and then using the DwMap application, synced the route to my Garmin. Goodbye staring at the phone looking to see where I made a wrong turn!

Here are my adventures from the Effra River, which started in Westow Park near Crystal Palace.  I wont provide all the interesting tidbits from the book, I will leave that to you to learn and discover!
  • Norwood (the area where the source of the river starts) is derived from Great North Wood, an area that once covered south London 
  • West Norwood Cemetery is one of the Magnificent Seven and is the final resting place of Hiram Maxim, inventor of the machine gun
  • Electric Avenue in Brixton was the first streets in the country to receive electric lights
  • The Oval was shaped that way due to the the meandering of the Effra
Start: Westow Park
End: Vauxhall Bridge

Home of the 1948 Olympic Velodrome
Bel Air Park: Where you can kinda
see the Effra

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