Saturday, March 27, 2010
THE LOST RIVERS OF LONDON
Counter's Creek, named after a medieval bridge over Kensington High Street, ran for four miles in an almost straight line from Kensal Green to the Thames at Chelsea. It may have been a relatively insignificant stream in its day, but its course has left a lasting legacy across West London.
View Counter's Creek on a Google map
The river's first transformation was from natural stream to artificial channel. In 1827 the speculative Kensington Canal was built along the alignment of Counter’s Creek between Kensington High Street and Battersea Reach. The canal rapidly proved highly unprofitable and so was sold off to a railway company, who built an equally unprofitable line up the valley to link Kensington Docks with Willesden.
The Kensington Canal (proper historical facts)
The Kensington Canal (modern description with photos)
The river's second transformation was from canal to railway. In 1863 the Kensington Canal was filled in with ballast and then tracks were laid on top, allowing the West London Railway to run connecting services between Willesden and Clapham. This line was a success, and lives on today as part of the London Overground network. Catch any train from Shepherd's Bush to Imperial Wharf and the modern journey mirrors the old river bed.
West London Railway (Wikipedia)
West London line (abandoned stations)
West London line history (at Subterranea Britannica)
London Overground maps (including Willesden Junction → Clapham Junction)
The original line of Counter's Creek still forms much of the boundary between the boroughs of Hammersmith and Fulham to the west and Kensington and Chelsea to the east. Its waters may long have been diverted down an unseen sewer, but the creek's path can still be traced with relative ease.
Map showing border of Hammersmith and Fulham (river formed eastern boundary)
Thames Water plans for Counters Creek Sewer Flood relief
Flooding Alleviation plan (public presentation, with maps) (pdf)
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