diamond geezer

 Saturday, November 27, 2010

The River Tyburn
1) Hampstead → Regent's Park

Unusually for a lost river, the top of the Tyburn is really obvious. On the corner of Fitzjohn's Avenue and Akenside Road in Hampstead, a short trek south of the tube station, are the remains of a commemorative drinking fountain [photo]. Nothing gushes forth here today, but this was once the site of the "Shepherd's Well" which supplied the villagefolk of Hampstead with drinking water [photo]. Other local wells may have left a nasty mineral taste in the mouth, but water from the Shepherd's Conduit tasted clean and pure and so was much in demand. A penny a pailful, for those who couldn't be bothered to fetch it themselves. The track back to town survives as "Spring Path" [photo], and the Gothic pile on the corner is still known as Old Conduit House [photo]. Like I said, really obvious, all the clues are there.

The Tyburn ran down towards Swiss Cottage, past a statue of Sigmund Freud, centuries before either of those were ever there [photo]. About a foot in width, this was once a sparkling stream whose waters very rarely dried up. It passed through the western fringes of Belsize Park, crossing what are now leafy residential avenues, and slipping between the local leisure centre and a glassy mega-hotel. A second tributary rose further to the east, with its source in the grounds of Belsize Manor. In 1728, as Bellais House, this was a "beautifully situated" place of public amusement for the more genteel members of Georgian society. No trace of that house remains today, merely the townhouses that now cover the old estate, although there's still a clear ripple in the contours leading down from Belsize Park Gardens.

Both branches of the Tyburn curled round the western flank of Primrose Hill, which kept them apart from the larger River Fleet on the opposite side. The two tributaries met up on Avenue Road before edging into the borough of Westminster and following the line of Townshend Road. Houses are big round here, with gated driveways and swivelling cameras, but still somehow on the pleasant side of aspirational. Meanwhile the remains of the river trickle beneath the streets through the Kings Scholar's Pond Sewer, constructed circa 1825 with a quirky brickiness that Jon can tell you lots more about.

And then, Regent's Park. The river headed in beneath the Thirties apartments on the northern flank, before reaching an artificial valley carved across its course. This belongs to the Regent's Canal, which architect John Nash was forced to drop into a cutting so that it's perceived ugliness couldn't tarnish the rest of his great park. So the Tyburn has to cross over the canal [photo], and its pipes form the basis of the Charlbert footbridge. Most people walk over the top without even guessing [photo], but the folks at SilentUK have been for a crouch through the underworld...
"The pipe shifted into a smaller egg shape, before long reaching the Regents Canal. The pipe split into two rather unfavourable 4ft pipes, carrying the flow over the canal via a bridge, fun, but the show must go on. Slowly striding through the black, chunky liquid, dangerously close to catching some splash in the face, bags catching at every possible opportunity, thank god it was only 40 metres."
The pipe continues underground, but a separate Tyburn legacy is ever-so visible on the surface of Regent's Park. It's the boating lake [photo]. Don't think small and round. This lake's more bunch-of-bananas shaped, and curves almost all the way down the western side of the park. One finger starts close to the American ambassador's back garden [photo] and is therefore under permanent Secret Service scrutiny. Another starts nearer to the Zoo, this representing a very minor tributary which could never originally have been deep enough to support a pedalo [photo]. But the lake curls too much to precisely match the original Tyburn. Don't be fooled - this entire ornamental lagoon was artificially created by excavation when the park was first landscaped. It was originally fed by the Tyburn's piped-in waters, at least until January 1867 when the ice broke killing 40 men and boys skating on its surface. The water level was immediately lowered, and ice skating's been banned here ever since [icy photo]. Rest assured that the sewer's long been diverted to bypass the lake altogether, so all that floats here now are hireboats and waterfowl. [photo]

Following the Tyburn: Shepherd's Path, Akenside Road, Fitzjohn's Avenue, Belsize Park, Winchester Road, Harley Road, Wadham Gardens, Elsworthy Road, Avenue Road, Acacia Road, Townshend Road, Shannon Place, Eamont Street, Prince Albert Road, Charlbert Street, Charlbert Bridge, Outer Circle, Winfield House, Regent's Park Boating Lake.

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
life viewed from london e3

email    twitter    G+

my flickr photostream

What's on this weekend?
Wed 19th - Sun 23rd October
Bloomsbury Festival
It's free to visit the Foundling Museum this weekend.

twenty blogs
ian visits
blue witch
city metric
the great wen
edith's streets
spitalfields life
in the aquarium
round the island
wanstead meteo
london museums
christopher fowler
ruth's coastal walk
london reconnections
dirty modern scoundrel

quick reference features
Things to do in Outer London
The DG Tour of Britain
Comment Value Hierarchy

read the archive
Oct16  Sep16
Aug16  Jul16  Jun16  May16
Apr16  Mar16  Feb16  Jan16
Dec15  Nov15  Oct15  Sep15
Aug15  Jul15  Jun15  May15
Apr15  Mar15  Feb15  Jan15
Dec14  Nov14  Oct14  Sep14
Aug14  Jul14  Jun14  May14
Apr14  Mar14  Feb14  Jan14
Dec13  Nov13  Oct13  Sep13
Aug13  Jul13  Jun13  May13
Apr13  Mar13  Feb13  Jan13
Dec12  Nov12  Oct12  Sep12
Aug12  Jul12  Jun12  May12
Apr12  Mar12  Feb12  Jan12
Dec11  Nov11  Oct11  Sep11
Aug11  Jul11  Jun11  May11
Apr11  Mar11  Feb11  Jan11
Dec10  Nov10  Oct10  Sep10
Aug10  Jul10  Jun10  May10
Apr10  Mar10  Feb10  Jan10
Dec09  Nov09  Oct09  Sep09
Aug09  Jul09  Jun09  May09
Apr09  Mar09  Feb09  Jan09
Dec08  Nov08  Oct08  Sep08
Aug08  Jul08  Jun08  May08
Apr08  Mar08  Feb08  Jan08
Dec07  Nov07  Oct07  Sep07
Aug07  Jul07  Jun07  May07
Apr07  Mar07  Feb07  Jan07
Dec06  Nov06  Oct06  Sep06
Aug06  Jul06  Jun06  May06
Apr06  Mar06  Feb06  Jan06
Dec05  Nov05  Oct05  Sep05
Aug05  Jul05  Jun05  May05
Apr05  Mar05  Feb05  Jan05
Dec04  Nov04  Oct04  Sep04
Aug04  Jul04  Jun04  May04
Apr04  Mar04  Feb04  Jan04
Dec03  Nov03  Oct03  Sep03
Aug03  Jul03  Jun03  May03
Apr03  Mar03  Feb03  Jan03
Dec02  Nov02  Oct02  Sep02
back to main page

diamond geezer 2015 index
diamond geezer 2014 index
diamond geezer 2013 index
diamond geezer 2012 index
diamond geezer 2011 index
diamond geezer 2010 index
diamond geezer 2009 index
diamond geezer 2008 index
diamond geezer 2007 index
diamond geezer 2006 index
diamond geezer 2005 index
diamond geezer 2004 index
diamond geezer 2003 index
diamond geezer 2002 index

my special London features
a-z of london museums
E3 - local history month
greenwich meridian (N)
greenwich meridian (S)
the real eastenders
london's lost rivers
olympic park 2007
great british roads
oranges & lemons
random boroughs
bow road station
high street 2012
river westbourne
trafalgar square
capital numbers
east london line
lea valley walk
olympics 2005
regent's canal
square routes
silver jubilee
unlost rivers
cube routes
capital ring
river fleet

ten of my favourite posts
the seven ages of blog
my new Z470xi mobile
five equations of blog
the dome of doom
chemical attraction
quality & risk
london 2102
single life
april fool

ten sets of lovely photos
my "most interesting" photos
london 2012 olympic zone
harris and the hebrides
betjeman's metro-land
marking the meridian
tracing the river fleet
london's lost rivers
inside the gherkin
seven sisters

just surfed in?
here's where to find...
diamond geezers
flash mob #1  #2  #3  #4
ben schott's miscellany
london underground
watch with mother
cigarette warnings
digital time delay
wheelie suitcases
war of the worlds
transit of venus
top of the pops
old buckenham
ladybird books
acorn antiques
digital watches
outer hebrides
olympics 2012
school dinners
pet shop boys
west wycombe
bletchley park
george orwell
big breakfast
clapton pond
san francisco
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
doctor who
blue peter
peter pan
feng shui
leap year
bbc three
vision on
ID cards