Subterranean rivers of London

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The subterranean or underground rivers of London are the tributaries of the River Thames and River Lea that were built over during the growth of the metropolis of London. Since it is difficult to stop water from flowing downhill, the rivers now flow through underground culverts.[1]

Many London localities started their existence as small villages along these rivers, and their place names reflect their origin. In recent years, parts of some London rivers have been restored to their previous above-ground state, and in some cases fish have been reintroduced. In June 2008 outline plans to reinstate some underground rivers were published by the office of Mayor of London,[2] and in January 2009 a partnership between the Environment Agency, Natural England and the Greater London Authority set out a strategy for putting this into effect by creating the River Restoration Centre.[3][4]


Subterranean rivers in London

River Thames - north bank from east to west:

River Thames - south bank:

River Lea:


An article on London's Lost Rivers[6][7] mentions a Langbourne as running along Fenchurch Street, Lombard Street, and Sherbourn Lane, but gives no further details. This route looks unlikely, running parallel with, but in the opposite direction to, the Thames. Whatever it was, it has given its name to the Langbourn ward of the City of London. One possibility is that it was a medieval euphemism for the open sewers that ran along these streets.

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