Thursday, 7 May 2009

The Fleet at the Gunmakers

My son Stonch, who runs The Gunmakers pub just off the Clerkenwell Road, was very excitedly telling me recently that he had heard the Fleet River rushing through a drain near his pub.
There had been heavy rain in the preceding days and the old river, now well and truly buried beneath London's streets and part of the Victorian sewer system, was swollen to a noisy rushing subterranean flood.
Over the centuries, this venerable river, to quote Barton's "Lost Rivers of London", had declined "from a river to a brook, from a brook to a ditch, and from a ditch to a drain".
Rising on Hampstead Heath, it formed a tidal inlet to the Thames as much as 600 feet wide at the time of the Romans and ancient anchors were discovered in its bed when it was enclosed by the Victorians. In actual fact, its name is taken from the Anglo-Saxon word "fleet", which means a tidal inlet capable of floating boats.
Nowadays it carries much used beer down to the Thames and that certainly floats my boat, my friend!

3 comments:

Tandleman said...

Didn't I read somewhere that Boris is looking at revealing some parts of lost rivers once more?

papastonch said...

Well, I hope he doesn't dig up the Gunmakers!

Jeffrey said...

If there's compulsory purchase monies involved, I'm game. (Only kidding).