Read and speak about the Thames, the life-blood of England
The Thames is not only London’s river. It is England’s river, for it winds its way through two hundred and fifty miles of English villages and towns, of English cities and English country-side. It is a river where swans build their nests, and punters go idling through the got summer days. It is a river where you may hang over the big bridges and catch a glimpse of the trade routes of the entire world.
It has known danger and romance, invasion, and rebellion, gay water pageants and grim justice; and the river itself has always been the life-blood of England.
London’s river is a busy, hardworking river, for traffic follows up and down, all day long, every day of the year, bringing wheat and newsprint from Canada, sugar-cane and sugar-beet from India, wool from Australia, frozen lamb from New Zealand, and a wonderful collection of other goods from nearly every other country in the world.
In order to deal with all the loading and unloading, the Port of London Authority maintains a series of docks covering 4183 acres and 44 miles of deep-water berths for ocean-going ships.
There are two large docks near Tower Bridge, the London and St. Katharine Docks. At these docks, the store-houses are filled with silk and tobacco, ivory and quicksilver, rubber and tallow, perfumes, spices, wool bales, and wines. There is a wonderful electric wool-piling machine in use at the dock which can pile the bales, weighing five hundredweight each, three high. Another modern invention in use there is an adaptation of the military mine-detector. When bales of rubber are delivered at the docks for export, they are tested by the mine-detector to see that no metal is hidden among the rubber.
The London and St. Katherine Docks are the main warehousing docks in London, and it is here that the London wool sales are held.
Interesting Facts about the Thames, England’s River
- The Thames Path is 184 miles long, which makes it the longest river walk in Europe. The river itself is 215 miles long.
- There are more than 80 islands in the Thames.
- There are over 200 bridges that cross the river – the first was built by Romans.
- In 1858 the river stank so badly from the sewerage in it that Parliament had to be suspend – it was called The Great Stink. London’s sewer system was built in 1865 because of it.
- Westminster Bridge is painted the same shade of green as the benches in the House of Commons Chamber.
- Two thirds of London drinking water comes from the Thames.
- The river runs through 7 counties – Wiltshire, Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, Berkshire, Surrey, Buckinghamshire, and Greater London. It is policed by 5 different police forces, including the Thames Division, which is part of the London Metropolitan Police.
- The Thames is called the Isis where it runs between the Cotswolds through to Oxfordshire.
- Humans have been settling by the Thames since at least the Neolithic period (around 10,200BC).
- Julius Caesar wrote about the Thames (called the Tamesis in Latin meaning “wide water” or “dark water”) after his second expedition to Britain in 54BC.
- Frost Fairs have been held by the river since 1607, where people set up tents by the river with amusements such as ice bowling.
- The Thames is the historic home of rowing in the UK – there are over 200 rowing clubs on the river.
- The river is home to over 119 species of fish, as well as otters, voles, and eels.