Hid­den river was cen­tral to Ro­man camp

The Wharf - - News - By Giles Broad­bent

The Wal­brook is one of the hid­den rivers of Lon­don, run­ning through the City and join­ing the Thames just to the west of the Can­non Street rail­way bridge by a waste trans­fer sta­tion.

The brook cut in half the Ro­man set­tle­ment and be­came Lon­dinium’s main wa­ter sup­ply. Al­though shal­low and nar­row it al­lowed for some trans­port cre­at­ing a port 200m from the Thames.

Ex­ca­va­tions dur­ing the 1860s un­cov­ered 39 hu­man skulls which are be­lieved to have be­longed to glad­i­a­tors.

How­ever, from this high point of us­age, it be­come some­thing of an open sewer and in 1288 had to be “made free from dung and other nui­sances” and, in 1383, it was vir­tu­ally blocked when nearby houses used it as a sewer. The Lord Mayor Robert Large con­trib­uted to the cost of cov­er­ing over part of the stream for the re-con­struc­tion of St Mar­garet Loth­bury in 1440 and 150 years later, sur­veys showed the river was com­pletely cov­ered over.

Dur­ing Sir Joseph Bazal­gette’s con­struc­tion of the elab­o­rate sewage sys­tem the Wal­brook was chan­nelled to the North­ern Low Level Sewer near the Bank of Eng­land.

The river’s only ev­i­dence above ground is the lower-end street called Wal­brook, run­ning par­al­lel and a barely dis­cernible dip in the land form­ing its catch­ment

Where the Wal­brook feeds into the Thames

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