London's Rivers

Photographs by Peter Marshall

Sphinx, Victoria Embankment River Thames
Sphinx, Cleopatra's Needle, Victoria Embankment
The Victoria Embankment was built in 1864-70 as a part of Joseph Bazalgette's plan for a modern drainage system. Apart from reclaiming around 30 acres of land from the river - the gardens on the landward side of it, it also contains one of London's main sewers. The bronze sphinx is one of two on each side of Cleopatra's needle, a 60 ft Egyptian granite obelisk dating from well before Cleopatra's time. Presented to the British by the Turkish occupiers of Egypt in 1819, it was not until almost 60 years later that we managed to transport it to this country. Among items buried underneath it at its erection were photographs of 12 of the best-looking Englishwomen! In the distance are Hungerford Bridge and the Houses of Parliament.
Former Railway Bridge, Blackfriars River Thames
Former Railway Bridge, Blackfriars
These massive cast ion Romanesque columns are the remains of the 1864 bridge carrying the London, Chatham and Dover Railway. The later (1886) structure in the background, originally known as St Paul's Bridge and built for a rival railway, still carries trains into what is now Blackfriars Station. As well as commuter services into London this also provides one of the few North South rail routes through London, carrying ThamesLink services. Just out of picture to the right is Blackfriars Bridge. The piers of all 3 bridges had to be built in line to allow navigation through them. The south end of Blackfriars Bridge is the only part of the City of London on the south bank of the Thames.
Deptford Creek Deptford Creek
Power Station and scrap yard
Deptford gets its name from the 'deep ford' over the Ravensbourne, which joins the Thames at Deptford Creek, one of the few remaining navigable creeks off of the Thames in London. Deptford was where England's navy was first built under the orders of Henry VIII; Peter the Great came from Russia to learn shipbuilding here, though like many students he apparently preferred more riotous living. Little river traffic now uses the creek, and the swing bridge from which this view was taken opens only occasionally. The power station has long closed and is part demolished; the scrap yard is gone. No doubt there will soon be more luxury flats.
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©Peter Marshall 1997

These pictures are part of a large collection taken since 1980 by Peter Marshall.
Please email him if you would like to make use of them in any way or buy copies.
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