Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Pictures from the riverbank

Subterranean London

Some interesting facts gleaned from a guided walk around London, exploring 'subterranean London', one of hundreds run by London Walks.

* The Thames used to be twice as wide as it currently is, before the Victoria and Albert Embankments were constructed in the late 1800s to enable the Underground to be built.

* Pre-sewer systems, everyone's crap used to go straight into the Thames; the stench was so bad that MPs could hardly stand to go to Parliament - insert your own joke here about the irony of that these days...

* These days, the Thames is one of the cleanest rivers in any city. Eels, fish and birds all make their homes in and around its waters and the brown colour is apparently only caused by sediment being disturbed from the bottom by the four daily tides. I'm not sure I'd want to drink it though!

* "When the lions drink, London sinks" refers to lion heads all the way along the inside of the Victoria Embankment, which mark the point at which if water comes up to it, we should all start to worry...

* Roman London existed 20 feet below today's London. More and more excavations are uncovering all kinds of hidden treasures.

* During WW2, Londoners took shelter in underground stations but this often proved to be dangerous. Balham station was flooded after an explosion; a bomb fell into Bank station, rolled onto an escalator and then blew up at the bottom, killing everyone inside; at Bethnal Green, over 170 people were killed in a stampede to take shelter.

* In the event of an H bomb, being underground in one of the secret government bunkers is pointless, because atomic bombs suck all the oxygen out of underground tunnels.

Pictures of bloke who invented drainage system, and some random green thing that I can't remember the story about now!