River Fleet

River in/near Chalk Farm, existing until now

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River Fleet

MAP YEAR:1750180018301860190019502020Remove markers
River · Chalk Farm · NW1 ·
September
16
2013

The River Fleet is the largest of London’s subterranean rivers.

The Fleet arises on Hampstead Heath as two sources, which still flow on the surface as the Hampstead Ponds and the Highgate Ponds. Then they go underground, pass under Kentish Town, join in Camden Town, and flow onwards towards St Pancras Old Church, which was sited on the river’s banks. From there it passed in a sinuous course which is responsible for the unusual building line adjacent to King’s Cross station; the German Gymnasium faced the river banks, and the curve of the Great Northern Hotel follows the river which passes alongside it.

King’s Cross was originally named Battle Bridge, referring to an ancient bridge over the Fleet where Boudica’s army is said to have fought an important battle against the Romans; the name was changed in the 19th century, to refer to a statue of George IV, widely disliked, and quickly replaced by the lighthouse building that still stands today. From there, it heads down King’s Cross Road, from where the valley slope can still be seen in the surrounding streets, and into Clerkenwell; the comparatively steep valley is responsible for the Holborn Viaduct bridges which carry local roads over the valley floor.

The river then flows down Farringdon Road and Farringdon Street, where the valley broadens out, and straightens, and joins the Thames beneath Blackfriars Bridge.

The lower reaches of the river were known as the Holbourne (or Oldbourne), whence Holborn derived its name.

In Roman times, the Fleet was a major river, with its estuary possibly containing the oldest tidal mill in the world. In Anglo-Saxon times, the Fleet was still a substantial body of water, joining the Thames through a marshy tidal basin over 100 yards (91 m) wide at the mouth of the Fleet Valley. Many wells were built along its banks, and some on springs (Bagnigge Well, Clerkenwell) and St Bride’s Well, were reputed to have healing qualities; in the 13th century the river was called River of Wells. The small lane at the south-west end of New Bridge Street is called Watergate because it was the river entrance to Bridewell Palace.

As London grew, the river became increasingly a sewer. The area came to be characterised by poor-quality housing and prisons: Bridewell Palace itself was converted into a prison; Newgate, Fleet and Ludgate prisons were all built in that area. In 1728 Alexander Pope wrote in his Dunciad, "To where Fleet-ditch with disemboguing streams / Rolls the large tribute of dead dogs to Thames / The king of dykes! than whom no sluice of mud / with deeper sable blots the silver flood".

Following the Great Fire of London in 1666, Christopher Wren’s proposal for widening the river was rejected. Rather, the Fleet was converted into the New Canal, completed in 1680 under the supervision of Robert Hooke. Newcastle Close and Old Seacoal Lane (now just short alleyways off Farringdon Street) recall the wharves that used to line this canal, especially used by the coastal coal trade from the North East of England. (An adjacent narrow road, Seacoal Lane, also existed until the late 20th century when the present building fronting onto Farringdon Street was built, perhaps suggesting that a new wharf had been built near the old one.)

The upper canal, unpopular and unused, was from 1737 enclosed between Holborn and Ludgate Circus to form the "Fleet Market". The lower part, the section from Ludgate Circus to the Thames, had been covered by 1769 for the opening of the new Blackfriars Bridge and was consequently named "New Bridge Street".

The development of the Regent’s Canal and urban growth covered the river in King’s Cross and Camden from 1812. The Fleet Market was closed during the 1860s with the construction of Farringdon Road and Farringdon Street as a highway to the north and the Metropolitan Railway, while the final upper section of the river was covered when Hampstead was expanded in the 1870s.

The Fleet, or rather the sewer that now follows its route, can be heard through a grating in Ray Street, Clerkenwell in front of The Coach pub (formerly the Coach and Horses), just off Farringdon Road. The position of the river can still be seen in the surrounding streetscape with Ray Street and its continuation Warner Street lying in a valley where the river once flowed. It can also be heard through a grid in the centre of Charterhouse Street where it joins Farringdon Road (on the Smithfield side of the junction). In wet weather (when the sewer system is overloaded), and on a very low tide, the murky Fleet can be seen gushing into the Thames from the Thameswalk exit of Blackfriars station, immediately under Blackfriars Bridge.


Main source: River Fleet - Wikipedia
Further citations and sources



Entrance to the Fleet River, c. 1750

Entrance to the Fleet River, c. 1750
Samuel Scott

NEARBY LOCATIONS OF NOTE
Benevolent Institution for the Relief of Aged and Infirm Tailors The Benevolent Institution for the Relief of Aged and Infirm Journeymen was founded on 10 February 1837.
Camden Road Camden Road is one of the few railway stations in England in which there is a police station.
Kentish Town West Kentish Town West station opened on 1 April 1867 as ’Kentish Town’ and was renamed ’Kentish Town West’ on 2 June 1924.
River Fleet The River Fleet is the largest of London’s subterranean rivers.

NEARBY STREETS
Alma Street, NW5 Alma Street is a street in Kentish Town.
Anglers Lane, NW5 Anglers Lane once ran down to a small bridge across the River Fleet at a spot that was popular with fishermen.
Augusta Street, NW1 Augusta Street was located off of Harmood Street.
Bartholomew Villas, NW5 Bartholomew Villas is a street in Kentish Town.
Belmont Street, NW1 Belmont Street is a street in Camden Town.
Bonny Street, NW1 Bonny Street is a street in Camden Town.
Buck Street, NW1 Buck Street leads from Kentish Town Road to Camden High Street.
Camden Lock Place, NW1 Camden Lock Place is a street in Camden Town.
Camden Lock, NW1 Camden Lock is a street in Camden Town.
Camden Road, NW1 Camden Road is a main road running from Camden up to Holloway Road.
Castle Mews, NW5 Castle Mews is a road in the NW5 postcode area
Castle Road, NW1 Castle Road is a street in Camden Town.
Castlehaven Road, NW1 Castlehaven Road was united as a street in 1938.
Chalk Farm Parade, NW3 Chalk Farm Parade is a street in Hampstead.
Chalk Farm Road, NW1 Chalk Farm Road is a street in Camden Town.
Chalk Farm Road, NW3 Chalk Farm Road is a road in the NW3 postcode area
Church Avenue, NW1 Church Avenue is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Church Avenue, NW5 Church Avenue is a road in the NW5 postcode area
Clarence Way, NW1 Clarence Way is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Collard Place, NW1 Collard Place is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Crogsland Road, NW1 Crogsland Road is a street in Camden Town.
Dalby Street, NW5 Dalby Street is a street in Kentish Town.
Dumpton Place, NW1 Dumpton Place is a street in Camden Town.
East Yard, NW1 East Yard is a street in Camden Town.
Farrier Street, NW1 Farrier Street is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Ferdinand Place, NW1 Ferdinand Place is a street in Camden Town.
Ferdinand Street, NW1 Ferdinand Street is a street in Camden Town.
Fitzroy Road, NW1 Fitzroy Road is a street in Camden Town.
Gilbeys Yard, NW1 Gilbeys Yard is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Grafton Yard, NW5 Grafton Yard is a road in the NW5 postcode area
Hadley Street, NW1 Hadley Street is a street in Camden Town.
Harmood Street, NW1 Harmood Street was named for Harry and Mary Harmood.
Hartland Road, NW1 Hartland Road is a street in Camden Town.
Haven Street, NW1 Haven Street is a street in Camden Town.
Hawley Crescent, NW1 Hawley Crescent is a street in Camden Town.
Hawley Cresent, NW1 Hawley Cresent is a street in Camden Town.
Hawley Road, NW1 Hawley Road is a street in Camden Town.
Healey Street, NW1 Healey Street runs from Prince of Wales Road to Castle Road.
Inkerman Road, NW5 Inkerman Road is a street in Kentish Town.
Ivor Street, NW1 Ivor Street is a street in Camden Town.
James Cameron House, NW1 Residential block
Jeffrey’s Street, NW1 Jeffrey’s Street is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Jeffrey’s Place, NW1 Jeffrey’s Place is a dogleg running from Prowse Place to Jeffrey’s Street.
Juniper Crescent, NW1 Juniper Crescent is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Kelly Street, NW1 Kelly Street was built under the grounds of an inn.
Kent House, NW1 Residential block
Kentish Town Road, NW1 Kentish Town Road is a street in Camden Town.
Kentish Town Road, NW5 Kentish Town Road is a street in Kentish Town.
Lewis Street, NW1 Lewis Street is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Leybourne Road, NW1 Leybourne Road is a street in Camden Town.
Malden Crescent, NW1 Malden Crescent is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Marsden Street, NW5 Marsden Street is a street in Kentish Town.
Mead Close, NW1 Mead Close is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Middle Yard, NW1 Middle Yard is a street in Camden Town.
Perren Street, NW5 Perren Street is a street in Kentish Town.
Powlett Place, NW1 Powlett Place is a street in Camden Town.
Prince of Wales Road, NW1 Prince of Wales Road is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Prince Of Wales Road, NW5 Prince Of Wales Road is a street in Kentish Town.
Prowse Place, NW1 Prowse Place is a street in Camden Town.
Rhyl Street, NW5 Rhyl Street is a street in Kentish Town.
Rochester Place, NW1 Rochester Place is a street in Camden Town.
Rochester Terrace, NW1 Rochester Terrace is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Ryland Road, NW5 Ryland Road is a street in Kentish Town.
Stucley Place, NW1 Stucley Place is a street in Camden Town.
Talacre Road, NW5 Talacre Road was formerly Weedington Street.
The Courtyard, NW1 The Courtyard is a street in Camden Town.
The Stables Market, NW1 The Stables Market is a street in Camden Town.
Torbay Street, NW1 Torbay Street is a street in Camden Town.
Truro Street, NW1 Truro Street is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Unit 1, E1 A street within the NW1 postcode
Water Lane, NW1 Water Lane runs just north of the Grand Union Canal.
Wilkin St Mews, NW5 Wilkin St Mews is a street in Kentish Town.
Wilkin Street Mews, NW5 Wilkin Street Mews is a street in Kentish Town.
Wilkin Street, NW5 Wilkin Street is a street in Kentish Town.
Willes Road, NW5 Willes Road is a street in Kentish Town.
Wilmot Place, NW1 Wilmot Place might have been named after its builder.


Chalk Farm

Chalk Farm has nothing to do with chalk at all. Though there once was a farm...

Chalk Farm's name, deceptively rural, derives from the name of the village on its site, Chalcot. These days it absorbs the spread from Camden Town and has many lively pubs, live music venues, and restaurants. Within London it is best known as the site of The Roundhouse, a former circular railway engine shed which was subsequently converted for arts and performance use.

Chalk Farm station was opened on 22 June 1907 by the Charing Cross, Euston & Hampstead Railway (CCE&HR). Trains originally operated between Golders Green and Charing Cross tube station, with extensions to Edgware and Kennington in 1923 and 1926, respectively.


LOCAL PHOTOS
Regent's Park
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Chalk Farm in 1730
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Tufnell Park (1922)
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Mornington Road
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Photo taken in 1920
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Camden Road (1928)
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Euston Road, NW1
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201404091644
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