The Thames is the river at the heart of English and British History.It is fairly short by world standards, only 220 miles long from its beginning at Thames Head to its end at the lighthouse at Nore. The Thames is actually the combination of four rivers, the Isis, the Churn, the Coln and the Leach. But along its banks are many royal residences of past and present English kings, Hampton Court, Windsor Castle and Richmond Park. As well there are many famous towns alongside its waters too, Oxford, Henley, Eton, London and Greenwich, home of the zero meridian of longitude. There are a series of locks up and down the Thames which made it an important highway for transporting goods up and down the river. The docks in south London, though they are falling apart now, once saw ships from all over the world bring exotic goods (silk, spices and others) from around the world in the holds of square-rigged sailing ships of the world's navies. 

The country alongside the Thames is mostly rolling hills with farming and grazing being the main uses of the land until you get to London. The moderate climate of this part of England allows farms to be busy year around. The Thames is a tidal river in the city of London and below. With the tides ebbing and flowing four times a day, the danger from a giant storm surge or tide coming up the Thames and flooding the city of London caused the British government to build the Thames Barrier at Woolrich, the world's largest movable flood barrier. But a greater threast to the city of London and the Thames has been pollution. In the mid 1800s the stench was so bad that they closed the House of Parliment, and built the first sewage treatment plant in the city of London. The Thames has benefitted greatly from river cleanup programs started in 1963.

There have been many adventures, lives and fortunes won and lost on and in the Thames. There is even a tale of a great monster who lived in the Thames at London. Perhaps this Red Salamander was a cousin of the Loch Ness monster? 

Click here for a map of England in relationship to the British Isles.
Above - the flag of England


Thames River
Online Guests

We will be joined by two prestigous Thames River experts. Emily Leach is the Curator at the River and Rowing Museum, Henley on Thames and Simon Read, the Environmental Protection Manager with the Thames Region Environment Agency.


Thames River Resources

There are Trivia Questions and web sites for further research. Click here to check it out!

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Profiles of World's Great Rivers

Center for Global Environmental Education
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