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Thames River

The most famous river in London, England and Great Britain is the Thames. It is one of the main symbols of the capital of the United Kingdom.

The origin of the name of the river and its history


The origin of the name is associated with the ancient Celtic language. In translation, the word means “dark waters. The first time the reservoir Temesis is mentioned in the “Notes on the Gallic Wars” of the Roman Emperor Gaius Julius Caesar.

The formation of the river began in the early Quaternary of the Cenozoic era, or about 2.5 million years ago. At first it was a tributary of the Rhine, but the shifting of tectonic plates caused England to separate from Eurasia and become an island. Subsequent changes in temperature from warming to cooling altered the topography and shaped the current of the Thames.

The first settlements on its shores appeared about 12 thousand years ago. This is evidenced by finds made near the community of Dorney. Later, 2,800 years ago, Celtic tribes, who were called Britons, invaded here. They formed the main population of the island.

In the 1960s B.C. Britain became a colony of the Roman Empire. And in A.D. 43. Emperor Claudius founded the city of Londinium on the Thames, which later became a major port center.

After the Germanic invasion, the river banks were deserted. It was not until William the Conqueror in the early 11th century that a fortress and trade flourished here.

The opening of the first stone bridge over the Thames took place in 1209, and in 1215 on the shore King John the Soothless proclaimed the Great Charter, which became the prototype of the first constitution.

The development of trade, industry gave impetus to the transformation of the Thames into a navigable artery of England. It retains its significance to this day.

Thames Description

Although the Thames is not the longest river in the world, its features and location make it one of the most interesting water features on the planet.


The main river of the English capital is characterized by the following dimensions:

  • length – 334 km;
  • The area of the channel is 15 thousand km²;
  • width – from 200 to 650 m;
  • maximum depth – 14.5 m.


River Infrastructure

To ensure navigation on the main waterway of the country about 50 locks were built. Most of them are old and sometimes leak. A separate service monitors their condition and repairs them in a timely manner.

To protect London from the North Sea surge waves, reaching 7 meters, in the eastern part of the capital in 1983 built a dam – the Thames Barrier. Its operating life ends in 2030. Communication between the banks of the river is provided by more than 200 bridges.

Specially dug canals help maintain the river traffic. The largest of these pass to Bristol Bay and the North Sea. The navigation locks ensure the passage of ships.

Climate features

The climate along the river varies from moderate continental in the upper reaches to moderate maritime in the delta. The warmest month is July. The average temperature is +18°C. It is coldest in December and January (-3°C).

The average annual rainfall is 550-660 mm. The relative humidity is 80%. This is the reason for the rainy weather and the famous London fogs.


The Thames is mainly fed by groundwater and rainwater. The hydrological regime is characterized by floods in winter and low water in summer.

At the Teddington-Kingston hydrological station, an average flow rate of 78.5 m³/s was recorded.

Climate forecasts in the river basin suggest the following changes:

  • easing of winters;
  • increase in flood costs by 20%;
  • Increased frequency of rains;
  • increased flooding.

The negative consequences are supposed to be prevented by regulating measures to maintain the channel in a proper condition and by building new hydraulic structures.

Photos with a view of the river

Thousands of tourists come to London every year to see the local attractions. The main one is the Thames. No traveler leaves the city without pictures of its views.

Thames River on the map

The main waterway of England is in the southern part of the island of Great Britain. Its source is 108.5 m above sea level.


The river flows from the upland Cotswold Hills past towns such as:

  • Oxford;
  • Windsor;
  • Reading;
  • Abingdon;
  • Maidenhead;
  • Henley-on-Thames;
  • Marlow;
  • Staines-Appon-Thames.

The Delta is on the coast of the North Sea.

Geographic coordinates:

  • latitude 51.5096, or 5130’34.6″ N;
  • longitude 0.1011, or 006’04” W.

Thames Sightseeing

Many memorable places of the English capital are located on the banks of the Thames.

Among them are natural, landscape, architectural and historical attractions.

Hiking trail on the east bank of the Thames from Haley Bridge

Popular with Londoners and visitors to the city, the route runs along the east bank of the river. Its length is 9 km.

During the walk, tourists see:

  • the 18th century temple on Temple Island;
  • the mill at the Hambleden lock;
  • the old-fashioned Flower Pot Hotel.

The hotel bar serves delicious traditional English food and drinks.

Ile Pye Island

It is opposite the Twickenham neighborhood. Despite the small size, there are many interesting places. Nature lovers can walk along the paths of the nature reserve. The first place for entertainment appeared on the island in 1635. By the end of the XVII century the main building of the territory began.

For history and sports fans, there’s the Twickenham Yacht Club. Its headquarters have been in operation here since the 1880s. Its main building housed a dance hall. Until the 20s of the 20th century balls were held there. Later the room was adapted for tea parties, and in the 1950s jazz festivals were held.

The population of the island varies in terms of income. All residents are united by a love of music and art. Every inhabitant tries to maintain the bohemian atmosphere of Ile Pye.

Richmond Park

Royal Richmond Park is located in the modern city limits, where English monarchs lived in the Middle Ages. In 1625, the court of King Charles I moved here because of the plague that broke out in London.


The nobility used the park for hunting, forbidding peasants to enter the forest. The commoners were outraged because. We used it to collect firewood and graze cattle on the lawns. The king was forced to issue a decree allowing anyone to enter the grounds. This rule is still in effect today.

Now the territory of the park occupies more than 1 thousand hectares. It has about 130,000 trees. Some are over 700 years old. There are 30 lakes with fish, and the forest is home to deer and more than 60 species of birds.

The Pembroke Lodge Hotel gets special attention. It is housed in an old Georgian mansion. Wedding ceremonies are often held here.

The Isabella plantation, opened in 1831, grows rhododendrons and azaleas. They can also be admired during the tour.

Royal Botanic Gardens

It is located between the southwestern London suburbs of Richmond and Kew. They were created in 1670 by Lord Henry Capel to replace the apothecary’s vegetable garden. At first greenhouses for exotic plants were built here, Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha in 1772 set up her own nursery.

On the orders of King George III, the Kew Gardens area was expanded and botanical scientists William Ayton and Sir Joseph Banks were invited to work.

Since 1840 the gardens have belonged to the state.

They occupy more than 120 hectares, where, in addition to representatives of the flora, you can see such sights:

  1. An alley above the treetops with a bridge at 200 m, an elevator and steps.
  2. A lily house with numerous representatives of lilies.
  3. The Great Pagoda, built in 1762.
  4. Princess of Wales Orangery, opened in 1987 by Prince Charles’ wife Diana.
  5. Temperate House Greenhouse Complex.
  6. Palm House.
  7. Kew Palace, London’s smallest royal palace.

The most popular Thames bridges

Within the capital of England there are 30 crossings connecting the banks of the Thames. The oldest is London’s. It was built in 1209. The opening of the Millennium Bridge was timed to coincide with the beginning of our century.

Westminster Bridge

Although the bridge at Westminster was built more than 250 years ago, it is quite a young structure in London. Tourists traditionally come here to look at Big Ben, the “London Eye”, Parliament, the waterfront and take pictures against their backdrop.

The bridge is 252 meters long and 26 meters wide. Of all similar objects in London, it has the largest span. The structures are regularly painted green, similar to the tone of the chairs in the House of Lords.

Tower Bridge

Almost every tour of London includes a visit to Tower Bridge. He turned 125 years old in 2019.

Tower Bridge in London

It is a bifurcated structure in the Gothic Victorian style and consists of the following elements:

  • several towers;
  • engine room;
  • transitions;
  • the divorced part.

Some interesting facts about Tower Bridge:

  • in 1912. F. McClean flew a biplane between the roadway and the tower crossings;
  • On 12/30/1952, a Route 78 bus made a jump from one wing to the other during a bridge unfolding;
  • A section of glass floor 11 meters long and 1.8 meters wide was placed in the walk-through gallery to give tourists a bird’s-eye view of their surroundings;
  • each span can be lifted to an angle of 83°;
  • The total length of the structure is 224 m.

Blackfriars Bridge

This vehicular and pedestrian bridge connects the Court Inns and Temple Church to the north with the Tate Modern Gallery and Oxo Tower to the south. The Thames Crossing was first built in the late 18th century. It was designed by architects John Gwynne and George Duns Jr. in the Italian style. This was the third London crossing.

In 1883 the authorities began to reconstruct the structure, but decided that it would be cheaper to build a new bridge. In 1869, Queen Victoria was present at its opening.

The image of Blackfriars can be seen in several motion pictures:

  • “Careless;
  • “The Avengers;
  • “The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus.

The structure consists of 9 arches on square columns. Its total length is 281 m and width is 32 m.

Vauxhall Bridge

This crossing connects the southern Vauxhall and northern Pimlico neighborhoods. According to studies by archaeologists, the first mention of a stationary crossing of the Thames in this place appeared 3.5 thousand years ago. It was an oak structure. In 1816 the first metal bridge in London appeared here. At first it was paid and was called the Regent Bridge. It was used to go to the train station and to the gardens.

At the end of the 19th century the structure was worn out, so a new project was developed. Although architect Sir Alexander Binney’s proposal was criticized, the construction of the bridge was approved. The lack of decorative elements was complemented by statues.

The post Vauxhall Bridge appeared first on Vauxhall Bridge:

  • streetcar tracks;
  • a dedicated bus lane;
  • residential buildings.

Albert Bridge

This bridge is not included in the program of the main tourist routes of London. But it’s a must-see.


The Albert Bridge was completed in 1871, and Queen Victoria arrived for its grand opening two years later. The bridge was named after her late husband, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.

The crossing connects the Apothecary Gardens in Chelsea and Battersea Park in the center of the capital. The cable-stayed part is 216.5 m long and 12.5 m wide.

Because of the dilapidated construction of the crossing wanted to demolish in the mid-20th century. However, the locals managed to defend it. On the centennial, the structure received additional supports, and the main traffic flow shifted to nearby Battersea Bridge.

Interesting facts about the River Thames

Among the interesting and informative facts about the Thames, there are several:

  1. There are practically no beaches on the banks of the river. Because of the viscous muddy bottom it is impossible to swim in it.
  2. Until 1965, the Port of London was the largest of the others standing on the Thames. However, under pressure from environmental protection agencies, it was closed, and the channel is regularly cleaned and deepened.
  3. In 1957, environmentalists declared the reservoir dead. However, now salmon have started to enter the water area. A young dolphin was recently observed here for three days. And in 2006, a bottlenose whale surfaced in front of Big Ben. Activists tried to evacuate it to the sea, but the animal died of stress.
  4. One legend attributes negative energy to the Thames. It is believed that suicides specifically come to London to drown themselves in it.
  5. In 1858, the capital’s sewage treatment plant broke down. There was a dumping of sewage into the river. After that, the recreational yachts were removed from the water area. Because the unpleasant smell prevented officials from passing laws, parliamentary windows were covered with a cloth soaked in a solution of chlorine.

How to get to the river

On the banks of the Thames are subway stations:

  • “Tower Hill;
  • “London Bridge;
  • “Bermondsey.

You can take buses number 15, 42, 78, 100, or boats.

Current Riverwalks on the River Thames

The most popular river cruises on the Thames:

Tour title Duration, hours Type What tourists will see Price, £
“London’s Famous Places from the Thames” 2 River overview Big Ben, Parliament, the Ferris Wheel, St. Peter’s Cathedral. Paul’s Bridge, Waterloo Bridge, etc. 250
“London on Thames.” 3 Individual water Francis Drake’s Golden Doe ship, Tower Bridge, Palace of Westminster, Tate Modern, City Hall. 319

Hotels and hotels near the river

The following hotels are located near the Thames:

  • DoubleTree by Hilton London Kingston Upon Thames;
  • Sea Containers London;
  • Swissotel The Howard London;
  • Park Plaza Westminster Bridge London.

These hotels represent the category of “5 stars”. Guests are accommodated in comfortable rooms overlooking the river.

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