Is there a more iconic British river than the Thames? It runs through the heart of London, and what’s more, it plays a part in one of our most iconic backdrops. But how much do you actually know about the River Thames? Hop on a barge and set sail for an interesting voyage of factual discovery.
- The Thames actually starts out in Gloucestershire! Though most of us associate the river with our capital city, you’ll find the source in a country meadow.
- The Thames stretches a length of around 215 miles, or 346km. You have to wonder who had the time to measure it!
- You’ll also find the famous Thames Path which runs alongside, though it doesn’t stretch the whole trail of the waterway. It is an impressive length, however, at 184 miles or 296km. Official sources say it’s the lengthiest river walk of its kind on the continent.
- The river is thought to be around 20m deep. It’s a fair dive!
- The river is home to over 200 bridges and 44 locks. Bridges here date back over 2000 years.
- The longest bridge in the London collection is Waterloo, which spans 1,250ft, which is almost a quarter of a mile long.
- It’s famously been the backdrop for many an action movie based in London. However, did you know that it modelled for Venice in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade? That wasn’t the famous Italian waterways, but Essex’s Tilbury docks.
- The river is thought to be home to an extremely rare species of seahorse! Research is ongoing.
- In fact, at the time of publication, there are over 125 different species of fish which live in the river’s tidal section.
- Around two-thirds of all drinking water in the city of London comes directly from the river. Don’t worry – it’s filtered!
- However, you might want to put down the glass after this foul fact – the Thames used to be a repository for toilet waste until 1865. It was around this time when Sir Joseph Bazalgette came to the rescue with his famous sewer systems.
- The foul use of the Thames led to ‘The Great Stink’ of 1858, which apparently resulted in Parliament suspending. The smell really was that repulsive!
- The Thames used to completely freeze over! In the winter of 1683, it actually froze for two months, with ice of around 11 inches in thickness. People used to hold ‘Frost Fairs’ on the river up until the 19th century!
- The ice was that strong, someone took an elephant through the frozen river cascade.
- Kenneth Grahame, who wrote the world-famous Wind in The Willows children’s books, is said to have based much of the book’s scenery around the Thames. In fact, you can see what many assume to be the inspiration for Toad Hall on route, at Mapledurham House.
- The Thames is the subject of many paintings. Claude Monet, the famous French Impressionist, actually painted the river three times!
Do you have any interesting, fun or strange facts about the River Thames you’d like to share with us? Let us know in the comments section below!