Special Sub-Topic: Let's Navigate the River Thames 
|We board our boat in London. Next to the landing stage is a famous bridge that has the ability to open and let tall ships pass. What is the name of this bridge?|
Tower Bridge. Tower Bridge was opened in 1894 and has a total span of 244 meters. The bascules each weigh over 1000 tons but can be raised in under 5 minutes. London Bridge is the next bridge upstream from Tower Bridge, Stamford Bridge is the home stadium of Chelsea FC and the Millennium Bridge is a fixed footbridge.
|As we leave London we pass through Teddington Lock. At this point the River Thames changes it's character. Why is this?|
The River becomes non-tidal. Teddington Lock also marks the boundary point between the Port Of London Authority, responsible for downstream navigation and The Environment Agency who are responsible for upstream navigation. The Lock complex itself actually consists of three separate Locks and a weir.
|We are now approaching an historic town and we see on the left of the river a round tower and on the right a famous college. Where are we?|
Windsor. The round tower is attached to Windsor Castle which is the largest inhabited castle in the world. If the Royal Standard is flying from the flag tower then the reigning monarch is in residence. The college buildings on the right belong to Eton College, founded in 1440 and one of Britain's oldest public schools. The River Thames does not pass through any of the other towns mentioned.
|As we continue upstream we pass through an ancient market town where once a year people gather in strange blazers and drink champagne. Apparently some water sports take place at the same time. Which event is this?|
Henley Rowing Regatta. To the best of my knowledge the three incorrect events do not exist. Henley Royal Regatta is a rowing competition which takes place over a week in July. The event was first staged in 1839. Henley also played host to the rowing events of the 1908 and 1948 London Olympic Games. Champagne and Pimms are a traditional part of Regatta week.
|As we meander through leafy Berkshire we pass a boat carrying three men and a dog. This reminds me of a humorous story written in 1889, about a boating holiday on the Thames. Who was the author?|
Jerome K. Jerome. "Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog)" describes a boating holiday on the Thames between Kingston and Oxford. The three men were real characters but the dog was a fictional invention. Bill Bryson is a modern day travel writer, Charles Dickens wrote novels and Enid Blyton wrote stories for children.
|Lets moor up for the night in another market town with an incredible history. The place where William the Conqueror launched his final assault on the lands of Britain; a town that is recorded in the Doomsday Book as having a population of over 2,000 (only 18 are mentioned) and the location of a medieval bridge which replaced the reason for the township existing in the first place. Where are we moored?|
Wallingford. Wallingford developed as an important crossing point of the River Thames. The river at Wallingford was the lowest point at which the river could be forded and hence the place that William chose to cross before eventually attacking London (the then Lord of the manor, Wigod, allowed this crossing unopposed). Historical references show that the first bridge in Wallingford was built in around 1141.
|As we head westwards the skyline is dominated by cooling towers and huge clouds of steam. What are we looking at?|
Didcot Power Station. Aldermaston is way to the South and does not use cooling towers. Battersea is in London and is no longer operational. Didcot Railway Museum is fascinating but would not produce enough steam to form clouds. There are actually two electricity generating units at Didcot, A and B. Didcot A became operational in 1968. Didcot B became operational in 1997; both use coal and gas to fuel the generators.
|The river now takes us slightly North to a city of dreaming spires and the hometown of Inspector Morse. A famous University is located here. Where are we now?|
Oxford. Oxford is unsurprisingly the county town of Oxfordshire and has been populated since Saxon times. First historical reference to the town is made in the year 912. The "city of dreaming spires" was a phrase used by the poet Mathew Arnold when referring to the architecture of the University buildings.
|For the next ten miles of our journey the River Thames changes it's name to that of an Egyptian deity. What name is used for this stretch of the Thames?|
Isis. Many an argument ensues as to why this stretch of water is called the Isis rather than the Thames. The most reasonable explanation seems to indicate that the Romans named the river at its source "The Isis" and it was so called until it met the River Thame at Dorchester. At this point the name changed to Thamisis and this name was eventually shortened to Thames and applied to the whole river; apart from the 10 mile stretch through Oxford...weird.
|Our journey is nearly complete but before we can find the source we must leave our boat and walk the final stretch since the River becomes too shallow for watercraft. YES we are there, we have found the source of the River Thames. In which English county are we?|
Gloucestershire. The official source is at Thames Head in Gloucestershire. Other theories exist as to the true source but none have been proved. From its source the Thames runs 315 miles to drain into the North Sea. A truly majestic river.
Did you find these entries particularly interesting, or do you have comments / corrections to make? Let the author know!
Send the author a thank you or
Submit a correction