Low Tide at Vauxhall

By Helen Jeffries – FFON’s London Correspondent.

Since the lock down I’ve started taking an interest in the tides of the River Thames. It’s possible to look up the tide tables for Tower Bridge and those are pretty much right for the surrounding parts of the river too. On my most recent day off I got up reasonable early and crossed Vauxhall Bridge shortly after low tide. While there was still plenty of water in the river, there was also a fair amount of mud flat exposed by the tide.

I’ve always been charmed by London’s underground rivers and a benefit of Vauxhall Bridge is that you can lean over it on the West side and see the wide tunnel opening on the North bank that represents the out flow of River Tyburn. The Tyburn flows through London past Marble Arch (the site of “Tyburn Tree” where criminals were executed in former days), through Victoria and Pimlico and out into the Thames. Almost opposite on the South bank is the outflow of the River Effra which comes through Tulse Hill, Stockwell and into the Thames. (Those who are fans of Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London series will of course already be familiar with this information.) The other attraction of the river bank at Vauxhall is it being the site of London’s earliest bridge across the Thames dating from some 3500 years ago. The wooden remains of a 3m wide structure were only found in the 1990s just to the West of Vauxhall Bridge on the South bank. In the photo you can see both the outflow of the Tyburn and wooden remains sticking up out of the mud in the foreground.

The plethora of rivers and history made up for a slight lack of wildlife on my trip – I saw gulls and pigeons but little else, possibly because more people were around. On the bright side though I have been hearing an almost deafeningly loud blackbird in the mornings and the gentlemen pigeons are pursuing the lady pigeons with their rather pompous dignity and insistent cooing.

By Helen Jeffries – FFON’s London Correspondent.

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