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Amazing Facts About the Ubiquitously Beautiful River Thames

Prajakta Patil Jun 3, 2019
The River Thames has been London's landmark for centuries. Flowing a whopping 215 miles, it is the largest river in England. Here are a few more interesting facts about River Thames.
Location: Thames Head, Gloucestershire, UK (source)
Length: 215 miles
Tidal Range: 23 Feet
Tributaries: 38 (main)
The River Thames is the biggest landmark and a proud possession of England. The river rises in the Cotswolds Hill at Thameshead in the West of England, and flows in a west-east direction to the Estuary, and the Atlantic Ocean off the East Coast.
The river travels through eight counties: Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Surrey, Essex, and Kent. It has been the main source of food, water, transport, and commerce in Great Britain for thousands of years. Two-third of London's drinking water comes from River Thames alone. Few more interesting facts about River Thames.

Facts You Should Know

❑ River Thames is England's longest river. It is 215 miles long, and runs through the center of England.

❑ About 25,000 years ago, the river used to flow into the River Rhine. Today, it flows into the North Sea.

❑ The river is known by the name of Isis in the city of Oxford.
❑ The river flows through various towns and cities. They include Cricklade, Lechlade, Oxford, Abingdon, Wallingford, Reading, Henley on Thames, Marlow, Maidenhead, Windsor, Staines-upon-Thames, Walton on Thames, Kingston upon Thames, Teddington, London, Dartford, Gravesend, and Southend.
❑ There are, in all, 44 locks from the source of Thames to the Teddington Lock.

❑ For a distance of 146 miles, from Gloucestershire to Teddington Lock, the river is non-tidal.

❑ There are over 190 islands in the Thames from Kent to Oxfordshire. Of them, only 45 are inhabited.
❑ There are a total of 214 bridges, 17 tunnels, 200 rowing clubs, and 60 active shipping terminals on the river.

❑ River Thames was used by planes to navigate at night during the World War II.

❑ Some 50 years ago, the river was very polluted, making it very difficult for anything to survive in it. However, today it flows with relatively cleaner water.
❑ 125 different species of fish and 350 benthic invertebrates are found in the river.

❑ The Thames River Basin has 46 internationally designated Special Protection as well as Conservation Areas.

❑ King John signed the Magna Carta on an island in Thames, near Runnymede, in 1215.
❑ Before the 19th century, the river would often freeze in winters, allowing various frost fairs to be held. The first fair was held in 1607, and the last one was held in 1814. It is highly unlikely that there will be another one, since the water flows too fast to freeze now.

❑ The Thames Path is Europe's longest river trail.
❑ Much of the city's waste was dumped into the River Thames before London's sewer system was built in 1865 by Sir Joseph Bazalgette. In 1858, the river caused what is called "The Great Stink".
It was a year with an extremely hot summer, due to which Thames clogged up with sewage, thereby causing an unbearable smell. The surrounding areas were stinking to the extent where the Parliament had to be moved to the Hampton Court.
❑ The Thames is believed to have inspired the famous author Kenneth Grahame to pen down the children classic, The Wind in the Willows.

❑ The Thames Barrier, which was constructed in 1974, because of the river's vulnerability to storm, is the world's largest floating barrier.
❑ The river has been the main shipping route into Great Britain for centuries.

❑ Thames is also well-known for the various sports held on it. It includes fishing, rowing, and canoeing.

❑ The London Eye that graces the banks of River Thames is one of the most visited places in Great Britain. Here are a few more fun London Eye Facts.
❑ Five police forces have been appointed to police the river.

❑ The Thames Tunnel, built in 1843, is the world's first underwater tunnel.

❑ Among the various famous regular visitors of the river was Charles Dickens. He would often visit the Prospect of Whitby pub on the banks of the Thames. Dickens also featured the river in his book Our Mutual Friend.
❑ Duxford Ford is the only ford in the Thames.

❑ The silver jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II was celebrated on the Thames.

❑ In his poem, Prothalamion, poet Edmund Spenser ends each stanza with the line "Sweet Thames, run softly till I end my song."
❑ The name "Thames" comes from the Sanskrit word Tamas, which means dark.

❑ An annual Oxford/Cambridge University Boat Race which first began in 1829 is held on Thames annually.

❑ Before the building of the Teddington Lock in 1811, the river was tidal for 16 miles. Today, it is completely tidal for the 55 miles.
❑ At least one body is fished out of River Thames per day. After her lover ran with an actress, feminist Mary Wollstonecraft had also jumped into the river. However, she was successfully saved by a boatman.
The river has also inspired some great works of famous artists. Popular French artist Claude Monet painted the Thames three times. One of his paintings which depicts the river, the Houses of Parliament, and the Westminster Bridge, is one of his most renowned works.