Saturday, 8 August 2015
Uxbridge's Millstreams and the Canal.
By now I was getting bored and I drove around to the other side of Uxbridge, parked up and had a walk through the water courses.
Uxbridge is a big town full of office blocks and shops but underneath (and I mean underneath) there's a network of streams, rivers and canals.
This is the heart of 'The Colne Valley' which ends up at Colnebrook, the River Colne by us and then at Staines Moor before it flows into the Thames.
Except it isn't one river, its a collection of streams that split and combine all over the place.
At Uxbridge there were once a series of Mills, most of which have been converted to offices or restaurants. Underneath, the streams still flow even if some go through pipes every so often.
I've even tried to follow them on a map or Google Earth and failed.
Some end up flowing into The Grand Union Canal which is where I ended up walking along the towpath.
Many of the narrowboats still have traditional designs like this fine lettering;
The canals were built in the 18th century, had a short spell before the railways came along and took most of their trade.
In the 1920's, the Grand Union was created by merging several canal companies into one in an attempt to get big enough to compete and modernise.
The main branch is from London to Birmingham but this is the Oxford branch which runs through Slough and Uxbridge on its way to Town.
I stood a while on the bridge by the lock, watching the water squeezing through the lockgates;
The guy in the blue boat wasn't too sure of himself. As he left the lock he collided with the boat on his right then bounced back hitting the wall of the lock before colliding with the lock gate as he emerged.
Meanwhile he forgot about his partner who had been struggling the lock gates for him so he had to reverse into the bank which involved another collision so that he could get her back on board. She wasn't too happy about it.
Of course, I wouldn't be any better myself but it was very funny.
I like the idea of these lost streams, just as I like following the course of London's many lost rivers; The Fleet, The Tyburn, The River Moselle, The River Westbourne (Westbourne Grove!), Stanford Brook, meanwhile in South London which I don't know so well there is The River Effra (Effra Road).
Most ended up in underground drains, some are in pipes which you sometimes see when you are travelling on the Tube, under a bridge or you hear them bubbling under metal grates in the road.
Sometimes, you just see the damp in the walls of a building!
In medieval times they were important water courses, used for drinking water, sewerage or a way to catch a boat.
Life went on around them or was about getting over them without getting wet.
Now they usually end up as a drain coming out of a wall in the Thames Embankment.
(a don't stop till you drop production)
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