Caught on the Map

By chance I came across this recent and detailed map of the River Brent on the brentcatchmentrivers website and, for the first time, felt more able to visualise the river in all its sinuous complexity.

The narrative potential is huge. Looking at the tributaries and reading their names made me determined to pack a bag with maps and camera and notebook, and get out there.

I’ve a feeling there are a load of stories to be uncovered along the backwaters of this half-hidden and oft-neglected river.

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About The Harp

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The Dollis-Mutton-Brent story is turning to one of it’s historically richest points.

This imperfect ‘telegraphese’ is About The Harp.

Britannica_Harp_Welsh_Triple_HarpThe Roman Watling Street now Edgware Road, a road crossing a shallow valley. Isolated farmland. A treacherous journey to London. From 1751 a coaching inn a welcome sight. The Harp & Horn standing at the Brent river crossing.

The thirsty Camden level of the Regents Canal seeking a water source from Silk Stream and dammed Brent. 3 million baths full. 6,700 lb of roach. Fishing prohibited. Dam, dam, dam. A contractor called Hoof creating a reservoir named, but rarely called Kingsbury or later Brent  between Old Kingsbury Church and Edgware Road for a little under £3000,00.

It was always the Welsh Harp.

(The likeness of the outline of the reservoir to an actual Welsh Harp being purely coincidental.)

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The Temptation of ‘Telegraphese’

I came across an intriguing booklet in the Camden Arts Centre bookshop called The Regional Book by David Matless published by Colin Sackett’s wonderful Uniformbooks.

As I’ve not finished reading the booklet yet, this post isn’t a review as such, for that you’d be hard pressed to find a better one than Ken Warpole’s masterly post in The New English Landscape eg.

The Regional Book is […] allusive, a gazetteer of 44 Norfolk places, each described in telegraphese, halfway in style between Pevsner and the poet Roy Fuller. It is very persuasive.

Spare and enigmatic The Regional Book is a masterwork of brevity, poignancy and punch.

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Book Review: The Groundwater Diaries by Tim Bradford

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Bradford, T. (2004) The Groundwater Diaries Flamingo ISBN 0 00 713083 X

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After reading the 2014 A London Country Diary by Tim Bradford I went in search of one of his earlier offerings, the 2004 The Groundwater Diaries. Bradford describes it as:

A heavily illustrated London travel book in which I use old maps, hallucinogenic high strength lager, dream analysis and an old coat hanger to help me find the city’s lost streams. Over the course of a year I walked the routes of many of these buried tributaries of the Thames, drew some sketches and read history books. The book covers the great themes of existence – punk, football, feminism, beer, nurses, politics, free jazz, jellied eels, Dickens, offal, capitalism, sex and death.

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Hammersmith Reach & Stamford Brook

Glancing over the wall in Furnivall Gardens adjacent to Hammersmith Reach I spotted (image below) these mysterious gates and the railings protruding out onto the mud banks of low water, a little internet investigation back at home uncovered the fascinating story of one of London’s ‘lost rivers’ – Stamford Brook.

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