River Thames

New exhibition takes a dip in London's hidden rivers

Secret Rivers sign

A new exhibition looking at the capital's hidden waterways is set to open at the Museum of London Docklands.

Secret Rivers looks at lost waterways such as the Effra, Walbrooke and Neckinger which have all played crucial but very different roles in how the city has developed.

The show includes historic artifacts, digital works and drawings to show what different rivers were used for.

For example, visitors can see a Medieval three person toilet seat which was used over the River Fleet when it became an open sewer. The Fleet would later be buried as part of London's Victorian sewer system.

Toilet seat

The exhibition also looks at how some of London's lost rivers have been resurfaced and incorporates campaigns where people have called for historic waterways to be returned to the streets, like the Tyburn in Mayfair.

Co-curator Thomas Ardill said it shows just how much of a river city London is and how important those waterways have been.

"You can't know London without understanding its rivers," he said.

Secret Rivers, which is free to view, opens to the public on Friday and will run until 27 October.

Folly Ditch, Jacob's Island
Museum of London
Clearing London's waterways from a paddleboard
One woman is using her smartphone and paddleboard to rid London's rivers and canals of litter.

Drinks to be served in reusable cups for Boat Race

Pubs on the Thames will be serving pints in reusable cups for the boat race in a bid to cut plastic pollution in the river, it has been announced.

Some 14,000 reusable cups have been ordered and will be used by eight pubs along the river and on the high street for the sporting event on 7 April.

Spectators of the annual rowing competition between Oxford and Cambridge universities will be able to reuse their cups or return them to the pubs, allowing them to be washed and reused up to 50 times.

The scheme's organisers, Positively Putney Business Improvement District, hopes it will prevent 50,000 single-use plastic cups ending up in the river or heading for landfill, in one day.

Disposable cups are one of the most commonly found plastic litter items among the 300 tonnes of rubbish recovered from the Thames each year, campaigners say.

Nicola Grant, executive director of Positively Putney Business Improvement District (BID), described the race as "one of London's biggest sporting events".

"I'm proud that this year we're teaming up with Putney's pubs to drastically cut the use of plastics by serving pints in reusable cups," she said.

James Cracknell set to become oldest Boat Race competitor

BBC Sport

James Cracknell
Getty Images

Two-time Olympic champion James Cracknell is set to become the oldest person to compete in the Boat Race.

The crews are being announced on Thursday and London-born Cracknell, 46, is set to be named in the Cambridge boat for the iconic race on the Thames on 7 April.

Cracknell retired from elite rowing in 2006 but qualifies because he is studying a Master of Philosophy degree in human evolution at the University.

He won gold in the coxless fours at both the 2000 and 2004 Olympic Games.

The previous oldest Boat Race competitor was Andy Probert who was 38 when he coxed the Cambridge boat in 1992. Mike Wherley was 36 when he rowed for Oxford in 2008.

Call for action to tackle River Thames pollution

Litter in boat

Metal cans, food packaging and plastic bottles make up the majority of litter found in the Thames and its tributaries, according to a new study.

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) and charity Thames21 carried out a series of river cleans between the end of 2017 and the summer of 2018.

Just under half of all items found during the searches were discovered near Southend-on-Sea.

MCS and Thames 21 called for a "deposit return scheme" to be introduced.