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Underground Rivers

Marking the Direction and Flow of Underground Rivers

This is a prospective project

RedFrog has been interested in daylighting underground rivers, following a meeting with water engineer, Dr. Stephen Myers, in May 2015, and the commissioning of Arup to map underground rivers for the neighbourhood plan evidence base at the end of 2016.

The presence of underground rivers or other bodies of water is often indicated by soggy ground, poplar and willow trees.

The report generated by ARUP is available here:
Arup Mapping Report_RevA_Issue 010416_Reduced

The Arup map of RedFrog underground rivers indicates the presence of many historic rivers, such as the Westbourne, East Westbourne, Cannon, unnamed rivers, springs, wells and ponds. As many as five water courses can be found within a space of 800 yards. While these have mostly been absorbed into sewers, clean water runs between Branch Hill and Redington Gardens, where the stream can be heard. Mostly, however, the streams have become degraded, devalued, and discarded – interred in underground culverts, out of sight, out of mind.

Where possible, it is therefore proposed to increase awareness of these underground streams through “daylighting”, by restoring hidden water to a more natural state above ground, along with the environmental virtues of biodiversity, enjoyable green spaces, and flood prevention.

Where this is not possible, the streams will be culturally daylighted through marking their direction and flow, using cast bronze glyphs. This could form part of a long-term vision to support local history, geography, green space and legibility.

A Watermark trail is being developed by Robin Lacey, a sculptor specialising in bronze for the public realm, and with a particular interest in place. His presentation to the Association is available here: Robin Lacey Talk Notes draft 3

In July 2017, RedFrog was introduced to Robin Lacey and, with the support of Camden, CIL funds were authorised to mark the underground rivers which had been identified by Arup together with citizen science (RedFrog residents).