The Ravensbourne is 17km long (11 miles), rising in Keston Ponds at Caesar’s Well, and debouching into the Thames in Deptford. I am walking the river using the DLR, buses and trains.
In 1513 Henry VIII founded a Dockyard in Deptford to build ships for his Royal Navy. The area continued as a busy shipbuilding area, with related supporting industries, until the early 1800s. In 1698 Peter the Great came to Deptford to study shipbuilding and stayed in Sayes Court, now demolished. The London & Greenwich Railway line of 1836 also crosses Deptford Creek next to the lift bridge.
The toll road through Deptford was the route to Dover and the only crossing in this area over the Ravensbourne River. Today the Dover Road still crosses the river crossing, together with the Docklands Light Railway (DLR).
The DLR runs alongside the Ravensbourne River to Lewisham.
The Ravensbourne was used for drinking water until 1862 by which time the water was too polluted. Water was instead pumped from below the chalk, and the red brick Victorian pumping station is still used today. The small lake in Brookmills Park is the remains of one of the reservoirs used to store water. Archaeological investigations have revealed habitation of this area dating to c.2,000 BC.
You may be interested in
London’s Lost Rivers – the Ravensbourne
River Ravensbourne Conservation Plans
The Ravensbourne Valley Preservation Society
History of Deptford
Ravensbourne Improvement Plan
The former waterworks at Deals Gateway
Archaeological investigations of the waterworks site
Walking from the Thames to Lewisham
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