The WESTBOURNE or KILBURN is a mainly re-diverted small River Thames
tributary in London, primarily sourced from Whitestone Pond, Hampstead
Heath and which, notwithstanding one main meander , flows southward
through Kilburn and the
Bayswater (west end of
Paddington ) to skirt
underneath the east of Hyde Park\'s Serpentine lake then through
central Chelsea under
Sloane Square and it passes centrally under the
south side of Royal Hospital Chelsea\'s
Ranelagh Gardens before
historically discharging into the Inner London Tideway . Since the
latter 19th century its narrow basin has been further narrowed by
corollary surface water drains and its main flow has been replaced
with a combined sewer beneath its route.
* 1 Names
* 2 Course
* 3 Maps
* 4 See also
* 5 Notes and References
* 6 External links
The river was originally called the Kilburn (Cye Bourne – royal
stream, 'Bourne and burn ' being the Germanic word equivalent to
rivulet as in the geographical term 'winterbourne ') but has been
known, at different times and in different places, as Kelebourne,
Bayswater Rivulet, Serpentine
River , The Bourne, Westburn Brook, the Ranelagh River and the
Ranelagh Sewer. It is of similar size to the Fleet .
Whitestone Pond the river flows south
through Kilburn (also the name of the river at that point) running
west along Kilburn Park Road and then south along Shirland Road. After
crossing Bishops Bridge Road, the river continued more or less due
south, between what is now Craven Terrace and what is now Gloucester
Terrace. At this point, the river was known until the early 19th
century as the
Bayswater rivulet and from that it gave its name to the
area now known as Bayswater. Originally
Bayswater was the stretch of
the stream where it crosses
Bayswater Road, "Bayards Watering" in 1652
and "Bayards Watering Place" in 1654. It is said that there is a
reference to Bayards Watering Place as early as 1380. There were a few
houses at this spot in the eighteenth century and, it seems, a man
called Bayard used or offered it as a watering place for horses on
this road (formerly Uxbridge Road). The river enters Hyde Park at what
is now the Serpentine and is within the park joined by a tributary,
Tyburn Brook . The Serpentine was formed in 1730 by building a dam
across the Westbourne at the instigation of Queen Caroline , wife of
George II , to beautify the royal park. The Westbourne ceased to
provide the water for the Serpentine in 1834, as the culverted
Westbourne had become the most convenient main sewer and the
Serpentine is now supplied from three boreholes from the upper chalk
underneath Hyde Park. The Serpentine was widely imitated in parks and
The Westbourne left Hyde Park (both before and after it had been
dammed to form the Serpentine) at
Knightsbridge which was originally a
bridge over the Westbourne itself. It is recorded that, in the year
1141, the citizens of London met
Matilda of England (Queen Maud) at
this bridge. The river ran from
Knightsbridge south under Bourne
Street, SW1 and follows very closely the boundary between the City of
Westminster and the
Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea , joining
River Thames at Chelsea.
The waters of the Westbourne or
Bayswater were originally pure and in
1437 and 1439 conduits were laid to carry water from the Westbourne
into the City of London, for drinking. In the 19th century, however,
the water became filthy and impure by its use as a sewer, and the rise
of the water closet as the prevailing form of sanitation .
Belgravia , Chelsea and
Paddington were developed, it became
necessary to drive the river Westbourne underground to build over it.
The river was therefore directed into pipes in the early part of the
19th century, work which was completed in the 1850s. Since then, the
Westbourne has been one of the lost rivers of London, running
underground in a pipe.
The pipe can still be seen running above the platform of Sloane
Square tube station . It is located just below the ceiling towards
the end of the platforms closest to the exits. The pipe is the
original one constructed in the 19th century. Although the station was
badly bombed during the
Battle of Britain
Battle of Britain in November 1940, the old
iron pipe was not damaged.
After flowing beneath the location of the
Chelsea Flower Show and
beneath a corner of
Chelsea Barracks , the river flows into the
Thames. Its lower course is, like the Thames, tidal.
A vestige of the river, a wide quay opens into the river
300 yards (270 m) west of
Chelsea Bridge . An overflow outfall, from a
pipe named the Ranelagh Sewer, can still be seen at low tide, as most
of the Westbourne's course has been used as a convenient depression in
the land to place the local sewerage system, some of which takes
surface water to form a combined sewer which links to two intercept
sewers, the MIDDLE LEVEL SEWER and the NORTHERN LOW LEVEL SEWER in the
London sewerage system .
The finest and most intelligible map of the whole course of the
Westbourne, superimposed over the Victorian street plan, is found in
an article by J. G. Waller, published in the Transactions of the
London and Middlesex Archaeological Society, vol VI (1882) pp
Waller's map shows that the stream never ran further west than the
easternmost extremity of
Westbourne Grove ,
Notting Hill (an east-west
road ending at Queensway where the course lay).
Westbourne Grove is,
as its name suggests, west of the bourne.
* Tributaries of the
Subterranean rivers of London
List of rivers in England
List of rivers in England
NOTES AND REFERENCES
* ^ Its lower course is nearby the Westminster /Chelsea ">
* ^ A B Owen, Jane (21 May 2016). "History on tap". Financial
Times. House & Home. pp. 8–9.
* ^ "Thomas Hawksley and the Project to Cleanse The Serpentine:
1859–1862". Retrieved 29 January 2010.
* ^ A B "Hyde Park: Park of Pleasure". The Royal Parks. 2007.
Retrieved 5 September 2007.
Londonist.com: London's lost rivers from above (Nov 2009)
* ^ A B illustrations 1, 4 of the webpage of the Walbrook River page
– a synopsis which cites the following books:
Nicholas Barton, The Lost Rivers of London (1962)
Anthony Clayton, Subterranean City (2000)
Michael Harrison, London Beneath the Pavement (1961)
Alfred Stanley Foord, Springs, Streams, and Spas of London. (1910)
J. G. White, History of The Ward of Walbrook. (1904)
Andrew Duncan, Secret London. (6th Edition, 2009) * ^ Clayton,
Antony. ( 2000) Subterranean City: Beneath the Streets of London.
London: Historical Publications. p. 34. ISBN 0948667699
* ^ J. G. Waller Transactions of the London and Middlesex
Archaeological Society, vol VI (1882) pp 272–279.