London's Water of Life - a history of the canals and rivers

Ref: C2422681

The rivers, springs and streams of the Thames flood plain have always played an important part in London’s historical development. The course will examine London’s use of water for industry, transport, leisure and health, and as a source of sustenance. As well as the Thames and the Lea, the course will cover London’s ‘lost’ rivers and its spas, wells and canals – from the Tyburn, Fleet and Walbrook Rivers, to the New River and the Regent’s Canal, from the ponds and springs of Hampstead to Sadler’s Wells and Clerkenwell

Course aim

To outline the importance of rivers and canals in London's historical development

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is for beginners and improvers
  • The course is for anyone with an enquiring mind and an interest in London's history

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Explain the nineteenth century connection between water and public health
  • Describe the historical importance imortance of springs and wells in London
  • Demonstrate London's historical dependence on canals
  • List industries traditionally dependent on London's rivers and springs
  • Contribute to discussion in class or in writing

How will I be taught?

What kind of feedback can I expect?

What else do I need to know?

Note making materials

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

What can I do next?

View full course information sheet

London's Water of Life - a history of the canals and rivers

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This course has started and there are no online enrolment places available.


This course is funded by the Greater London Combined Authority but is also open to residents of other areas.

As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you enrol. Please check the details below to ensure you meet the basic eligibility critiera:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2021
  • You declare that the address you provide is correct and that you will provide evidence of this and your eligibility to live and work in the UK
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

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