London Puzzles 3: The Lost Banks Of The Thames
I’m out and about doing London research today, inspired by our erstwhile commenter Jan, who sent me a couple of shots of the Thames foreshore. (She knows her history but the camera could do with a bit of an upgrade). Jan points out that the beach of the South Bank runs parallel with Shad Thames heading toward St Saviours Dock where the Neckinger was joined (through the efforts of the Lay brothers of Bermondsey Abbey) to the Thames. This was a place of execution, a Neckinger being the ‘Devils Neckerchief’, or hangman’s noose.
Look carefully and you’ll see why she’s taken the photographs. A stone causeway out into the water on the left, and shoreline defences on the right. The paths of the old river boundaries are now lower, the city having risen around and over the old Roman encampment. Remnants of the river’s history are there to be seen if you know where to look.
My question is this. Such tributaries into the Thames were passable by drawbridges, some of which were still in operation when I was a child. We know that the river was made deeper at the centre and widened at the shores. The evidence suggests that the Thames was narrower before and even faster-moving, but if so then why was the Victoria Embankment built, which must have bottle-necked it further?