Blogging the Tidal Thames

Introducing some Thames friends and London bloggers for you to enjoy, who share their knowledge and many discoveries along the river through articles and photos on the internet. Discoveries as varied as the complexities of the tides, currents, and patterns on the water, all of which combine to give us a deeper understanding of London and our shared river.

Liz Anderson

Liz Anderson with some of her finds as background. ©Liz Anderson

There is so much to discover on the foreshore of the tidal Thames, which twice daily, when the tide is out, becomes the longest archaeological site in London. One of those fascinated by its traces of history is Liz Anderson. She has been a licensed mudlark for a number of years, which means she has an official permit issued by the Port of London Authority. However, new permits are not being issued at the moment while potential dangers to the historical integrity of the Thames foreshore by increased numbers of mudlarks and visitors are being assessed.
Braving often cold, dark and wet conditions, she is out along various stretches of the slippery foreshore, her eyes attuned to what can often look like an unpromising artefact, seeing through mud, pebbles and rust, to find traces of our past uncovered by the constant shifting tides.
You can read her articles on A Mudlark’s Diary and follow her on Twitter-X @liz_lizanderson and on Bluesky


Jack Chesher

©Jack Chesher
©Jack Chesher

Author of best-selling book London: A Guide For Curious Wanderers, Jack Chesher has been writing a blog, Living London History, since August 2020. After taking part in the Open City’s Golden Key Academy guiding course and qualifying as a guide, he began his popular Living London History walks, many of which take place near, or on the banks of the Thames, giving visitors another perspective to life in the city.
See his blog: Living London History. You can also find him on Twitter-X @livinglondonhis where he posts pictures and chatty, informative short films, many of which feature aspects of the Thames and its surrounds.


Waterman and Lighterman Ben

©Ben Liquid Highway

Founded in 2005 and run by Thames Waterman and Lighterman Ben, The Liquid highway is the world’s largest Thames vessel photo gallery and major resource for anyone wishing to research boats both past and present that have operated along the Thames. It features “all kinds of vessels from tugs and barges to passenger boats, and a database with full vessel details and up-to-date information.” This is the best site to “help bring people together who work, have worked, or have an interest in the River Thames,” and there is a real feeling here of shared experience and community.
The Gallery, with its dock and River Thames scenes and its section “Tales of the Thames”, gives a special insight into life on and around the river, its history, traditions and some of those who made, or make their living there. You can see The Liquid Highway films and documentaries on YouTube using the link here.
You can also find Ben’s Twitter -X posts @liquid_highway1 and on Facebook, many of which bring back memories to those who worked on them, of boats that were regularly out on the Thames. Ben’s posts often document current maintenance work of interest along the river and on various boats being overhauled in dry dock. He also features tugs, workboats, sightseeing and party boats out on the river today. You can see The Liquid Highway photo gallery here.


The Gentle Author

©The Gentle Author

In August 2009, The Gentle Author made a promise: “Over the coming days, weeks, months and years, I am going to write every day and tell you about life here in Spitalfields at the heart of London.” And his “hare-brained ambition […] is to write at least ten thousand stories.” And though faithfully focusing on life in Spitalfields, many of his 5,000 stories are, like London itself, inextricably connected to the River Thames.
Discover his site Spitalfields Life, which since he first began his daily writing, has attracted faithful and appreciative readers worldwide, who clearly feel a close affinity with him. Many of them have accompanied him on his Spitalfields Tours, set up in September 2021, presenting the positive aspects of Spitalfields as an antidote to “ghoulish tours” prevalent in the area, focussing on notorious crimes and murders.
Caring deeply about Spitalfields he is aware of dangers to its heritage and has managed to lead a number of successful conservation campaigns including saving the 1838 Marquis of Lansdowne pub from demolition, and the much loved “five-hundred-year-old Bethnal Green Mulberry Tree from being dug up by developers.” At present he is joined with many others in an effort to save the Whitechapel Bell Foundry from inappropriate development and to “ensure foundry activity at their site.”
You can follow him on Twitter -X @thegentleauthor

ps I must declare an interest here: It was the Gentle Author who schooled me, along with others, on how to set up and write my blog, for which I am very grateful.


A London Inheritance
A Private History of a Public City

©A London Inheritance.

One of the richest sources of London’s history that I know is A London Inheritance, whose author has been posting meticulously researched articles since February 2014 on London after the Second World War. His mission has been to bring to light the couple of thousand photographs of London taken by his father in the years after the war, from 1946 to 1954, recording the aftermath of bombing and the slow regeneration of the city. And this he does in great detail by exploring London “using his father’s photographs as a starting point, identifying the original locations” taking his own pictures as near as possible from the same viewpoint, and explaining how “the buildings, streets and underlying topography of the city have developed.” His work, a great resource for now, will remain as a great record in the future.
As well as his weekly articles which you can read on A London Inheritance, his carefully researched piece on Queenhithe Dock is just one recent example, he also runs much appreciated London Inheritance Guided Walks.


Ian Tokelove

©Ian Tokelove
Slowly crumbling vestiges of the past facing rising towers of the present. ©Ian Tokelove

Ian Tokelove’s site Remote London is a look at the “wilder, quieter places around London and beyond”, places to which I, myself, am unlikely to go and so I am grateful to see these landscapes through his eyes. Walking or kayaking he explores lesser known tributaries and tidal creeks of the Thames and Estuary, as well as ancient paths, many lost to tides twice a day. One such is “the Broomway, an ancient bridleway known as Britain’s deadliest footpath”.
He feels the presence of London’s once mighty industrial history and his pictures, often ghostly echoes of the past, reflect this.
You can join him on Remote London and see his Twitter -X posts @iantokelove


Ruth Wadey
Ruth Wadey is one whose pictures always brighten up my Twitter -X timeline. She not only captures the glories of the constant changing skies over the Thames at Twickenham, she also sees beauty and artistry in the world around her, across the Thames, in town, or in her local parks.

©Ruth’s Gallery

“Ruth has always been passionate about life and nature, especially landscape incorporating clouds and sea.” And her photos capture them in all their glory. Well-known in Twickenham and beyond, her Weather Watchers’ photos are regularly featured on BBC and ITV forecasts.

Ruth a guest of the BBC ©Ruth Wadey

Ruth was delighted and honoured to be invited to the BBC to celebrate the BBC Weather Watchers’s first anniversary in November 2016. She says “It was definitely a day to remember. I acted out being a Weather Presenter with the lovely Lizzi Rizzini who gave me a tour and introduced me to many staff including the amazing Tomasz Schafernaker !” But that wasn’t all. She was interviewed on a nearby park by Matt Taylor who then took her into the studio to be interviewed on the BBC Lunchtime News.
During the past eight years her photos have been regularly featured on various BBC programmes, and you may well have noticed her images, credited to ‘ruthiebabes’, as weather presenters run through the forecast. She tells me: “It always gives me a thrill when they appear, especially to see them on the large screen.”
See her work on her site Ruth’s Gallery and follow her on Twitter -X @ruths_gallery


Nicola White
Since moving to London many years ago, her curiosity aroused by fragments of history washed up on stretches of the Thames foreshore, Nicola became a licensed Thames mudlark. Her films and social media posts draw people into her work and, over the years, she has been widely featured in the press and on television. The River Thames also inspires her creativity, and Nicola enjoys making sculptures and artworks from the broken glass, pottery and plastic which she picks up along the foreshore while mudlarking.

Nicola searching the foreshore ©Richard Pohle

Mudlarks are required to report finds over three hundred years old and of significant historical importance to the Finds Liaison Officer at the Museum of London. These finds are then recorded on the Portable Antiquities Scheme database . Nicola has had several of her mudlarking finds recorded and to this end she visits the Finds Liaison Officer at the museum about once a year.
Join her here on her YouTube channel adventures as she moves carefully along the foreshore, discovering and sharing the excitement of her finds. With sounds of the river as background, and her chatty explanations, viewers feel involved with her searches, escaping for a short while the noise of the world around.

Further Information
Jill Mead
You will also enjoy photographer Jill Mead’s articles:
‘A Year on the River Thames, part one’, the Guardian, May 23, 2022
‘A Year on the River Thames, part two’, the Guardian, October 17, 2022
‘Tower Bridge steam-cleaned and an Essex Serengeti…’, the Guardian, April 6, 2023
See her website here and follow her on Twitter -X @speediemeadie

* With thanks to all who have kindly joined in with this venture.