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Stories of London: The River Thames - A Day of Talks

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Southwark Cathedral hosts a day of illustrated talks about the River Thames.

Come and find out about the history of the Port of London, once one of the busiest ports in the world, uncover the story of Agnes Beckwith, the ‘premier lady swimmer’ of her day, find out about the oldest tunnel in the oldest underground system in the world and discover the story behind an ambitious art project which looks to illuminate the bridges of the River Thames.


Sarah Gavanta, Director of Illuminated River
Sarah talks about the concept by US artist Leo Villareal with British architects and London Society Supporters Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands to create a subtle kinetic LED light sculpture that will unify and light up the bridges of central London from Albert to Tower.

Peter Stone, Author
In the 1930s London was the largest port in the world, with ships connecting every part of the globe. Despite enemy bombing during the Second World War and much destruction, a new peak was reached in the 1960s. Yet, as Peter Stone explains in his recently-published book The History of the Port of London, within two decades most of the port lay idle.

Caitlin Davies, Author
In September 1875, a young girl called Agnes Beckwith plunged into the River Thames at London Bridge and swam all the way to Greenwich. Agnes became the ‘premier lady swimmer of the world’, but her story has been lost to history – until now. Caitlin Davies author of Taking the Plunge: Forgotten Female Swimmers from Victorian times recounts the history of swimmers and the Thames.

Kevin Larder, Brunel Museum and the Thames Tunnel
The Brunel Museum is directly above the Thames Tunnel, the oldest Tunnel in the oldest Underground system in the world. This is a very important site for engineers and is the birthplace of mass urban transport and the world city.

Plus don't miss art works and exhibitions including Cope (Vestment worn by priests) made from plastic found in the River Thames by artist Sarah Wilson and an exhibition by pupils from St Saviour’s & St Olaves School exploring the impact of plastic on the world’s oceans and waterways.

Image: Thames Bridges © John Duffin