ⓘ River Effra
The River Effra is a former stream or small river in south London, England, now culverted for most of its course. Once a tributary of the River Thames, flows from the Effra were incorporated in the Victorian era into a combined sewer draining much of the historic area of Peckham and Brixton.
The etymology of the name "Effra" has been much disputed. There is no evidence that it was applied to the stream before the late 18th century, and early 19th century gazetteers gave it no name. A map of 1744 refers to it as the "Shore", and it was also referred to as "Brixton Creek" and "the Wash". Unlikely suggestions for the names origin include Ruskins, that it was "shortened from Effrena", that it was from a Celtic root "yfrid", or that it derived from Anglo-Saxon "efer", "bank", perhaps via "heah efre" "high bank" recorded in a charter of 693 for a spot on the bank of the Thames.
A more recent suggestion is that the name is a corruption of the place-name "Heathrow", the name of a manor which once covered some 70 acres south of present day Coldharbour Lane and east of present day Effra Road. By the 1790s the land making up the Manor of Heathrow was known as Effra Farm. There is evidence that the name was first applied to the stream at Brixton, perhaps taken from the name of the farm, and was only later extended to the rest of its course. A 2016 book by the Lambeth borough archivist supports this view, suggesting that other etymologies are a product of 19th century antiquarianism.
2.1. History Before the 19th century
The drainage basin of the stream covered around 20 square kilometres 8 sq miles of present-day inner South London. Historically the Effra was fed partly by a line of springs that emerged at between 80 and 100 metres above sea level along the 5 km ridge of the Great North Wood, where a layer of gravels overlies the impermeable London Clay. There were also springs at a lower level in Dulwich; the various tributaries met near Brixton before flowing to the Thames.
The lowest part of the river was diverted as early as the 13th century, after the monks of Bermondsey Priory made an agreement with neighbouring landowners to end flooding problems. Before that time the rivers course ran either into Walworth Marsh, which after draining became Walworth Common, or into the Earls Sluice to reach the Thames. The lower, northern part of the river appeared in Ogilbys Britannia of 1675 as the "New River".
While the upper, southern parts of the river were rural, they became increasingly suburbanised as the 19th century went on. The art critic John Ruskin, who grew up at Herne Hill close to one of the Effras tributaries, described "the good I got out of the tadpole-haunted ditch in Croxted Lane", and made an early sketch of a bridge over it.
Until about 1850 Brixton Road, where it ran along the course of the stream, was known as the "Washway", and the stream itself was often called the "Wash". By that time the Effra was heavily polluted with domestic waste, due to increasing development along its course, and by 1821 it was classed as an open sewer downstream of North Brixton. It still often flooded in heavy rain, and residents of Brixton Road and South Lambeth repeatedly complained of their houses being inundated. In 1847 the commissioners of the Surrey and East Kent Sewers, under the direction of surveyor Joseph Gwilt, carried out works "arching over" culverting the Effra as far upstream as Herne Hill.
2.2. History Post-industrial revolution
When the London sewerage system was constructed during the mid-19th century, its designer Sir Joseph Bazalgette incorporated flows from the River Effra into the southern division of the system. The Effra Branch Sewer, about 3 miles in length and costing some £19.400 to construct, received much of the Effras surface water and ran from the Norwood area into the Southern High Level Sewer at Croxted Lane. The Southern High Level itself ran from Herne Hill eastwards under Peckham and New Cross to Deptford. Here it joined the Southern Low Level Sewer, which picked up remaining effluent from the old depression converted to sewer at Vauxhall and passed under Kennington and Burgess Park to Deptford; the two branches merging to form the Southern Outfall Sewer that runs underneath Greenwich and Woolwich to Crossness.
As the area was increasingly urbanised, the remaining parts of the Effras upper course were incorporated into the surface water drainage system, although some parts remained open and marked on Ordnance Survey maps until the later 19th century. The main course of the Effra remained as a sewer and culverts beneath Brixton Road, South London, and seen through a drainage grate in the crypts under St. Lukes Church, West Norwood, South London.
The river was fed by several tributaries which met above Brixton. The main branch of the Effra rises near Harold Road in Upper Norwood Recreation Ground, and flows through West Norwood. Where Norwood High Street merges at the fountain with the A215 to form Norwood Road, it was joined by a small tributary from Knights Hill ward.
A second branch rose south of Gipsy Hill and ran into West Dulwich via Croxted Road, after flowing from near the Westow House inn, Westow Hill. Beyond the Paxton pub opposite the end of Gipsy Hill its culvert captures water from Hamilton Road, forms the back garden line of Croxted Road and joins the other tributary at the South Circular Road, where it now forms the sewers of Croxted Road, Dulwich Road, Dalberg Road, Effra Road, Electric Lane, and Brixton Road.
East along the watershed, springs rose in Dulwich Wood, flowing through Belair Park and beneath North Dulwich to Herne Hill. Still further to the east a tributary called the Ambrook rose from springs in Sydenham Hill Wood and Peckarmans Wood, flowing to Herne Hill through present-day Dulwich Park, where its heavily landscaped channel is visible. The longest and easternmost tributary ran from Eliot Bank and Horniman Park in Forest Hill down to Herne Hill. Rocques map of 1746 called these confluences around Herne Hill railway station "Island Green". Most of these tributaries are no longer visible above ground: an exception is the Ambrook, which still flows seasonally in Sydenham Hill Wood.
The Effra flowed generally NNW until it reached its lower course, north of Brixton. At this point it turned northeast and then east, running through the grounds of Bermondsey Priory. It fed Lambeth and possibly Walworth Marshes, and may have joined the Earls Sluice, which entered the Thames at Deptford Wharf. After diversion in the 13th century, it ran directly west from Kennington to join the Thames at Vauxhall.
A local story tells of a coffin found floating down the Thames in Victorian times, which was traced back to West Norwood Cemetery. Cemetery staff were puzzled to find that the plot the coffin had come from was undisturbed. Further investigation revealed that the ground beneath the grave had subsided, and the entire coffin had fallen into the underground Effra river, floating downstream to Vauxhall and entering the Thames.
Although little more than a stream in the south, until 1935 the culverted watercourse flooded during heavy rains every decade or so; an inscription on a white stone tablet high up the side of a building in Elder Road, West Norwood reads: "FLOOD LEVEL 17th July 1890".
After a three-hour-long storm on Sunday 14 June 1914 the sewer overflowed again and flooded houses along its path from Elder Road to Chestnut Road, and locals were forced to evacuate their homes for several days. Further floods in the 1920s prompted works to enlarge the sewer. This was sufficient until a small part of the local area was flooded again during a powerful downpour on 20 July 2007.
6. The Unearthing the Effra Campaign
In 1992 a project by the London arts group Platform sparked a local campaign to dig up the river. The Unearthing the Effra project was based around a mock Effra Redevelopment Agency, which included a public office. The project gained publicity in local newspapers and radio stations.
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- to the Roman era when it was part of the London to Brighton Way. The River Effra used to be visible near Lambeth Town Hall, but is now underground, serving
- A 1992 project by Platform sparked a local campaign to dig up the River Effra in London, England. Their ongoing research into the political economy
- junction and the river and is near Vauxhall station. The River Effra one of the Thames many underground tributaries, empties into the river close by. This
- covering the area as far as the river The Heathwall Ditch ran along the foot of the slope and drained into the River Effra and Falcon Brook, making Battersea
- sections, using the same reusable formwork. The bed of the subterranean River Effra was found to pass through the site during construction, which necessitated
- 2, 460 ft The lake is the only substantial stretch of the ancient River Effra remaining above ground. The estate consisted of two farms until it was
- south of the River Thames. Many are in buildings converted from their former use and names reflect this, such as Effra Social in the former Effra Conservative
- Glenelg Road and Strathleven road. It tells the story of the hidden River Effra and also references the women who worked at the Doulton factory in Lambeth
- Streatham West Norwood Brixton Herne Hill Brockwell Park Brockwell Lido The River Effra at Belair in Dulwich 24 minutes to Tulse Hill by Carter the Unstoppable
- Lady Ty, daughter of Mama Thames and goddess of the River Tyburn. Effra goddess of the River Effra and by implication presiding deity of Brixton and Kennington
- Brixton town centre the majority of respondents preferred the route via Effra Road Waterloo to Peckham the majority of respondents preferred the route
- suspended when it was found that the southern abutment would block the River Effra which by this time had been diverted underground to serve as a storm
- The River Tyburn was a stream bourn in London, its main successor sewers emulate its main courses but it resembled the Colne in its county of Middlesex
- The River Fleet is the largest of London s subterranean rivers Its headwaters are two streams on Hampstead Heath, each of which was dammed into a series
- is shown as Island Green probably reflecting the presence of the River Effra and smaller tributaries. Early references to the area also use the form
- Twitter. The principal tributaries of the River Thames on the Tideway include the rivers Brent, Wandle, Effra Westbourne, Fleet, Ravensbourne the final
- forest that covered the Sydenham Ridge and the southern reaches of the River Effra and its tributaries. It is a major part of the history of Croydon. The
- possibly the first London bridge, by the outlet of the River Effra from around 1500 BC. The Effra formed the southerly boundary to the common. Three closely
- stream in the woods called the Ambrook, formerly a tributary of the River Effra From here it flows across the golf course, then alongside Cox s Walk
- Walbrook subterranean L River Fleet subterranean, also known as the Holbourne L River Effra subterranean R River Tyburn subterranean L Falconbrook
- River Westbourne Counter s Creek Stamford Brook The River Neckinger The River Effra Abney Park Cemetery Brockley and Ladywell Cemeteries Brompton Cemetery
- A subterranean river is a river that runs wholly or partly beneath the ground surface one where the riverbed does not represent the surface of the Earth
- also known as the Holbourne River Effra subterranean River Tyburn subterranean Falconbrook subterranean River Westbourne subterranean Tyburn
- This article lists the tributaries of the River Thames from the sea to the source, in England. It includes significant backwaters and waterways that have
- include Beverley Brook, Lady Ty, Oxley, Lea and mentions are given to the Effra Ash, Brent and Crane. The novel was well received, with reviewers citing
- churchyards drains from the relatively central Tyburn, Fleet, Effra and Westbourne rivers which were used as foul sewers by this date and later wholly
- incorporated flows from the River Effra which used to flow through Brixton, into his high - level interceptor sewer also known as the Effra sewer. Brixton was
- fording: The bend in the Thames near Vauxhall Bridge. The two arms of the River Effra joining in that vicinity, depositing their own load, with the athwart
- Hermitage Road, Eversley Road and Harold Road. One of London s hidden rivers River Effra flows under the park and at the Harold Road end a wellhead exists
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