The Highs and Lows of Living by the River

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Living by the River and its Highs and Lows

Walking by the Thames is one of the great pleasures that London has in store for its visitors …

"View over the Thames, London, west side"

… and I am sure we were not the first visitors who thought: how wonderful it would be living by the river and  have these spectacular views as a piece of every day life, able to enjoy them from the window of the drawing room or from the kitchen window while preparing the working day’s first cup of coffee. To which the answer is: that depends very much on the circumstances.


The position of the moon, to name just one.

"heavy metal gate in front of a door of an apartment along the Thames"

Everywhere along the “Strand on the Green” (as this part of the Thames riverbank between Chiswick and Brentford is known), you can find the telltale signs of a human fight against nature:

Steps have been raised …

"Door reduced in size with steps to get up and in by the Thames"

… doors have been protected by additional barricades …

"Concrete barrier built in front of a door of house if living by the river Thames"

… or brutally fortified.

"Closed heavy metal gate in front of a door of an apartment along the Thames"

(Owners, one cannot help noticing, reveal  quite a lot about their character by choosing one of these solutions over the others.)

And this, I suspect, …

"A door or a window on an apartment along the Thames"

… before being shrunk to its current, Lilliputian dimensions, …

"A door or a window on an apartment if living by the river Thames in London"

… was once a properly sized front door.

But you, too, would consider drastic remedies if you regularly found yourself knee-deep in water on your way to your lounge.

The truth of the matter is that the Thames in London – right until Teddington Lock, a couple of miles upstream from the “strand” – is subject to the tides. The strong surges coming in from the North Sea still have the power to submerge much of the picturesque West London riverbanks. Which means: they may dump some fairly foul-smelling detritus in your living room, unless you have made the necessary precautions.

The Thames Barrier between London’s East End and the Thames Estuary was erected 40 years ago to protect London from exceptionally strong tides, not from the “common” ebb and flow, and has been closed for – on average – little more than once a year since it entered operation in 1984.

So it seems that the inhabitants of the Strand-on-the-Greeen – while they will always have the views –  …

"Strand on the Green - living by the river Thames in London"

… will also have to bear the highs and lows of living by the river for some time to come.

6 comments to The Highs and Lows of Living by the River

  • Yes, very high water in Venice… I liked to walk near the Thames in London, not in the center, but very far from it, almost next to the country. There was something like a castle nearby, but I don’t remember where…

  • Joe

    I love the photos on this, very picturesque. I never saw a front door in this size before.

  • yana

    yeah right. I really liked the view of the river, imagine if I took a small boat like in the picture, and enjoy it while drinking coffee and feeding the fish.

  • Wonderful pictures on this site!

  • Jeremy Branham

    Walking along a river is beautiful. However, I understand the concerns. Currently, we are dealing with flooding right now here in California and those along the river are having to deal with these issues. Here, we use levies. Doesn’t make neighborhood walks as scenic though.

  • Reminds us of the doors we saw in Venice – ‘acqua alta’ seems to cause havoc in any city, even London.

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