WCSIM - Following The Westbourne walk

WCSIM History Walk – Following the Westbourne River

The start with Paddington at Paddington……………

On Saturday 07 August, despite all the heavy rain, plus the poor forecast for the rest of the day, ten SIM members turned up at Padding ton Station to take part in The Master, Martyn Wheatley’s, latest history walk.

It was an interesting and fascinating day out, which was enjoyed by all!

We were lucky with the rain, which didn’t really cause any problems, and by late morning the sun was out for the rest of the day.

The walk, ‘Following the Westbourne’, was along the route of one of London’s many hidden rivers. Others are the Counter Brook, the Tyburn, the Fleet, the Wallbrook and the Effra. These are all now hidden below ground, only just under your feet, but each played an important part in the development of London, as of course did the Thames.

Martyn brought to life all the history surrounding the Westbourne River, following its meanderings from nearby Paddington Station all the way to Chelsea Hospital, where it debouches into the Thames.

Throughout the day, Martyn illustrated each stage, with images of the river as it was, as well as the surroundings which evolved on its banks, in addition famous parks, buildings and events, which happened nearby, bringing all of the history to life in each era.

Included were details of Paddington Station and its creator IKB, origins of Bays Water, Hyde Park, Peter Pan, the Serpentine, the magnificent Crystal Palace of 1851, Queen Caroline’s 1730 dam and cascading waterfall into The Dell, plus of course the Knights Bridge, and the not so fire-proof Pantechnicon plus many other stories of Mozart, aged nine at The Rotunda and finishing with The Battle of Chillianwala!

Using a bright torch with an attached lanyard, dangled down various gratings, the group was able to actually see the river, at a number of locations during the walk, rushing away below.

The group all had lunch at the Serpentine Bar & Kitchen, located at the end of the Serpentine. Without any respect for the forecast, we had glorious sunny views, of the water, rowing boats, flocks of water birds, and London, all the way to the West.

After the walk, we adjourned to The Fox & Hounds in Passmore Street, Chelsea, SW1W 8HR where we enjoyed a well-earned drink. It appears that history can make you thirsty.

At the beginning of the walk, it was explained, that there would be a quiz at the end. Clues about each of the questions were clearly highlighted along the way, to give everyone a good chance of scoring points………and what do points mean? Points mean prizes!

The quiz questions were asked and it was a close contest. We did have a clear winner, who was Jeremy Simons OBE, and his prize was a new copy of Andrew Duncan’s Favourite London Walks.

The day’s walk, had been based on a route from this excellent book by Andrew Duncan, that is published by New Holland. Do find yourself a copy – it is one of the best walking books available for London.

The next SIM history walk will be ‘Following the Tyburn’ which is along an equally fascinating route. That walk starts from Baker Street and ends near to Vauxhall Bridge.

It is hoped to run that SIM event early next year (2022) so do try not to miss it.

WCSIM - Jeremy Simons quiz winner
Jeremy collecting his prize……………

Saturday 07 August – Report by Martyn Wheatley