Londoners urged to explore the capital’s forgotten rivers during London Rivers Week

Escape city stress by exploring ‘66 Shards-worth’ of newly rewilded rivers

Visit your local stretch of river during London Rivers Week

Monday 26 JUNE – Sunday 2 JULY
London, UK – 13 June 2017:

Londoners across the capital will don waders, jump in canoes and go on walks to find out about the many forgotten rivers waiting to be discovered during London Rivers Week, a free festival celebrating London’s rivers between 26 June – 2 July.

Many of our rivers are great natural green spaces which can help Londoners ward off stress, obesity and social isolation but too often they have been hidden behind buildings and fences, or even underground, making them hard to access.

New river rewilding projects across the city have removed some of these barriers, increased the amount and variety of plants on the river banks and created new community spaces. A total of 20.5 kilometres of river have been restored since 2008 – equivalent to 66 Shards laid end to end. In some cases, buried rivers have even been brought above ground again.

London Rivers Week showcases some of these newly restored natural spaces and raises awareness about how they are vital for Londoners’ wellbeing. Environmental organisations including Thames21, the Zoological Society of London, London Wildlife Trust, the Environment Agency, Thames Estuary Partnership and the South East Rivers Trust are all putting on free events during the week.

Debbie Leach, Chief Executive of Thames21, the waterways charity putting healthy rivers back at the heart of community life, said: “There’s 66 Shards-worth of rewilded river for Londoners to explore, and we’re incredibly excited about helping them do that during London Rivers Week. All the fantastic free guided events and walks will help many more Londoners explore their nearest river.”

Highlights of London Rivers Week include:
Launch event: at Ladywell Fields, where the river Ravensbourne has been released from its concrete channel and new water meadows created

Discover a new wetland for north-west London: just over 3000m3 Stanmore Marsh wetlands officially opens with fun for all the family

Join a relaxed narrowboat tour of the river Lea and its 750m² of new reedbed habitat, from the comfortable setting of the Alfred le Roy

Discover Dazzling Dragonflies at the Welsh Harp in Brent

How citizen scientists are transforming London’s rivers: joint ZSL, Thames21 and London Wildlife Talk at Camley Street Natural Park

Discover the source of the River Wandle in Carshalton

Discover the raingardens linked to the lost river Effra in Kennington

Help eels migrate through London on the River Lea

The rewilding efforts benefit environment and communities, through projects such as Ladywell Fields in Lewisham which took the River Ravensbourne out of its concrete channel and created new water meadows and enhanced the local park, or the 750m of new River Lea reedbeds running through several boroughs.

Sponsorship for Rivers Week has been provided by Thames Water, whose Director Richard Aylard said: “Water is at the heart of the vital service we provide to customers across London, so we’re passionate about rivers and all they have to offer. We hope people will get behind London Rivers Week and make the most of the chance to try a new activity or simply relax and enjoy the waterways.”

Visit the London Rivers Week page for a full list of events.

Notes for editors
Media Contact and London Rivers Week Coordinator:
Kirsten Downer – Communications Officer at Thames21
020 7248 7171 or 07711 701 696
– High quality images available on request
– Case studies of the river restoration work in London can be downloaded in full here:
– Interviews available with
Debbie Leach – Chief Executive at Thames21
David Webb – Environment Agency

River restoration
London’s rivers have benefitted from 20.5km of restoration since 2008, exceeding the targets laid out by the London Plan. The restoration was delivered through urban regeneration projects, catchment partnerships and Environment Agency flood risk schemes.

London Rivers Week is organised for the Catchment Partnerships in London Group (CiPL) by its London Rivers Restoration Group arm. The Catchment Partnerships in London Group brings together Partnerships set up on rivers throughout the capital to enable shared action to protect, enhance and deliver cleaner, more vibrant and accessible rivers for all.

Organisations participating in CPiL include: the Environment Agency, Greater London Authority, Groundwork, London Wildlife Trust, NW Kent Countryside Partnership, The Rivers Trust, South East Rivers Trust, Thames21, Thames Chase, Thames Estuary Partnership, Thames Landscape Strategy, Thames Strategy Kew to Chelsea, The Wandle Trust, The Zoological Society of London.

For social media, use the hashtag #LondonRiversWeek