A Case of Urban Amnesia

'A Case of Urban Amnesia' is a story of forgotten London river. The eleven mile long Ravensbourne flows through London boroughs of Bromley, Lewisham, and Greenwich, into the Thames. Throughout the history the river had been the location of several corn mills, large ship building industry, and a major power station. But despite its strong connections to London's past, the Ravensbourne is not so firmly placed in the memory of the twenty first century's Londoners. Nowadays, the Ravensbourne joined the ranks of a dozen or so of London's rivers which increasingly are ceasing their palpable existence on the surface in exchange for presence in history books and on dated maps.


In March 2010 I walked along the entire length of Ravensbourne, starting from a medley of semi-wild park and A-roads in Keston Common in Kent, through the middle-class suburbia of Bromley, faceless housing estates of Bellingham, parks of Catford, along elevated Docklands Light Railway network in Lewisham, all the way to the site of a major redevelopment in desolated-but-soon-to-be-hip Deptford. The river is not yet channeled underground, not yet buried under another parking lot or a new supermarket. Even though already neglected and forgotten, the Ravensbourne is still part of the south east London landscape. For how long though, is the question this project pose? Is the Ravensbourne soon to join the Effra, the Tyburn, the Westbourne, the Fleet, the Falconbrook, the Walbrook and other rivers of London that are already gone or slowly are disappearing from the maps as well as from the common memory?



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