- River Lee (England)
name = Lee/Lea
country = United Kingdom
length = 68
Luton Hoo, Luton
discharge1_average = 1.8
Feildes WeirNr. Hoddesdon
discharge2_average = 4.3
source_elevation = 115
Bow Creek, River Thames
mouth_elevation = 0
image_caption = River Lee at
Hertford BasinThe River Lee or River Lea [Historically, the river has been called the "Lea", "Lee" or "Ley". The "Ley" spelling is seen in mediaeval documents but subsequently passed from common usage. Currently, "Lea" and "Lee" are the generally accepted spellings, with "Lea" used in reference to the original natural river and "Lee" referring to the canalised parts, such as the Lee Navigation. See River Lee (England)#Etymology.] in Englandoriginates in Leagrave Park coord|51.910338|-0.461233|region:GB|display=inline, Leagrave, Lutonin the Chiltern Hillsand flows generally southeast, east, and then south to Londonwhere it meets the River Thamescoord|51.507113|0.009184|region:GB|display=inline, the last section being known as Bow Creek.
The name of the river is thought to mean "bright river" or "river dedicated to
Lugus[a God] ". [cite book |title=The Place-Names of Hertfordshire |author=J.E.B. Glover, Allen Mawer, F.M.Stenton |publisher=Cambridge University Press |work=English Place-Name Society, vol. XV |year=1938]
The spelling Lea is predominant west (upstream) of
Hertford, but both spellings are used from Hertfordto the River Thames; the Lee Navigationwas established by Acts of Parliament and should be so spelt. However, the variant spelling is used for several locations and infrastructure in the Capital, such as in Leamouth, Lea Bridgeand the Lea Valley Railway Lines. The divergent spellings of the river are also reflected in the place-names of Lutonand Leyton: both mean "farmstead on the River Lea". [cite book |author=Mills, A.D. |title=The Popular Dictionary of English Place-Names |year=1991 |publisher=Phaidon |location=Oxford]
Course of the river
The source is usually said to be at Well Head inside
Waulud's Bankat LeagraveCommon, but there the River Lea is also fed by a stream that starts convert|2|mi|km|1 further west in Houghton Regis. The river flows through (or by) Luton, Harpenden, Welwyn Garden City, to Hertfordwhere it changes from a small shallow river to a deep canal at Hertford Castle Weir, which then flows on to Ware, Hoddesdon, Broxbourne, Cheshunt, Waltham Abbey, Enfield Lock, Ponders End, Edmonton, Tottenham, Upper Clapton, Hackney Wick, Stratford, Bromley-by-Bow, Canning Townand finally Leamouthwhere it meets the River Thames(as Bow Creek). It forms the traditional boundary between the counties of Middlesexand Essex, and was used for part of the Danelaw boundary. It also forms part of the boundary between Essexand Hertfordshire.
For much of its distance the river runs within or as a boundary to the
Lee Valley Park. Between Tottenham and Hackney the Lee feeds Tottenham Marshes, Walthamstow Marshesand Hackney Marshes(the latter now drained). In their early days, Tottenham Hotspur and Leyton Orient played their matches as football amateurs on the Marshes. South of Hackney Wick the river's course is split, running almost completely in man made channels (originally created to power water mills, the Bow Back Rivers) flowing through an area that was once a thriving industrial zone.
Greater Londonbelow Enfield Lockthe river forms the boundary with the former Royal Small Arms Factory, now known as Enfield Island Village, a housing development. Just downstream the river is joined by the River Lee Flood Relief Channel. The man-made,concrete banked water is known as the River Lee Diversionat this point as it passes a series of reservoirs: King George V Reservoirat Ponders End/ Chingford, William Girling Reservoirat Edmonton and the Banbury Reservoirat Walthamstow. At Tottenham Halethere is a connected set of reservoirs; Lockwood Reservoir, High Maynard Reservoir, Low Maynard Reservoir, Walthamstow Reservoirs, East Warwick Reservoirand West Warwick Reservoir. It also passes the Three Mills, a restored tidal mill near Bow.
Roman era, Old Ford, as the name suggests, was the ancient, most downstream, crossing point of the River Lee. This was part of a pre-Roman route that followed the modern Oxford Street, Old Street, through Bethnal Greento Old Fordand thence across a causeway through the marshes, known as WansteadSlip (now in Leyton). The route then continued through Essexto Colchester. At this time, the Lee was a wide, fast flowing river, and the tidal estuary stretched as far as Hackney Wick. [ [http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?compid=22742 'Bethnal Green: Communications', A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 11: Stepney, Bethnal Green (1998), pp. 88-90] accessed: 15 November 2006] Evidence of a late Roman settlement at Old Ford, dating from the 4th and 5th centuries, has been found.
In 894, a force of Danes sailed up the river to Hertford, [cite book | last = Hadfield | first = Charles | authorlink = Charles Hadfield (historian) | coauthors = | title = The Canal Age | publisher = Latimer Trend & Company | year = 1968 | location = Plymouth | pages = p. 15, 19 | url = | doi = | id = | isbn = 0-7153-8079-6 ] and in about 895 they built a fortified camp, in the higher reaches of the Lee, about convert|20|mi|km|1 north of London.
Alfred the Greatsaw an opportunity to defeat the Danes and ordered the lower reaches of the Lee drained, at Leamouth. This left the Danes' boats stranded, but also increased the flow of the river and caused the tidal head to move downriver to Old Ford.
In 1110, Matilda, wife of Henry I, reputedly took a tumble at the ford, on her way to
Barking Abbeyand ordered a distinctively bow-shaped, three-arched, bridge to be built over the River Lee ("The like of which had not been seen before"), at Bow. During the middle ages, Temple Mills, Abbey Mills, Old Ford and Bow were the sites of water mills (mainly in ecclesiastic ownership) that supplied flour to the bakers of Stratforde-atte-Bow, and hence bread to the City. It was the channels created for these mills that caused the Bow Back Rivers to be cut through the former Roman stone causeway at Stratford (from which the name is derived).
Improvements were made to the river from 1424, with tolls being levied to compensate the landowners, and in 1571, there were riots after the extension of the River was promoted in a private bill presented to the House of Commons. By 1577, the first lock was established at Waltham Abbey and the river began to be actively managed for navigation.
The New River was constructed in 1613 to take clean water to London, from the Lee and its catchment areas in Hertfordshire and bypass the polluting industries that had developed in the Lee's downstream reaches. [http://www.enfield.gov.uk/448/River%20Lee%20and%20Stort%20Navigation%20A%20History.htm Enfield.gov.uk River Lee History] ] The artificial channel further reduced the flow to the natural river and by 1767 locks were installed below
Hertford Castle Weiron the canalised part of the Lee, now the River Lee Navigationwith further locks and canalisation taking place during the succeeding centuries. In 1766, work also began on the Limehouse Cutto connect the river, at Bromley-by-Bow, with the Thames at Limehouse Basin.
The Waterworks River, a part of the tidal
Bow Back Rivers, have been widened by convert|8|m|ft|0 and canalised to assist with construction of the Olympic Park for the 2012 Summer Olympics. A new lock is being installed on the Prescott Channelto maintain water levels on the Lee, within the park at a depth of convert|2|m|ft|0. This will allow access by 350–tonnes barges to ensure that at least 50% of the material required for construction to be delivered, or removed by water. [ [http://www.london2012.com/documents/oda-publications/demolish-dig-design-update.pdf "Milestone 5"] "demolish, dig, design" January 2008 (The Olympic Delivery Authority) accessed 25 April 2008]
Amwell Magna Fishery
List of rivers in England
List of reservoirs and dams in the United Kingdom
Bow Back Rivers
* Locks and Weirs on the River Lee
Lea Valley Walk
Lower Lea Valley
* For a full list of tributaries, please expand the River Lee info box at the bottom of this page.
The Compleat Angler" by Izaak Walton
* [http://www.leevalleypark.org.uk/ Lee Valley Park website]
* [http://www.riverlee.org.uk/index1.htm River Lee — Our River]
* [http://river-lea.co.uk/ River-Lea.co.uk]
* [http://wikipaddle.org/wiki/Hertford_Loop Hertford Loop] A Wikipaddle article from a kayaking and canoeing perspective.
River item line|upstream=
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