Wednesday, 25 July 2012

The Kilburn returns!

You can’t keep a lost river down.  Photos in the papers today showing part of Kilburn High Road under water, would be strangely familiar to 19th century residents.  The floods, caused by a burst water main, look pretty disastrous from the photos.  However, the water has temporarily recreated the riverscape Kilburn High Road replaced.

Kilburn’s lost river is now known as the Westbourne, but it went by many names, which changed as it passed through different neighbourhoods.  Kilburn is in fact named after its local stream, the Kilbourne.  Originating at the edge of Hampstead Heath, it flowed via West End Green to Kilburn Priory.  A street of the same name marks its course, while rushing water can sometimes be detected nearby under Springfield Road.

The Kilbourne crossed the High Road at the junction with Kilburn Park Road, and moves on to Paddington Recreation Gardens. Kilburn High Road itself is a river of sorts, flooded or otherwise.  It is, as Chris Petit points out in his novel Robinson, “a dirty brown torrent”, but rather more so at the moment.”


  1. (This is a bit off topic, but I couldn't find your contact details.)

    Hi Paul,

    My name is Eduard I am currently writing my dissertation for my MA in Cinematography and Post-production (deadline 30 September at midnight!). My chosen subject is urban landscape representation in visual art and I will produce a short film about London's lost rivers.

    As part of my research, I had the pleasure to read your book and I wonder if you have a few minutes for a quick audio interview sometime this weekend.

    My email address is ed[at]

    Many thanks!