London’s Secretive Dark River

A dead bird lies next to a rose on the bank of the River Thames during low tide in London, Britain January 23, 2017. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

by Stefan Wermuth
May, 2017

London’s River Thames has been the lifeblood of the British capital since the city’s origins as a Roman garrison town around 2,000 years ago.

The artery through which the world’s trade passed at the height of the British Empire, its banks were lined with factories that drove the industrial revolution but left its waters biologically dead.

Now, with power stations transformed into galleries, the river is home to seals, the occasional porpoise and has become a much-loved open space.

To our supporters, thank you. Newcomers, welcome to reader-supported Facts and Opinions, employee-owned and ad-free. We will continue only if readers like you chip in, at least 27 cents, on an honour system. If you value our work, contribute below. Find details and more payment options here.

For Reuters photographer Stefan Wermuth most work days are spent a short stroll away from the Thames, covering the political machinations of parliament, the Bank of England or previewing a new exhibition at the Tate Modern gallery.

A ramble along the river is a chance to take a breather from the frenetic pace of news to shoot in a slower and more creative way.

Over three months, Wermuth walked along the banks of the Thames, photographing the river and the abandoned objects exposed by the receding tide.

They range from the mundane to the enigmatic: mud-encrusted traffic cones and swirling seaweed to the carcass of a pigeon lying next to a rose on the sand.

Copyright Reuters 2017

Traffic cones are seen on the bank of the River Thames during low tide in London, Britain January 19, 2017. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

Light is reflected from a wet wall along the bank of the River Thames during low tide in London, Britain February 27, 2017. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

A water drop hangs on a stalactite along the bank of the River Thames during low tide in London, Britain February 24, 2017. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

A drawing of a face is seen on a wall along the bank of the River Thames during low tide in London, Britain February 24, 2017. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

A water drop lands in a puddle on the bank of the River Thames during low tide in London, Britain March 3, 2017. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

Raindrops fall into the River Thames during low tide in London, Britain February 27, 2017. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

Stalactites are seen along the bank of the River Thames during low tide in London, Britain February 24, 2017. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

Sand is seen on the bank of the River Thames during low tide in London, Britain February 24, 2017. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

Seaweed is seen on the bank of the River Thames during low tide in London, Britain February 24, 2017. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

Rust is seen along the bank of the River Thames during low tide in London, Britain February 24, 2017. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

Water trails are seen on the bank of the River Thames during low tide in London, Britain February 24, 2017. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

Material is seen on the bank of the River Thames during low tide in London, Britain February 27, 2017. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

Water runs out of a bridge pillar along the bank of the River Thames during low tide in London, Britain January 23, 2017. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

A wooden stick is seen on the bank of the River Thames during low tide in London, Britain January 23, 2017. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

Stones are seen on the bank of the River Thames during low tide in London, Britain January 23, 2017. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

Seaweed is seen on the bank of the River Thames during low tide in London, Britain January 23, 2017. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

Bricks covered in mud are seen on the bank of the River Thames during low tide in London, Britain February 27, 2017. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

 ~~~

Facts and Opinions is a boutique journal of reporting and analysis in words and images, without borders. Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O is funded by our readers. It is ad-free and spam-free, and does not solicit donations from partisan organizations. To continue we require a minimum payment of .27 for one story, or a sustaining donation. Details here; donate below. Thanks for your interest and support.

F&O’s CONTENTS page is updated each Saturday. Sign up for emailed announcements of new work on our free FRONTLINES blog; find evidence-based reporting in Reports; commentary, analysis and creative non-fiction in OPINION-FEATURES; and image galleries in PHOTO-ESSAYS. If you value journalism please support F&O, and tell others about us.