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Clerkenwell Biennale | Discovering the Fleet
2004

Date
2004

Name Of Project
Discovering the Fleet

Client’s Name
London Architecture Bienale

Category
Urban | Public

A project put together by Fluid, McDowell+Benedetti and Wordsalad to celebrate the first London Architecture Biennale.

‘Discovering the Fleet’ describes the river Fleet’s influence on Clerkenwell, the city and its inhabitants. It portrays the many facets of the river from its health-giving properties and recreational uses, through its political, transport and trading history to its descent into a diseased ditch which was finally buried out of sight and smell.

Beneath the streets of London, running next to the railway and underground lines of Faringdon Road, lies one of London’s lost rivers, the River Fleet. A major tributary of the River Thames, it runs from Hampstead to Blackfriars, passing through Clerkenwell. For much of London’s history, the Fleet was an important part of both the topography of the city and of its inhabitants’ lives.

However, during the 18th and 19th centuries it was covered over and today lies buried beneath the streets of London. This ancient river, which is now a sewer, has had a tumultuous past. Although it is now invisible, the Fleet continues still to make itself known.

‘Discovering the Fleet’ tells the river Fleet’s extraordinary story as a case for unlocking the potential for future river use in London. It describes the whereabouts of the Thames’ other London tributaries, many lost but others awaiting their potential to be realised. The great possibilities for public use of London’s rivers is explored and pupils from Hugh Myddleton school provided some inspiring reflections on Clerkenwell and a vision for rivers in London. Other noted Londoners, past and present, are quoted in their reflections on the subjects.