Saturday, 2 July 2016

Sweet Thames Flow Softly*


The Thames Flows Down is another of those wonderful children's books written in the 1950s.

It was the companion to  A Valley Grows Up by Edward Osmond.*

The Thames Flows Down was  written by Laurie Osmond and  illustrated by Edmund and tells  the story of the River Thames from its small beginnings to the point when it flowed into the sea.

It is a  mix of history and geography, with the added bonus that it was written in the 1950s and perfectly captures the river and London at a point in time now long gone.

This is my river, that working waterway, when there were still warehouses on the south side facing the Tower of London, and when the docks still provided serious work for many families.

As a child I remember it all and even in the 1960s have memories of barges gently banging together on the tide beside the Cutty Sark pub on long summer evenings.

All of which may seem romantic tosh but it is about the Thames and its impact on those who lived along its banks and relied on it for work long before it became a mere backdrop for luxury flats and flash office blocks.

So I will close with the final words taken from Laurie’s book which pretty much sums up the flow of that river beside which I was born at Lambeth on the south side of the river  which was home for my  first 19 years.

“Back in the quiet reaches of the Upper Valley the Thames still pours steadily seaward through tranquil meadows, where owls are screeching and night jars churr in the trees.  Otters hunt and play, vixen steals for her cubs.


Over the pulsing heart of London an orange glow stains the sky.  The dark, running water is bright with reflections from the City’s embankments, yellow lamplight from bridges pierces the blackness of the tide-race round the piers.  

A police patrol boat slides silently upstream.  A light over Westminster tells that Parliament is still sitting, and along the wharves cranes still work for ships that must make the punctual tides.”




Back in the 1980s I wrote to Mrs Osmond seeking permission to use some of the illustrations from the books in history lessons and she kindly granted permission.

Sadly both books are out of print but maybe one day the O.U.P., will republish both books.  I hope so.

Pictures; from The Thames Flows Down, Laurie Osmond

The Thames Flows Down, Laurie Osmond, O.U.P., 1957

*Sweet Thames Flow Softly* by Ewan Mccoll, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmn5pOxb2iM

**A Valley Grows Up http://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/A%20Valley%20Grows%20Up

Pictures; from The Thames Flows Down, Laurie Osmond

No comments:

Post a Comment