Reclaim our River

By Neil Sinden
26th October 2021

Why is the Thames Path in central London so often blocked or missing key links?

Here’s a view from Dan McCurry Chair of the community organisation “Reclaim our River” based in Tower Hamlets:

“Amanda, our secretary, likes to tell of her childhood memories of Wapping. Her father and uncles went through the trauma of unemployment when shipping came to an end on the Thames, and when, in her words ‘London turned its back on the river’.

The bustling wharfs were shut down and boarded off with mile upon mile of corrugated iron. The wild west lifestyle of her grandfather and uncles, was replaced by the desolate sound of wild Alsatian dogs on chains, howling through the night.

Eventually the developers saw an opportunity in the riverside wharfs, and the residential conversions began. New builds were constructed right to the river edge. The view of the peoples’ river was becoming the possession of a tiny few property owners.

The Thames Path was born in 1987 following a Royal Commission. No longer would anyone be able to build to the edge of the water. Any development must allow for the Thames Path and the peoples’ right to their river. Sadly, much damage had already been done by then.

Many people have walked from Tower Bridge eastward and have been forced to box around various obstacles on the way. It shouldn’t be like this. “Reclaim Our River” is a community organisation that aims to create a continuous path by overcoming the obstacles. One day, we will be able to walk from Tower Bridge to the River Lea without ever having to leave the riverside.

Many people over the years have wanted the path to be clear but have been frustrated by the difficulty of persuading land-owners to cooperate. We have taken a different view. If the landowners won’t allow us access to the path, then we plan to build the path onto the water on stilts, passing the obstruction. This four-minute film illustrates it well –

It’s our river. We have a right. No one can tell us that we can’t walk along its banks and enjoy its beauty. It is our most magnificent gift of nature, our greatest national park, and it belongs to no one but us, the people.

It’s time to Reclaim Our River.”

To find out more contact the campaign here:

Dan McCurry -