Book Review

London under London - A subterranean guide
Richard Trench and Ellis Hillman - Price £15.99
1993 Butler & Tanner London ISBN 0-7195-5288-5

This lavishly illustrated guide is a superb accompaniment to any cavers library. It simply covers all the underground facets of the city of London.

The latest updated edition covers the following subjects:-

The underworld war - covering all aspects of the underground defences of London.
Smothered streams and Strangled rivers - a fascinating chapter which catalogues the paths and covering of all of London's rivers, including:- The Walbrook, Fleet, Tyburn, Westbourne, Counter's creek, Stamford Brook, The Neckinger, Earl's sluice, Effra, Falcon Brook and Hackney.
Tunnels under the Thames including, Gas, Electric and Hydraulic
Trains underground - a comprehensive history of the digging of the underground ( this is supplemented later on by details of the new Jubilee line extension) and covers many of the 25 "lost" stations

The book also contains details on how societies can gain access to the various oddities to be found underground. Further, it provides a fascination history into the development and growth of London. The book goes onto to describe in detail the paths of all the underground London rivers and how to follow them on the surface.

The book details the development of the 4 levels of interceptory sewers designed and built after the "great stink" of 1858 when the House of Commons was going to move to Hampton Court to escape the noxious odours. A state reminiscent of many a Sunday morning methinks. It contains a splendid cornucopia of historical trivia. For example. "The men who led us there belonged to one of the oldest professions of London. "Gong-fermors' these cleaners of cess-pits were highly paid… earning as much as £2 per job (in 1300 money !!).. one gong fermor, Richard the Raker, fell into his own cess pit and drowned [in 1326] "monstrously in his own excrement".

Author: 
Simon Davies