Memoryscape logo Voices from the hidden history of the Thames
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Picture of two people looking at the futuristic Huf Haus

Picture of David Sharp's book, The Thames Path

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After the paddle steamer the float went on to hit the bank here near the Thames path. I contacted the Ramblers Association to discover who was responsible for establishing the 230 mile long distance foot path which runs from the source of the Thames in the Cotswolds all the way to the sea. They said that one of their members could take the lion's share of the credit, David Sharp, who also had written a book about the trail. I tracked him down at his home in Barnes and asked him to explain how the Thames Path had developed.

The float hit the opposite bank from the path a little further on, outside one of the many chalets and bungalows you can see along this stretch. At the time, a house owner was repairing a wall at the end of his garden. He kindly agreed to be interviewed, along with his wife, and they described what it was like to live next to the river. They describe the Huf Haus, a newly built house that is unashamedly modern. It caused some controversy when planning permission was granted. All through the memoryscape river walks, development is a theme that we will return to many times. From here to the other side of London, the riverscape has changed dramatically in living memory.

This area of Thames Ditton also suffers from capacity problems with its sewers when there is very heavy rain, as the drainage pipes combine with the sewer pipes and they can over-flow. This interview illustrates how wonderful the river can be to live near, but it also reminds us of the problems that are caused when too much riverside housing puts pressure on the drainage system. Like flooding, water can quickly transform the river-side idyll into something quite different.


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