London's Lost Rivers: The Neckinger
To Bermonsey -the 'ey' means 'island' and the oldest buildings of London, belonging to Bermonsey abbey, which was connected to the river by tide mills. These 'efishently' generated power on the ebb and flow tides, after the monks enlarged and embanked the Neckinger inlet. They named the dock after the abbey's patron, and ran a windmill on its bank, the Mill of St Saviour. Around 1536 (and the dissolution of the monasteries) the windmill was converted into a water mill to supply local inhabitants with water.
The river provided a water supply for tanneries as this was one of the main places in England for the manufacture of leather. Factories and mills were developed, some of which are still evident. Soil excavated from the ditches was used to embank and raise the level of the adjacent ground to provide dry foundations from extensive marshland known as 'unsavoury dock'. The whole network of watercourses acted as an extended mill pond.
Here the inlet divides the riverside districts of Shad Thames and James' Island. It has since been joined by new blocks of luxury flats, which
coexist, with some friction, with the attractive houseboats - moored
offshore at Reed Wharf. The Thames Path has also been 'privatised' and the access gate to the National Trail is locked at 23.00 hours.