Significant events on the Thames
The Thames geographical coordinates and its proximity to mainland Europe turned it into an auspicious gateway to Britain for various foreign invaders, such as the Romans and the Dutch. It is believed that the Romans first crossed the Thames in the London area in 54 BC in order to invade Britain, under Julius Caesar, according to the Celtic and Roman remains found in the river bed, along with various artefacts, among which the Battersea Shield. The unearthing of human remains and weaponry suggests that the battle took place near the present Chelsea Bridge. Also, in June 1667, although not engaging in battle on the Thames, the Dutch used the river to reach Gravesend and then proceeded on the Medway to Chatham, where the Raid on the Medway took place.
Akin to many rivers of imposing dimensions, the Thames has seen its fair share of floods, varying in terms of the gravity of the damage caused. Besides the floods occurred during Victorian times, when the Thames repeatedly flooded Windsor during the second half of the 19th Century (1869, 1872, 1875, 1877, 1891 etc.) , a major event occurred in January 1928, when the Thames flooded riverside London as well as other locations near the city.
One of the country’s worst disasters in terms of loss of life and destruction, the storm of January 31st 1953, was caused by strong winds and a high tide on the North Sea, aggravated by low pressure, resulting in a massive overflow of water on the East coast of England, including the Thames Estuary and London. Thousands of lives were lost, on shore and at sea, and substantial destruction affected many coastal locations. As a consequence of the flood, the Thames Flood Barrier was planned and later built, in order to prevent a disaster of such magnitude from occurring in the future.