Walking the Counters Creek – lost rivers of London

Lost river walk that links two of the magnificent seven

The Counters Creek has haunted me for a few years, just as the lost rivers of London collectively haunt London. It was there as a presence when I’d documented the protests to save the communities and buildings in Earls Court in 2015 & 2016. It reverberated beneath the tombstones of Brompton Cemetery when I filmed Andrew Kötting dressed as Straw Bear drifting through the portico. And one possible source of the Counters Creek was a marker on my psychogeographic sound trail around Kensal Rise for Brent 2020 London Borough of Culture. So I was well overdue a walk along its course.

Source of the Counters Creek - Kensal Rise has a Story plaque - John Rogers Brent 2020
One possible source of the Counters Creek on the Brondesbury Ridge
Kensal Green Cemetery Chapel - Counters Creek Walk
Kensal Green Cemetery Chapel – near the source of the Counters Creek

The recognised source of the Counters Creek is not up on the Brondesbury Ridge at the junction of All Souls Avenue and Chamberlayne Road, although it seems highly likely that springs from this high ground feed into the river. Both Nicholas Barton in his classic Lost Rivers of London, and Tom Bolton in London’s Lost Rivers – a Walkers Guide, place the source in Kensal Green Cemetery hidden beneath a large stone slab. From here it crosses the Grand Union Canal and flows across Little Wormwood Scrubs, beneath the Westway and down through Notting Dale, the edge of Holland Park to Olympia (where I stopped for a pint and accidentally realised the pub was close to the Countess’ Bridge that gave the river its contemporary name), Earls Court, Brompton Cemetery, Fulham Road, Kings Road, Lots Road, before making a glorious confluence with the Thames in its above ground guise as Chelsea Creek.

Counters Creek Walk
Interestingly, Nicholas Barton only dedicates one paragraph to the Counters Creek
Grand Union Canal - Counters Creek Walk
I was guided along the course of the Counters Creek by Tom Bolton’s brilliant London’s Lost Rivers – a walker’s guide published by Strange Attractor Press

It truly is one of the great lost river walks – not as celebrated as the Fleet, Tyburn, Westbourne, or Effra – but certainly worthy of a song as Paul Whitehouse had improvised from the deck of a Thames Clipper as we filmed a chat about the Thames and passed the confluence. It’s a shame that song never made the final cut of Episode 2 of Our Troubled Rivers. But the song of the Counters Creek can still be felt rising through its culvert beneath the streets of west London.

John Rogers and Paul Whitehouse
John Rogers and Paul Whitehouse during the filming of Paul Whitehouse Our Troubled Rivers

Some Fantastic Tales of Bloomsbury

This London walking tour takes us around the fabulous squares of Bloomsbury with its fantastic tales.

Our walk starts with the incredible story of Oliver Cromwell’s body being kept in the cellar of The Red Lion pub in Holborn in 1661 and its possible secret burial. Then in Red Lion Square, we investigate the story that the square is haunted by three ghostly cloaked figures. There’s also Conway Hall and the house inhabited by members of the pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.
We move on to Queen Square with the Italian Hospital, Mary Ward Centre, Queen Charlotte, The Queen’s Larder and the Devil’s Dyke. Our Bloomsbury walk passes the Horse Hospital into Russell Square, once the site of a Parliamentarian fortification during the English Civil War. Next we walk along Bedford Way to Gordon Square which is heavily associated with the Bloomsbury Set (Virginia Woolf etc.). The walk ends with a spooky story in Woburn Square.

filmed in September 2022

Resonance fm fundraiser at Cafe Oto – Richard Dawson

Cafe Oto

9th March: Great scene at Cafe Oto for the Resonance fm fundraiser, Richard Dawson headlining, Kamura Obscura opening the night, Ben Thompson on the decks. Saw some wonderful people in the audience.
Richard Dawson was something else, transcendental, picking, strumming, thrashing that electric guitar and hitting those incredible vocal notes.

Richard Dawson Cafe Oto
Richard Dawson
Richard Dawson Cafe Oto
Kamura Obscura Cafe Oto
Kamura Obscura