Caught by the River

The River Kilbourne

13th March 2011

A couple of weeks back we ran a story on behalf of some Friends Of The River (Dan and Steve) asking people whether they could help with any information about Kilburn’s lost river. Thanks to some old school gumshoe work, they’ve put together a bunch of information on the Kilbourne and are holding a workshop on the river in their workspace in a few weeks. Definitely worth a visit if you’re in west London.

River Kilbourne

South Kilburn’s a hidden place. Almost literally; the estate and its tower blocks is lower than Kilburn High Road, lower than Queen’s Park. It’s in the dip of a valley, a triangle enclosed by two lost rivers. The top floor of the highest, most mighty tower block in South Kilburn is probably no higher than the top of a three storey house on Kilburn High Road.

Those lost rivers are two forks of what is now known as the Westbourne but was until the mid 1800s the Kilbourne, and longbefore that the Cune Bourne. They still define the area, even unseen. At one point, near the site of the old Priory, they still bubble, the steady flow echoing up through two side-by-side gutter gratings.

A hundred years ago, they made themselves known; ao particularly raucous street party and the old Kilburn Lane collapsed into the river underneath. Now, residents complain about the rising damp, the sometime flooding, the poor drainage, little knowing they’re living on a flood plain. This area should glisten and shine in the spring sun after heavy rain. Instead the rain runs down stained concrete and forms murky pools for litter to float in.

Find out more about this lost river on River Kilbourne Day at Workshop 24 on Monday 28th March.