Date of release: Thursday, December 3, 2015

Whose river is the Thames, and what is it for? These are just two of the questions being posed by University of Greenwich academics in a special edition of the London Journal.

Dr Vanessa Taylor and Professor Sarah Palmer have co-edited the journal on the subject of the River Thames being a 'contested space'. The pair have spent several years researching the way the river has been managed over the previous half century as part of their Economic and Social Research Council funded project, analysing the struggle for power between competing groups.

 "One of the most important things about the Thames is the huge range of claims on the river," says Dr Taylor, who is lead editor. "The big question is who should control it, or at least have a meaningful say in how it's managed. People are fascinated by the Thames and many of us in London, or those just passing through, feel some kind of ownership of it, so we wanted to speak to the interested general reader too.

"We were also keen to make closer links between environmental issues and more traditional concerns of London history. There's been a lot of brilliant historical work on the Thames, but much of it relates either to Victorian public health or to the docks and dock labour. We wanted to move the 21st century river to centre stage. The London Journal was the perfect place to do this."

The launch of the journal's special edition took place at the University of Greenwich, in an event supported by the university's Department of History, Politics and Social Sciences, The London Journal Trust and Thames Estuary Partnership, an important stakeholder forum on the river.

The university's new Greenwich Maritime Centre will be launched early next year.

A Research Fellow and Lecturer in Environmental History, Dr Taylor is an expert on political issues involving water, including the history of the Thames and water supply in the Victorian age.

Sarah Palmer is Emeritus Professor of Maritime History at Greenwich. Her research focuses particularly on commercial shipping, port development and maritime policy from the nineteenth century to the present. She has published widely on these subjects.

Both are members of the university's Faculty of Architecture, Computing & Humanities.

London's River? The Thames as Contested Environmental Space: The London Journal, Volume 40 Issue 3 (November 2015), is available online:

* Tonight (Thursday 3 December), Greg Bankoff, Professor of Modern History at Hull University, presents the first of three talks at the university on the theme of Britain and the Sea. 

England's Maritime Empire and the World Aeolian System takes place at 6pm in the Edinburgh Room (QA075), Queen Anne Court, Greenwich Campus.

The next two talks take place next year: Tim Acott (Greenwich) & Julie Urquhart (Imperial): Heritage, Memory and Small-Scale Fisheries: A Sense of Place Perspective, 3 March 2016.

Glen O'Hara (Oxford Brookes): The Fight against Seaborne, Oil and Beach Pollution in Post-War Britain, 19 May 2016.

These public talks are part of the History & Environment series presented by the Raphael Samuel History Centre (RHSC) in collaboration with the university.

For more information on this series or to join the mailing list, please contact: Vanessa Taylor -

To find out more about the RSHC History and Environment Seminars in general, please contact George Yerby -

Story by Public Relations