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Not to be confused with River Lee (Ireland). Lea/Lee River River Lee at Hertford Basin Country United Kingdom Source  - location Leagrave, Luton  - elevation 115 m (377 ft) Mouth  - location Bow Creek, River Thames  - elevation 0 m (0 ft) Length 68 km (42 mi) The River Lea or Lee in England originates in Leagrave Park 51°54′37″N 0°27′40″W / 51.910338°N 0.461233°W / 51.910338; -0.461233, Leagrave, Luton in the Chiltern Hills and flows generally southeast, east, and then south to London where it meets the River Thames 51°30′26″N 0°00′33″E / 51.507113°N 0.009184°E / 51.507113; 0.009184, the last section being known as Bow Creek. Contents 1 Etymology 2 Course of the river 3 River history 4 In popular culture 5 Notable fisheries 6 See also 7 Tributaries 8 References 9 External links Etymology The River Lea was first recorded in the 9th century, although its name is believed to be much older. Spellings from the Anglo-Saxon period include Lig(e)an in 880 and Lygan in 895, and in the early medieval period it is usually Luye or Leye. It seems to be derived from a Celtic root lug-meaning 'bright or light' which is also the derivation of a name for a deity, so the meaning may be 'bright river' or 'river dedicated to the god Lugus'.[1][2] The spelling Lea predominates west (upstream) of Hertford, but both spellings are used from Hertford to the River Thames. The Lee Navigation was established by Acts of Parliament and only that spelling is ever used. However, the variant spelling is used for several locations and infrastructure in the capital, such as in Leamouth, Lea Bridge and the Lea Valley Railway Lines. The divergent spellings of the river are also reflected in the place-names of Luton and Leyton: both mean "farmstead on the River Lea".[3] The river viewed from Enfield Island Village Course of the river The source is usually said to be at Well Head inside Waulud's Bank at Leagrave Common, but there the River Lea is also fed by a stream that starts 2 miles (3.2 km) further west in Houghton Regis. The river flows through (or by) Luton, Harpenden, Welwyn Garden City, to Hertford where it changes from a small shallow river to a deep canal at Hertford Castle Weir, which then flows on to Ware, Stanstead Abbotts, Hoddesdon, Broxbourne, Cheshunt, Waltham Abbey, Enfield Lock, Ponders End, Edmonton, Tottenham, Upper Clapton, Hackney Wick, Stratford, Bromley-by-Bow (past Fish Island), Canning Town and finally Leamouth where it meets the River Thames (as Bow Creek). It forms the traditional boundary between the counties of Middlesex and Essex, and was used for part of the Danelaw boundary. It also forms part of the boundary between Essex and Hertfordshire. A pedestrian suspension bridge spans the boating lake created where the widened river flows through Wardown Park in Luton. The River Lea at Amwell, home of the Amwell Magna Fishery, was fished by Izaak Walton - author of The Compleat Angler The river below Kings Weir Rowing boats on the River Lea Bow Creek (tidal) meets the Limehouse Cut (canal) with a view of London's Docklands The Lee or Lea flows south from Tottenham Lock. The large housing development to the west, Bream Close, is situated on a small island in the river, whilst in the distance the Gospel Oak to Barking Line crosses the river on a high bridge. For much of its distance the river runs within or as a boundary to the Lee Valley Park. Between Tottenham and Hackney the Lee feeds Tottenham Marshes, Walthamstow Marshes and Hackney Marshes (the latter now drained). In their early days, Tottenham Hotspur and Leyton Orient played their matches as football amateurs on the Marshes. South of Hackney Wick the river's course is split, running almost completely in man made channels (originally created to power water mills, the Bow Back Rivers) flowing through an area that was once a thriving industrial zone. Inside Greater London below Enfield Lock the river forms the boundary with the former Royal Small Arms Factory, now known as Enfield Island Village, a housing development. Just downstream the river is joined by the River Lee Flood Relief Channel. The man-made,concrete banked water is known as the River Lee Diversion at this point as it passes to the east of a series of reservoirs: King George V Reservoir at Ponders End/Chingford, William Girling Reservoir at Edmonton and the Banbury Reservoir at Walthamstow. At Tottenham Hale there is a connected set of reservoirs; Lockwood Reservoir, High Maynard Reservoir, Low Maynard Reservoir, Walthamstow Reservoirs, East Warwick Reservoir and West Warwick Reservoir. It also passes the Three Mills, a restored tidal mill near Bow. River history In the Roman era, Old Ford, as the name suggests, was the ancient, most downstream, crossing point of the River Lee. This was part of a pre-Roman route that followed the modern Oxford Street, Old Street, through Bethnal Green to Old Ford and thence across a causeway through the marshes, known as Wanstead Slip (now in Leyton). The route then continued through Essex to Colchester. At this time, the Lee was a wide, fast flowing river, and the tidal estuary stretched as far as Hackney Wick.[4] Evidence of a late Roman settlement at Old Ford, dating from the 4th and 5th centuries, has been found. In 894, a force of Danes sailed up the river to Hertford,[5] and in about 895 they built a fortified camp, in the higher reaches of the Lee, about 20 miles (32.2 km) north of London. Alfred the Great saw an opportunity to defeat the Danes and ordered the lower reaches of the Lee drained, at Leamouth. This left the Danes' boats stranded, but also increased the flow of the river and caused the tidal head to move downriver to Old Ford. In 1110, Matilda, wife of Henry I, reputedly took a tumble at the ford, on her way to Barking Abbey and ordered a distinctively bow-shaped, three-arched, bridge to be built over the River Lee (The like of which had not been seen before), at Bow. During the middle ages, Temple Mills, Abbey Mills, Old Ford and Bow were the sites of water mills (mainly in ecclesiastic ownership) that supplied flour to the bakers of Stratforde-atte-Bow, and hence bread to the City. It was the channels created for these mills that caused the Bow Back Rivers to be cut through the former Roman stone causeway at Stratford (from which the name is derived). Improvements were made to the river from 1424, with tolls being levied to compensate the landowners, and in 1571, there were riots after the extension of the River was promoted in a private bill presented to the House of Commons. By 1577, the first lock was established at Waltham Abbey and the river began to be actively managed for navigation. The New River was constructed in 1613 to take clean water to London, from the Lee and its catchment areas in Hertfordshire and bypass the polluting industries that had developed in the Lee's downstream reaches.[6] The artificial channel further reduced the flow to the natural river and by 1767 locks were installed below Hertford Castle Weir on the canalised part of the Lee, now the River Lee Navigation with further locks and canalisation taking place during the succeeding centuries. In 1766, work also began on the Limehouse Cut to connect the river, at Bromley-by-Bow, with the Thames at Limehouse Basin.[6] The Waterworks River, a part of the tidal Bow Back Rivers, have been widened by 8 metres (26 ft) and canalised to assist with construction of the Olympic Park for the 2012 Summer Olympics. In 2009, Three Mills Lock was installed on the Prescott Channel to maintain water levels on the Lee, within the park at a depth of 2 metres (7 ft). This will allow access by 350–tonnes barges to ensure that at least 50% of the material required for construction to be delivered, or removed by water.[7] In popular culture On 16 August 2009, BBC1 broadcast a documentary about the river as part of its Rivers series presented by Griff Rhys Jones.[8] The river features in the early chapters of The Compleat Angler by Izaak Walton. Notable fisheries Amwell Magna Fishery Carthagena Weir Dobbs Weir Fishers Green Kings Weir See also Bow Back Rivers Lea Valley Walk List of rivers in England List of reservoirs and dams in the United Kingdom Locks and Weirs on the River Lee Lower Lea Valley River Lee Navigation Tributaries of the River Thames Tributaries For a full list of tributaries, please expand the box entitled 'River Lee / Lea, England' at the bottom of this page. References Wikimedia Commons has media related to: River Lea UK Waterways portal ^ J.E.B. Glover, Allen Mawer, F.M.Stenton (1938). The Place-Names of Hertfordshire. Cambridge University Press.  ^ Mills. A.D. Oxford Dictionary of London Place Names (2001) p133 ISBN 0198609574 Retrieved 28 October 2008 ^ Mills, A.D. (1991). The Popular Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Phaidon.  ^ 'Bethnal Green: Communications', A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 11: Stepney, Bethnal Green (1998), pp. 88-90 accessed: 15 November 2006 ^ Hadfield, Charles (1968). The Canal Age. Plymouth: Latimer Trend & Company. pp. 15, 19. ISBN 0-7153-8079-6.  ^ a b Enfield.gov.uk River Lee History ^ Milestone 5 demolish, dig, design January 2008 (The Olympic Delivery Authority) accessed 25 April 2008 ^ BBC programme Rivers Retrieved 17 August 2009 External links Diamond Geezer, Walking the Lea Valley, written for Local History Month 2009, with more photos on flickr Peter Marshall, The Lea Valley, photographs from 1980 to 2008 UK Urban Exploration Forums, River Lea through Luton, photographs of the underground culvert in March 2009 Wikipaddle, River Lea (Hertford Loop), an article from a kayaking and canoeing perspective Next confluence upstream River Thames Next confluence downstream River Ravensbourne (south) River Lea River Roding (north) v · d · eRiver Lee / Lea, England Counties: Bedfordshire · Essex · Hertfordshire · Greater London · Mouth: River Thames Settlements: Luton · Harpenden · Wheathampstead · Welwyn Garden City · Hertford · Ware · Stanstead Abbotts · Hoddesdon · Broxbourne · Cheshunt Waltham Abbey · Ponders End · Edmonton · Tottenham · Upper Clapton · Hackney Wick · Stratford · Bromley-by-Bow · Canning Town · Leamouth Major tributaries: River Ash · River Beane · River Ching · River Mimram · River Moselle · River Rib · River Stort Minor tributaries: Bayford Brook · Cobbins Brook · Coppermill Stream · Cornmill Stream  • Cuffley Brook · Dagenham Brook · Hackney Brook · Millhead Stream  • Pymmes Brook · Rags Brook • River Lynch · Salmons Brook Small River Lea & Turnford Brook · Spital Brook · Theobalds Brook · Turkey Brook · Woollens Brook · Wormleybury Brook v · d · eLocks and Weirs on the River Lea, England Counties Bedfordshire · Hertfordshire · Essex · Greater London Locks Hertford Lock · Ware Lock · Hardmead Lock · Stanstead Lock · Feildes Weir Lock · Dobbs Weir Lock · Carthagena Lock · Aqueduct Lock · Cheshunt Lock · Waltham Common Lock · Waltham Town Lock · Rammey Marsh Lock · Enfield Lock · Ponder's End Lock · Pickett's Lock · Stonebridge Lock · Tottenham Lock · Pond Lane Flood Gates · Old Ford Lock · Bow Locks Weirs Horns Mill Weir · Hertford Castle Weir · Hartham Weir · Ware Weir · Feildes Weir · Dobbs Weir · Carthagena Weir · Kings Weir · Newmans Weir · Middlesex Filter Beds Weir Hertford Union Canal (branch, below Old Ford) Old Ford Lower Lock · Old Ford Middle Lock · Old Ford Upper Lock · Regent's Canal Limehouse Cut (branch, at Bow Locks) Bromley Stop Lock · Britannia Stop Lock · Limehouse Basin Bow Back Rivers (branches of the Old River Lea) Three Mills Lock · City Mill Lock · Carpenter's Road Lock (defunct) · Marshgate Lane Lock (defunct) · Three Mills Wall River Weir (These rivers form the waterways within the 2012 Olympic Park - they flow into Bow Creek)