Coordinates: 51°30′N 0°35′E / 51.500°N 0.583°E /
The Thames Estuary
Satellite image of the Thames
Estuary taken by the Operational Land
Aerial view of the Blackwater Estuary, on the
Essex coast, in the
northern part of the Greater Thames Estuary.
Mersea Island is on the
View of the upper Thames estuary from
Tilbury to Mucking Creek looking
north from Shorne, which is 4 kilometres south of the river.
Estuary is the estuary in which the
River Thames meets the
waters of the North Sea, in the south-east of Great Britain.
It is not easy to define the limits of the estuary. Although
physically the head of Sea Reach or the
Essex Strait, south of
Canvey Island on the northern (Essex) shore presents a western
Tideway itself can be considered estuarine; it starts in
London at Teddington/Ham. The
Nore is a sandbank at the
mouth of the estuary, between Havengore Creek, Essex, and Warden
Point, Kent. The eastern boundary of the estuary suggested in a
Hydrological Survey of 1882-9 is a line drawn from North Foreland,
Kent via the Kentish Knock lighthouse to
Harwich in Essex. It
is to this line that the typical estuarine sandbanks extend. The
estuary downstream of the
Tideway has a tidal movement of 4 metres,
moving at a speed of 8 miles per hour.
The estuary is one of the largest of 170 such inlets on the coast of
Great Britain. It constitutes a major shipping route: its thousands of
movements each year include large oil tankers, container ships, bulk
carriers and roll-on/roll-off (ro-ro) ferries entering the estuary for
Port of London
Port of London and the
Medway Ports of Sheerness, Chatham and
Thames sailing barge
Thames sailing barge worked in this area, designed to
be suitable for the shallow waters in the smaller ports. More recently
one of the largest wind farms in the UK has been developed in the
estuary, located 8.5 km north of Herne Bay, Kent. The farm
contains 30 wind turbines generating a total of 82.4MW of electricity.
The much larger
London Array of up to 1GW capacity is also planned.
This area has had several proposed sites for the building of a new
airport to supplement, or even to replace Heathrow/Gatwick. In the
Maplin Sands was a contender; in 2002 it was to be at Cliffe,
Kent. The new airport would be built on a man-made island in the
estuary north of
Minster-in-Sheppey  There is also some discussion
about the need for a
Lower Thames Crossing
Lower Thames Crossing in order to alleviate
traffic congestion at Dartford.
Estuary is the focal part of the 21st-century toponym, the
"Thames Gateway", designated as one of the principal development areas
in Southern England.
1 Greater Thames Estuary
3 Cultural references
Greater Thames Estuary
The appellation Greater Thames Estuary applies to the coast and the
low-lying lands bordering the estuary itself. These are characterised
by the presence of mudflats, low-lying open beaches and salt marshes,
namely the North
Kent Marshes and the
Essex Marshes. Man-made
embankments are backed by reclaimed wetland grazing areas, but Rising
sea levels may make it necessary to temporarily flood some of that
land in places at spring tides, to take the pressure off the defences.
There are many smaller estuaries in Essex, including the Rivers Colne,
Blackwater and Crouch. Small coastal villages depend on an economy of
fishing, boat-building, and yachting. The Isle of Sheppey, Foulness
Mersea Island are part of the coastline
Where higher land reaches the coast there are some larger settlements,
Clacton-on-Sea to the north in Essex, Herne Bay, Kent, and the
Southend-on-Sea area within the narrower part of the estuary
River Thames flowing through
London is a classic river estuary,
with sedimentary deposition restricted through manmade embankments.
The district of
Teddington a few miles south-west of London's centre
marks the boundary between the tidal and non-tidal parts of the
Thames, although it is still considered a freshwater river about as
far east as
Battersea insofar as the average salinity is very low and
the fish fauna consists predominantly of freshwater species such as
roach, dace, carp, perch, and pike. The Thames
Battersea and Gravesend, and the diversity of
freshwater fish species present is smaller, primarily roach and dace,
euryhaline marine species such as flounder, European seabass, mullet,
and smelt become much more common. Further east, the salinity
increases and the freshwater fish species are completely replaced by
euryhaline marine ones, until the river reaches Gravesend, at which
point conditions become fully marine and the fish fauna resembles that
of the adjacent
North Sea and includes both euryhaline and stenohaline
marine species. A similar pattern of replacement can be observed with
the aquatic plants and invertebrates living in the river.
Joseph Conrad lived in
Stanford-le-Hope close to the
His The Mirror of the Sea (1906) contains a memorable description of
the area as seen from the Thames. It is also described in the first
pages of Conrad's Heart of Darkness, as both the launching place of
England's great ships of exploration and colonization and, in ancient
times, the site of colonization of the British Isles by the Roman
See also: English in southern England
The form of speech of many of the people of the area, principally the
accents of those from
Kent and Essex, is often known as Estuary
English. The term is a term for a milder variety of the "London
Accent". The spread of
Estuary English extends many hundreds of miles
London and all of the neighbouring home counties around London
have residents who moved from
London and brought their version of
London accents with them leading to interference with the established
local accents. The term
London Accent is generally avoided as it can
have many meanings. Forms of "
Estuary English" as a hybrid between
Received pronunciation and various
London accents can be heard in all
of the New Towns, all of the coastal resorts and in the larger cities
and towns along the Thames Estuary.
^ "81. Greater Thames Estuary". Countryside Agency. Archived from the
original on 27 February 2006. Retrieved 2 March 2013.
Estuary Passages" (PDF). the Cruising Almanac. Archived from
the original (PDF) on 29 February 2008. Retrieved 2 March 2013.
^ "The Thames
Estuary Airport Ltd". Teaco.co.uk. Retrieved
^ "The Thames
Estuary Partnership". Thamesweb.com. 2012-02-07.
^ "English Nature and the Greater Thames Estuary".
English-nature.org.uk. Retrieved 2012-03-18.
River Thames - its geology, geography and vital statistics from
source to sea, The-River-Thames.co.uk
River Thames - its natural history The-River-Thames.co.uk
River Thames, England
Ravensbourne (Deptford Creek)
Maidenhead Railway Bridge
Longest UK rivers