Branches of the Wogebourne

InspiralLondon’s resident ornithological investigator J D Swann led a walk along one possible route of the lost Wogebourne river, its source emerging from Oxleas Wood on Shooters Hill, the highest point in Greater South London at 132 metres. Called in 14th century manuscripts the Wogebourne or Woghbourne, it became widely known as Plumstead River in the following centuries. By the 1970’s much of this tributary Thames river had been enclosed just as the Westbourne had been in West London or the Fleet in the City; it had been renamed as the Wickham Valley Waterway, shifting names for a mysterious watercourse.

Watch unique Hydrodetour film: Branches of the Wogebourne with J D Swann (10m 10s) – Filmed by Miyuki Kasahara (

1) At Welling Station met Station Master Stephen Chambers who is restoring this rare double decker train carriage, as a fishing enthusiast he appreciates the watery commons
2) Welling Station Hydrodetours assemble
3) We cross Shoulder of Mutton Green, all around were fields until the early 20th Century
4) Wogebourne tributary passes nearby
5) We could not follow the Wogebourne route here as it was blocked
6) Entering Woodlands Community Farm
7) First evidence of the Wogebourne running through Woodlands Farm
8) Stopping during the walk up Shooters Hill into Oxleas Woods
9) Oxleas Meadows on Shooters Hill, 132metres Inner South London’s highest point.
10) Shrewsbury Park overlooking the marshy delta of Plumstead’s past
11) J D’s stick was used to bring down plums for the walkers
12) The river passes underneath East Wickham Open Space
13) Found culverted at Woodbrook Road the river became known as the Wickham Valley Watercourse
14) Filling a jar with it’s waters to bring back to Hydracity 15) Entering the Wogebourne / Wickham Valley Watercourse by Bostall Woods
16) J D with a sample of the Wogebourne
17) Gail Dickerson collecting soil samples from Bostall Woods
18) At Lesnes Abbey Woods the tributaries flow down
19) Gathering at Lesnes Abbey ruins by the buried heart of Roesia of Dover
20) Abbey Way crossing the railway line where the Wogebourne / Wickham Valley Watercourse was temporarily uncovered during construction of the new Abbey Wood Station
21) The walk ended beside Southmere Lake in Thamesmead, the waters of the Wogebourne would flow here into the marshes and out to the Thames at the ‘Great Breach’.

On the 11th September as part of TotallyThames 2021 JD Swann shared his insights on vimeo and with images/thoughts here online.

A unique Hydrodetour film: Branches of the Wogebourne with J D Swann (10m 10s) – Filmed by Miyuki Kasahara ( – Talking in Oxleas Woods Isa Suarez ( – Edited by CFK Productions 2021 – J D Swann appears courtesy of Calum F Kerr – Part of Hydracity and Hydrodetours – Booking and information –