Chapter

The Bounded Thames

in Tides of History

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print June 2008 | ISBN: 9780226709321
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226709338 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226709338.003.0003
The Bounded Thames

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Set against the backdrop of Britain's expanding coastal trade, this chapter describes the environmental changes that led to a renewed interest in tidal theory. While geological changes can raise the level of the sea and increase its tides a few centimeters each century, man-made changes can be much more dramatic, contributing several feet in a matter of decades. Beginning in the late eighteenth century and continuing unabated through the first third of the nineteenth, the Thames was radically transformed. Civil engineers straightened, dredged, and banked the river and otherwise modified its course to control the depth of the water, the rise and fall of the tide, and the silting of the channel. This chapter traces the initial study of the tides as a local and practical problem, taking into account both the changes to the natural environment of the river and the myriad of almanac publishers, surveyors, and tide table makers who attempted to calculate those changes for the safety of mariners.

Keywords: Britain; Thames; environmental changes; man-made changes; tides; mariners; tide table makers; surveyors; almanac publishers; natural environment

Chapter.  11594 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Environmental History

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