Thames Explorer tidal Thames quiz

Why not challenge your pupils (and colleagues) to take our River Thames Quiz. Who will be the “Thames brain” of your school?

This is  quiz was initially set up as part of our Thames Boat competition run in conjunction with our partners at Tideway. 90 lucky pupils from three London schools joined us on a trip on a privately chartered Thames Clipper to discover the amazing “super sewer” being built by Tideway. To learn more about this incredible project click here.

Now, take the challenge below. The Answers are on the right – no peeking!

1) How many low tides are there on the river Thames in London every day?
2) In Victorian times the river Thames in London was very polluted. What was the name the Victorians gave to the terrible smell that came out of the Thames in 1858?
3) What is the name of the type of crab that lives in the Thames in London. Is it...
4) In 43AD the Romans settled on the banks of the Thames around the area where St. Pauls Cathedral is today. What did they call their settlement?
5) In Victorian times the river Thames was used as a giant sewer - flushing toilets were emptied directly into it. What else was the Thames water used for at this time?
6) Where does London get most of its drinking water today?
7) For many years London Bridge was the only bridge that connected the north and south side of the River Thames - Putney Bridge was the second built in 1726. Until London got more bridges what other means of crossing the Thames was very common?
8) True or false? At one time London Bridge had so many supporting piers (the legs that go into the water that bridges stand on) that the water flowing out to sea became so slow that the Thames occasionally froze over in winter. The ice was so thick that people held fairs on it, with horse racing, food stall and fairground shows.
9) The water in the River Thames in central London is...
10) What gives the river Thames in London its brown colour?


Quiz answers, no cheating.

1. There are 2 high and 2 low tides every day. There is a superbly simple explanation of why this is here.

2. The Great Stink or Big Stink. The smell was really bad and as the Victorians believed diseases were spread by bad smells (called miasma) they  were very concerned about breathing it in.

3. The Chinese Mitten Crab. Chinese Mitten Crabs (Eriocheir sinensis) are listed as one of the worlds 100 worst invasive species due to the damage they can cause to fishing gear, river banks, native species and habitat.

4. Londinium – although some would argue that Highrentarea would be more appropriate!

5. A source of drinking water. There are 3 superb resources from Thames Water here which show the water cycle, sewage treatment and water treatment. No hydroelectricity but interesting to know that in 1581 a waterwheel was installed on London Bridge to pump water to some local residences.

6. The Thames – or aquifers (natural underground reservoirs) feeding the Thames. Tea is pretty popular though.

7. River taxis. River taxi rowers or ferrymen were a rough and ready lot – they had to be. Navigating under London Bridge was a dangerous business. The many arches supporting the bridge turned the outgoing and incoming tide into a series of deadly rapids. Many passengers preferred to get out and walk whilst the ferrymen rowed under the bridge (it was called “shooting the rapids”), and get back in again on the other side once it was safe!

8. True. These became know as frost fairs, although there weren’t as many as some people believe. At one fair an enterprising person brought on a printing press and printed cards to sell announcing you had visited the frost fair. Printing presses are pretty heavy so the ice must have been thick.

9. The Thames in London is brackish. The amount of salt in the tidal Thames varies as you can imagine – less salty towards the source and more salty towards the mouth. In times of heavy rain and during droughts the salt content also changes. Fish swim to different parts of the Thames depending on their preference for salty water.

10. Mud, although the tidal Thames can display a range of colours from a deep green to a leaden grey. Take a look and see what you think the next time you pass it.