Numerous people have fallen into the New River by mistake along the years (although swimming in it is prohibited).
On 9 January 1622 King James I rode from Theobalds Park after his dinner to witness the ice on the New River. He fell off his horse and went in head-first – he was rescued but apparently you could only see his boots. (This story probably made a good royal ice breaker for quite some time!)
In the early 1800’s George Dyer, a friend of Charles Lamb, got equally wet (and also survived) when leaving Lamb’s house in Islington. Dyer was a poet who had just edited a 143-volume set of Latin works – and consequently lost his eyesight. Charles Lamb was pretty angry about this mishap and, being well ahead of his time, pinned the blame squarely on the New River:
“Waters of Sir Hugh Middleton—what a spark you were like to have extinguished for ever! Your salubrious streams to this City, for now near two centuries, would hardly have atoned for what you were in a moment washing away…. Did the benevolent hoary aspect of my friend tempt ye to suck him in, that ye also might have the tutelary genius of your waters?”
Our Blind Poet lightly smoked porter references this story. Quite fitting as we believe George Dyer liked a beer or two! The spirit of his “tutelary genius” will surely be watching over our brewery and licking its ethereal lips!
We’d love to hear any interesting stories or anecdotes you may have involving the New River – let us know if you’d like us to share them on our social media or in a reverse blog.