Great Conduit

Place of Interest in/near City of London, existed between 1368 and 1666

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Place of Interest · City of London · EC2V ·
MARCH
5
2017

The Great Conduit was a man-made underground channel which brought drinking water from the Tyburn to Cheapside in the City.


In 1237 the City of London acquired the springs near the Tyburn and built a reservoir to provide a head of water for serving the city.

The City of London had been well-supplied with water in medieval times. It was situated beside the Thames and the smaller River Walbrook flowed through the middle with the River Fleet flowing to the west. However, as time went by, all these sources of water became polluted in one way or another and the authorities decided that new sources of fresh water should be sought. Piping water over long distances was very difficult. Pipes could be made of lead but the cost of such a pipe extending over miles was far too expensive. The alternative was wooden pipes. Because they conducted the water through them, they were known by the Latin name ‘conduit’ – meaning ‘to lead’ which in this case was the water.

Work on building the conduit began in 1245. The whole water supply process worked on gravity. It was necessary to find a spring that was physically higher than where the end of the conduit was situated. From the Tyburn it ran towards Charing Cross, along the Strand and Fleet Street and round the southern side of the city. It then ran along Cheapside where there was a building where citizens could draw water. Wardens were appointed to prevent unlawful access and use and to repair pipes. Extensions were made to the system leading to various parts of the city.

Use of the conduit ceased after the Great Fire of London in 1666.


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City of London

The City of London constituted most of London from its settlement by the Romans in the 1st century AD to the Middle Ages, but the conurbation has since grown far beyond its borders.

As the City's boundaries have remained almost unchanged since the Middle Ages, it is now only a tiny part of the metropolis of Greater London, though it remains a notable part of central London. It holds city status in its own right and is also a separate ceremonial county.

It is widely referred to as 'The City' (often written on maps as City and differentiated from the phrase 'the city of London') or 'the Square Mile' as it is 1.12 square miles in area. These terms are also often used as metonyms for the United Kingdom's financial services industry, which continues a notable history of being largely based in the City.

The local authority for the City, the City of London Corporation, is unique in the UK and has some unusual responsibilities for a local council, such as being the police authority. It also has responsibilities and ownerships beyond the City's boundaries. The Corporation is headed by the Lord Mayor of the City of London, an office separate from (and much older than) the Mayor of London.

The City is a major business and financial centre, ranking as the world's leading centre of global finance. Throughout the 19th century, the City was the world's primary business centre, and continues to be a major meeting point for businesses.

The City had a resident population of about 7000 in 2011 but over 300,000 people commute to it and work there, mainly in the financial services sector. The legal profession forms a major component of the northern and western sides of the City - especially in the Temple and Chancery Lane areas where the Inns of Court are located, of which two—Inner Temple and Middle Temple - fall within the City of London boundary.
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