Amwell Street, N1

Place Name

Named after the source of the New River, the brainchild of William Inglebert who in 1606 petitioned the Common Council for the right to bring water from the springs of Amwell and Chadwell, in Hertfordshire into the City. The land-drainage engineer proposed to do this by creating a new 20 mile channel. However, Inglebert was robbed of the merit. In Brief Lives, John Aubrey writes: “He was a poore-man, but Sir Hugh Middleton, alderman of London, moneyed the businesse; undertooke it; and gott the profit and also the credit of that most usefull invention, for which there ought to have been erected a statue for the memory of this poore-man from the city of London.” It was thanks to Sir Hugh Myddelton, the Welsh clothmaker, entrepreneur, mine-owner, goldsmith, banker and self-taught engineer that the New River was constructed between 1608 and 1613 (officially opening on 29 September that year), and was originally some 38 miles (60 km) long. According to John Marius Wilson’s Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales: “Its name is supposed to have been derived from Emma’s Well, a fountain which issues from a hill, and forms one of the sources of the New River.”

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