The New River is neither new nor a river, but an aqueduct built in the seventeenth century that still carries fresh water to London. The water was originally drawn from Chadwell spring at Ware in Hertfordshire, but increasing demand in the nineteenth century led to the construction of New Gauge House where fresh water was extracted from the River Lea. The water drawn from the natural sources was measured using the Old and New Gauges that still exist. The original marble Old Gauge is shown the photograph above.
Eventually, it became necessary to supplement the natural flow by pumping from groundwater supplies and a series of steam pumping works were built along the New River. Nearest the source is the stunning Broadmead Pumping Station in Ware still complete with chimney although the original beam engine has been removed. The pumping station at Turnford still contains the original James Watt & Co engine.
The water is conveyed 32 km in a channel that follows the 100 ft (31 m) contour from the River Lea to the New River Head, Myddelton Square, in Islington in North London. It was built at the instigation of Sir Hugh Myddelton (1560-1631) who is celebrated by a memorial at Emma´s Well, Amwell Pool near Ware. It still carries water for drinking, although it now runs only as far as a reservoir at Stoke Newington. In 2004 Thames Water completed the 22 km New River Path, linking Hertford with Islington. There are interpretation boards on the full length of the New River describing the many conserved features including cast iron bridges and pumping stations that line the route.