All Washed Up

Sadly, on average around thirty corpses are fished out of the River Thames each year. However, this is a dramatically reduced number when compared to the 19th century. The amount of traffic and industry that took place on the river would have contributed to this number by accident alone, and there is evidence that people too impoverished to bury their relatives might throw the corpse into the river instead. 

Due to the Thames tidal movement, bodies tended to wash up at the same spots on the river. One of these was known as Dead Man’s Hole which was alongside Tower Bridge. It probably shows how often bodies were recovered, as Tower Bridge was designed with a mortuary in the north pier.

Tower Bridge Mortuary

It’s easy to imagine how sinister this facility might have been, with flickering gaslight, the tide lapping at the steps, and the bridges superstructure looming overhead, it must have been an atmospheric location for those identifying a dead relative or friend. 

Although the mortuary is no longer in use, the entrance is still visible. It is now used as a storage space. Nowadays, bodies are taken to Wapping Police Station a little way down the river. 

Published by endean0

Hi, I'm Steve, a London tour guide and owner of A London Miscellany Tours, a guided walking tour company who specialise in small number tours of the greatest city in the world!

2 thoughts on “All Washed Up

  1. Unfortunately, I have yet to find a record of its closure. However, I believe that Josef Jakobs the last man to be executed at the Tower of London , shot for being a German spy in 1941, was taken to the Tower Bridge mortuary and held overnight before the autopsy the following day.

    Liked by 1 person

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