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Mudlarking under the Millennium Bridge

Millennium Bridge London EC4V 3PA

Dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries, when London’s poor would search for things to sell, mudlarking is the urban equivalent of beachcombing, and although you’re unlikely to find much of value these days, you can easily pick up items that are hundreds of years old. Clay pipes are the most prevalent items, thrown into the River Thames by dock workers who bought their pipes pre-filled with tobacco and threw them away after a smoke. Take a plastic bag or tub for your treasure collection and give it all a good wash when you get home. Don’t start digging or you’ll need to think about getting a licence, but picking up items from the surface is absolutely fine. Always check the tide tables – note, this area is listed as ‘London Bridge (Tower Pier)’; when safe to do so, you can get onto the ‘beach’ by climbing down the long steps to the left of the Millennium Bridge (on the north bank). Wear sturdy shoes as it can be slippery, stay together and always check for your exit point as the tide comes in quickly once it starts. Wear disposable gloves or wash your hands after touching items on the river foreshore – the Thames is pretty clean nowadays but you can still catch Weil’s Disease, spread by rat’s urine.

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