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10 weirdest things found in the River Thames

The River Thames may appear to be a normal, dirty, old river at first sight, but what lies in the beds of this historic river may shock you.

This is a list of the top ten most unusual things that have been found in the Thames.

    1. The occasional corpse
      Over the years, reports of body parts showing up in the waters of London have included chins, pelvises, arms, and even the dead body of a sheep wrapped in a duvet.Worryingly, this is not as uncommon as you might think. It is reported that, on average, a dead human body is found once a week1 in the River Thames.
      1. Michael Jackson
        In 1995, Michael Jackson decided to float a giant statue of himself down the Thames to promote his new album ‘HIStory’. There were a total of nine statues throughout Europe, all 10 metres in height, and 2,100 kilograms in weight. Very subtle Mike…
      1. A goose-drawn water chariot
        In 1815, a man known as Usher the Clown floated down the river in a washing tub pulled by four geese, all the way from Southwark Bridge to Vauxhall.
    1. Wilma the Whale
      A national treasure, Wilma the Whale was watched by an international audience as she lost her way up the Thames. Crowds gathered on Battersea Bridge to see her, the 16-foot northern bottlenose, swimming upstream.Despite the rescuers best efforts, Wilma tragically died just outside of Margate.
    1. An ice-cream van
      In celebration of National Ice Cream Week, Cadbury’s created the HMS Flake 99, a Landrover adapted to be an ice cream van.Floating up and down the Thames, playing ‘We Are Sailing’ by Rod Stewart and sporting the slogan ‘Licensed to Chill’, the ice cream van really gave James Bond a run for his money.
    1. A hippo
      Artist Florentijn Hofman navigated a giant model of a hippopotamus from Greenwich to Nine Elms to celebrate the mark of the start of Totally Thames 2014. The artist is also well known for floating a giant rubber duck through the Thames.
    1. Blood-sucking eel
      Described as an eel-like creature, with a sucker-shaped mouth surrounded by teeth, and pre-dating the dinosaur, the sea lamprey was declared extinct in the 1960s. However, in 2009, a young boy found a 40cm-long sea lamprey in the Thames!
    1. The Battersea Shield
      Time for a history lesson: Estimated to date back to 350-50 BC, this piece of bronze was found in the bed of the Thames by Chelsea Bridge in 1857.Historians question whether the bridge may have been Julius Caesar’s crossing of the Thames, as other weapons have also been found from the same period.
    1. Cocaine
      It is estimated that almost 2kg2 of cocaine are passed into the Thames each day. Some reports have even said that there are traces of the drug in our drinking water.
  1. A Nazi dagger
    A Nazi dagger, in excellent condition, was found in the beds of the Thames. A lightning symbol features on the dagger, representing the SA (Hitler’s military force). It is assumed that a British soldier brought the dagger back after the war.

1 The Guardian, 2015. Watery grave. [Online] Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/theguardian/2004/dec/15/features11.g2.
2 The Telegraph, 2015. The Thames: awash with cocaine. [Online] Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/3325948/The-Thames-awash-with-cocaine.html.
[Accessed 10th August 2015].


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