The Lea is a complicated river. For a start, it has two names, Lea & Lee. The river is no longer a dividing line, but historically it defined the eastern edge of London. After the Romans left, The Lea was the border between the Saxons and marauding Vikings and later between the city and another unrefined trespasser, Essex.

The Lea is also a river that has been ‘worked’ over the years. Navigation arms, flood channels, mill streams; the Lea is a microcosm of industrial London history. It’s also the first thing I see from my window in the morning.

The Lea rises to the north of Luton and like anyone who’s been there, quickly moves away. By the time it hits North London suburbia, there are several branches weaving through the Lea Valley. The Lea is an awkward river, and delineates the East London road network. Ever had to make a two-mile detour? Blame the Lea.

The Lower Lea valley even has a couple of big houses, that’s big as in Breakfast and Brother, although the latter has been razed. After Stratford, the navigation arm splits, creating the Bow Back Rivers as it drops into the Thames Valley. If you’re in a boy band and after a gritty backdrop to your new video, this is your shoot. Perhaps by 2012 it’ll be unrecognisable, the site is primed for Olympic regeneration.

Just before the Lea enters the Thames, the river loops, cutting a peninsula then emptying opposite the Dome. The peninsula is industrial wasteland, but it once housed the Thames Ironworks, supplying ships for the British Navy. In 1895 the workers formed a football team and seventy years later won the World Cup.