Many writers begin by describing Oxford’s skyline – invoking Matthew Arnold’s dreaming spires or William Alexander’s time-grey towers. Then their descriptions spiral down, past grotesquely carved gargoyles, towards the streets full of students, tourists and bicycles. Few writers continue the journey downwards, to the world beneath Oxford’s crowded streets. Here, under the city, lies the Trill Mill Stream, a finger of the Thames flowing unseen beneath the tarmac and the cobblestones.
In these pages, I have collected stories, descriptions and accounts of this subterranean waterway – to gain an understanding of its place in Oxford’s history and culture. These accounts touch on some fascinating figures from Oxford’s past, and some imagined and metaphorical visions of the stream.
- “A mass of stagnant filth”
- Water Colours
- The Hidden Stream (Ronald Knox)
- Shooting the Town Drain (TE Lawrence)
- A Skeleton Crew
- A Mad Hatter’s Water Picnic
- Jack Harkaway
- The Western Sewer
- Trill Mill Stream in Modern Fiction
- Henry Taunt
The text of this site was researched and written in January 2013, and uploaded here (with minor revisions) in Summer 2017.