The City of London


Nick talks about the history of The Thames and then is shown around a houseboat on the river. Later, he meets some artists who create incredible images of London in the future.

Do the Preparation task first. Then watch the video. Next go to Task and do the activity. If you need help, you can read the Transcript at any time.



This is the River Thames. It is almost 346 kilometres long, and is the second longest river in Great Britain. It flows through London, and it’s this part of the river that most tourists see.  

But there’s more to the Thames than a trip down the river. 

The Romans built a settlement on the River Thames, and over the centuries it grew into the City of London, with a huge port. Ships from around the world brought food, goods and people to the capital. 

But by the 1980’s, most of the docks had closed and the area became run-down.

A lot of money has been invested in this huge riverside area. And today it’s know as ‘Docklands’.  

The old warehouses are now attractive apartments. There are new office buildings, shopping centres and leisure facilities, too. People enjoy living and working by the river.

People also enjoy living on the water! This is a houseboat on the Thames. 


Nick: Hi Alistair.

Alistair: Hey Nick, welcome aboard.

Nick: Thank you. So why do you live on a houseboat? 

Alistair: I love being close to the water. And it’s a brilliant place to invite friends over. 

Nick: What’s it like to live on a boat? 

Alistair: In the summer, it’s beautiful. And in the winter, it’s a bit cold. 

Nick: Could you give me a tour?  

Alistair: Please. Follow me. So this is the kitchen. The bedroom.

Nick: I like it. What’s the best thing about living on the river? 

Alistair: For me, it’s being so close to nature.  And it’s really cheap.

Nick: Is there anything you miss about living on dry land? 

Alistair: I miss not being able to grow my own food and not having a garden. 

Nick: Do you think you will ever move?

Alistair: Only if I have to leave London. It’s a really brilliant place to live in the city.


The Thames has seen a lot of changes over the years. But perhaps the biggest change is still to come. 

This image is of the River Thames frozen over. It’s not a real photograph. It’s been created digitally. It shows the effect climate change may have on the river if temperatures drop significantly.

They were created by two illustrators: Didier Madoc-Jones and Robert Graves.  


Nick: Didier, Tell us about this exhibition.

Didier: We wanted to create postcards from the future – well-known views of London – to show people how it might look with the effects of climate change.

Nick: Why does this one show the Thames frozen over?

Gareth: Well, some scientists think we might experience a new mini ice age with very cold winters and in the summer we’d experience flooding due to melting ice sheets. 

Nick: Do you think that could really happen?

Didier: Nobody really knows. The point of our exhibition was to get people thinking about climate change and the future of London.


The River Thames has changed over the centuries, and will continue to do so. But hopefully it will always be here for both local people and tourists to enjoy and explore.




Before you watch

Think about the following questions:

  • Why are rivers important in a town or city?
  • Do you have a famous river in your country?
  • Would you like to live on the river? Why / Why not?

Now, watch the video to find out more about the River Thames.



Comprehension Task

Fill in the gaps in the sentences with the words from the box.



Dear all this website producer
Thank you very much for you unreserved suggestion given for me,for you patience starting from joining this program which guiding me to download video. I have never stop to apply all you advise. Today I can successfully download all word in the street video which is because of your help. Those of you have joining this program but could not still download some video you had better first download recent flash and then media code iPod to install for your computer. In all follow each steps of this program producers suggestion.
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Hello sir

How can I download the video? or it can´t be downloaded?

Hello Yanireal,

I'm afraid the videos are not available for downloading for legal and technical reasons. You can, however, watch them as many times as you wish online.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team


No, modal verbs are a category of their own and not an example of anything. I'm not really sure what you mean by 'mixed tenses'.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

I speak English fairly well. The trouble is that I was taught never to say 'Lesser' as a comparative. But recently, I read a book,"Children Of The Lesser Gods", and I'm confused! When can I use this word?
Need some help from you!

Hello Dr British1,

The word 'lesser' means 'less important' or 'minor'. It is different from 'less' which means 'fewer' when used as a comparitive adjective, and which is also used in comparative forms with long adjectives ('less beautiful').

I hope that clarifies it for you.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hi sir:
I want know why
He say " a lot money has been invested
not " a lot money was invested

Hi nkmg,

We use this form - the present perfect - when there is a present result of a past action. Here, the money was invested (in the past) and there is a present result (the area has been regenerated). We would use the past simple (was invested) if the action was in the past without any particular result in the present.

You can read more about the present perfect here.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team