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.


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.



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 known 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 the 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.



Task 1

Comprehension Task

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


Task 2

Comprehension Task

Read the questions about the video and select the right answers.



Language level

Average: 5 (3 votes)
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Submitted by May Thida Su on Sat, 03/04/2021 - 05:28

I don't really know the meaning of " But there's more to the Thames than a trip down the river ".... Please answer me ..

Hello May Thida Su,

This is a variant of the idiom 'there's more to... than meets the eye'. It means that something (here, the river Thames) is more complex or interesting than just one aspect might suggest.


You can find a definition an explanation in any good dictionary:



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by May Thida Su on Tue, 30/03/2021 - 15:57

Hello Dear team.... I have some questions.... 1. What means " to bring a plus one " in " Let me know if you want to bring a plus one " ? 2. What means " A friend has organized our catering " ? 3. What means " diverse city " ? I'll thank to you all ........

Hello May Thida Su,

Bringing a plus-one means bringing a friend or partner. For example, you might invite your friend to a party and they might want to bring their boyfriend with them; in this case the boyfriend would be their plus-one.


A friend has organised our catering means that a friend took charge of ordering and paying for the food and drink.


A diverse city is one with a wide range of people: different religions, different ethnicities, different nationalities, different languages etc. Londone and New York are examples of very diverse cities. You can meet people of all kinds of backgrounds in those cities.



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Aymen Aouali on Wed, 19/08/2020 - 23:47

Hello from tunisia This video made me love London , it looks beautiful and nice city.
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Submitted by Kostya B on Fri, 21/12/2018 - 19:21

The rivers needs to the plants to grow and for people to drink, washing e.t.c. There is a Volga River in my country which is the most famous. I would like to live in a river if there will be the necessary conditions, of course.
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Submitted by Edith Ayala Ramos on Mon, 29/10/2018 - 02:53

Hello from Mexico I really enjoyed this lesson, I have practiced and improve listening and grammar skills... It's an excellent topic because I have learned about present perfect and something about London life. Best regards! Edith Ayala

Submitted by Armandito on Fri, 07/09/2018 - 19:36

hello everybody. I love these videos. It is such an amazing material. I´ve got something I´d like to ask. It´s really hard for me to understand when at 0.45¨ he says " with a huge port". That made me go to the transcript. I´d really appreciate if someone could explain to me how he connects these word to sound like that. Some teachers say that you don´t have to understand all the words in a phase because you can get the main idea by the context, but in this case, I am missing an important detail. so what do you recommend me to help me to became a better English listener?.

Hello Armandito,

As I hear it, there are three main parts here: 'with a', 'huge' and 'port'. The first two words sound as if they are one and the 'th' in 'with' is reduced to something more like a 'd' or perhaps is even almost omitted, which makes it difficult to hear.

The word 'huge' is pronounced with an intonation that is common when we want emphasise how large something is. This is a bit redundant, really, as 'huge' is already a strong adjective, but this is the way people speak.

Finally, the final 't' in 'port' is also difficult to hear, coming as it does at the end of the sentence and after the word 'huge', which has been emphasised with intonation.

Does that help?

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team