The River of Punk

The Westbourne, a river of similar size to the Fleet, flowed from Hampstead down through Hyde Park to Sloane Square and into the Thames at Chelsea. According to Victorian pedants, the river was originally called the Kilburn (Cye Bourne – royal stream) but has been known, at different times and in different places, as Kelebourne, Kilburn, Bayswater, Bayswater River, Bayswater Rivulet, Serpentine River, Westburn Brook, the Ranelagh River and the Ranelagh Sewer.

But one name for the stream that the historians have mostly ignored, in their race to be right, is the one that is perhaps the most apt – the River of Punk. For, back in the mid to late seventies, a wealth of bands sprang up around the Westbourne’s banks and in the pubs and clubs that mark its course. Had not the river been buried just like the hopes and dreams of thousands of kids across recession-hit Britain? Somehow, these kids had picked up on the energy of the buried stream and transformed it into three-chord guitar gold.

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