The Landscape Guide

River Thames campsheds

A campshed is 'a facing of piles and boarding along the bank of a river, or at the side of an embankment, to protect the bank from the action of the current, or to resist the out-thrust of the embankment'. The etymology of 'campshed' is uncertain but the word has been used since the middle ages for embanked platforms adjoining the Thames' wharfs. The bed of the river sloped and was made of soft mud, sand or gravel. To stop barges tipping up at low tide, wooden piles were used to create platforms. A few campsheds are still in use. Most look like rotting teeth. Some are of archaeological significance but are often unsightly and a hazard for boats and pedestrians. The policy alternatives are:

  • let the campsheds continue to rot away
  • conserve/restore significant campsheds
  • find new uses for some campsheds, perhaps as raised ecological terraces

A landscape-archaeological-ecological study should be undertaken