Growing up with rivers? Rivers in London children's worlds

Susan Tapsell, Sylvia Tunstall, Margaret House, John Whomsley, Phillip Macnaghten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


This paper presents the results from exploratory research which set out to investigate London children's perceptions and uses of river environments. Mainly qualitative, multi-method research was carried out in four primary schools with children aged 9-11, focusing on two rivers near to the schools. Rivers were found to be marginal to the children's everyday lives and outdoor play, being perceived as polluted, neglected, and initially dangerous places. However, when experienced on visits observed as part of the research, some of these perceptions changed and rivers were also found to afford many special activities and experiences for the children. The visits were generally seen to have a positive effect on the children's perceptions of rivers, at least in the short term. This suggests that, if managed appropriately, rivers could be potentially rewarding play areas for children. Moreover, children could provide valuable input for river managers in suggesting ways of improving suitable local rivers for increased recreational uses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-189
Number of pages13
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2001


  • Children
  • London
  • Perception
  • Play
  • River management
  • Rivers


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