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New River. — Was started in 1608 by Sir Hugh Myddleton. He was not Sir Hugh then, but a simple “citizen and goldsmith,” the baronetcy being a subsequent reward for the success of his great undertaking, which up to this day furnishes more than one-fourth the water supply of the metropolis. The New River is carried from the springs and chalk wells some twenty miles from London to the great reservoirs, 40 acres in extent, at Stoke Newington; thence, after time to clear itself, to the New River Head by Sadler's Wells Theatre—which in the old times had a special connection therewith, and could turn its stage into a huge tank for nautical exhibitions—and thence direct to the lower portions of the city or to the high-level reservoirs in Claremont-square and at Highgate.
Charles Dickens (Jr.), Dickens's Dictionary of London, 1879