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New River Adventurers

A report on the founders of the New River Company by Angelina Osborne with illustrations by Cat O’Neil

New River Head is the site of our future home in Clerkenwell, London. Its pump houses and reservoirs were an important part of London’s water supply network, and it was the headquarters of the New River Company.

The New River Company was owned by a group of investors who paid for the construction of the New River. They called themselves ‘the Adventurers’. Dr Angelina Osborne’s report New River Adventurers reveals the sources of wealth behind this investment.

Illustration of a bearded man wearing a ruff with the ruffs on one side transforming into a seascape and map with three small ships heading in the direction of some islands in the distance
Illustration of two hands shaking with people in period clothes stacking giant coins behind them

Half of the investors were powerful members of London society who had close personal, business and political connections. At least 19 of them were profiting from privateering (state-sanctioned piracy) and overseas trading. They invested in the Virginia, Guiana, East India and Somers Island (Bermuda) companies.

Cat O’Neil’s illustrations reveal Dr Osborne’s findings. They share the previously-untold story of the flow of money from global trade into the New River Company, and recognise that this commerce laid the ground for forced political control and exploitation of Indigenous peoples.

Illustration of a crest showing a large hand sprinkling drops of water. A person on one side holds a coil of fabric and a woman on the right holds scales holding weights and coins
Illustration of a ship with sails held up above a map of London by 5 people beneath, surrounded by waves

Read the report(13.7 MB)Read the report in large format(6.1 MB)

This report is the first part of our ongoing work to decolonise the story of New River Head.

Logo: image of hand with crossed finders and the words 'Made possible with Heritage Fund'

Illustrations by Cat O'Neil generously funded by the Barbara and Philip Denny Trust.

If you have comments, questions or suggestions on our plans to research and share the stories of New River Head, email