The river has been an important trade and transport route since prehistoric times. London’s fame and fortune is due its river. All through the Middle Ages the Thames was one of London’s main highways. Barges and river boats brought fish, wood and wool to the City, while hundreds of watermen in small rowing boats ferried people up and down. By the 1700s, trading ships were arriving carrying all kinds of goods for sale in the City. Tea, silk and a fortune of spices came from the East. Sugar was brought from the Caribbean, timber from Norway and iron ore from Sweden. The Thames was so busy that traffic on the river could hardly move. A little like todays M4 ‘highway’.