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The Thames is a major river flowing through southern England.While best known because its lower reaches flow through central London, the river flows through several other towns and cities, including Oxford, Reading, Windsor and Berkshire.It is still the subject of various debates about its course, nomenclature and history. Its usually quoted source is at Thames Head (at grid reference ST980994), about a mile north of the village of Kemble and near the town of Cirencester, in the Cotswolds.

Below the barrier, the river passes Dartford, Tilbury and Gravesend before entering the Thames Estuary near Southend-on-Sea.

The river drains a catchment area of 4994|sqmi or 5924 sqmi if the River Medway is included as a tributary. The River Thames — Its geology, geography and vital statistics from source to sea.

The present course is the result of several minor redirections of the main channel around Oxford, Abingdon and Maidenhead and more recently the creation of specific cuts to ease navigation.

From the outskirts of Greater London, the river passes Hampton Court, Kingston, Teddington, Twickenham, Richmond (with a famous view of the Thames from Richmond Hill), Syon House and Kew before flowing through central London.

More recently, an artificial secondary channel to the Thames, known as the Jubilee River, was built between Maidenhead and Windsor for flood relief, being completed in 2002.

More than half the rain that falls on this catchment is lost to evaporation and plant transpiration.

In central London, the river forms one of the principal axes of the city, from the Palace of Westminster to the Tower of London and was the southern boundary of the mediaeval city, with Southwark on the opposite bank.

Once past central London, the river passes between Greenwich and the Isle of Dogs, before flowing through the Thames Barrier, which protects central London from flooding in the event of storm surges.

In more recent time the river has become a major leisure area supporting tourism and pleasure outings as well as the sports of rowing, sailing, skiffing, kayaking, and punting.

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