Ponders End & Edmonton

Lea Navigation, Brimsdown, Ponders End, 1983 34m-22_2400

I’m not sure why the name Ponders End so appeals to me. It has a rather down to earth quality (or perhaps down to water) which is apparently reflected in its etymology, stretching back over 600 years to the Ponder family, with a John Ponder being recorded as far back as 1373. He or his family apparently got their name because they kept or lived by a fishpond or mill pond on the River Lea. Ponders End was their end of Edmonton.

Lea Navigation, Ponders End, 1983 34m-23_2400

The River Lea was important for the movement of people and goods from the earliest times and was improved for navigation at various times in the middle ages; later the first modern gated lock on a river was built at Waltham Abbey in 1577 and the basis of the current Lea Navigation – including the Limehouse Cut – were laid in the 1770s, though there were further improvements well into the 20th century. You can read more on Wikipedia. In recent convention the spelling Lea is used for the river and natural features, and Lee for those man-made features such as the navigation but I tend to use Lea for both.

Lea Navigation, Ponders End, 1983 34m-24_2400

Because of its good transport links to London, industry began to arrive here in the 19th century, with wharves along the canal. Later with the growth of motorised transport development became centred along the Great Cambridge Road, the A10, a short distance to the west, particularly after its improvement in the 1930s. When I took these pictures back in 1983 the area was full of factories, but many were derelict, their demise accelerated by Thatcher’s national flight from manufacturing – something which was at the centre of my recording of out post-industrial landscape

Lea Navigation, Brimsdown, Ponders End, 1983 34m-32_2400

The area had turned its back on the canal where all commercial traffic had ceased a couple of years earlier, but many of the structures were still present. Now almost all have been replaced by warehousing and some residential development. In later years I photographed around the little that remained, including Wright’s Flour Mill, parts of which date from the 18th century.

Lea Navigation, Brimsdown, Ponders End, 1983 34m-36_2400

Back in 1983, there was no GPS and it was hard to determine the exact location of the pictures I took as I walked beside the navigation, and I made few records that would help. In a few pictures it is possible to see features which still exist, particularly the tall blocks of council flats close to Ponders End station.

Thorn Lighting, Edmonton, 1983 37e-34_2400

The last two pictures are of one of Edmonton’s best known and largest industries, Thorn Lighting. Julius Thorn opened his Atlas Lamp Works Ltd in Edmonton in 1932, and later at the start of the war a second factory in Tottenham. The company is now part of the Austrian company Zumtobel. I think that these two pictures are part of their Angel Road site. The main production moved from here to Merthyr Tydfil soon after the Second Wolrd War, but speciality lamps were produced here until around the late 1960s.

Thorn Lighting, Edmonton, 1983 37e-35_2400

More pictures in River Lea – Lea Navigation 1981-1992 on Flickr. Click on any of the pictures above to go to a larger version in that album, where you can also comment on the pictures.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


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