Posts Tagged ‘Bow’

March for a People’s Olympics

Thursday, July 28th, 2022

Ten years ago on July 27th 2012, as the London 2012 Olympics were getting underway in Stratford, people, mainly from the local area, marched to call for an end to the corporate takeover of the Olympics and the draconian policing and military presence largely aimed at the protection of brands and for the games to meet its legacy promises.

The authorities had done their damnedest to stop the protest taking place – first they had tried to ban it altogether, then Transport for London had refused permission for them to march along any roads which were emergency backup Games routes. But protesters agreed with police that they would leave the road if there was any emergency. Tower Hamlets council tried to ban any speeches or other events on Wennington Green where the march ended, and protesters were threatened they would be arrested if they carried banners, placards or t-shirts with political messages – though it was hard to see any legal basis for doing so.

The ‘Whose Games? Whose City?’ protest went ahead despite the threats, with only one small incident when police seized and searched a man who had cut a piece of police tape. A crowd of marchers supported them and shouted for his release and after a few minutes he was set free without charge and the march continued.

The threats and public controversy had doubtless persuaded many not to come to the event, where around 500 marchers mingled with press and TV from around the world at the starting point in Mile End Park at midday. The organisers, the Counter Olympics Network (CON) had made clear that they were not against the Olympics as a sporting event but against the way it had been taken over by corporate interests. In my long account of the event on My London Diary I quoted from several of their statements, including:

"the close ties between the Olympic brand and its corporate sponsors who, despite IOC claims of vetting on ethical grounds, include serial polluters, companies which seriously damage the environment and which wreck or take lives, Coca Cola, Rio Tinto, BP, Dow Chemical. G4S, Cisco, and Atos deny people their human rights in a variety of situations while Macdonalds helps to fuel the obesity epidemic. London2012 provides benefits at taxpayers’ expense while receiving little in return."

CON also pointed out the many broken promises made about the games and the very doubtful legacy the games will leave, particularly in East London.

"the lack of benefits for local people and businesses, the fantastic expansion of security into our daily lives, the deployment of missiles and large numbers of troops, the unwarranted seizure of public land at Wanstead Flats, Leyton Marsh and Greenwich Park."
A man celebrates after the crowd made police release him

Later in his speech on Wennington Green, Chris Nineham of the Stop The Olympic Missiles Campaign declared that the London Olympics had already set a number of records, including the largest ever number of arrests on the first day, the highest ticket prices, the most intensive application of branding rules and the highest level of militarisation of any Olympic games, with far more being spent on security that even in China. There were now more troops in London than at any time since World War 2, and more than at any time in Afghanistan, where our military activities were now making us a terrorist target in London. Among the other speakers was Melanie Strickland, one of the 182 ‘Critical Mass’ cyclists arrested the previous night for riding near the Olympic stadium.

Industry on the Olympic site, Marshagate Lane, 1990

I had known and photographed the Olympic area since the early 1980s until the public were all excluded from the vast site in 2007 and after when we were only able to peer over the blue fence. In 2010 I brought out a book ‘Before The Olympics’ which included many pictures of the area in the thirty years or so before they took place, as well as looking more widely along the length of the River Lea and the Navigation. Most people miss that parts of the area were formerly thriving industrial and commercial sites, others a verdant wilderness – and of course some thriving allotments. Of course there have been some benefits following 2012 – more housing is something London desperately needs, but much was already being planned before the bid succeeded. But the park remains to me deeply disappointing.

Allotments on the Olympic site, April 2007

The book is still available and you should be able to view a preview at ‘Before the Olympics‘ though Blurb appears to be having some problems at the moment; it is a ridiculously highly priced softback, but there is a more reasonable PDF version. The book includes many of my pictures of the area which are also on my The Lea Valley web site including mainly black and white images from the 1980s and 90s and colour from the 2000s. Later images from before and after 2012 are on various pages of My London Diary. There is a large collection of the black and white images in my Flickr album River Lea – Lea Navigation 1981-1992 including many from what became the Olympic site.


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More Around the Roman

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2022
Roman Rd, Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8c-64-Edit_2400
Roman Rd, Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8c-64

It’s doubtful if the Romans ever marched or walked along Roman Road, although some Roman remains have been found in the area. But most will have gone along Old Ford Rd which runs parallel a short distance to the north, it’s ford taking them across the River Lea from Londinium to the Iceni capital Venta Icenorum around 5 miles south of modern Norwich.

Most of Roman Road was only built when the sewer system was extended by the Metropolitan Board of Works in 1855 to allow further development in the area around, extending what was then Green St to the east, beyond Grove Road into Old Ford to an end a little short of the Lea. The western section from the Cambridge Bridge Road was only renamed to be part of Roman Road when London street names were rationalised in the 1930s – there were far too many Green Streets. It makes consulting old sources of information about shops and houses on the road difficult as all the street numbers then changed. The market in Roman Road was set up in the late 1860s.

Roman Rd, Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8c-65-Edit_2400
Roman Rd, Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8c-65

The whole area was a stronghold for the suffragettes, particularly after the formation of the East London Federation of the Women’s Social and Political Union by Dr Richard Pankhurst and his wife Emmeline Pankhurst, founder members of the Independent Labour Party in the same year, 1893. This was unusual in welcoming men as members and also having a democratic organisation. Their daughter Sylvia Pankhurst and the East London Federation were expelled from the WSPU in 2014 and set up the East London Federation of Suffragettes (ELFS) and set up a newspaper, The Woman’s Dreadnought, published from Roman Road. In 1917 its title was changed to Workers’ Dreadnought, with the slogan ‘Socialism, Internationalism, Votes for All’ and it continued in publication until 1924.

The East End was a very political area, but not only for its suffragettes and socialists and in the 1930s became of the the areas of strongest support for Oswald Mosley and his British Union of Fascists. Their support came mainly from the middle classes in the area, shopkeepers and other traders and business owners rather than the working class, but it was strong enough for the area to have two BUF branches until it was proscribed under Defence Regulation 18B of the Emergency Powers (Defence) Act 1939.

Roman Rd, Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8c-66-Edit_2400
Roman Rd, Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8c-66

Bethnal Green was badly affected by bombing in World War II and the Metropolitan Borough of Bethnal Green carried out extensive building of council housing in the 1950s and 60s, with some outstanding architecture close to Roman Road. In 1965 Bethnal Green merged with Stepney and Poplar to become the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. The area has in more recent years become considerably gentrified, a process which was beginning to be clear when I took these pictures in 1988.

Star Auto Electrics, Tredegar Rd, Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8c-52-Edit_2400
Star Auto Electrics, Tredegar Rd, Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8c-52

South of Roman Road and roughly parallel to it is Tredegar Road, built up in the 1850s and 60s. Star Auto Electrics fortunately informs us it was at 123A Tredegar Rd. This is now the site of a large block of flats.

Star Auto Electrics, Tredegar Rd, Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8c-54-Edit_2400
Star Auto Electrics, Tredegar Rd, Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8c-54
Tredegar Rd, Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8c-56-Edit_2400
Tredegar Rd, Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8c-56

This neat late nineteenth century terrace is still there on Tredegar Rd. The street – like the rather better known (and roughly four times as expensive) Tredegar Square close by south of the railway line gets its name from Lord Tredegar, Sir Charles Morgan (1760-1846) who made a large fortune promoting agriculture in south Wales and in 1824 was granted a private act of parliament by King George IV to develop a large area of Mile End and Bow. Although several of the streets are named after places in Wales, they have not inherited a Welsh pronunciation.

Tredegar Rd, Coburn Rd, Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8c-41-Edit_2400
Tredegar Rd, Coburn Rd, Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8c-41

This picture was made at the junction of Tredegar Road at its west end with Coborn Road, though nothing in the picture remains. A few yards away around the corner in Coborn Road there are some older buildings and the site of the former railway station, opened as Old Ford in 1865, later renamed as Coborn Road and then Coborn Road for Old Ford which was permanently closed and largely demolished in 1946.

Roman Rd, Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8c-45-Edit_2400
Roman Rd, Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8c-45

My walk ended on Roman Road, where I joined a queue at a bus stop waiting for the bus to take me back into the City and from there by Underground and British Rail back home.


Click on any of the pictures to see a larger version in my album 1988 London Photos, from where you can browse the album.


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All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall. Contact me to buy prints or licence to reproduce.


Matches, Care Spares, Flats and the Roman

Friday, March 18th, 2022
Fairfield Works, Wick Lane, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-8b-21
Fairfield Works, Wick Lane, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8b-21

This is the east side of the Bryant and May match factory. The main Grade II listed building was built in 1909-10, architects Holman and Goodsham, making this the largest match factory in Britain. But parts of the building are earlier, and Quakers, William Bryant and Francis May who had gone into business making matches in 1843 (at first because of their religious conviction only making safety matches) moved to a former candle factory on Fairfield Road in 1861. Various new buildings were added before the 1910 building. The factory closed in 1979, was listed in 1988 and is now the Bow Quarter, a gated private estate with 19 houses and 714 flats. The building at right of the picture was demolished and replaced by a new block.

But safety matches, which needed a special striking surface containing red phosphorus were not as popular as the strike-anywhere matches (lucifers) made with the more dangerous white phosphorus in the match-heads and the factory soon switched to producing these as well. The relatively few men and the several thousand “matchgirls” working in the plant, mainly of Irish descent, commonly suffered from phosphorus necrosis of the jaw, known as ‘phossy jaw’ cause by white phosphorus vapour. The first symptoms were usually toothaches – and the company insisted that any workers suffering got all their teeth removed or be sacked. This poisoning led to a disabled jaw and eventually to death in around a fifth of cases.

Complete removal of teeth was common in the UK before the beginning of the National Health Service after World War II, as only the wealthy could afford any proper dentistry. Toothache can be agonising and was often treated by tying strong twine around the offending tooth, fixing the other end to a door handle and getting someone to slam the door. Both my parents (born around 1900) were given full extraction of teeth and a replacement ‘Full Set’ of upper and lower teeth as a wedding present in 1932.

The match-girls were not only subject to this horrible occupational disease, but discipline at work was excessively strict, with fines taken from their wages for trivial reasons – lateness, a dirty workbench, talking or having dirty feet – as well as having to pay for their own glue and brushes. The sacking of one of the girls in 1888 provoked the Matchgirls Strike – which they won after two weeks, getting better working conditions and a proper grievance process and ending the fines and other deductions from their wages.

Old Ford Rd, Old Ford, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8b-12-Edit_2400
Old Ford Rd, Old Ford, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8b-12

This scrapyard, for all makes of car spares, open seven days a week was next to the A102 (M) East Cross Route, built between 1967 and 1973 as a part of Ringway 1, most of which was then quickly abandoned after it became clear the complete environmental destruction building it would take. It became the A12 after being transferred to TfL in 2000, as they were not given the powers needed to run motorways.

The massive 1970s slab block flats of Lefevre Walk were replaced in 1993-2006 by the Tower Hamlets Housing Action Trust with a mix of houses and flats with a traditional street layout designed in close consultation with the community.

Old Ford Rd, Old Ford, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8b-16-Edit_2400
Old Ford Rd, Old Ford, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8b-16

A view from the edge of the scrapyard.

Look, Roman Rd, Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8c-63-Edit_2400
Look, Roman Rd, Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8c-63

As well as the Olympus SLR with which I made most of the pictures on my walks and with a second SLR body with colour negative film, I also carried a small Minox 35 camera in my jacket pocket whenever I went out. This was the smallest 35mm camera ever made, only 3.9 x 2.5 x 1.2 inches, just large enough to hold a 35mm cassette at on side and the take-up spool on the opposite side of the film gate. The 35mm f2.8 lens folded back into the camera body when not in use and the camera fitted easily even into a shirt pocket.

I had several models of the camera over the years, and often used it when I wanted to be less conspicuous, carrying the camera in one hand it was almost invisible. It was also virtually silent in operation. At times on my walks when I had packed away the SLRs in my camera bag it was more convenient to take pictures on the Minox, but the 36 exposure film might contain pictures from several walks and other occasions.

It isn’t always easy to fit the pictures into place in my walks but I think from Old Ford Road I spent some time taking pictures – including this and those below – on Roman Road in the centre of Bethnal Green, but they may have been made the previous day.

Roman Rd, Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7u-12-positive_2400
Roman Rd, Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7u-12

Two women with a push chair on Roman Road talk as they walk along the street. Just visible behind them are two other children with them.

Roman Rd, Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7u-13-positive_2400
Roman Rd, Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7u-13

Men walk on the opposite side of the stree in front of Shirley’s Antiques – Houses Cleared, with the text from a previous occupier still visible on the first floor frontage.

Roman Rd, Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7u-15-positive_2400
Roman Rd, Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7u-15

Men walk on the opposite side of the street in front of Shirley’s Antiques – Houses Cleared, with the text from a previous occupier still visible on the first floor frontage.

The next installment on this walk will include more pictures from Roman Road taken as I made my way to Bethnal Green tube and the end of the walk.


You can click on any of the images to see a larger version in my album 1988 London Photos, from where you can browse the album.


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All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall. Contact me to buy prints or licence to reproduce.


More Bow – a Grave, Halls, Co-op, Canal & Pub

Monday, March 14th, 2022

More Bow – a Grave, Halls, Co-op, Canal & Pub continues my walk on Monday 1st August 1988 – the previous post was Bow, Kingsly Hall, a Nursery, Grime, Quakers & more.

Bear Family, Memorial, Tower Hamlets Cemetery, Mile End, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8b-54-Edit_2400
Bear Family, Memorial, Tower Hamlets Cemetery, Mile End, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8b-54

The family vault of the Bear Family is marked by one of the more impressive monuments of Tower Hamlets Cemetery, with a long list of names, ages ad date of death which is headed by George Huxley Bear, who died in 1855 aged 4 years and six months. Several of the other entries are also for children, though their father lived to the age of 76. Child mortality was very much a feature of Victorian life.

I made two other pictures of this memorial, with its stems of wheat at the bottom and the consoling text from John XII, v 24 “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” As with all the other pictures you can click on this one to get a larger version and then browse back and forward to see them.

Bromley Public Hall, Bow Rd, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8b-41-Edit_2400
Bromley Public Hall, Bow Rd, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8b-41

Until last year this was the Tower Hamlets Register Office. The Grade II listed building dates from 1880 and was built as the vestry hall for St Leonard’s parish and extended in 1904. At least one web site confuses this with the much older and very different Bromley Hall, on the Blackwall Tunnel Approach road, though to be the oldest brick building in London, built around 1490 but extensively remodelled with a Georgian frontage around 1700.

Former Co-op store, Bow Rd, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8b-42-Edit_2400
Former Co-op store, Bow Rd, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8b-42

Stratford Co-operative & Industrial Society built this splendid store on Bow Road in 1919, proudly listing the names of its leading members under the bee hive signifying co-operation.

In my youth every high street (and some rather lower) had its own Co-operative store, benefiting from the huge buying power of the Cooperative Wholesale Society. We bought most of the few new clothes we could afford there as well as shoes and other items, and it was the Co-op who delivered our milk seven days a week. My mother’s Co-op number is still etched in my memory, essential when making any purchase, and leading to a ‘divi’ at the end of the year which saw us through Christmas.

In 1988 this was the PLH Kakkad Supermarket and although it sold a wide range of goods its frontage was devoted to Rothmans, “The best tobacco money can buy“. More recently it became a Costcutter and then a Nisa local since around 2008.

Lea Navigation, St Thomas Creek, Bow Back Rivers, Stratford, Newham, 1988 88-8b-46-Edit_2400
Lea Navigation, St Thomas Creek, Bow Back Rivers, Stratford, Newham, 1988

I walked further east and crossed the busy Bow roundabout to take this picture looking across the Lea Navigation and up St Thomas Creek, one of the Bow Back Rivers. Stratford High Street at right is now lined with tall flats, and Global Caravans with one stacked on top of a couple of containers is long gone, along with almost all of the rest of the industrial buildings. A few of those nearest on the left before Cooks Road remained but in derelict condition in 2021.

Bow Theatre, Bow Rd, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-8b-32-Edit_2400
Bow Theatre, Bow Rd, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8b-32

Walking back west up Bow Road took me to Bow Theatre on the west corner of Fairfield Road. This Grade II listed building was a new Poplar Town Hall built in 1937-8 and was said to be the first modernist town hall, designed by Ewart Culpin and his son Clifford. The frieze by David Evans depicts the various trades of the builders of the town hall and is said to include a welder, a labourer, a mason, a carpenter and an architect. Unfortunately it is hard to decide the occupations of some of those in my picture, partly as they are not critically sharp.

After Poplar became a part of Tower Hamlets, this was no longer a town hall, but remained in use for some years as council offices and also as a theatre. The council sold it in the 1990s and it is now Bow Business Centre.

Caledonian, pub, Fairfield Rd, Blondin St, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8b-34-Edit_2400
Caledonian Arms, pub, Fairfield Rd, Blondin St, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8b-34

The Caledonian Arms on the corner of Blondin St is still standing but no longer a pub, having closed around 2000 and extensively converted to office and residential use in 2010. The building possibly dates from 1851 though it may have replaced a former building later that century. For years a Watney’s pub it later became owned by Shepherd Neame.

The cafe on the opposite corner has gone completely, its site part of a car park for new buildings down Blondin St. The name suggests that the street was built at the time of the famous tightrope crossing of the Niagra by ‘The Great Blondin‘ in 1859.

Douro St, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-8b-35-Edit_2400
Douro St, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8b-35

This was a short street with small houses shown in the picture with front doors opening directly onto the street and a car breakers behind the fence at left.

The cobbles and the small houses are still there, but the car breakers have been replaced by a large block of flats, Altius Apartments, at 714 Wick Lane, with 4 floors and a roof garden, at a taller 9 floor tower at the east end. The guide price for one of those small houses in the ‘Bow Quarter’ is given as £800,000 and the estate agents rather creatively describe Douro St as ‘tree-lined’.

Tredegar Rd, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8b-36-Edit_2400
Tredegar Rd, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8b-36-Edit_2400

Tredegar Rd is just to the north of Douro St, on the other side of the flats. I think this is at its junction with Wick Lane and I think absolutely nothing of what was in my picture remains, with even the road layout having altered at least slightly.

What was H Bates & Son Scrap dealers is now occupied by a block of around 12 floors, offices at ground level and flats above, but the ‘Bow Quarter’ area is so different that this could well be another nearby corner – also covered with new housing. But my next pictures show I turned south down Wick Lane to the rear of the former Bryant & May match factory, where the next instalment of this walk will begin.


Click on any image to see a larger version in my album 1988 London Photos, from where you can browse other images. You can view most of the sites today on Google Streetview.


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All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall. Contact me to buy prints or licence to reproduce.


Bow, Kingsly Hall, a Nursery, Grime, Quakers & more

Sunday, March 13th, 2022

This post continues from my previous post on this walk by me on 1st August 1988, Coventry Cross, Gandhi, Graffiti, Drag Balls …

Stroudley Walk, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8a-21-Edit_2400
Stroudley Walk, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8a-21

The buildings of the Diary and the Rose & Crown are still standing at the north end of Stroudley Walk where it meets the end of Bromley High St, but the closed diary became Hussains Convenience Store and then Jalalabad Grocers and half is now a mobile phone repair shop.

The Rose & Crown had opened here around 1720, as the Bowling Green Inn, though the building here is from the 1880s. It closed in 2007, was boarded up for some years before reopening around 2014 as a coffee bar and fast food restaurant.

This was formerly the north end of Devons Road, and a sign for this painted on the brickwork at the left of the pub had virtually disappeared when I made this picture in 1988. Later repainted it has now almost disappeared again.

Kingsley Hall, Powis Rd, Bromley-By-Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8a-25-Edit_2400
Kingsley Hall, Powis Rd, Bromley-By-Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8a-25

I wrote more about Kingsley Hall and the sisters Muriel and Doris Lester in the previous post on this walk. They used a legacy from their younger brother Kingsley to set up a house where they lived in relative poverty and served the neighbourhood as well as campaigning for peace and justice across the world. A plaque on the building records that Mahatma Gandhi lived in a small cabin here during his three month stay attending a government conference as a representative of the Indian National Congress. You can read and see more about his visit and the sisters on the Muriel Lester web site.

This image gives a better view of the whole building, which dates from 1928. It faces the Devons Estate, built for the London County Council in 1949 and described by Pevsner as being in their ‘pre-war manner, but with all the drabness of post-war austerity‘. Those moved from slums into its maisonettes and flats would have taken a far more positive view and the estate was solidly built and well-designed to the standards of the day.

Clyde House, Bruce Rd, Bromley-by-Bow,  Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8a-26-Edit_2400
Clyde House, Bruce Rd, Bromley-by-Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8a-26

Clyde House is still there at 46 Bruce Road, looking in rather better condition now. Built in 1884 it appears to have been built as a pair with its double-fronted neighbour at 48.

Children's House, Nursery School, , Bruce Rd, Bromley-by-Bow,  Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8a-11-Edit_2400
Children’s House, Nursery School, Bruce Rd, Bromley-by-Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8a-11

Sisters Muriel and Doris Lester helped to set up the Children’s House on Bruce Road 1923. Doris had trained as a teacher and they commissioned Charles Cowles-Voysey to design a building based on Maria Montessori’s ideal learning environment for young children. The school was opened in 1923 by H G Wells and is still a school, run by Tower Hamlets Council.

Inside there is a 12 metre mural painted in 1935 by Eve Garnett, the illustrator, artist and writer of the first children’s book about working class characters, The Family from One End Street, in 1937. There is now a campaign to save and restore the mural which is dirty and damaged and the web site is asking for donations to pay for this.

Regent Square, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-8a-15-Edit_2400
Regent Square, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8a-15

The Crossways Estate, built in 1970 was apparently at the time known as the ‘Pride of Bow’, for its three 25 storey towers and a low rise block, Holyhead Close, built over the railway line. Later it was more prosaically referred to as the ‘three flats.’

It was here that Grime developed in 2003, after Rinse FM squatted in a flat and broadcast illegally from here, and it was also where Dizzee Rascal and others grew up.

Like many council developments the area around the estate was hard to navigate, with walkways and roads often not shown on maps. My contact sheet says ‘Regent Square and gives grid reference 375827 for the first of the five images I made. The three towers were Hackworth Point, Mallard Point and Priestman Point and are on Rainhill Way.

And also like many council estates, it was subjected to a policy of ‘managed decline’ and by 1999 was in a very poor state, so bad its demolition was under consideration. Tower Hamlets decided to retain and refurbish the estate which passed to Swan Homes after a residents ballot in 2005. Its towers now refurbished and clad more brightly this is now the Bow Cross Estate.

Bow Church, station, DLR,  Crossways estate, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8b-56-Edit_2400
Bow Church, station, DLR, Crossways estate, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8b-56

The ‘three flats’ seen from Bow Road and Bow Church DLR station which opened on 31 August 1987.

Mornington Grove, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8b-61-Edit_2400
Mornington Grove, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8b-61

Mornington Grove not only gets a mention in the London 5: East volume of Pevsner (p619) which describes these houses as “unusually grand for the area” but also has an extensive web site covering its history by Ken Ward, a resident in the street, from which this information is extracted – and which has far more detail. And it really is an interesting history – if you have the time do click the link and read more.

The land of a nursery here was bought by the Quaker meeting in Ratcliff in 1812, and houses on Mornington Road were developed by them from 1854-1889 – those on the east side in this picture being among the later development. Arthur Wellesley, the 1st Duke of Wellington was the son of the first Earl of Mornington, and the fourth Earl lived nearby on the north side of Bow Road.

Many of the houses in Mornington Road were compulsory purchased and demolished for the Whitehapel and Bow Railway (later the District Line) and others by World War II bombing of what had in 1939 been renamed Mornington Grove. Under the Quakers, at least 5/7th of the rents of the houses went to the support of the poor.

Most of the houses in the street, by then under multiple occupation, were sold by the Quakers to a housing association in 1980, becoming social housing, though many have now been sold off.


More from Bow in the next post from my walk in 1988. You can see larger versions of any of these pictures by clicking on the image which will take you to my album 1988 London Pictures from where you can browse.


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Around Devons Road, Bow 1988

Friday, February 18th, 2022

Around Devons Road, Bow 1988. My previous post about my walk on Sunday 31st July 1988 ended on Rounton Road, but I knew I wanted to take more pictures in the area around Devons Road, so I headed back there.

Devons Rd, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7s-24-positive_2400
Devons Rd, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7s-24

There is still a patch of grass and a zebra crossing here, close to the junction with Violet Road (now a mini-roundabout) but the bus shelter and the closer shops, including Hilton Furniture Centre, the Car Service, the Bookmakers and six more, some boarded up, which had been up for auction (by order of the L. R, B – “3 investment and 6 vacant“) six months before I took the picture are long gone. In the distance is the Lighthouse Baptist Chuch, still a local landmark.

The LRB was not of course the London Review of Books (as Google now thinks) but the London Residuary Body, set up in 1985 to dispose of the assets of the Greater London Council after its abolition by Thatcher in 1986, a decision which continues to blight London.

Service Station, Violet Rd, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7s-25-positive_2400
Service Station, Violet Rd, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7s-25

I was amused by Violet Road Service Station which appeared to me to be trying to be a caravan and had an impressive pile of wooden pallets on its forecourt. Long demolished and I think replaced by flats.

Works, Yeo St, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7s-26-positive_2400
Works, Yeo St, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7s-26

The building at right with the exterior staircase in what seemed to me a 1950s style has been replaced by a Tesco Express and flats. The large pile of pallets and the caravan both connected in my mind with the the previous image I had made (above).

The low building on Violet Road at left survived into this century when it served as a huge billboard along the street for the Caspian Wharf development whose sales & marketing suite and showhome were in Yeo St, but was replaced by a 7-storey canalside block around 2012.

Spratts Patent Limited buildings are still there – one clearly being converted into flats when I made this image.

Glaucus St, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7s-14-positive_2400
Glaucus St, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7s-14

I think this is the best of four frames (two on Flickr) I made of this heap of crumpled metal on the clearance site on Glaucus St and Yeo St. I couldn’t make up my mind exactly what it had once been.

According to the Greek myths, Glaucus of Corinth was a son of Poseidon who loved the beautiful nymph Scylla and who showed little interest even after had himself turned into a merman to pursue her. He made the mistake of going to her jealous rival Circe for a love potion which whem she swallowed it instead changed her into a sea-monster who went on to lived in the rocks beside the whirlpool of Charybdis.

However I suspect the street name did not come directly from the Greeks, but was possibly the name of one of the ships built in a nearby shipyard. The name is also used for a genus of sea-slugs and was the title given to a book of scientific reports on the voyages of HMS Challenter in 1873-6.

Glaucus St, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7s-15-positive_2400
Glaucus St, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7s-15

Another view of the development site in Glaucus St.

Works, Yeo St, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7s-16-positive_2400
Works, Yeo St, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7s-16

Yeo Street still contains some industrial buildings on the wharves along the Limehouse Cut, but this one is of the same site as a previous image in this post, now a Tesco Express and flats on the corner with Violet Road.

This was formerly Violet Street, and I wonder if the name may have been linked to dyes produced in chemical factories along the cut. Mauveine, the first synthetic dyestuff was discovered not far away by William Perkin working in the attic of his family home in 1856, though he set up his factory in Greenford. But the dye was a Victorian sensation and perhaps increased the popularity of the name Violet, though other flower names also became popular around the 1880s.

Violet Rd, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7t-61-positive_2400
Violet Rd, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7t-61

Another view of the building on Violet Road, on the corner of Yeo St, which shows a similar external staircase on the opposite end of the building.

Violet Rd, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7t-62-positive_2400
Morris Rd, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7t-62

Across the bridge over the Limehouse Ct, Violet Road becomes Morris Rd, and a board in front of Spratt’s Patents Limited tells us this is now Tower Studios and that the two luxurious penthouse appartments due for completion in May 1987 have now been sold.

Still more pictures from my walk on 31st July 1988 in a later post here.


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Bromley-by-Bow – July 1988

Thursday, February 17th, 2022

Bromley-by-Bow – July 1988. My previous post on my walk on Sunday 31st July 1988 ended at Watts Grove off Devons Road, and I spent some time exploring the area around here and in Bow Common and Bow.

All Hallows, Church, Devons Rd, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7s-45-positive_2400
All Hallows, Church, Devons Rd, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7s-45

The church of All Hallows on Devons Road was funded by the Clothworkers’ Company who got the money from the site of All Hallows Staining, demolished except for its tower in 1873. That tower, now Grade I listed, is still there just off Mark Lane, next to St Olave’s Church Hall. They paid for a church by architect Ewan Christian, completed in 1874. Unfortunately this was badly damaged by bombing, and only its core remained in the new church on the site by A P Robinson completed in 1955 in an ‘Early Christian’ style. The church has its address on Blackthorn St and is not yet listed.

Shops,  Devons Rd, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7s-46-positive_2400
Shops, Devons Rd, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7s-46

There was still a tyre shop, though no longer J R Tyres, at 119 Devons Road in 2021, though I think this end of the row of shops is currently being rebuilt. Some years since I made this picture this shop had previously been rebuilt, its ground and upper floor losing their late Victorian frontage.

The Widow's Son, The Bun House, pub, Devons Rd, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7s-32-positive_2400
The Widow’s Son, The Bun House, pub, Devons Rd, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7s-32

The Widow’s Son has the distinction of being the only listed building in the South Bromley Ward of Tower Hamlets, though I suspect its Grade II* listing reflects the legend associated with it – of the widow’s son who joined the Navy to fight Napoleon and wrote telling his mother he would be home for Easter and told her to cook a hot cross bun and have it waiting for him. He never came, but every year on Good Friday she baked a fresh bun for him, and a large collection was found hanging in a net from the ceiling beams of her cottage after her death.

The Widow’s Son, commonly known as the Bun House, was built on the site of her cottage, and the net containing the buns, was hung above the bar, with a sailor from the Navy adding another each year on Good Friday. From some time in the 1990s the buns were baked and supplied by Mr Bunn’s Bakery, a family-run business a few miles away in Chadwell Heath.

The pub was built around 1848, and its single bar largely retains its fittings from around the 1870s. It closed and was put up for sale in 2016, but was reopened in time for Bun Day in 2017 and was refurbished with new kitchens in 2019 and is more a pub/restaurant. I think it reopened after a further temporary closure due to Covid, but haven’t been able to check personally.

Joe's Auto Spares,  Cantrell Rd, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7s-34-positive_2400
Joe’s Auto Spares, Cantrell Rd, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7s-34

Joe’s Auto Spares were in a railway arch immediately west of the Cantrell Road Bridge, where there are still businesses in the arches, though many are now being priced out as railway arches – such as those in the centre of Brixton – are redeveloped and re-let at much higher rents.

Railway, bridge, gasholder, Cantrell Rd, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7s-35-positive_2400
Railway, bridge & gasholder, Cantrell Rd, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7s-35

I walked into the southern end of Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park to take a wider view showing the railway bridge and Joe’s Auto Spares, with one of the two remaining gasholders of Bow Common Gasworks behind. The gasholders, long redundant, were only demolished a few years ago and the site is now a development of around 1450 homes, a new sixth form centre, some commercial uses and a new area of open space.

Car spares, Cantrell Rd, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7s-36-positive_2400
Car spares, Cantrell Rd, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7s-36-positive_2400

I couldn’t resist taking another picture of the scrapyard beside the railway which has featured in a previous post. The site is now a part of the Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park.

Demolition, Rounton Rd, Bromley, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7s-21-positive_2400
Demolition, Rounton Rd, Bromley, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7s-21

Walking back towards the east I came to Rounton Road, where a row of late Victorian houses was being demolished. I think the tower block just visible in the background is probably Gayton House just off of Knapp Rd. The whole area around Rounton Road has been redeveloped.

Lozinski Ltd, Rounton Rd, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 198888-7s-22-positive_2400
Lozinski Ltd, Rounton Rd, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 198888-7s-22

Lozinki Ltd, an engineering company helpfully give their address as Rounton Ropad, Bow, and their site is now Miami Car Wash. Through the railway brdige you can see Navenby Walk. The tree is also still there.

H Barnett & Co, Rounton Rd, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7s-23-positive_2400
H Barnett & Co, Rounton Rd, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7s-23

The railway bridge, as well as the brick building are still there but the writing on the wall for H Barnett & Co, as well as the Vehicle Spares sign have gone and the wall and street sign both replaced. The building, obviously much altered by the brickwork, is a sub-station for the railway with a bridge carrying cables across to the tracks at its rear.

I still had a lot of wandering to do – so there will be further posts from my walk around Bow.


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Bow Common to West India Dock Road

Friday, February 4th, 2022

Bow Common to West India Dock Road, July 1988. This continues the walk in my previous post Westferry Station, Brunel and Bow Common

Bow Common Lane, Bow Common, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7r-35-positive_2400
Bow Common Lane, Bow Common, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7r-35

Although this image is labelled as being on Cantrell Road in my very skeletal notes written small in black ink on the contact sheet, it is actually still there next to the railway on the west side of the gasworks site in Bow Common Lane.

This fairly substantial house is on the edge of the gas works site mentioned in the previous post and I wondered if it might have been a part of this development, perhaps a manager’s house. The gasholder was removed in 2016-7

Bow Common, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7r-21-positive_2400
Bow Common, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7r-21

I’m fairly sure that Turnbull & Son Builders were not on Cantrell Road as my notes suggest, but certainly somewhere in Bow Common, possibly on Bow Common Lane, Devons Road or St Paul’s Way which were on my route. Little of the older industry in the area now remains.

Bow Common, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7r-23-positive_2400
Bow Common, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7r-23

Again there is a frustrating lack of information on the contact sheet, possibly because I was lost. So I’m unsure of the location of this detached Victorian house, but I think it may have been on Turners Road which I went down on my way to Clemence St.

Sculpture, Trevor Tennant, Dora St, Gatwick House, Clemence St, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7r-24-positive_2400
Sculpture, Trevor Tennant, Dora St, Gatwick House, Clemence St, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7r-24

Finally a location I can be sure of, as the block in the background has two signs on it. ‘No Ball Games’ is on not helpful, but over the entrance way just above the thighs of what looks to me a naked rudimentary female figure I can read ‘Gatwick House’.

Although Trevor Tennant (1900-80) entitled this ‘play sculpture’ Gulliver it still looks female to me. It is described in The Buildings of England London: East as “in Festival of Britain Spirit”, though it looks vaguely Henry Moore to me. Tennant in taught at various art colleges including Camberwell School of Art (1930-4). The sculpture commissioned by the LCC for the Locksley Estatew was probably installed when the block was built in 1954-6 and by the time I photographed it was deteriorating – perhaps due to some rather more robust physical play than anticipated. It was originally at the centre of a large sandpit with the base buried in the sand. I suspect the sand was removed after being too often used as a toilet for dogs, a common fate with sandpits in public places.

Limehouse Cut, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7r-25-positive_2400
Limehouse Cut, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7r-25

A gloomy building by a gloomy canal, close to St Anne’s Church which towers above the tree at right. This building at the rear of a ‘dangerous structure’ on Commercial Road opposite the church is still standing, though the lower structures to the right have been demolished. I think this is 777 Commercial Road, a former sail loft, part of the Grade II listed run of buildings here. According to the listing, 777 dates from 1893-4 and was designed by Marshall & Bradley and built by J.H. Johnson for Caird and Rayner. The site is now ‘Sailmakers’ a mixed-use development which will retain the building frontage.

Limehouse Town Hall, Flood Barrier, Limehouse Cut, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7r-11-positive_2400
Limehouse Town Hall, Flood Barrier, Limehouse Cut, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7r-11

The Flood barrier on the Limehouse Cut presumably became redundant after the building of the Thames Barrier. On the other side of Commercial Road you can see both St Anne’s Church over a billboard and Limehouse Town Hall.

Empire Memorial Sailors' Hostel, Commercial Rd, Salmon Lane, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7r-12-positive_2400
Empire Memorial Sailors’ Hostel, Commercial Rd, Salmon Lane, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7r-12

The Empire Memorial Sailors’ Hostel, now called The Mission Building, was built in 1924 to house some of the many sailors in the city needing lodgings. Money to fund it came from an appeal organised largely by women from across the British Empire to save these men who might otherwise have spent the night and their earnings in the company of the oldest profession. They appealed for the funds to build it as a memorial to the 12,000 merchant seamen who were killed in the Great War.

The Grade II listed building originally had 205 single rooms (cabins) and appears to have been designed to the demands of a committee whose members advocated differing styles. It was enlarged in 1932 along Salmon Lane to meet the huge demand, but as the docks closed became a hostel for the homeless. It closed in 1985, presumably not because of any lack of homeless people but because of the cost of housing them, and in 1994 was sold off to a developer who converted it to a gated and portered residential development.

4-12 West India Dock Road, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7r-14-positive_2400
4-12 West India Dock Road, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7r-14

A little of the old West India Dock Road, this row of shops is now long gone. The large Grade II listed building at right is still there, built as the Passmore Edwards Sailors Palace, the Headquarters of the British And Foreigh Sailors Society in 1901, with a grand frontage including a crowned Britannia holding on each shoulder a strangely morphed galleon and child. The side view here is rather more utilitarian.

Sail Makers, Ships Chandlers, 11, West India Dock Rd, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7r-16-positive_2400
Sail Makers, Ships Chandlers, 11, West India Dock Rd, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7r-16

A sign over the door for Pastel Print shows its use in 1988, when local demand for sails, candles and other marine equipment has shrunk to zero. A plaque near the apex of the facade states ‘ERECTED AD.1860’. I think it has now been made into flats and offices retaining the facade.


The next part of my walk, going back into Bow and on towards Bromley-by-Bow will continue in a later post.

Clicking on any of the pictures will take you to a larger version in my album 1988 London Photos from where you can browse the album.


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