Posts Tagged ‘Bow Creek’

Canary Wharf Workshop 2004

Thursday, May 9th, 2024

Canary Wharf Workshop – On Sunday May 9th 2004 I led a small workshop group of photographers on a walk which started at Canary Wharf and then went to Canning Town and the River Thames. Although photography is theoretically banned on the Canary Wharf estate we had no problems with security, probably because we kept to obviously public areas and I had asked those taking part not to use tripods.

Canary Wharf Workshop

I was never a fan of the redevelopment of London’s docklands under Michael Heseltine and the London Docklands Development Corporation set up in 1981. Of course development was needed after the docks became redundant, but we should have seen a development that was made for the interests of the population of London, not simply for the mates of the Tory Party.

Canary Wharf Workshop

The area needed some kind of overall planning authority, but one that worked with the local authorities in the area rather than against them, ignoring their priorities.

Canary Wharf Workshop

Of course there were gains from the work of the LDDC, perhaps the main ones being the Docklands Light Railway and the Jubilee Line Extension to Stratford. Certainly by the time it was wound up in 1990 it had changed the whole area significantly. But many of those changes had sacrificed local needs to business profits.

Canary Wharf Workshop

The piece that I wrote about the day reflected my political views about what had taken place. A year or so later London won the bidding for the Olympics, leading to yet more development in the area by an authority that disregarded local needs and led to inappropriate development, still proceeding, in East London. I’ll reproduce what I wrote in 2004 here, with minor corrections, particularly to capitalisation and spelling.

May 9th 2004 found me taking a group of photographers for a walk around some parts of London’s docklands. We started at the centre of this ‘crime of the century’. I still don’t quite understand why a Conservative government felt so at odds with the City of London that it decided to set up offshore competition in the Enterprise Zone.

The feeding frenzy that ensued, trousering public property and tax breaks into the private pocket at an unprecedented rate was inevitable.

The long-term consequence has been a distorted development with few real buildings of distinction but some expensively finished tat, and a lack of overall planning. I’m not sure that London would benefit from gaining the Olympics for which it is currently bidding, but if it fails, probably part of the reason will be the Docklands debacle.

We started below the obscene gesture towards the old city, at least clear about its symbolism, then took the DLR down to Crossharbour with its silly bridge, walking back to the Wharf and taking the Jubilee to Canning Town.

Then back alongside the Lee (still waiting for that riverside walkway) to East India dock basin and along by the Thames, where a galleon appeared in front of the dome.

The River Lee is here better known in its tidal section as Bow Creek, and we are still waiting for parts of that riverside walk to be opened if they ever will be. There was a competition for a new bridge across Bow Creek with a wining design named, but money disappeared and it was never built. But a few years ago we did get a different new bridge higher up by Canning Town station and the development of the industrial site of Pura Foods as London City Island.

A few more of my pictures from the walk on My London Diary


FlickrFacebookMy London DiaryHull PhotosLea ValleyParis
London’s Industrial HeritageLondon Photos

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


Reparations, North Woolwich & LouLou’s

Tuesday, August 1st, 2023

Reparations, North Woolwich & LouLou’s: Thursday 1st August 2019 was a long and busy day for me with an Afrikan Emancipation Day protest, finishing a walk in North Woolwich I’d begun six months earlier and photographing an evening protest outside the exclusive Mayfair club LouLou’s.


Afrikans demand reparations – Brixton, London.

Afrikans demand Reparations, North Woolwich & LouLou's

People of African origin met in Windrush Square in the morning to demand an end of the Maangamizi, the continuing genocide and ecocide of African peoples and Africa on Afrikan Emancipation Day.

Afrikans demand Reparations, North Woolwich & LouLou's

After speeches & libations they marched from Brixton to Westminster with a petition calling for an end to acts of violence by Britain, the misuse of taxes and the stolen legacy plundered from Afrika under the British Empire and European Imperialism and demanding reparations.

Afrikans demand Reparations, North Woolwich & LouLou's

The protest was supported by Extinction Rebellion XR Connecting Communities who marched in an Ubuntu Non-Afrikan Allies bloc.

Afrikans demand Reparations, North Woolwich & LouLou's

I left the march as it went past Brixton Police Station on its way to protest outside the Houses of Parliament so I could have some lunch before going to take pictures elsewhere.

Many more pictures on My London Diary at Afrikans demand reparations.


DLR – Bank to North Woolwich

DLR HQ at Poplar

I’d taken the tube back into central London to have a quick lunch before taking the DLR from Bank to London City to King George V Dock station for the final section of the walk I had begun in February but had run out of time to finish because I’d had to take a roundabout route to get there as the direct DLR services were suspended following an accident.

Bow Creek

This time the trains were running properly. They start from Bank and so come into the station empty and I was able to chose my seat and for once I found myself sitting next to a clean window on my way to North Woolwich and took a number of pictures.

Tate & Lyle

Later on my way back to Canary Wharf from King George V I was less lucky and the windows were rather grimy, but I still made a few images.

More at DLR – Bank to London City Airport.


North Woolwich, Royal Docks & the Thames

The footpath goes across these gates of the entrance lock to Albert Dock Basin

I took a few pictures as I walked from the elevated King George V station at North Woolwich to the King George V Dock entrance and joined the path by the river.

The lock here is huge, 243.8m long and 30.48m wide. I’d first photographed the area back in the 1980s as a part of a wider project on the Docklands following their closure, both in colour but mainly in black and white – in the album 1984 London Photographs. Although the docks themselves remain, much around them has changed, although there are still some derelict areas.

The riverside path here is part of the Capital Ring, and continues north and over lock at the Albert Dock entrance to the curiously desolate Armada Green Recreation Area.

Here the path ends, with beyond it the former site of the Beckton Gas Works, used as a location for at least 17 films and TV series since its closure, though best known as a stand-in for Vietnam in the 1987 Full Metal Jacket. Past that is the Beckton Sewage Treatment Works, set up in 1864 as part of Joseph Bazalgette’s scheme to treat London’s sewage and still receiving it from all of London north of the Thames.

I had to turn inland, through more recent development and the refurbished Gallions Hotel around Alber Dock Basin. I went briefly under the new bridge to see again the East London University student residences, then went back and across it, taking more pictures from the bridge and the road on my way back to King George V station.

Many more pictures at North Woolwich Royal Docks & Thames.


LouLou’s stop exploiting your workers – Mayfair

Finally I joined the IWGB Cleaners and Facilities Branch outside the exclusive Mayfair private club LouLou’s where they were picketing and protesting for kitchen porters to be paid a living wage, be treated with dignity, respect and given decent terms and conditions including proper sick pay, holidays and pension contributions. Recently outsourced to ACT, porters want to be returned to direct employment.

Among those supporting them were Class War, and in the picture above Ian Bone confronts a police office asking why they protect and support the rich. Needless to say the officer had no answer to the question. In general the protesters were reasonably behaved and acting within the law, but police and security hired by the club worked together to try and prevent their protest being effective.

There were angry scenes as staff escorted wealthy clients of the £1800 a year club past the picket, particularly when some roughly pushed the protesters. Police repeatedly warned the protesters but not the security men or customers who had assaulted them. The security also tried to prevent the picket from handing their flier to the customers.

As at previous protests outside of the club, none of the security staff were wearing the visible SIA door supervisor licences required under the Private Security Industry Act 2001, but the police refused to take any action over this.

More pictures at LouLou’s stop exploiting your workers.


Bow Creek, East India Dock Way, April 1989

Tuesday, March 21st, 2023

I only had time for a short walk on Friday 7th April 1989, cycling home furiously from the college where I was teaching at noon as I had no afternoon classes, picking up my camera bag and rushing to catch a train into London.

Essex Wharf, Bow Creek, Pura Foods, Wharfside Rd, Canning Town, Newham, 1989 89-4b-31
Essex Wharf, Bow Creek, Pura Foods, Wharfside Rd, Canning Town, Newham, 1989 89-4b-31

Canning Town, where I was heading, was on the other side of London and not then the easiest of places to get to before the DLR and Jubilee lines were completed. My journey involved a slow transit around North London on the line from Richmond on the North London Line to the old Canning Town station immediately north of the A13 East India Dock Road, next to Stephenson Street.

Bow Creek, East India Dock Way

If you are not familiar with the geography of this area, a small clip from OpenStreetMap, slightly enhanced, will help. The East India Dock Road on this map is labelled Newham Way, which is here a flyover above the road itself. The former station I used was just to the north of this. Pura Foods was inside the loop which is now London City Island and there was no bridge across the river at the top of the bend.

Essex Wharf, Bow Creek, Pura Foods, Wharfside Rd, Canning Town, Newham, 1989 89-4b-34
Essex Wharf, Bow Creek, Flood Barrier, Pura Foods, Wharfside Rd, Canning Town, Newham, 1989 89-4b-34

A subway close to the station entrance took me to the other side of this busy road, where I had a view of Bow Creek, northern end of its loop dominated by Pura Foods, looking across waste ground where the DLR would shortly run. The flood barrier on Bow Creek became redundant when the Thames Barrier was built.

Essex Wharf, Bow Creek, Pura Foods, Wharfside Rd, Canning Town, Newham, 1989 89-4b-35
Essex Wharf, Bow Creek, Pura Foods, Wharfside Rd, Canning Town, Newham, 1989 89-4b-35

I moved slowly west along the East India Dock Road, stopping to take occasional images. There was a considerable amount of waste including old tires dumped here, but it was also a working industrial area, with workers cars parked alongside the river.

Essex Wharf, Bow Creek, Pura Foods, Wharfside Rd, Canning Town, Newham, 1989 89-4b-26
Essex Wharf, Bow Creek, Pura Foods, East India Dock Rd, Canning Town, Newham, 1989 89-4b-26

The main business on this side of the river appeared now to be the sawmill, though I also photographed the sign board for Haughton Engineering, but I’m unsure whether they were still in business.

Bow Creek, Pura Foods, Wharfside Rd, Canning Town, Newham, 1989  89-4b-11
Bow Creek, Pura Foods, Wharfside Rd, Canning Town, Newham, 1989 89-4b-11

It seemed to me an area which cried out for some panoramic images, and I took a set of three overlapping handheld pictures – the left of the set above – intending to combine them – which back then would have involved cutting and pasting the three together, but later I found I couldn’t quite get them to match up. Even when it became possible to do this digitally I found I hadn’t quite made these precisely enough.

Bow Creek, Pura Foods, Wharfside Rd, Canning Town, Newham, 1989 89-4b-12
Bow Creek, Pura Foods, Wharfside Rd, Canning Town, Newham, 1989 89-4b-12

It was experiences like this that led me a couple of years later to save up and buy a proper panoramic camera – I think the first one cost me around a month’s wages.

London Sawmills, Bow Creek, Wharfside Rd, Canning Town, Newham, 1989 89-4b-13
London Sawmills, Bow Creek, Wharfside Rd, Canning Town, Newham, 1989 89-4b-13

I continued walking west, the road on a low viaduct giving me a good view of the area to the south, coming to a timber yard where Bow Creek flowed into the area, going down south towards Orchard Place before turning north to go back towards the East India Dock Road where I had taken the earlier images.

London Sawmills, Bow Creek, East India Dock Rd, Canning Town, Newham, 1989 89-4b-15
London Sawmills, Bow Creek, East India Dock Rd, Canning Town, Newham, 1989 89-4b-15

I’ll post about the second and final part of this short walk later.


A Walk Along Bow Creek, 2017

Thursday, March 2nd, 2023

On Thursday 2nd March 2017 I had a meeting at Cody Dock about my photographic exhibition there later in the year. The weather forecast was good and promised me a day with blue sky and some clouds, perfect for my photography, particularly for some panoramas, where a clear blue sky or sullen grey overcast are both killers, so I rushed to get on an earlier train than I needed for the meeting to give time to take a walk along a part of Bow Creek before the meeting.

Years earlier there had been plans for a walk beside Bow Creek all the way from where it meets the Thames at Trinity Buoy Wharf up to the Stratford to join the tow path beside the Lea Navigation, but so far only some separate sections have materialised. The original plans envisaged two bridges taking the path across Bow Creek, and although a competition was organised (and won) for designs for one of these, neither had been built, largely because the money wasn’t there.

This section of the Leawalk has yet to open

Instead the plans were changed to make use of existing bridges, but vital riverside sections remain closed, either because of existing users of the land refusing access or because of new developments taking place in the area. One such development, that of London City Island has recently provided a new bridge which allows an alternative route to the mouth of the creek.

The red bridge built for London City Island

Part of the problem has probably been that the walk is along the boundary of two local authorities, Tower Hamlets and Newham, with sections in both.

Cody Dock

I walked one section before the meeting, but came to a locked bridge which led to a fairly lengthy detour, and ended up with me having to run along the West India Dock Road to catch the DLR to get to the meeting in time.

Cody Dock

There is currently no path between that road and Cody Dock which would have been a faster route for me. Instead I took the DLR from Canning Town one stop to Star Lane, from where a walk through an industrial estate took me to Cody Dock.

After the meeting I was able to rejoin the riverside path, now renamed the Leaway after I and many others made fun of its previous title as the Fatwalk, and made my way to Stratford.

One of the works on ‘The Line’

On my way I was pleased to find a newly opened link from Twelvetrees Crescent (named after a Mr Twelvetrees who built a bridge there to his factory) to the footpath between the river and the Lea Navigation, enabling me to avoid the rather nasty detour between here and the path via the horrendously busy Blackwall Tunnel Approach road.

This part of the Leaway is now walked much more, not least because if forms part of of ‘The Line’ sculpture trail, which rather roughly follows the Meridian from Greenwich to Stratford. But those following this still have, like me, to take the DLR or walk along busy and dusty roads from Canning Town to Cody Dock.

There was still plenty of daylight left by the time my wanderings took me to the DLR Stratford High Street station, where I entrained back to Canning Town for a few more pictures which both lack of time and the position of the sun had made impossible before my meeting. Then it was back to the station for the Jubilee Line back to central London.

Many more pictures from these walks on My London Diary at:
Three Mills & Stratford
Leawalk to Bow Locks
Cody Dock
Bow Creek Canning Town


An East London Ride – 2010

Friday, February 3rd, 2023

Salmon Lane Locki, Regents Canal

It’s perhaps misleading to call this a ride, since I spent most of the day on Wednesday 3rd February 2010 actually off my bike, parking it neatly to take photographs. Although a bicycle has been my main personal transport now for over 70 years (when I’m not using public transport or walking) I’m not really a cyclist. Or at least just a pragmatic cyclist, using a bike just to get from A to B (and on this day to C,D and most of the letters of the alphabet.)

An East London Ride - 2010
Memorial to firewatchers of Stepney Gas Works

And just very occasionally for a bit of exercise. I have used exercise bikes and always thought why bother when you could use the real thing, though I suppose when its pouring with rain or below zero there might be some point in them. And though one wouldn’t help me to take photographs I would be less likely to be killed by careless or dangerous drivers.

An East London Ride - 2010
Bromley-by-Bow gasholders, Twelvetrees Bridge

Back at the end of 2002 I bought myself a Brompton folding bike, and a year or three later when I was undergoing a Q & A interview for an amateur photography magazine it became my answer to ‘What is your most useful photographic accessory’. It had replaced the answer to a similar question from another such magazine which was ‘a good pair of shoes’.

Eternal flame, West Ham Memorial Gardens

Once you have practised a few times the Brompton folds (and unfolds) in a few seconds into a fairly compact package, which has the advantage you can take it at any time onto our trains and underground system. It’s too heavy for me to comfortably carry any distance, but I added the tiny wheels which mean you can pull it rather like a suitcase, only actually lifting it when necessary. And I bought the bag which fits on in front of the handlebars which was about the right size for my camera gear and essentials like a bottle of water or a flask of coffee and sandwiches.

The end of the ‘Fatwalk’

I can’t know remember exactly how I got to the start of my ride, though I think I probably rode from Waterloo to Fenchurch Street for a train to Limehouse station, crossing the Thames on Southwark Bridge. But from there on the pictures make my route fairly clear.

Bow Creek and Bow Locks

I cycled roughly along the Regents Canal up to the former Stepney Gas Works site north of Ben Johnson Road. There had been a fight to save more elements of the former gas works including gas holders which were some of the oldest surviving in the world; although some were said by English Heritage to be of national importance an attempt to get one of them listed failed. Eventually the area was redeveloped by Bellway Homes with only token ‘public art’ residues of the works.

From there I headed east to the bridge at Twelvetrees Crescent across Bow Creek and the Lea Navigation to visit another gas works site, the West Ham Memorial Gardens where war memorials, a permanent flame and a statue of Sir Corbett Woodhall are in a small wooded area close to the remarkable group of gas holders for the former Bromley-by-Bow Gas Works.

Three Mills

From there I went down to the recently opened path beside Bow Creek, part of a planned riverside walk which had been landed with the ridiculous name of The Fatwalk. As I commented then, most of the walk, meant to lead from Three Mills all the way to the Thames was still closed (and is still closed 13 years later) and by the time they were open the “nincompoop who thought that ‘The Fatwalk’ was a good name for this route will probably have retired or died or moved to another job for which he (or she) is equally incapable and common sense will prevail as we walk or cycle along the Bow Creek Trail.”

New Lock, Prescott Channel

The walk still only goes as far south as Cody Dock, now a thriving community resource and hub with events and exhibitions and worth a visit, but in 2010 still undeveloped. The silly name has gone and this path is now also a part of London’s sculpture trail, The Line, making its way from the Greenwich Peninsula to Stratford.

Three Mills Wall River

At the end of the Fatwalk, I had to turn around and go back to the Twelvetrees Crescent bridge, where I once again photographed the locks from the Lea Navigation to Bow Creek. Now there are new steps leading down from this bridge to the towpath, but then I had to go across and join the fast-moving traffic on the Blackwall Tunnel Northern Approach to make my way to Three Mills.

Stratford High St

Three Mills is home to one of Newhams only four Grade I listed buildings and the House Mill, a tide mill, was built in 1776, though there had been tide mills here at least since the Domesday book.

Olympic stadium

The film studios here were converted from a gin factory where Chaim Weizmann developed a new biochemical process to produce acetone needed for explosive production in the First World War – which led to the Balfour Declaration and later to Weizmann becoming the first president of Israel.

Bridge over City Mill River

Past the studios I visited the new lock on the Prescott Channel, opened in 2009. Supposedly this was to be used by barges to carry away waste and bring in material for the development of the Olympic site instead of lorries, but was in practice only used for photo-opportunities. The Prescott Channel was built in the 1930s, part of a large flood relief programme, that was also largely to provide jobs at the height of the depression.

I get interviewed for a student film

Finally I cycled up to the Olympic site, a building site with little or no public access, but parts of the ‘Greenway’ – the path on the Northern Sewage Outfall – were still open and gave extensive views. The reason I was in London on this particular day, when the weather wasn’t at its best was to be interviewed and filmed by a group of students at the View tube on the Greenway. I can’t remember ever seeing the video. After the interview I made my way to Stratford to fold the Brompton and start my journey home on the Jubilee Line.

Bow Creek – right click to open at a viewable size in a new tab

As well as taking single images I also produced a number of panoramas, taking a series of pictures from the same position to be stitched together. These include some 360 degree views, produced by software from 6 or 8 individual images. The pictures were taken on a Nikon D700 and are each 12Mp, but the combined files are huge. It isn’t easy to display these on the web, and they fit even less well on this blog. I’ll post one here on a rather smaller scale and invite you to double click on it to see it larger, though still much reduced. You can find more online here.

Olympic Site Revisited
Three Mills
Bow and The Fatwalk


Cleaners, Bow Creek and Stirling Prize

Thursday, October 6th, 2022

Thursday 6th October 2016 was another of those varied days I love. I began with a lunchtime protest against victimisation and nepotism by cleaners, then went for a walk by Bow Creek before finally photographing a protest outside RIBA where the annual Stirling Prize presentation was taking place.


Cleaners demand ‘End Nepotism’ – 155 Moorgate

The Independent Workers Union CAIWU occupied the lobby of Mace’s headquarters building in Moorgate at lunchtime protesting noisily against cleaning contractor Dall Cleaning Services. I met the cleaners and supporters outside Moorgate station where they got out posters and a banner before marching quietly to pay an unannounced visit to Mace’s headquarters building where they walked into the lobby and started making a lot of noise.

They called for the reinstatement of two cleaners who they say were dismissed illegally without proper notice or other procedures being followed. They say that the cleaners have been dismissed simply to give jobs to members of the family of a Dall Cleaning Services supervisor.

After around 15 minutes a police officer arrived, but it was too noisy to hear what he was saying and the protest continued. He stood a little to the side and called for reinforcements, and as these arrived the protesters walked out to join those who had stayed outside and the protest continued on the pavement for another 20 minutes.

Police came to tell the protesters they were making a lot of noise, and were told that was the idea – they came here to do so and shame Mace and Dall Cleaning Services.

Eventually another officer who had been present at several previous CAIWU protests arrived and was told they would soon be stopping.

And after a couple more minutes, Alberto ended the protest with the usual warning “We’ll be back – and that’s a fact”.

More at Cleaners demand ‘End Nepotism’.


Limehouse, Bow Creek & Silvertown, London

I had the afternoon to fill before the next protest and it was a fine day so I decided it was time to take another trip to Bow Creek. I took the DLR from Bank to West India Dock to start my walk, and took the opportunity and a fairly clean train window to take a few pictures on my way there.

City Island is not quite an island

I walked over the Lower Lea Crossing, which provided a view of work which was now rapidly going ahead on ‘City Island’, where a loop in Bow Creek goes around what was previously the site of Pura Foods. This development had stalled with the financial crash in 2008 but was now in full swing.

From there I walked on along the elevated Silvertown Way, giving views of the surrounding area, before taking the DLR back to Canning Town, again taking advantage of a fairly clean train window on the ride.

Rather to my surprise, at Canning Town I found that the exist to the riverside walk was finally open. I think the walk here beside Bow Creek was constructed in the 1990s and I’d been waiting for around 20 years for this exit from the station to open and give access to it. I didn’t have as much time left as I would have liked but did make a few pictures.

For years there have been plans to create a walk from the path beside the Lea Navigation at Bromley-by-Bow to the Thames at Trinity Buoy Wharf, and the section as far as Cody Dock had opened a few years earlier – with the ridiculous name of ‘The Fatwalk’. It hasn’t really got any further yet, though at least it has been renamed as the ‘Leaway’.

More pictures – both panoramic and otherwise at Limehouse, Bow Creek & Silvertown.


ASH protest Stirling Prize – RIBA, Portland Place

Many of the protesters wore masks showing RIBA President Elect Ben Derbyshire

Architects for Social Housing (ASH) led a protest outside the Stirling Prize awards ceremony pointing out that one of the short-listed projects, Trafalgar Place, was built on the demolished Heygate Estate, which was ‘stolen from the people’ with hundreds of social housing tenants and leaseholders being evicted and the site sold at one tenth of its value to the developers.

 ‘Architecture is Always Political!’, a quote from Richard Rogers

Together with other housing protesters than held their own awards ceremony on the pavement in front of the RIBA building, awarding the ‘O J Simpson Award for getting away with murder’ to drMM Architects for this project, the first phase of Lendlease’s £1.5 billion Elephant & Castle redevelopment. This will replace 1214 social housing homes with few or no affordable homes.

There were no other contestants for the Ben Derbyshire Foot In Mouth Award than RIBA President Elect Ben Derbyshire but there was a vote to select which of five of his totally ridiculous statements by him about social housing should be the winner.

Among those at the protest were residents opposing the demolition of the Aylesbury estate, close to the Heygate, where Southwark Council are also demolishing social housing properties rather than carry out relatively low cost Aylesbury estate,that was voted for by the residents and could continue the useful life of these properties for many years.

Simon Elmer of ASH holds up the award for the ‘O J Simpson Award for getting away with murder’ awarded to drMM Architects and developers Lend Lease for Trafalgar Place

Estate demolition has a huge social and environmental cost and schemes like these in the borough of Southwark result in huge losses of social housing. But they provide expensive properties often sold largely to investors who will never live in them and large profits to the developers. Councils hope to share in these profits, but on the Heygate made huge losses, though some individuals involved have gained highly lucrative jobs.

More at ASH protest Stirling Prize.


Duck Race, Climate, Zimbabwe & Clean Air

Wednesday, September 21st, 2022

Saturday 21st September 2019 was an even more varied day than usual for me in London. I began by travelling to Bow Creek for a duck race, moved to Trafalgar Square for a climate protest, then visted the weekly Zimbabwe vigil before going to Catford for a march against air pollution.


Bromley-by-Bow to Star Lane & Cody Dock Duck Race

Duck Race, Climate, Zimbabwe & Clean Air

It was a fine day and still warm for the time of year as I walked from Bromley-by-Bow District Line the short distance to Tweletrees Crescent and Bow Creek.

I’d decided to come to see the Duck Race along Bow Creek being organised by the people at Cody Dock, but had arrived early to give myself time to revisit the gas works memorial site nearby.

Duck Race, Climate, Zimbabwe & Clean Air

Bow Creek is the tidal section of London’s second river, the River Lea, and the duck race was a part of the ‘Lighting Up the Lea’ festival for ‘Totally Thames 2019’. It was meant to start at 11.00 but this was delayed as the people in canoes who were to shepherd the ducks were a few minutes late in arriving.

Duck Race, Climate, Zimbabwe & Clean Air

It was close to low tide, and there was little water in the creek when the ducks were dropped from the bridge, and a westerly breeze soon blew the ducks onto the mud on the east side of the creek.

Cody Dock’s Simon Myers had beached his kayak on the gravel bank a hundred yards or so downstream and strode through the shallow stream and mud to rescue the ducks and through them back into the middle of the stream. But the breeze soon returned them to the mud and he had to get them again.

I decided I had to move on to complete my walk and get back to central London for my next event and walked on towards Cody Dock, past several small groups of people waiting to see their ducks. At Cody Dock there were a small line of catchers waiting hopefully in the stream, but they were in for a rather long wait.

I’d hoped to be able to continue my walk by the riverside to Canning Town, but this further section of the Bow Creek path has yet to be opened, and after taking a few pictures at Cody Dock I made my way to Star Lane DLR station.

Cody Dock Duck Race
Bromley-by-Bow to Star Lane


XR Youth International – Trafalgar Square

Members of Extinction Rebellion Youth International came to Trafalgar Square and held a brief protest for the UN Climate conference.

This was a rather more low-key event than I had expected and the group was ignored by heritage wardens as they sat in a circle in the centre of the square with posters while one member at the centre read the letter they are sending to the UN calling for real urgent action to avert the impending climate catastrophe.

XR Youth International


Zimbabwe protests continue – Strand

The weekly Zimbabwe Vigil every Saturday at the side of the embassy at 429 Strand began on 12th October 2002. I’ve joined it and photographed occasionally over the years, but mainly for special occasions. It’s hard to say something new about an event which happens every week.

Mugabe had been forced to resign in 2017 died earlier in the month and had died two weeks before my visit, but the vigils continue and little has changed in Zimbabwe. His successor Emmerson Mnangagwa was Mugabe’s right-hand man for 40 years, and is accused of the genocide of over 20,000 Ndebeles in the 1980s. Although he promised reform he has delivered state terrorism and protesters have been killed, beaten, tortured and raped by the security forces.

Zimbabwe protests continue


Clean Air for Catford Children

The South Circular Road brings large volumes of traffic through Catford, often pumping out fumes at standstill during peak hours. Particles from brakes, tyres and the road add significantly to the pollution – and won’t be reduced as we switch towards electric cars.

Although a major traffic route, the South Circular has always been more an idea than a planned route, going along many fairly narrow roads lined with houses which were never designed for the traffic. Fortunately major schemes which would have laid waste large areas of highly populated parts of South London have never come to fruition – the obvious environmental devastation of roads like the Westway having put paid to urban motorway schemes.

The answer has to be policies at both national and local level which reduce vehicle use and promote greener alternative transport including walking and cycling as well as public transport use. But although Lewisham Council are not responsible for the South Circular Road, remedial actions such as planting screens of trees and hedges can reduce local pollution levels, particularly the levels of harmful particulates.

I met local residents at the Corbett Library on Torridon Road in Catford, built with funding from Andrew Carnegie in 1907. It is now a Community Library run by volunteers and is on the Corbett Estate, 3,000 houses around Hither Green developed by Glasgow-born Archibald Corbett from 1896 to 1911.

They were busy finishing placards and posters for the march, which soon set off, marching up on the pavement to the South Circular at Brownhill Road, on their way to a rally at the council offices in Lewisham. Traffic on the South Circular made it a little difficult for me to take photographs as it was seldom possible to stand on the road. I left them before the rally to travel home.

Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, a nine-year-old girl who lived near the South Circular Road in Lewisham died from asthma in 2013. Following a 2020 inquest ruling she was the first first person in the UK to have air pollution listed as the cause of her death on her death certificate.

Clean Air for Catford Children


Dangleway, Silvertown and Stratford Marsh

Sunday, June 26th, 2022

Dangleway, Silvertown and Stratford Marsh: My day out on Wednesday 26 June 2013 began by taking the tube to North Greenwich and then walking to the cablecar for the ride across the Thames.

Back then I commented “Given the huge losses it is sustaining I can’t see it remaining open too much longer, so if you’ve not taken a ride don’t leave it too long“, and I’m surprised to find it still running 8 years later. But perhaps not for much longer, as the sponsorship deal with the Emirates Airline comes to an end this month, and no other company has come forward to pick up the tab, even though TfL have offered a huge reduction for the privilege.

Never a sensible contribution to London’s travel network it remains one of London’s cheaper and more interesting tourist attractions. I’m not sure whether the fact that it now lands on the north bank spitting distance from London’s now misplaced County Hall adds to its chances of retention, but it could make it more likely to be brought within the normal London fare structures.

There are already fare reductions for people with Travelcards, and frequent users can buy a ticket which reduces the cost to make it a viable part of a commute to work, particularly as you can take a bike with you for free. However I suspect the number of ‘frequent fliers’ is probably only in two figures. Its also a service which is more affected by weather than surface transport, closing down in high winds.

But it does have the height to give some splended views, even if the surrounding area is perhaps less rich than that of London’s other aerial attraction, the London Eye. Actually for me is considerably more attractive, and it’s an area which is now rapidly developing on both sides of the river, with new residential developments replacing old industrial and commercial uses.

The dangleway is also a part of the East London sculpture trail, The Line, which vaguely follows the Greenwich Meridian, from North Greenwich to Stratford and makes an interesting walk, although this will become a more interesting walk once the riverside path from Cody Dock to the East India Dock Road is opened, something we have been waiting for around 20 years. One day it might even extend past Canning Town station to Trinity Buoy Wharf, but we may not live that long.

Although you can see the riverside from above, little of it is now publicly accessible, though I walked along Bow Creek and a little of the Thames here back in the 1980s taking photographs now on Flickr. But back then the Royal Victoria Dock was largely fenced off and you can now walk around it and over a high-level bridge which also has interesting views.

Or at least you can most of the time. But the area becomes a high security zone with the bridge closed when the Excel Centre is full of arms dealers selling often illegal arms to repressive regimes around the world – every other September. Fortunately it was June, though I was back there for the DSEI protests in September – and in other years.

The DLR also runs through the area on a viaduct, and from the train and the stations you also get some interesting views, though the train windows are often rather to dirty for taking photographs. That you are looking south from the line can also mean the sun is shining directly into the lens.

This is the Woolwich branch of the DLR and at Canary Wharf I changed onto a train towards Stratford, alighting at Pudding Mill Lane to walk up onto the Greenway. I arrived just too late to go into the View Tube there so I had to be content with making pictures from the Greenway which runs high through the area.

I’d begun making photogrfaphs here back in the 1980s, and had published some of these on my my River Lea/Lee Valley web site – and in the Blurb book ‘Before The Olympics‘, returning to the area occasionally and photographing it as it changed and particularly as the Olympic site developed. Progress on restoring the area to some useful purpose appeared to be very slow

More on My London Diary where the pictures are also larger – though you can see these ones larger by opening the images in their own window.
Stratford Greenway Olympic Revisit
Victoria Dock and Silvertown
Emirates ‘Airline’ – Arab Dangleway


Bromley-by-Bow Gasholders

Tuesday, April 5th, 2022

Bromley-by-Bow Gasholders: A week ago on Monday 28th March I was invited to go with a team from Cody Dock on a site visit to the gasholders which are a prominent feature of the local landscape, seen by many thousands every day from the Underground and National Rail lines as they travel in and out of London as well as local residents and walkers along the Lower Lea and Bow Creek, including those following The Line sculpture trail. We were there invited to study the heritage, history and ecology of the Bromley-by-Bow Gasworks site which has just been sold by its future developers.

Bromley-by-Bow Gas Holder Site Visit

The seven gas holders, all to a similar design were built between 1872 and 1882 and are all Grade II listed. Nine were built on the site but two are no longer there, the base of one now forming a large circular lake in the site. Holder No 1 was given an extra upper tier in steel in 1925-7 to more than double its capacity. All were taken out of use in the 1980s.

Bromley-by-Bow Gas Holder Site Visit

The real value of the site is not in the individual holders although these were some of the “most aesthetically distinguished and finely detailed gasholders ever built” (according to the listing text) but in the ensemble, thought to be “the largest group of Victorian gasholders known to remain in the world, which is testament to the scale of Britain’s pioneering gas industry and its contribution to the Industrial Revolution.” It is a heritage site not just of national importance but of world importance.

Bromley-by-Bow Gas Holder Site Visit

Given their importance the group, together with the adjoining memorial garden with its Grade II listed memorial lamp and statue of Sir Corbett Woodall surely deserves both Grade I listing and preservation, and the former gas works offices could form a heritage centre for the area. The offices were for some time a gas museum.

Bromley-by-Bow Gas Holder Site Visit
The circular pond is the base of a former gasholder

Just across the Channelsea river from the site is the Grade I listed Three Mills and a little to the south the former gas works Dock at Cody Dock, now a thriving creative and community hub, the sites linked by a riverside path which currently stops at Cody Dock but which should long ago have been opened as planned to lead to the Thames at Trinity Buoy Wharf, passing on the way the Bow Creek Ecology Park. Many sites along here played an important part in Britain and the world’s industrial history, but unfortunately little evidence remains, making it essential to preserve what does.

Bromley-by-Bow Gas Holder Site Visit

We were shown around the site in the morning by two of those responsible for planning the development who expressed their wish for the development to retain these elements which make the site unique and to open them up to the public, but good intentions are not enough, particularly for company accountants.

Bromley-by-Bow Gas Holder Site Visit

Given what has happened at other sites greater protection is required to make sure that any development in the area leaves the gasholders intact and preserves their landscape value, in particular the views of the ensemble from the railway and Underground lines, from Three Mills and the riverside footpaths by the Channelsea River and River Lea and the navigation. We do need more housing, or at least more social housing rather than luxury flats many of which remain largely unoccupied as investments, but we also need to preserve important monuments such as these which record and could celebrate our history.

Many more pictures from the day, mainly inside the holder site in my album Bromley-by-Bow Gas Holders. You can click on any of the images above to see a larger version in the album – and browse from there. Most of the images have an horizontal angle of view of approximately 145 degrees. There are more pictures of the area in various posts on My London Diary including Bow and The Fatwalk, Bromley-by-Bow to Star Lane and Gasworks Dock Revived.


An Olympic Bike Ride

Tuesday, January 4th, 2022

Businesses later demolished at the heart of the site for London’s 2012 Olympics

An Olympic Bike Ride: At the end of 2002 I finally bought a Brompton, a rather expensive folding bicycle which then cost me around £600. Perhaps not a lot for a new bike then and certainly not now, but rather more than the £13-7s6d or so the other bike I was still riding had cost in 1958.

Clays Lane Housing Co-operative – demolished for the Olympics

I’d been thinking about it for years, and it would certainly have been very useful for the work that I’d been doing around outer London in the previous decade, but I’ve only used it infrequently for my photography.

Eastway Cycle Circuit – lost to the Olympics

Though it’s a great way to get to places, taking it by train or underground and riding from a convenient station, Bromptons are a powerful magnet for bike thieves, so easy to put in a car boot or van, and selling at a relatively high price. It isn’t safe to lock them anywhere in public view when even the best cycle lock can only detain the well-equipped thief for around 30 seconds.

Bully Fen Wood – Community Woodland lost to the Olympics

So rather than using it for my general photography – mainly of protests and other events – I’ve used it for cycle rides on which I’ve taken photographs, both around where I live – it’s easier to jump on and off than my full-size bike – and in and around London.

Factory on Waterden Road – demolished for the Olympics

Thursday 4th January 2007 was a nice winter’s day, not too cold and blue skies with just a few clouds, and I went with the Brompton to Waterloo and then on the Jubilee Line to Stratford. Preparations had begun for the 2012 London Olympics and I wanted to see and photograph what I could of the changes that were taking place.

The footbridge has been kept in the new Olympic Park

My account of the day on My London Diary begins with my tongue-in-cheek suggestion that it would have been much preferable on environmental ground to shut down Heathrow and use that as the Olympic site, but goes on to describe a conversation I had with one of the residents at Clays Lane, then about to be demolished (spelling etc corrected.)

‘he talked of living in a fascist state, with lack of consultation and individual powerlessness, and of the games as having always had a militaristic overtone. hardly surprising there is little support for the games here, as initial promises that people from the Clays Lane Housing Co-operative would be rehoused in conditions “as good as, if not better than” their present estate were soon changed to “at least as good as in so far as is reasonably practicable.”‘

My London Diary

Work on the site seen from the Greenway

From Clays Lane I moved to the Eastway Cycle Track, already closed and fenced off – I decided against going through a gap in the fence to ride around it. The Community Woodland at Bully Fen Wood was also already closed. and I cycled on around the roads at the north of the site to Hackney Wick.

Pudding Mill River and Marshgate Lane – all now gone

Along Waterden Road I photographed some of the other industrial sites that were to be lost to the games, then turned along Carpenters Road and into Marshgate Lane, all soon to be fenced off and everthing on them destroyed. After taking pictures around Marshgate Lane I went back and into Hackney Wick, photographing the Kings Yard workshops on Carpenters Road soon to be demolished on my way.

Kings Yard – demolished for the Olympics

Hackney Wick to the west of the Lea Navigation is largely outside the Olympic compulsory purchase area, but some large areas of industry were scheduled for demolition and I took more pictures. I found the towpath here beside the navigation still open and rode down it to Stratford High Street, where more industry to the north of the road is also going.

Canary Wharf from Stratford Marsh

I spent some time going up the roads and paths here going from the High Street into Stratford Marsh which were still open, then went east along the top of the outfall sewer past areas also covered by the Olympic CPO.

St Thomas Creek, Bow Back Rivers – factories at left and right to be demolished

There was still a little light and I came down from the ‘Greenway’ and cycled down to Bow Creek from West Ham, going down the path on the west side of the creek to the Lower Lea Crossing. I wanted a picture showing the Pura Foods site then being demolished, but also made a number of other twilight pictures from this elevated viewpoint, and also some from the Silvertown Way viaduct as I made my way to Canning Town Station for the train home.

Pura Foods being demolished for London City Island development

Many more pictures from this ride on My London Diary, starting a little way down the January 2007 page.