Posts Tagged ‘canal’

Manchester Revisited

Thursday, May 5th, 2022

Manchester Revisited – May 5th & 7th 2017

Manchester Revisited
Two canals (Bridgewater and Rochdale) and four railways exemplify Manchester’s contribution to the industrial revolution

Pictures here are from walks in Manchester on Friday 5th May 2017 and the following Sunday while passing through the city. It was a short visit to a city I had hardly returned to for around 45 years.

Manchester Revisited
A magic bus crosses the canal

Although I grew up on the western edge of London, I spent most of the years between when I was eighteen and twenty-five in Manchester, at first studying for a degree at Manchester University and later after a short break returning to work for my doctorate at the Institute of Science and Technology.

My school had recommended Manchester for my university course, and I made my first visit there as a day trip for interviews – a very long day as the journey each way took over five hours. I didn’t see a great deal of the city that day, but I was made two unconditional offers of places and my headmaster when told advised me to stop preparing for Oxbridge entrance exams and accept Manchester, which I did. It was a decision that changed my life in various ways.


My course was disappointing – long hours in the lab and largely tedious lectures by staff with no training and little idea of how to teach, keen to get back to their researches. Sitting at a bench with a small plaque informing me that ‘Rutherford first split the atom here’ in 1917 was little compensation for a physics lecturer who seemed unable to explain even the simplest of concepts, though fortunately I’d studied enough of the subject at school to get a decent grade – and the same was true of my other subsidiary, Maths where I passed a rather curious end-of-year exam with 108%.

Knott Mill

But my real study was in the University Union and in the city itself, though I did enough work in my final year to get a decent grade – and to turn down offers of employment from big pharma who I found far too interested in profit rather than human good and also from the government’s explosives research lab from where I got a very long handwritten letter from one of the scientists working there about the exciting research they were doing – but I decided I really didn’t want to spend my life making better bombs.

The old canal dock area became a conservation area in 1980 and an Urban Heritage Park in 1982

I did get turned down for one job I would really have liked, working in the labs at Kodak in Harrow. I was really not sufficiently middle-class for them – and not interested enough in photography – I’d had an interest but never really been able to afford to pursue it, and dropping my camera in a lake in 1966 hadn’t helped – it never really worked properly again. I ended up getting a job in a lab ten minutes walk from my old home, but it disappointed in almost every way but the salary – at least 50% more than my father had ever earned. It didn’t last, and six months later I was back in Manchester.

River Irwell

Two years later I got married, not in Manchester but in Hull. We were both students still and had little or no money and spent our honeymoon in Manchester, with a day out on the Derbyshire hills and a day coach trip to the Lake District. We lived for the next two years on the two first-floor rooms of a small terraced house in Rusholme, close to Manchester CIty’s Maine Road ground.

New Quay St Bridge – Salford coat of arms

We moved away for me to do a course in Leicester. I’d taught for a couple of terms before just to the north of Manchester, and tried at the end of the year to get another teaching job in Manchester, but failed, ending up moving to Bracknell, where I was offered housing in a new flat on one of the new estates.

After we moved away from Manchester I think I went back once for a conference there and a weekend in Didsbury in the 1990s but not really again until 2017. We were on our way to a weekend conference a few miles to the north, and took an early train to have a few hours to look around the city. Our train came into Piccadilly, and we took a walk along the Rochdale canal and the Bridgewater canal before walking back close to the River Irwell to the city centre to catch our bus.

Doves of Peace sculpture by Michael Lyons, Manchester Civil Justice Centre

Back in 1970, the canals were still largely working areas, or mainly disused but still largely closed to the public; you could walk along some towpaths, but they were rather lonely and forbidding places. Now things are very different.

Mechanics Institute – where the TUC, CIS and UMIST began

We had time for a shorter walk on our way home, but mainly spent that in the People’s History Museum. The following year, 2018 we made a similar journey, but with less time for a walk, and then came back to stay for several days at the start of August as a part of a couple of weeks in various places celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary – including a celebration with family and friends in Hull.

More pictures from Manchester in May 2017.

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Old Ford, Hertford Union & Hackney

Monday, April 11th, 2022

Old Ford, Hertford Union & Hackney

Gunmakers Lane, Hertford Union, canal, Old Ford, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8am-33-Edit_2400
Gunmakers Lane, Hertford Union, canal, Old Ford, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8am-33

The short street which goes across the canal on Three Colts Bridge probably got its name from the pub, the Gunmakers Arms, which stood opposite it 438 Old Ford Road on the west side of St Stephens Road – and perhaps there were once some guns made nearby. In April 1915 the pub was taken over by the East London Federation of Suffragettes, led by Sylvia Pankhurst, a more militant and working class breakaway from Women’s Social and Political Union who turned it into a day nursery and clinic.

The Connaught Works here on Old Ford Road was a furniture factory and is said to date from the 1920’s though it looks earlier and was extended to the east around 20 years later.

Gunmakers Lane, Hertford Union, canal, Old Ford, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-8am-34-Edit_2400
Three Colt Bridge, Gunmakers Lane, Hertford Union, canal, Old Ford, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8am-34

This early 19th century cast iron bridge presumably dates from the building of the Hertford Union Canal which opened in 1830. It is Grade II* listed Scheduled Ancient Monument. A pub, the Old Three Colts, was close by at 450 Old Ford Rd from 1792 or earlier but was I think demolished a few years after WW2. St Stephens Road used to be called Three Colts Street, possibly because this pub was more or less at its end.

Victoria park Rd, Homerton, Hackney, 1988 88-8am-35-Edit_2400
Victoria park Rd, Homerton, Hackney, 1988 88-8am-35

The Three Colts Bridge leads to the Gunmakers Gate of Victoria Park, and I walked across the park to Victoria Park Road. This gothic fantasy of a building is now the Mossbourne Victoria Park Academy but was built in 1864-5 by Robert Lewis Roumieu as a French Protestant Hospital by a Huguenot charity, La Providence, who had decided to move out of earlier almshouses and hospital in Finsbury to a larger and more rural site here.

After WWII, La Providence moved to Rochester, selling the building to Roman Catholic nuns, the Faithful Companions of Jesus, and it reopened as the St Victoire Convent Girls’ Grammar School. When I made this picture it had become Cardinal Pole RC School and in 2014 was sold to be an academy school. The building is Grade II* listed.

Terrace Rd, Church Crescent, South Hackney, Hackney, 1988 88-8am-21-Edit_2400
Terrace Rd, Church Crescent, South Hackney, Hackney, 1988 88-8am-21

These Tudor-style group of cottages are thought to have been built in 1847-8 to designs by George Wales who was the architect of Monger’s almshouses further down Church Crescent. The other houses between the two sites are more classical in design but also thought to be by Wales.

They are Grade II listed and still there and look now rather neater, with the middle property of the Tudor three having had its brickwork cleaned and looking considerably brighter. It also appears to lack the variation in colour of the darker brickwork which I find more attractive, though perhaps it looks more like when it was newly built.

Terrace, Cassland Rd, Hackney, 1988 88-8am-25-Edit_2400
Hackney Terrace, Cassland Rd, Hackney, 1988 88-8am-25

This remarkable terrace at 20-54 Cassland Road overlooking Cassland Crescent is Grade II listed and was built from 1794 using funding from subscribers who made monthly payments over a period of four years, with the houses being allotted by ballot to a subscriber as each was built. All 18 were completed and occupied by 1801. This kind of co-operative funding of a development predates the earliest more conventional building societies.

James Taylor, gallery, Collent St, Hackney, 1988 88-8am-26-Edit_2400
James Taylor, gallery, Collent St, Hackney, 1988 88-8am-26

The James Taylor warehouse was built in 1893 in Collent Road, which was described by the James Taylor gallery as “Formerly a Victorian factory, china warehouse, squat and film location.” Around ten years ago it was transformed with the facade and front building on the site being retained, along with a long wall along the north almost to Cresset Road as a part of a complex redevelopment with up to 10 storeys containing 69 flats, office space and an underground car park.

I made a few more exposures around Well St and I think my walk probably ended on neaby Mare Street, where I photographed the Crown pub (not online) and then probably caught a train from Hackney Central.

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

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

Old Ford, Middlesex Filter Beds & Hertford Union

Sunday, April 10th, 2022

After my stay in Paris in August 1988 I was back in London and managed to fit in one more walk before the end of the month, starting from where I had finished one of my previous walks in Bethnal Green.

Old Ford Rd, Old Ford, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8am-66-Edit_2400
Old Ford Rd, Old Ford, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8am-66

Old Ford Road runs parallel to Roman Road but a couple of hundred yards to the north, and almost certainly follows the real Roman route to the east out of London, fording the River Lea somewhere close to where the Northern Outfall Sewer (The Greenway) now crosses. The river here is a part of the Lea Navigation and now very much more constrained between banks than it once was, though then it will still have been tidal here.

There was a route here even before the Romans, leading along the way of modern Oxford St and Old Street to Bethnal Green and Old Ford and then continuing through what were then marshes to Wanstead Slip north of Stratford and on the Colchester.

There are long stretches of Victorian houses as well as modern flats along Old Ford Road, but the house at the left of this picture is No 218, and is a terrace beginning with 196 and ending at 224 a little to the west of the bridge over the Regent’s Canal and immediately north of the Cranbrook estate.

Roman Rd, Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8am-52-Edit_2400
Roman Rd, Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8am-52

I wasn’t sure what to make of this establishment on Roman Road, which seemed to be both a Patisserie and Bar, offering Light Lunches & Coffee, as well as catering for all functions, with rather curious window decoration and an odd bit of statuary in its entrance.

Middlesex FIlter Beds, Lea Bridge, Waltham Forest, 1988 88-8am-42-Edit_2400
Middlesex Filter Beds, Lea Bridge, Waltham Forest, 1988 88-8am-42

I did a lot more walking without taking many photographs, going south down Usher Road and then going east to cross the East Cross Route on Wick Lane before joining the towpath on the opposite bank of the Lea Navigation to get to the Middlesex Filter Beds at the north corner of the Hackney Marshes – something over 2 miles before I took the next black and white pictures in what had been turned into a nature reserve.

The filter beds were built in the early nineteenth century to combat cholera in London by providing clean drinking water which was still killing thousands but were unable to cope with the increasing population and were finally closed in 1969, left to become a nature reserve. I think they may have recently been made open to the public when I made this short visit. Going back more recently they seem to have been made a little less overgrown than they had become over the 19 years since they were abandoned. This image seems to me the more interesting of the five frames that I took – film was still expensive.

Lea Navigation, Eastway,  Hackney Wick, Hackney, 1988 88-8am-45-Edit_2400
Lea Navigation, Eastway, Hackney Wick, Hackney, 1988 88-8am-45

Walking back south along the towpath I made three exposures of this derelict building with its broken windows and the reflection in the canal by the Eastway Bridge. I probably took few pictures on this part of the walk as I had photographed fairly extensively along the Lea a few years earlier – some pictures you can see in the book ‘Before the Olympics‘ which has images from the source to the Thames.

Hertford Union, canal, Old Ford, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8am-46-Edit_2400
Hertford Union, canal, Old Ford, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8am-26

At Hackney Wick I crossed the bridge and took the towpath beside the Herrtford Union Canal, a short section joining the Lea Navigation to the Regent’s Canal. Then there were still a number of canal wharves, mainly for timber, though it was a few years since commercial traffic here had ended.

Hertford Union, canal, Old Ford, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-8am-32-Edit_2400
Hertford Union, canal, Old Ford, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8am-32

Another view of the same wharf, and one of the lorries which now served them rather than canal boats. The Challenge, owned by the Docklands Canal Boat Trust, a registered charity formed in 1985 that provides boating holidays and day trips for people with disabilities, is a specially built boat for the purpose – and it was a challenge to get the money to build it. Still in operation it is now based on the Lea at Clapton.

Hertford Union, canal, Hackney Wick, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-8am-31-Edit_2400

Hertford Union, canal, Hackney Wick, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8am-31

There was still plenty of timber along this stretch of the canal.

More from the end of this walk in a later post. You can see a larger version of any of these pictures by clicking on them which will take you to my album 1988 London Photos.

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Limehouse, Horses, Graffiti & Canal

Thursday, January 13th, 2022
Commercial Rd, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7n-23-positive_2400
Commercial Rd, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7n-23

Limehouse, Horses, Graffiti & Canal

This terrace at 582-588 is still there, considerably restored, with the wrought iron railings now continuing in front of 588, but the two storey building beyond the traffic lights for Branch Road, here with a sign GEC Mowlem Railway Group and on its roof the former occupants, scrap metal firm 600 Group has been replaced by a tall I think 12 storey block, the Zenith building, one of the new buildings on Commercial Road with views over Limehouse Basin. Mowlem had presumably been there for the conversion of the old railway line along the viaduct next to the basin into the recently opened Docklands Light Railway.

Clemence St,  Limehouse,Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7n-11-positive_2400
Clemence St, Limehouse,Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7n-11

My notes say that this slender detached house with doorway and detailing that could have graced a rather grander residence was on Clemence Street, and I’ve no particular reason to doubt them, but it may have been in a neighbouring street. I didn’t hear any neighing from the two horses heads in the picture.

G Fawkes Is Innocent, Turners Rd, Limehouse,Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-7n-12-positive_2400
G Fawkes Is Innocent, Turners Rd, Limehouse,Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7n-12

‘G.FAWKES IS. INNOCENT’ is I think a play on the iconic East End graffiti about George Davis, who was framed by Det Sgt Mathews for an armed robbery at the London Electricity Board’s offices in Ilford, Essex in 1974, for which he was sentenced to 20 years in jail. Eventually in 2011 he won his appeal against that verdict. He was imprisoned for other crimes, but never protested his innocence after being convicted. Guy Fawkes, often said to be the only person to enter Parliament with honest intentions was tortured terribly and fell from the scaffold on which he was to be hanged, breaking his neck and thus avoiding being hung, drawn and quartered but is celebrated by being burnt on bonfires every 5th November in an anti-Catholic celebration.

Rhodeswell Rd, Turners Rd, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7o-61-positive_2400
Rhodeswell Rd, Turners Rd, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7o-61

The same building as the picture above but showing its Rhodeswell Rd side and terraced houses down Turners Road. The terrace has surviced, but the building at the left and the empty site at right have both been replaced by new housing.

Turners Rd, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-7o-62-positive_2400
Turners Rd, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7o-62

All of the houses on the north side of Turners Road here have been demolished and replaced by new housing. The terraced houses have equally small but much neater front gardens. No 43 here has the house name ‘City View’.

Copenhagen Place, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-7o-56-positive_2400
Copenhagen Place, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7o-56

One of several small alleys leading off from Copenhagen Place which I think have disappeared, although there is a short cobbled section leading off to Carmine Wharf, and another yard – clearly not this one – at the rear of properties on Pixley St. But most of the area has been completely redeveloped since I made this picture.

Limehouse Cut, Burdett Rd, LImehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-7o-41-positive_2400
Limehouse Cut, Burdett Rd, LImehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7o-41

The Limehouse Cut is the oldest canal in London, first dug in 1770 but widened a few years later to allow barges to pass each other and travel in both directions. Later it was widened to the current width. It provided a route from the Lea Navigation to the River Thames avoiding the convoluted meandering of the tidal Bow Creek and initially had its own basin and entrance lock to the Thames in Limehouse, although the canal was still tidal, at the level of Bow Locks. In 1854 the basin was linked to the nearby Regents Canal Dock but after a legal dispute because bargees didn’t like the Regents Canal terms this was filled in a few years later and only restored in 1968, after which the lock and short length of the cut leader to the Thames were filled in.

Last's Wharf, Burdett Rd, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7o-42-positive_2400
Last’s Wharf, Burdett Rd, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7o-42

310 Burdett Road is now the Royal Mail Delivery Office in Docklands, on the large site of Last’s Wharf leading down to the Limehouse Cut. The picture of the Cut from the Burdett Road Bridge above is looking roughly west, and the different constructions of the bank of the canal remains recognisable but nothing else in the picture from 1988 remains.

My walk will continue in a later post.

Clicking on any of the images will take you to a larger version in the album 1988 London Photos, from where you can browse the other pictures, though in a different order to this post which has them in the order I made them.

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

Camera Place and the Grosvenor Canal 1988

Saturday, September 4th, 2021

Camera Place, Chelsea, Kensington and Chelsea, 1988 88-5c-64-positive_2400
Camera Place, Chelsea, Kensington and Chelsea, 1988 88-5c-64

Having found there was a street in Chelsea named Camera Place I had to photograph it. It’s a short street and my picture shows around half of it, looking roughly west towards Limerston St. Chelsea used to have a Camera Square, Camera Street and Little Camera Street which have since disappeared, but as they were built in the 1820s they almost certainly have little to do with photography. By 1918 Camera Square had become something of a slum and the area was demolished, rebuilt as Chelsea Park Gardens with up-market housing in suburban garden village fashion, though retaining a rigidly square layout without the typical sinously curving streets.

The view in Camera Place has changed little; some new railings and the small tree is now rather large.

Elm Park Mansions, Park Walk, Chelsea, Kensington and Chelsea, 1988 88-5c-62-positive_2400
Elm Park Mansions, Park Walk, Chelsea, Kensington and Chelsea, 1988 88-5c-62

Elm Park Mansions has five large blocks around a courtyard, with one of the blocks (flats 25-54) occuping half the length of the north side of Camera Place, behind and to my right as I took the previous picture. The mansions with 189 mostly one and two bedroom flats were built by the Metropolitan Industrial Dwellings Company on land leased to them by Major Sloane Stanley in 1900. The Freehold for the property was taken over by the leaseholders in 1986 and since then the state of the properties has been improved. Two bed flats have sold in recent years for around £800,000.

Elm Park Rd, Chelsea, Kensington and Chelsea, 1988 88-5b-15-positive_2400
Elm Park Rd, Chelsea, Kensington and Chelsea, 1988 88-5b-15

Elm Park Road dates from 1875 when Chelsea Park House was demolished and the houses, many designed by George Godwin, were built between then and 1882. The central house in this picture, at 76 Elm Park Road for built for Paul Naftel, (1817-91) a Guernsey born watercolour painter and his wife and family who came to London in 1870. He moved here in around 1884 and the adjoining houses were also homes to landscape artists. Naftel later moved out to Strawberry Hill, Twickenham where he died.

Grosvenor Canal, Grosvenor Rd, Pimlico, Westminster, 1988 88-5e-12-positive_2400
Grosvenor Canal, Grosvenor Rd, Pimlico, Westminster, 1988 88-5e-12

The Grosvenor Canal was began by the Chelsea Waterworks Company who had leased the land from Sir Richard Grosvenor in 1722, and enlarged a creek there to supply drinking water and also to create a tide mill used to pump the water. When their lease expired in 1823, the then Earl of Grosvenor decide to put in a lock and turn the creek into a canal, extending it to a basin where Victoria Station now stands, around half a mile from the Thames. It opened in 1824 carrying coal, wood and stone into the centre of a rapidly growing area of London.

Grosvenor Canal, Grosvenor Rd, Pimlico, Westminster, 1988 88-5e-13-positive_2400
Grosvenor Canal, Grosvenor Rd, Pimlico, Westminster, 1988 88-5e-14

Victoria Station was built over the canal basin, and more of the canal closed in 1899 for a station extension. Westminster City Council bought what was left of it in 1905, then filled in more of it in 1927 for the Ebury Bridge estate.

Grosvenor Canal, Grosvenor Rd, Pimlico, Westminster, 1988 88-5e-14-positive_2400
Grosvenor Canal, Grosvenor Rd, Pimlico, Westminster, 1988 88-5e-14

The canal continued in use by the council taking refuse in barges from Westminster and other local authorities downriver to be dumped until 1995, making this vestigial canal the last in London in commercial use. In 2000 it began to be developed as an expensive waterside development, with the lock being retained but a boom across the entrance from the Thames prevents access for boats despite mooring pontoons inside the development.

Western Pumping Station, Bazalgette, Thames Water, Grosvenor Rd, Pimlico, Westminster, 198888-5e-15-positive_2400
Western Pumping Station, Grosvenor Rd, Pimlico, Westminster, 1988 88-5e-15

The Chelsea Water Works continued to extract water from the Grosvenor Canal until an Act of Parliament prevented extraction of water from the Thames in London in 1852 and they moved up-river to Surbiton. Sewage was increasingly becoming a problem as London grew and the ‘Great Stink’ of 1858 prompted Parliament into action, passing a bill in 18 days to construct a new sewerage system for London.

The solution by Joseph William Bazalgette was a system of sewers that delivered the sewage around 8 miles downriver to Beckton on the north bank and Crossness on the south, through main high level middle and low level sewers through North London and main and high level sewers in South London. The plans included stone embankments beside the river – the Victoria, Chelsea and Albert embankments which he designed.

Lamp post, Western Pumping Station, Thames Water, Grosvenor Rd, Pimlico, Westminster, 1988 88-5e-16-positive_2400
Lamp post, Western Pumping Station, Thames Water, Grosvenor Rd, Pimlico, Westminster, 1988 88-5e-16

Bazalgette didn’t do everything himself, but he kept a very close eye on every aspect of his great project, and some of the specifications he laid down – such as the use of Portland Cement – have kept the system running despite increasing demands since it was completed in 1875. Now it is being augmented by the new ‘Super Sewer’ running underneath the river, the Thames Tideway.

As well as engineering considerations, Bazalgette was also a stickler for the aesthetics and there are some fine examples of Victorian design in his works. The Pumping Station which housed the powerful steam engines needed to send the sewage on its way, as well as its chimney (in a picture above) and the Superintendents House here are all Grade II listed.

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

Grosvenor Canal, Chelsea & Belgravia 1988

Wednesday, July 28th, 2021

Grosvenor Canal, Grosvenor Rd, Chelsea, Westminster, 1988 88-4n-53-positive_2400
Grosvenor Canal, Grosvenor Rd, Chelsea, Westminster, 1988 88-4n-53

The Grosvenor Canal, now only vestigial, is one of London’s least-known canals, opened in 1824 when the Earl of Grosvenor decided to add a lock and turn what had been a tidal creek with a tide mill and feeding reservoirs for drinking water at Chelsea Waterworks (at right in picture) into a short canal, around three quarters of a mile long ending at a large basin, Grosvenor Basin. The lock needed two gates at the end where it connected to the river as the canal level could be higher or lower than the tidal river. The main traffic then on the canal was coal for the many houses in Westminster.

Victoria Station was built on much of this basin site in 1858, and when the station was expanded in 1902, the upper half of the canal was closed and the lower half sold to Westminster City Council who used it for barges carrying refuse. They closed more in 1925 to build the Ebury Bridge estate, but a short section was still in use, with barges taking Westminster’s rubbish onto the Thames, when I made this picture. It was then the last commercial canal in London. It closed in 1995 and has since been redeveloped as Grosvenor Waterside. More on Wikipedia

Savills, Sloane St, Sloane Square, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-61-positive_2400
Savills, Sloane St, Sloane Square, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-61

An estate agent selling the grand houses in the area with offices in a rather grand Grade II listed house on Sloane St, dating from the late 18th century. The listing text notes that the ground floor – reached up eight steps from the pavement – is in commercial use and describes the ground floor windows as wide, “with stucco fan motif lunettes above”.

Bourne St, Belgravia, Westminster, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-62-positive_2400
Bourne St, Belgravia, Westminster, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-62

A long white passageway with a charming lamp at the end hanging from wrought iron supports, behind a slightly more prosaic wrought iron gate. I wouldn’t have photographed it, not having a great love of the twee, but for the rather more practical lamp fitting at left with its cable housing leading rather nicely vertically down the wall to the curving shadow on the floor.

Bourne St, Belgravia, Westminster, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-63-positive_2400
Bourne St, Belgravia, Westminster, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-63

White fences have had a particular attraction for photographers since an iconic image by Paul Strand at Port Kent in 1916, though I make no suggestion that this is anywhere in the same league. But it did seem an awful lot of white fence in a rather confined space.

Skinner Place,  Belgravia, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-64-positive_2400
Skinner Place, Belgravia, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-64

Skinner Place looked like something from a rather meaner part of London, perhaps somewhere in Bethnal Green mysteriously translocated into Belgravia (which would have increased its price by a large factor.) But it was the huge union flag blocking the end of the street that I really liked, along with the rounded block of flats behind.

Cranley Mews, South Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4o-15-positive_2400
Cranley Mews, South Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4o-15

The Henry Smith Charity was established on the death of Henry Smith (1549-1628) who lived and profited through interesting times, lending money to many landed families and amassing large landholdings from their misfortunes. He left detailed instructions for the administration of his estates, and the charity trustees in 1640 bought “a marshy estate of mainly market gardens just outside London, in the parish of Kensington.” According the the charity web site, “Nearly four centuries after we were first established, The Henry Smith Charity is one of the largest grant making charities in Britain; making grants of £39.8 million in 2020.”

Smiths Charity, corruption, Cranley Mews, South Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4o-14-positive_2400
Smiths Charity, corruption, Cranley Mews, South Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4o-14

I spent some time reading the notices in this picture, but ended up little the wiser about the eviction of Major Parson in the 1970s, and the corruption alleged to have been involved. Reading a post from David Swarbrick about a 1974 legal case did little to help me but may held my legal friends.

Click on any of the above to see a large version and explore more pictures in my album 1988 London Photos.

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

Thames Path

Sunday, April 4th, 2021

One of the many things I ought really to do is to put together a book of my pictures of the Thames Path. Of course quite a few others have done so, but I think mine would provide a slightly different view.

I think I’ve walked every section of it over the years, parts of it many times, though there may possibly be a few yards I’ve missed actually in London where there are routes on both sides of the river. I’ve also gone rather further east on both banks, as the Thames Path stops rather prematurely at the Thamea Barrier while the paths continue.

I’ve never quite been to the mouth of the Thames, traditionally marked at various places including the the Nore sandbank, Yantlet Creek – where the City put up the London Stone, and though I cycled to Leigh-on-Sea in 2005 I think I missed the Crow Stone.

Most of the sections of path upstream from Windsor I’ve walked on various days with my family. As far as a little above Oxford it’s fairly easy to travel by public transport to the start of a day’s walk and back from the end, but above that there are few buses and no stations until you get close to the source. So the final (or initial) 60-70 km had eluded us.

In 2013, my elder son planned the expedition to complete the route, booking bed and breakfast for the three of us at Buscot and Cricklade so we had three days to walk. On the Tuesday following Easter, two trains (both running late) took us to Oxford, despite Easter Holiday engineering works still in operation and we took the bus to Hinton Waldrist. For the last five miles we were the only passengers and the bus had a problem in the village squeezing past a parked tractor.

We were still a couple of km away from the Thames Path, but the sun was out and despite being rather close to zero it was good walking weather. The map and guide book said there was still a ford across an old stream of the river at Duxford which would have saved us some walking, but there had been considerable rain in previous weeks and it was clearly impassable; even on the longer way round we occasionally needed to detour around flooded sections of path.

We just made it for a late lunch before the pub at Tadpole Bridge stopped serving, having seen only one other person on the first five miles or so of our walk. It was good to have a pint, though the food suffered from the restaurant’s aspirations, and service was fast. The river winds considerably around here and I think we walked at least twice as far as a crow might fly to get to Radcot and from there on to Kelmscott where we again paused. We were a day early for the first opening of the Manor there, perhaps as well as we didn’t have time to appreciate it, but we did visit William Morris’s grave and the local pub before continuing our slog to Buscot Manor, an interesting and welcoming place to spend the night.

The following morning after a very large breakfast with other guests we made a short tour of the village before continuing along the Thames Path towards Lechlade, where I was forced to waste time snared into a tea shop by my companions. Eventually we made it and walked on past the start of the Thames and Severn canal to the Church of St John the Baptist at Inglesham, a splendid medieval survival thanks to the efforts of William Morris, who along with his pre-Raphaelite friends founded the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) or ‘Anti-Scrape’ to oppose the gothicisation of buildings such as these.

Then came the worst section of the Thames Path, a mile or so on the verge of the busy A361 followed by another couple along a bridle path and country lanes out of sight of the river. Between Inglesham and Castle Eaton there is no real Thames Path – except for a couple of hundred yards beside the river in the 4 or 5 mile stretch. Though except for the A361 it is a decent country walk. The route does run beside the river from Castle Eaton to Cricklade where we made for the oldest and poshest pub, the White Hart where we were booked. And after finding our room found a good Indian restaurant not far away.

After a disappointing breakfast we took a short walk around Cricklade before continuing our journey. Flooding in the area meant the path had been diverted but it wasn’t a bad diversion and we were soon walking with the river through a land almost entirely covered by unfilled gravel pits, something there is no shortage of close to home. These cover the land east and west of the charming village of Ashton Keynes, west of which it’s hard to decide where the river actually flows. According to the Thames Path Guide, the Thames follows several coursed through Ashton Keynes, though some distance further up you do walk beside a decent small river.

Past the A 329 the river rather peters out, and by the time we reached Thames Head on the A 433 Fosse Way all that was left was damp grass. Across the road we struggled up a small hill to the official source, a dry spring that is marked by a stone placed here by the Thames Conservators. From here it was downhill to Kemble Station and a long wait for a train to Swindon, where we changed for Reading and then another train home.

More details and many more pictures on My London Diary.
Thames Path: Cricklade to the Source
Thames Path: Buscot to Cricklade
Thames Path: Shifford to Buscot

Brentford to Whitton – 2016

Friday, March 26th, 2021

The River Brent flows over a weir from the Grand Union towards the Thames

Saturday 26 March 2016 was Holy Saturday, the day between Good Friday and Easter Day which many people nowadays call Easter Saturday. My older son had taken a few days off work and had come home for Easter and we decided to go out for a walk, taking a train to Kew Bridge. I’d hoped to go somewhere considerably further away on the far edge of London, but engineering works taking place on the railways made that impracticable.

Boats moored where Brentford gas workswas and Isleworth Ait

Our plan was to follow the Thames through Brentford to Isleworth and then the Duke of Northumberland’s River to Whitton and take the train home from there, taking a few detours on the way to explore wherever looked interesting. Both of us were carrying cameras, though while I had a bag with a couple of camera bodies and several more lenses, Sam made do with his only camera, a fixed lens Fuji X-100. I expect he took some interesting pictures, but his web site at seems currently to be off-line.

Dockside flats at Brentford

I grew up a couple of miles away, but didn’t know most of the parts we were going to walk in particularly well, though I had gone back a few times since both on my own and with groups of sixth-form students to take photographs in Brentford.

Boatyard at Brentford

My father took us to Brentford when I was young, though mainly we just went through the town on the top deck of the bus on our way to Kew Gardens, as he was a keen gardener and then it was only a penny (one of the old 240 to the pound ones) to get in and I think children like us probably got in free. Decimalisation resulted in huge rise to 1p, but now it costs £11 for adults. Fortunately Sam and I had no desire to go there, and apart from the train fares our walk cost us nothing, though we did buy some drinks and snacks to go with our sandwiches.

Brentford Lock and flats on the former canal dock

You can save your legs and follow our walk in fairly full detail from the many pictures I put on My London Diary, though we wandered around rather a lot in Brentford taking pictures. From there on our walk was more straightforward, though it isn’t possible to walk beside the Thames on the Middlesex bank between Brentford and Isleworth as the Duke of Northumberland put Syon House there. A footpath does take you in a direct route out of sight of the river through his estate.

The pond below where Kidd’s Flour mill stood on teh Duke of Northumberland’s River in Isleworth

Isleworth was just a little disappointing, not least because of the light drizzle that made sitting on a bench to eat our sandwiches a little uncomfortable. But parts of the riverside development there are unfortunate.

Footpath and Duke of Northumberland’s River in Mogden Sewage Works

Isleworth boasts what when built was I think the largest sewage works in the country at Mogden, and a footpath runs beside the Duke of Northumberland’s River – a man-made river to run the bringing water to run the flour mill at Isleworth. This section of the river was built by monks who ran the area before the Duke took over to bring water from the River Crane – he added a section to the west to bring more water from the River Colne. And yes, Mogden does smell, though not as strongly or unpleasantly as you might expect, though this perhaps depends on the weather and the direction of the wind.


Twickenham makes its presence felt with two large rugby stadia, but fortunately it wasn’t a match day at either and they were very quiet – and there were no inebriated spectators staggering in our way. It’s a place best avoided when internationals are taking place even though drunken rugby fans are generally less violent than soccer supporters. And then were were in Kneller Park and walking by the River Crane through it before leaving to take a path to Whitton station.

Many more pictures on My London Diary:
Syon, Isleworth & Mogden
Riverside Brentford Panoramas
Riverside Brentford

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

Grand Union, Seacole & Wassail

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2021

I like to get away from Central London and wander around some of the less visited areas of London, spaces which are far from the tourist trail and often in some way on the edge. And on Sunday February 2nd 2014 it was a fine day and I decided it would be good to take a walk around the area of Harlesden close to the Grand Union Canal and make some panoramic pictures on my way to Willesden Green where I’d been invited to photograph an event that afternoon.

I’d first walked around this area back in 1981, when I had discovered and begun to photograph the delights of London that could easily be reached by the North London Line from Richmond to Broad St. Since then I’d been back occasionally for various walks and events in the area. Brent is a borough that used to hold festivals celebrating its varied communities – until these had to be abandoned as the coalition and Tories cut local government spending so even the barest bones were tough to maintain.

The line from wealthy Richmond goes up north through Acton to Willesden Junction, which in typical railway fashion is not in Willesden but in Harlesden. I left the train there and began my walk on a footpath back beside the line through an industrial area to the canal.

I’d brought my lunch with me, and sat in the sun in the Mary Seacole memorial garden on the canal bank before continuing my walk. These panoramic images are too small to really appreciate on this blog, but you can see them – and quite a few others a bit larger on My London Diary in Harlesden, Willesden & Mary Seacole.

It was then time to head to Willesden Green, where the Willesden Green Wassail was about to take place, celebrating the many local shopkeepers who give Willesden Green its character and help to create a vibrant community, singing them a traditional wassail song, and with singers and poets performing on the street.

It was good to see a sizeable crowd of local residents had come out to take part in this community festival organised by Rachel Rose Reid, and you can find out more about it and see many more pictures of those taking part.

Back in 2014 I wrote:

As well as celebrating the shopkeepers, this “small free festival run by and for people from Willesden Green” as also a celebration of the work of all who live there and create the neighbourhood and brought together artists and volunteers from the area, including James Mcdonald, Berakah Multi Faith Choir, Poetcurious, Errol Mcglashan and several others, with more performing later after the wassail.

Willesden Wassail

The Wassail ended with several poetry performances opposite the library and then a final wassail at the cherry tree behind it, when everyone let off the party poppers and decorated the tree with ribbons – a reminder of the traditional wassail ceremonies when people made a lot of noise banging pans and firing guns in order to wake up the trees and get them going on producing large yields of apples – particulary for making cider.

We didn’t get cider, but we did get free hot soup at the Bar Gallery in Queens Parade where the festivities were to continue – but I had to leave to get home rather late for dinner.

Willesden Wassail
Harlesden, Willesden & Mary Seacole

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

Around High St Stratford

Tuesday, January 19th, 2021

St Thomas's Creek, Cook's Road, Stratford, Newham, 1983 35q-34_2400
St Thomas’s Creek, Cook’s Road, Stratford, Newham, 1983

There is and long seems to have been some confusion about the naming of this part of the canal system that links the main line of the Lea Navigation at Bow Bridge to the City Mill River and City Mill Lock. On some maps (including Google’s) it is simply referred to as ‘Bow Back Rivers’ but I find it less confusing to give it the more local name, St Thomas’s Creek, sometimes written as St Thomas Creek. The creek got its name from St. Thomas’s Mill, sometimes called ‘Pudding Mill’, I think because of its shape, which also gave its name to the small stream the Pudding Mill River and was actually on that stream on Pudding Mill Lane. For those interested there is a good map of the area before the flood relief works of 1931-5 on British History Online.

Yardley's Box Factory, Stratford High St, Stratford, Newham, 198336m-63-positive_2400
Warton House, former Yardley’s Box Factory, High St, Stratford, 1983

The earliest connection of the Yardley name to soap-making was in the first half of the 17th century, when a Yardley was given the concession to produce soap for the whole of London, but the company dated its founding as ‘Clever Brothers’ to 1770. This company making soaps and perfumes was taken over by William Yardley in 1823 and passed on to his son Charles when he died the following year. The company moved from Bloomsbury to a large factory on Carpenters Road Stratford in 1904 and bought land on Stratford High St in 1918. In 1913 they had trade-marked a picture by Francis Wheatley from his 1793 series, the ‘Cries of London’ to use in their advertising, replacing the primroses in his picture by lavender, and when they built a new art deco box factory in 1938 this was installed at a large scale on the building. Yardleys moved to Basildon in 1966, needing large premises, but in 1967 were taken over by British American Tobacco who sold the business to Beecham in 1985, who again sold it on after they merged to be SmithKlein Beecham. The company went into receivership in 1998. Parts of the box factory – including this section on the High St next to the Northern Outfall Sewer and the Waterworks River are still there, all that is left of Yardley’s in Stratford.

Stratford High St area, Stratford, Newham, 1983 36m-14_2400
Stratford High St area, 1982

I cannot remember exactly where I took this or the next picture, though from other exposures on the same films both are clearly somewhere not far from Stratford High St. I think the canal seen at right here is probably St Thomas’s Creek.

Timber yard, Stratford, Newham, 1982 32v-22_2400
Timber yard, Stratford High St area, 1982

Timber was the main product carried on the Lea Navigation in the later years of its use, and I think this timber yard was probably close to the main stream of the navigation. My attempts to find it again in later years were unsuccesful.

Cafe, Stratford market, Stratford, Newham, 1983 36p-35_2400
Cafe, Stratford market, Stratford, Newham, 1983

The notices on the door offer not just ‘Jellied Eels’ but ‘Best Jellied Eels’, along with ‘Loch Fine Kippers’. My contact sheet puts its location as Stratford Market in Burford Road, just off High St to the south.

Barge, Lea Navigation, Bow Bridge, Bow Flyover, Tower Hamlets, Newham, 1981 29t-26p_2400
Barges, Bow Bridge, October 1981

These last two pictures were some of the first I took in the area after I heard on a radio interview that commercial traffic on the Lea Navigation was to come to an end in a few weeks time.

I think it was the same day that I picked up my camera bag and got on the train to come to look for and photograph any remaining activity. It was a slow journey to Bromley-by-Bow from where I spent an hour or so walking along beside the navigation between Bow Locks and Bow Bridge, where I found three barges loaded with cut timber, photographing all three from the bridge and going down onto the wharf for another picture.

Barge, Lea Navigation, Bow Bridge, Tower Hamlets, Newham, 1981 29t-25_2400
Barges, Bow Bridge, October 1981

I find it hard now to understand why I took so few pictures – only around 30 exposures on the entire visit, and just these two where I found evidence of any remaining commercial traffic.

More pictures from the area on page 3 of my Flickr album River Lea – Lea Navigation 1981-1992.

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