Posts Tagged ‘Carpenters Rd’

Stratford Marsh & Carpenter’s Road

Tuesday, January 12th, 2021

Pudding Mill River and Railway, Stratford Marsh, Stratford, Newham, 1990 90-9h66_2400
Pudding Mill River, Stratford Marsh, 1990

Continuing with pictures from my walks in the 1980s and early 1990s around the area destroyed for the London 2012 Olympics on Stratford Marsh. Although there was then considerable industry of various kinds across the area, many of the factories had closed, and some were derelict, partly as a result of Thatcher’s de-industrialisation policies, but also because of competition from more efficient industry abroad as well as from lower wage economies.

Pauls Cafe, Stratford Marsh, Stratford, Newham, 1990 90-9h63_2400
Paul’s Cafe served the many workers in the area

A few of the empty properties and sites were occupied by smaller local businesses such as car breakers and repair shops, and a few were transformed into artists studios – and I remember going to a great party in one of them off Marshgate Lane, though missing most such events as I lived thirty miles away on the other side of London.

City Mill River, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1983 33x-34_2400
This path beside the City Mill River was well trodden during the fishing season. 1983

This was clearly a liminal area, on the edge of London and in some respects on the edge of society, even though it was surrounded on all sides by the city which now sprawls out much further east. In it there were also areas of wilderness, with paths beside the various streams of the River Lea across the area often overgrown and some largish areas of now disused land.

Caravan, Marshgate Lane, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1982 32w-45_2400
Behind the caravan was the Queen Mary College nuclear engineering dept building. 1982

One large building next to the Pudding Mill River was the nuclear engineering department of Queen Mary College, which in 1966 had the first nuclear reactor of any UK university. This very small reactor was decommissioned about the time I made the picture which shows it behind a caravan and lorries parked beside the road.

Jerome Engineering Ltd, Johnson-Progress Ltd, Carpenters Rd, Stratford, Newham, 1983 92-8e23_2400
Jerome Engineering Ltd, Johnson-Progress Ltd, Carpenters Rd, Stratford, Newham, 1983

Although there was clearly considerable industry in the area, quite a few of the properties were empty. You can find more pictures from Carpenters Rd on page 3 of the Flickr album River Lea- Lea Navigation.

Asteroid Ltd, Carpenters Rd, Stratford, Newham, 1983 92-8e62_2400
Asteroid Ltd, Carpenters Rd, Stratford, Newham, 1983
Carpenters Rd, Stratford, Newham, 1983 35p-53_2400
Carpenters Rd, Stratford, Newham, 1983
Carpenters Rd, Stratford, Newham, 1983 35q-26_2400
Carpenters Rd, Stratford, Newham, 1983

The area now is unrecognisable – part of the largely still rather arid space of the new park. And although Carpenters Road still runs through the area, its sides are bare and bleak apart from the Aquatics Centre.


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

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


Deep in the Olympic Area

Friday, January 8th, 2021

Footbridge, Carpenters Lock, Old River Lea, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1983 35p-33_2400
Footbridge, Carpenters Lock, Old River Lea, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1983

I titled my self-published book put together in 2010 on the Lee Valley ‘Before the Olympics‘ because many of the pictures in it were taken in an area that was then being largely destroyed for a few weeks of sporting activities in 2012.

Footbridge, Carpenters Lock, Old River Lea, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1992 92-8e51_2400
Footbridge, Carpenters Lock, Old River Lea, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1992

It was an area that over the previous 25 or so years had held a particular fascination for me as a post-industrial wilderness close to the centre of London, one of the world’s greatest cities. Within a few yards of busy major roads I could find myself struggling to walk along overgrown paths – and sometimes having to climb over or around fences to do so. For months a pair of secatuers were needed in my camera bag to cut through the brambles that barred my progress (though when I wrote earlier about this I slightly exagerrated them as a ‘machete’.)

Old River Lee, Waterworks River, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1983 33x-24_2400
Old River Lee, Waterworks River, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1983

At times I spent hours wandering the area without meeting or seeing another living soul, or only across rivers, perhaps working in one of the many small businesses still at work, often in ramshackle buildings with smoke or steam emerging though ventilators or cracks. Or I would emerge from under a bridge or around a corner to see large industrial structures such as oil storage tanks.

Old River Lea, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1983 35p-34_2400
Old River Lea, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1983

It was of course an area that was bound to change, but not in the way it has. And the old was in some respects dystopian. Many of the remaining businesses were the kind that we like to hide away on the fringes, perhaps necessary but best kept out of sight. The River Lea was during the worst years of the development of industry the outer boundary of London, inside which there was a long history of restrictions to curb the activities of the most noxious and polluting industries; across that boundary almost anything went and factories were set up to enjoy that licence to pollute.

Old River Lee, Waterworks River, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1983 33x-36_2400
Old River Lee, Waterworks River, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1983

Those years of largely unfettered industrial activity had left their toxic legacy in the soil, though some plants seemed to thrive on it. There were schemes to tidy up the area in the 1990s, with some streams and paths being cleared and the route beside the Waterworks River being decorated with art from junior schools in the area, but nature soon took it back , and a few years later I was again struggling through shoulder-high weeds.

Waterworks River, Marshgate Lane, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1992 92-8e44_2400
Waterworks River, from Marshgate Lane, 1992

The Olympics were terra-forming, with tons of soil from the area being sterilised, tons being dumped elsewhere in landfill, and virgin soil brought in, in part from building work on the Channel Tunnel Rail Link. A new landscape emerged, retaining the watery outlines of the old, along with the Greenway and the major rail routes but with different land, and none of what was previously present on the rest of its surface, though with new white elephants fast being constructed.

Waterworks River, Marshgate Lane, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1983 35p-43_2400
Waterworks River from Marshgate Lane, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1983
Waterworks River, Marshgate Lane, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1992 92-8e32_2400
Waterworks River, 1992
Footbridge, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1983 35p-32_2400
Stratford Marsh, 1983
Marshgate Lane, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1983 35p-36_2400
Marshgate Lane, 1983

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

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