Posts Tagged ‘gas holders’

Pimlico & Battersea 1988

Saturday, September 18th, 2021

Railway Bridge, River Thames, Battersea Power Station, Grosvenor Rd, Pimlico, Westminster, 1988 88-5f-62-positive_2400
Railway Bridge, River Thames, Battersea Power Station, Grosvenor Rd, Pimlico, Westminster, 1988 88-5f-62

These seven pictures all come from the same film I took at the end of a fairly long day’s walk around Chelsea on Sunday 8th May 1988 which had taken me down to the Thames on Grosvenor Road. I spent some time wandering around on the road and also where it was possible to get onto the riverbank, though most was fenced off.

Railway Bridge, River Thames, Battersea Power Station, Grosvenor Rd, Pimlico, Westminster, 198888-5f-64-positive_2400
Railway Bridge, River Thames, Battersea Power Station, Grosvenor Rd, Pimlico, Westminster, 19888 8-5f-64

The views today are rather different, although the railway bridge carrying the main line to and from Victoria is still much the same. In the pictures you can see some work being carried on in Battersea Power Station, but now new flats hide most of the building apart from the chimneys from here, and the gas works have completely gone.

Railway Bridge, River Thames, Battersea Power Station, Grosvenor Rd, Pimlico, Westminster, 1988 88-5f-51-positive_2400
Railway Bridge, River Thames, Battersea Power Station, Grosvenor Rd, Pimlico, Westminster, 1988 88-5f-51

You may still see lighters moored in the river here, but I think this rather odd structure close to the mouth of the vestigial Grosvenor Canal here has gone. I wasn’t absolutely sure why there was this wooden platform with what looked to me like small dog-kennels on it, but perhaps as the rope shows they were simply for mooring barges waiting to use the canal. Technically I think this is a dolphin, as the picture below shows.

Chelsea Bridge, River Thames,Grosvenor Rd, Westminster, 198888-5f-52-positive_2400
Chelsea Bridge, River Thames,Grosvenor Rd, Westminster, 1988 88-5f-52

The first bridge here was built in 1858 when Chelsea Embankment was being built and was a suspension bridge intended to give the large population of Pimlico access to the new Battersea Park – if they could afford the toll – though it was made free on Sundays. It was then called Victoria Bridge, named like the station after the Queen. It became even less popular after Albert Bridge was built at the other end of the park in 1873. It was bought by the Metropolitan Board of Works in 1877 and they abolished the tolls in 1979. It was a narrow bridge and found to be structurally unsound, so fearing it might embarass the Queen if it collapsed they renamed it Chelsea Bridge. It didn’t collapse and apparently took several years to demolish when they decided to replace it with the current bridge which opened in 1937.

As the picture shows, the main cables are attached to the end of the bridge rather than on solid ground on the banks, and it was the first such ‘self-anchored’ suspension bridge in Britain. The LCC couldn’t afford to fund the entire cost and the Ministry of Transport only agreed to stand 60% oof the cost on the condition that all the materials used came from the British Empire.

When Billy Strayhorn named his most famous composition ‘Chelsea Bridge’ it was not this structure that he had in mind, but something more ethereal, probably Whistler’s Nocturne: Blue and Gold – Old Battersea Bridge.

Grosvenor Canal, entrance, River Thames, Pimlico, Westminster, 1988 88-5f-53-positive_2400
Grosvenor Canal, entrance, River Thames, Pimlico, Westminster, 1988 88-5f-53

I wrote at some length in a previous post about the Grosvenor Canal, London’s last working canal, still in use when I took this picture. You can see part of one of the barges still in use to carry Westminster’s rubbish downriver through the bridge.

Chelsea Bridge, River Thames, Battersea Power Station, Chelsea Embankment, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-5f-43-positive_2400
Chelsea Bridge, River Thames, Battersea Power Station, Chelsea Embankment, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-5f-43

The pictures here (and on Flickr) are from around 20 exposures I made on this small area of riverside, though many of the others are very similar. There were very few boats around moving on the river at the time.

Pagoda, Battersea Park, River Thames, Chelsea Embankment, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-5f-34-positive_2400
Pagoda, Battersea Park, River Thames, Chelsea Embankment, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-5f-34

I walked upriver along Chelsea Embankment on my way to catch a bus across Battersea Bridge to take me to Clapham Junction for the train home. On my way I took a few pictures of the impressive late-Victorian houses – which haven’t made it to my Flickr album – and four pictures across the river of the Battersea Park Peace Pagoda, this one of which has. I’m not sure about the framing and I think it would perhaps be better in a square format but I felt it had a suitably Japanese feel to it.

Reverend Gyoro Nagase at Hiroshima Day, Tavistock Square, 2019

After the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by US atom bombs in August 1945, Nichidatsu Fuji who had in 1917 founded the Japanese Buddhist movement, Nipponzan Myohoji, in 1947 decided they would set up Peace Pagodas around the world to promote peace and non-violence. The first opened in Japan in 1954 and the London Peace Pagoda was built by Nipponzan Myohoji monks and opened in 1985, shortly after Nichidatsu Fuji died aged 100. Since 1978 it has been looked after by Reverend Gyoro Nagase who I have met and photographed at many events calling for peace. There are also Peace Pagodas in Milton Keynes and Birmingham among over 80 around the world.


Click on any of the black and white images to go to a larger version in my album 1988 London Photos from where you can browse to other images.


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.


South of Bow Locks – the 1980s

Saturday, February 6th, 2021

Bow Creek, Bow Locks, Hackney, Tower Hamlets, 1983 36v-52_2400

Back in the 1980s it wasn’t possible to walk beside Bow Creek from Bow Locks south to the East India Dock road, as the banks were occupied by various industrial and commercial sites, including two gas works and West Ham power station. And although there have been plans by the councils for many years, even today you can only walk down on the Newham bank as far as Cody Dock, on a path opened to the public some years ago with the ridiculous name of the Fatwalk, but since renamed. There is a tantalising walkway visible continuing past the dock along the former power station bank, but this is still closed to the public.

Clinic, Bromley-by-Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1983 35v-35_2400

While this was a limitation, it was also an opportunity to explore the two areas where roads ran close (or not too close) to Bow Creek to both the east in West Ham and west in Bromley and Poplar, and I was rewarded by some images I found interesting, though parts of my walks were along fume laden streets with heavy traffic.

Blackwall Tunnel Northern Approach, Tweed House, view, Bromley-by-Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1983 35v-3pan_2400

Tweed House, a tall block of council flats on the Blackwall Tunnel Approach Road next to the Limehouse Cut enabled me to take some pictures which I more recently stitched together to create two panoramas of the area – the individual pictures are also in the Flickr album. Click to see the larger versions on Flickr.

Blackwall Tunnel Northern Approach, Tweed House, view, Bromley-by-Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1983 35v-4-pan_2400

From various places both on to the east and west of Bow Creek I found rather satisfyingly bleak views of the distant power station, including one with a young mother with a small baby in a pram.

Lochnagar St, Bromley-by-Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1983 36v-42_2400

Others were emptier still, like this

Lorry Park, Gillender St, Bromley-by-Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1982 32e-42_2400

or more minimal and just occasionally rather threatening; some streets around here featured in crime films and TV dramas of the era, gangster London.

Lochnager St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1982 32e-34_2400

But there was also a little chance for fun, with a cafeteria with two giant cooling towers to take away the cooking fumes and the unlikely name of Oasis.

Oasis, Cafeteria, Cafe, Bidder St, West Ham, Newham, 1983 36v-12_2400

Poplar Gas Works was on a rather smaller scale to Bromley-by-Bow, but its gas holders still dominated the working class housing around it. Two young girls playing on the grass came to see what I was doing and insisted on being photographed, though I perhaps should have stepped back a foot or two to avoid cropping their feet to get the gasholder in the frame.

Girls, Gasholder, Poplar Gas Works, Rutland Terrace, Oban St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1983 35v-55_2400

At East India Dock Road I was able to return to Bow Creek – and things got even more interesting (and although very different they still are) as I hope to show you in the next installment of my work from the Flick album River Lea – Lea Navigation – 1981-92 – the pictures above are all on Page 4.

Clicking on any of the images above should take you to a larger version on Flickr, and you can also go on to explore the album from there.


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 Three Mills

Wednesday, January 27th, 2021

House Mill, Clock Mill, Three Mills Island, Bromley-by-Bow, Newham, 1981 29q-15_2400
Three Mills

Three Mills Lane which runs from Hancock Road, a short walk from Bromley by Bow Underground station takes you across the Lea Navigation and Bow Creek to a remarkable ensemble of four of Newham’s listed buildings, including the Grade I listed House Mill from 1776, the early 19th century offices and the 1817 Clock Mill, with its 1753 Clock Tower. The fourth is easy to miss, as it is the stone setts and flagstones under your feet, dating back to the 19th century.

The Clock Mill, Three Mills Island, Bromley-by-Bow, Newham, 1981 29q-13_2400

Together they make a splendid early industrial landscape, though now a little hemmed in by rather more recent flats. When I photographed there in the 1980s and 1990s, the area around was full of largely 20th century industrial sites, mainly along the navigation, and a little still remains, particularly an impressive set of gas holders (seven Grade II listings) on the southern side of the Channelsea River at the former Bromley-by-Bow gas works (which also has listings for its bridge across the canal and Bow Creek as well as its war memorial and statue of Sir Corbet Woodhall.)

Three Mills Wall River, Stratford, Newham, 1981 29t-63p_2400
Three Mills Wall River

In more normal times the House Mill, which was saved from demolition in the 1970s and has been partially restored offers reasonably priced guided tours on Sundays from May to October and at some other times as well as hosting various events. The mill is a tide mill, and is on a site recorded in the Domesday Book, with foundations dating back to the end of the 14th century. It was able to generate power for 7-8 hours a day, though the output varied with the monthly changes in tides. Together with the Clock Mill it would grind an average of 125 tons of grain a week.

Works, Lea Navigation, Bromley-by-Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1981 29t-33_2400
Works, Lea Navigation, Bromley-by-Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1981

The towpath running south from Three Mills is on a narrow strip with the navigation on the west and Bow Creek to the west, and it leads down under railway bridges to Twelvetrees Crescent (where recent stairs now allow you to go on to the bridge and continue your walk beside Bow Creek) and under the bridge to Bow Locks where you can continue along the Limehouse Cut.

Railway bridge, Wharf, Lea Navigation, Bromley -by-Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1981 29t-61_2400
Railway bridge, Wharf, Lea Navigation, Bromley -by-Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1981
Bromley-By-Bow Gasworks, Imperial Gas Light and Coke Co, Bromley-By-Bow, Newham, 1981  29q-25-6_2400
Bromley-By-Bow Gasworks, Imperial Gas Light and Coke Co, Bromley-By-Bow, Newham, 1981
Lea Navigation, Twelvtrees Crescent, Bromley-by-Bow, Tower Hamlets, Newham, 1983 36v-02_2400 (2)
Lea Navigation, Twelvtrees Crescent, Bromley-by-Bow, Tower Hamlets, Newham, 1983

You won’t see the empty lighters on the navigation that were there when I walked along here in 1983, not long after commercial traffic ended. The large pipe across in front of the bridge would have carried gas from the Bromley gas works across to deliver gas to London west of the works. The listed bridge dates from 1872. Under it you can see the bridge which takes the path across Bow Locks and on to Gillender St or to the towpath beside the Limehouse Cut.

More on page 4 of River Lea – Lea Navigation. Click any of the images above to go to larger versions on my Flickr site.


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.


Regent’s Canal Camden

Wednesday, January 29th, 2020

200 years ago the Regent’s Canal was opened. In some respects it was like HS2 today, cutting travel times, though for goods, providing a more direct link between London’s Docks and the canal system which served Birmingham and much of the rest of England. Perhaps more importantly it brought coal and building materials into the centre of London at City Road Basin, and other basins and Samuel Plimsoll’s (remembered for his line) coal drops north of King’s Cross.

And like HS2 it came in late (though at the moment it is still doubtful if HS2 will come in at all, and it certainly will never deliver what was promised.)

The canal was first proposed in 1802, but only got Parliamentary approval in 1812, after it had been adopted by the Prince Regent (later George IV) and John Nash as a part of their scheme for redeveloping Regent’s Park.

Like HS2, the canal had its controversies and problems. In 1815 Thomas Homer, who had first proposed the canal and remained in charge with Nash although neither knew anything about building canals, was found to have stolen company funds and was sentenced to transportation (though it appears the sentence was never carried out.) The first length of the canal, from Little Venice to Camden was completed and opened on the birthday of the Prince Regent in August 1816, but there wasn’t enough money to complete the rest.

The government came to the rescue with the Poor Employment Act of 1817, designed to give work to those unemployed after the end of the war against Napoleon, which provided cheap labour so the scheme could continue.

There were technical problems too, particularly with at Hampstead Road, where a hydro-pneumatic boat lift had been built to an innovative design by William Congreve (better known for his military rockets.) Designed to save water, as the canal had problems with water supply, although the design worked when first installed it quickly broke down when handed over to the canal company, possibly because the materials then available for pneumatic seals were not up to prolonged use. There was a lengthy and acrimonious dispute between the inventor and the canal company, who eventually replaced the lift with a two chamber conventional lock as used elsewhere on the canal.

Also like HS2, there were huge cost increases. The canal eventually cost £772,000 which was twice the original estimate.

I’d begun my walk at Camden Road station, walking from there through the Maiden Lane estate and new developments to York Way where I met a colleague with whom I will be having an exhibition in March 2020. My contribution to the joint show will be a set of around a dozen pictures commemorating the canal anniversary. We made our way together along the towpath to Kentish Town Rd, with several stops where she sat down to sketch and I wandered around making photographs. After leaving her I walked on to Cumberland Basin before returning to Camden Road station.

Many more pictures and displayed large on My London Diary at Camden, Kings X & Regent’s Canal


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

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