Posts Tagged ‘Hackney Wick’

Hackney Wick Allotments

Saturday, January 2nd, 2021

Allotments, Waterden Rd, Hackney Wick, Hackney, 1983 36o-15_2400

One story is that some time in the late 1870s boys in the King’s College of Our Lady of Eton beside Windsor, the chapel of Eton School were visited by an apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary which led them to set up a charitable settlement in Hackney Wick, then one of the most deprived areas of London. It was a time when other similar settlements were being set up elsewhere in the capital and the history of St Mary of Eton states that “In 1880, William How, Bishop of Bedford, persuaded the masters and boys of Eton College to establish a mission and support a priest in … Hackney Wick.”

The Grade II* listed church of St Mary of Eton with St Augustine, according to the listing text “was built 1890-2 to the designs of George Frederick Bodley, under the title Bodley and Garner. Enlarged 1910-12 at the west end, with vestries and tower added by Cecil Hare, Bodley’s successor.” This also calls William How “first Bishop of Wakefield”. The St Augustine was added to its title when parishes were combined in 1953.

Allotments, Waterden Rd, Hackney Wick, Hackney, 1982 32z-53_2400

As well as providing a church there were other buildings used for various clubs and actitivites, including a Boys Club was established by the mission in 1880 and various sporting activities including the Eton Mission Rowing Club founded in 1885. Many Old Etonians came to support the mission, including Gerald Wellesley, a grandson of the Duke of Wellington, who together with Alfred Ralph Wagg, Sir Edward Cadogan and Arthur George Child-Villiers, in 1909 set up an Old Boys’ Club independent of the Mission. Various other clubs were formed as subsidiaries to this, including a short-lived ‘Junior Bachelors’ Club’ which rewarded members with four trips a year for promising they would not ‘walk out with young ladies’. As most who joined failed to keep their promise the club was soon abandoned.

The Bridge over the River Lea to Manor Gardens allotments. 2007

During the First World War there were shortages of food due to the torpedoing of British merchant ships bringing provisions from the colonies, and the club made parts of 30 acres of land across the River Lea from Hackney Wick, in Leyton available to club members as allotments. By the 1920s the main figure in the Eton Manor clubs was Major Villiers, a director of Barings bank, and one of the allotment gates I photographed in 1982 has the notice ‘Major A Villiers Gardening Club Private’ on it. The second pleads ‘Please Leave The Old Age Pension Plots Along You May Get Old One Of Thes Days’ – the Old Boys had grown very old over the years. Major Villiers lived in a house on the Eton Manor Boys Club sports grounds, known as the Wilderness on Ruckholt Rd and Temple Mill Lane from 1913 until his death in 1969 but decided in 1967 to close the club.

One of the 80 plots at Manor Gaardens. 2007

One of these allotment areas, reached by a bridge on a road leading over the River Lea was the Manor Gardens Allotments, and this continued to be a thriving community there until it was evicted in 2008 when its land was taken for a path in the London 2012 Olympic site. The allotment holders put up a strong fight to be allowed to remain in situ, but although the land they were on was not a vital part of the site, they very much represented an activity which the promoters of elite sports felt was undesirable. They had to go, along with the pylons and Hackney Wicks vibrant graffiti in a tidying up of the area which left it sterile – and from which it is only now beginning to recover some atmosphere.

2007

Manor Gardens put up a strong fight to remain, enlisting the support of many celebrities (though unfortunately the links with Eton had long disappeared or they might have been more successful.) I paid a number of visits to the allotments and various events they organised. The colour pictures heres are from their New Year Feast in January 2007, which included a runner with a mock Olympic flame who lit the bonfire, several celebrity speeches, an exhibition and a party.

A runner stands ready with the ‘Olympic Flame’. 2007
and uses it to light the bonfire. 2007
And the party continues. 2007

For those of us concerned about the environment (and there are now rather more than when the 2012 Olympics were being planned) the failure to preserve the Manor Gardens allotments was a real missed opportunity. It could have been seen as a golden opportunity to give the games some green credibility behind the lip-service the bid gave to biodiversity and sustainability, and certainly as a commitment to the post-2012 legacy of the games – to leave sites such as Manor Gardens and the adjoining nature reserve as a green centrepiece to the site. Unfortunately the architects and developers seem hell-bent to create a brown Olympics, creating an irredeemably distressed site that will only be economically recoverable when all the concrete has crumbled.

It would be a great shame to lose this splendid facility for four weeks of use in 2012, when it could easily be built around. It isn’t in a critical area but will simply be under concrete as a footpath, and probably also the site of a huge advertising ‘scoreboard’ for the games sponsor.

What will it say about the 2012 Olympics for a site that is currently a beacon for healthy green eating to be used for selling big macs?

New Year Feast – Manor Garden Allotments

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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.


Hackney Wick (1)

Friday, January 1st, 2021

Waterden Rd, Hackney Wick, Hackney, 1982 32z-65_2400

Thinking about the New Year – or about the past one – simply makes me feel angry and depressed, and though I started to write something I couldn’t finish it. There is plenty of stuff already on the web and in print about it. So I decided to continue writing and posting pictures about my project from the 1980s on the Lea Valley. And so to Hackney Wick.

Eastway/Waterden Rd, Hackney Wick, Hackney, 1982 32z-66_2400

Not that Hackney Wick presented an encouraging face back in 1982. It had been an important industrial area in previous years, but now industry was in terminal decline, with Thatcher abandoning the idea of manufacturing in favour of services, accelerating its decay, driving to a post-industrial future.

Hackney Wick, Hackney, 1982 32k-31_2400

There was a bleakness too in the Greater London Council’s Trowbridge Estate, with its seven 21 storey blocks completed between 1965 and 1969. It provided much-needed housing but by the 1980s was showing evidence of neglect, but there was still considerable local opposition to the series of demolitions which began in 1985 three years after I took this picture in 1982. By 1987 three blocks had been demolished, and they were all gone by 1996, with some spectacular pictures and video being taken of some of them being blown up – not always very effectively.

Hackney Stadium, Waterden Rd, Hackney Wick, Hackney, 1982 32z-52_2400

Hackney Greyhound Stadium only finally closed in 1997, but was struggling for some years. Going to the dogs had gone out of fashion. It had begun in the UK in the late 1920s, an import from the USA where it had started in California in 1919, and its heyday was in the 1930s, with the Hackney Wick Stadium having its first race meeting on April 8th 1932. Later the stadium was also used for Speedway and Midget Car racing. I never went to Hackney Stadium and my only visit to dog racing was by mistake at Wimbledon Stadium around 1960 where I went on several occasions with a friend who was a speedway fan, and one week he got the dates mixed. I didn’t enjoy it.

BRONCO, British Patent Perforated Paper Co, Atlas Works, Berkshire Road, Hackney Wick, Hackney, 1982 32k-46_2400

Among the many products which previous generations relied on Hackney Wick for was toilet paper, which for many years was made at the Atlas Works by the British Patent Perforated Company, better known as Bronco. We now live in softer times and their less porous and more hygenic product went out of favour. This was first patented in the USA in 1870, but Hackney Wick can claim to be the source of many inventions.

Wallis Rd, Hackney Wick, Hackney, 1983 36n-44_2400

Before Bronco, the Atlas Works were home to dyestuffs company Brooke Simpson Spiller who had taken over the company set up by the founder of the synthetic dyestuff industry William Henry Perkin. There they employed several of the leading organic chemists of the late 19th century who developed a number of new dyes. My own very brief and much less illustrious career as an industrial chemist also began (and very soon ended) in dyestuffs, but at a west London company – and the lab there was still using some samples signed on the bottle by Perkin himself.

Queens Yard, Whitepost Lane, Hackney Wick, Tower Hamlets, 1992 92-8d26_2400

It was in Hackney Wick that the first synthetic plastic, Parkesine was manufactured, and where oil distillers Carless, Capel & Leonard marketed the first product to be given the name Petrol, and also where dry-cleaning came to the UK thanks to Achille Serre. But the largest and best-known of the Wick’s industries was Clarnico (until 1946 Clarke, Nickolls,Coombs until 1946) who opened a jam factory here in 1879 and went on to produce many well-known sweets – a total of over 700 varieties – in what became the largest sugar confectionary factory in Britain, but closed in 1973. You can read about it at the Wick Curiousity Shop site, which also has a photograph of me and a few from my web site.

Kings Yard, Carpenters Road, Hackney Wick, Hackney, 1992 92-8d15_2400

Other products from the Wick you may have eaten include Fray Bentos pies, produced here by a part of the huge Vestey meat company from 1958. The pie business was sold on to Brooke Bond, acquired by Unilever and finally sold to Campbell’s Soup in 1993, when they promptly moved production away from Hackney.

More from Hackney Wick in another post.


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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.


Towards Hackney Wick 1982

Wednesday, December 30th, 2020

I continue my virtual walk downriver towards Hackney Wick.

Clapton Park Estate, Clapton Park,  Hackney, 1982 32k-64_2400

Past the Clapton Park Estate: Norbury Court, Bakewell Court, Ambergate Court and Sudbury Court at 172 Daubeney Road, each 20 stories with 114 flats, approved by Hackney Council in 1968. Three were demolished by explosions in 1993-5 but Sudbury Court was sold to a private developer who gave it a relatively minor make-over and renamed it Landmark Heights.

Clapton Park Estate, Clapton Park, Hackney, 1982 32k-53p_2400

Somewhere I passed a canal-side factory –

Hackney Wick, Tower Hamlets, 1983 36n-46_2400

as well as the wide expanse of Hackney Marshes, with what must surely be more football pitches and anyone needs

Hackney Marsh, Hackney Wick, Hackney, 1982 32z-62_2400

as well as some wilder areas where the hogweed grows

Hackney Marsh, Hackney Wick, Hackney, 1982 32u-13_2400

and was ambushed by a group of children

Hackney Wick, Hackney, 1982 32k-51_2400

who demanded I take their pictures.

Hackney Wick, Hackney, 1982 32k-42_2400

Clost to Eastway I came across a travellers site

Travellers site,  Eastway, Stratford, Newham, 1983  36o-12_2400

close to the River Lea, here looking a very serious river away from the navigation.

River Lea, Eastway, Stratford, Newham, 1983  36o-13 (2)_2400

My walk continued but in a less linear fashion wandering around Hackney Wick – in the next episode. You can see all the pictures and more in my album River Lea – Lea Navigation 1981-1992.


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.


Stoke Newington to Hackney Wick

Friday, October 11th, 2019

This short section of the Capital Ring is one of my favourites, or at least goes though some of my favourite areas, as this was the first time I’ve actually walked the whole section as a continous walk. It’s also one of the shorter sections of the London walk, which makes it rather easier for me now that my legs aren’t as young as they used to be.

Walkers too often have a distance fetish, where the purpose of the walk becomes a matter of getting as many miles (or kilometres) as possible under your feet, heading from A to B without deviation or even stopping to enjoy the points in-between. I’m more of a wanderer and an explorer, happy to go where the mood or interest takes me. And if you look at the pictures you will find that we didn’t entirely stick to the published route.

I spent around 20 years wandering around London in this way with a camera (or two), walking with a starting point and sometimes a few likely points of interest marked on a photocopied page of the A-Z, wandering until I felt tired or time was up, then finding a bus stop or station – never far away in London – to make my way home. It’s a practice that is celebrated in my self-published ‘London Dérives‘, images from 1975-83, still available from Blurb as a PDF or expensive hard copy – or direct from me.

Some of these pictures were more like coming across old friends, locations that I’d photographed perhaps thirty or more years ago, while there were other parts of the route that I’ve walked many times over the years. Perhaps some of them are more pictures of loss than records of the present, taken because of what was there before rather than what is there now.

Around 1983 I made an unsuccessful attempt to get funding for a photographic project on the River Lea and the Lea Navigation, submitting a small portfolio of pictures I had already made of the area and a brief description, along with a letter of support from a well-respected photographer I knew and a CV in which the major (in fact the only significant) entry was a large exhibition in a provincial art gallery – much also now in another self-published book and web site.

At the time I was naive in the ways of the small elite controlling awards in the UK and failed to realise that the support of a leading member of the London Salon was the kiss of death. I didn’t make any further applications for funding and until 2003 the only official support I got for photographs came from the Arts Council poetry funds, payment for a portfolio and pictures in several issues of a magazine.

I went ahead and completed the project without financial support – fortunately a full-time teaching post giving me both enough to live on and relatively long holidays as well as weekends – even though during term I was putting in an average 60 hours a week into teaching, preparation and marking. Another self-published book, Before the Olympics, contains many of the pictures from this as well as later work, and more can be seen on my River Lea web site.


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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.