Posts Tagged ‘Hackney Wick’

Hiroshima, Arms Trade, Olympics & Green Jobs – 2009

Sunday, August 6th, 2023

Hiroshima, Arms Trade, Olympics & Green Jobs: August 6th is Hiroshima Day, and every year when I’m in London I try to get to the London memorial ceremony organised by London CND in Tavistock Square, and 2009 was no exception. But other events were also taking place that day, with a picket outside the offices of the company that organises the world’s largest arms fair and a rally to keep green jobs a wind turbine manufacturer. And between the last two I made a short visit to see what was happening to Stratford ahead of the Olympics.


London Remembers Hiroshima – Tavistock Square

Hiroshima, Arms Trade, Olympics & Green Jobs - 2009

The annual ceremony next next to the cherry tree planted there by the Mayor of Camden in 1967 to remember the victims of Hiroshima follows a similar pattern each year, though the speakers and singers change.

Hiroshima, Arms Trade, Olympics & Green Jobs - 2009

In 2009 events were introduced Islington MP Jeremy Corbyn and speakers included the then Mayor of Camden and who was followed by an number of others including Frank Dobson MP, Bruce Kent the Vice President of CND, sadly no longer with us and other peace campaigners.

Hiroshima, Arms Trade, Olympics & Green Jobs - 2009

Between some of the speeches there was music from socialist choirs. Raised Voices are a regular contributor and others have joined them in some years, in 2009 it was the Workers Music Association. Often a folk singer and poets contribute and at the end of the event people lay flowers at the base of the cherry tree before everyone sings together one or more of the protest songs including “Don’t you hear the H Bomb’s Thunder.”

Last year here on >Re:PHOTO I wrote the post Hiroshima Day – 6th August which looked at a number of these events from 2004 until 2017, with links to those in 2018, 2019 and 2o21.

More from 2009 in London Remembers Hiroshima.


Stop East London Arms Fair – Clarion Events, Hatton Garden

I left Tavistock Square in a hurry at the end of the ceremony to rush to Hatton Garden, where campaigners from ‘DISARM DSEi’ were picking the offices of Clarion Events in Hatton Garden, calling for an end to the Defence Systems & Equipment international (DSEi), the world’s largest arms fair, which Clarion are organising at ExCeL in East London next month.

The DSEi arms fair is a vast event, with over a thousand companies from 40 companies exhibiting and selling there lethal weapons. Among the buyers are those from repressive regimes around the world who will use them to keep control in their own countries. The arms trade results in millions of men, women and children being killed in conflicts around the world. According to UNICEF, in the ten years between 1986 and 96, two million children were killed in armed conflict and a further six million injured, many permanently disabled.

British companies are among those making high profits from equipment designed to kill people, and our High Street banks invest huge amounts in arms companies.

This was an entirely peaceful protest with a small group of people handing out leaflets to people passing by explaining to them what goes in an an office which appears to be for the diamond trade. Many stopped to talk with the protesters, surprised to find that our government backed and encouraged such activities. Government statistics show the UK’s global security exports as ranking third in the world, only behind the USA and China.

Although the only weapon carried by the campaigners was a small plastic boomeragn wielded by a young child, armed police watched them from across the road, together with other officers who took copious notes, although they seemed to show more interest in the four press photographers present, who were mainly just standing around talking to each other as there wasn’t a great deal to photograph. When the protesters left after an hour of picketing a police car drove slowly behind them as they walked to the pub.

More at Stop East London Arms Fair.


Olympic Site Update – August – Stratford Marsh,

Welcome to Hell’ says the graffiti at Hackney Wick – and it certainly looks like hell for photographers

I had a few hours to fill before the next event and had decided to go to Stratford to see how the area was being prepared for the Olympics in three years time. The actual site had been fenced off by an 11 mile long blue fence, but there were still some places where parts of the site could be viewed.

I went to Stratford and them walked along a part of the Northern Outfall Sewer which goes through one edge of the site. Part of this was completely closed to the public (and remained so for some years after the Olympics because of Crossrail work) but a public footpath remained as a narrow strip between temporary fencing north of the main line railway to Hackney Wick.

Security along this section was high, with security men roughly every 50 yards standing or sitting with very little to do, and the fencing made it impossible to get an unobstructed view. Later these temporary fences were replaced by impenetrable metal fencing and it became easier to take pictures. But on this occasion I could only really photograph the opposite side to the main part of the site where a lot of activity was taking place.

Even at Hackney Wick much of the Greenway was still fenced off, and I was pleased to come down into the Wick itself. Here I could photograph the stadium under construction from a distance, but rather more interesting was the graffiti on many buildings and walls facing the Lea Navigation.

Sadly much of this was cleaned up for the Olympics.

More at Olympic Update – August.


Rally For Vestas Jobs – Dept of Energy & Climate Change, Whitehall

I was back in Westminster outside for a rally outside the Department of Energy and Climate Change in Whitehall calling for the government to support wind turbine blade manufacturer Vestas based in Newport on the Isle of White.

It had started to rain before the rally started and was pouring by the time it finished, though those present listened intently to speeches from a Vestas worker, trade union speakers from the RMT, PCW and Billy Hayes of the Communications Workers Unions, as well as former Labour Secretary of State for the Environment Michael Meacher MP (top picture) and Green Party GLA member Jenny Jones, who arrived at the event by bicycle.

Vestas problems were very much Government-made and as I wrote a result of “its failure to put it’s money where its mouth is on green energy policies, relying on hot air rather than support for wind power and other alternative energies.

Things are even worse now, with a government driven by lobbying from the oil industry granting licences for getting more oil from the North Sea. The Rosebank field west of Shetland will totally sink any hope of the UK meeting its promises on carbon emissions.

More pictures at Rally for Vestas Jobs.


Before the Olympics – 2007

Saturday, February 11th, 2023

Five years and a few months before the London 2012 Olympic Games took place much of the site was still open although businesses had been moved out and some of the buildings were becoming derelict. I’d had an invitation to a party at a site there the previous evening but hadn’t been able to attend, but on Sunday 11th February 2007 I took my Brompton on the trains to Stratford Station for a tour of the area. It began as a rather gloomy day but the weather at least brightened up later.

Carpenters Rd from Wharton Road

I did return to parts of the area in later months as the close down was taking effect – and even led a two-day workshop at the View Tube in April 2010. And in June I was there to photograph workmen putting up the blue fence to keep us out of the whole Olympic area until well after the games were gone.

Before the Olympics - 2007
Footbridge to railway works over Waterworks River, Stratford Marsh.

Here’s what I wrote on back in 2007 about my ride around the area, much of which I spent pushing and carrying my Brompton bike along footpaths. But it did make it possible for me to cover rather more ground than would have been possible on foot. I’ve corrected the capitalisation etc. There are several pages of pictures with the original on My London Diary, just a few of which are shown here.

Before the Olympics - 2007
Marshgate Lane and Bow Back Rivers

2012 Olympic Site – Stratford, Sunday 11 Feb, 2007

Before the Olympics - 2007
Tate Moss, home to four artists and a venue for gigs of various kinds, now lost for the Olympics

Sunday I went to the Olympic site again, keen to photograph before the area becomes ‘fortress Olympics’ and is destroyed. Many of the businesses have now moved out and some of the small industrial estates are looking pretty empty. Tate Moss, who occupied a site by the City Mill River had staged their final event the night before, but the partying didn’t keep going long enough for me to look in and the place was deserted.

Marshgate Lane under the Northern Outfall Sewer is blocked with old tyres

Some of the riverside paths were open again after the test borings that have been going on, although several were fenced off over a year ago. The gate to the path by the waterworks river from the Greenway wasn’t locked, so I took a walk up this, but I knew that it was no longer possible to get out onto Marshgate Lane so had to retrace my steps.

The Marshgate Centre and Banner Chemicals from the Greenway

The route back up to the Greenway from Marshgate Lane was almost completely obstructed by heaps of old car tires, and I had to carry my Brompton for a few yards and climb up onto a grass bank where the steps were completely blocked. Parts of the road were no longer open to cars too.

City Mill River

From there I moved on to Hackney Wick and Waterden road, and I finished the day as the light was getting low on Hackney Marshes, one of the areas in which locally important sporting facilities will be lost at least for a few years, perhaps for good.

Original text on the February 2007 page (you will need to scroll down.)


Banner Chemicals

My article back then ended with the paragraph above, but my ride didn’t – I had to get back home. It had previously taken me to a number of places just outside the condemned area, including some that were to be demolished for Crossrail, and it didn’t actually end on the Hackney Marshes, as the pictures on My London Diary demonstrate.

Kings Yard

I decided to ride back to Stratford to get the train home, and that ride took me back past Clays Lane, where the estate was to be demolished for the athletes’ village and I stopped several more times on my way to take more pictures in the gloom. Even when I arrived at Stratford around sunset there was still enough light for a few final images.

Clays Lane

You can see many more pictures from the entire ride on My London Diary


Olympic Area & Budget Cuts – 2012

Monday, December 5th, 2022

December 5th 2012 was a fine winter’s day and I took advantage of the weather to try and walk around the area which had been fenced off for the London Olympics for around 5 years. In the evening I joined a protest in Westminster against the continuing cuts being aimed at the poorest and most vulnerable by George Osborne and the Conservative-led government.


Olympic Area Slightly Open – Stratford Marsh. Wed 5 Dec 2012

It was around April 2007 that an 11 mile long blue fence went up around the whole of the London Olympic site at Stratford, barring access to the whole site except for those working on it. Parts were replaced in 2012 with a 5,000 volt 4m tall electrified perimeter fence in 2012 for the games itself.

St Thomas’ Creek still blocked to boats

Even the public footpath along the Northern Sewage Outfall, the Greenway, had been closed in May 2012, but after I heard this had reopened on December 1st I had been wanting to visit the area again to walk along it.

Crossrail works

The View Tube, a cafe and viewing area set up on the Greenway had also reopened, under new management, and it was only signs for this that kept me going past a maze of fencing and hostile signage. The Greenway was still closed between Stratford High Street and the main railway lines because of ongoing work for Crossrail, and roads north of the railway were still fenced off.

Wire fences and yellow fences have replaced the blue

Despite it being a fine afternoon for a walk I was the only customer to enter the View Tube while I was there and the Greenway, normally a useful through route for cyclists and pedestrians, was still deserted.

I could see no signs of work going on to bring the area back into use. Ten years later the area is still largely a desert and most of the promises about the ‘Olympic Legacy’ have been reneged on. This is still an Olympic waste; though the developers have done well out of it, the people haven’t.

I walked along the Greenway, finding there was no access from it to any part of the area, with those electric wire fences still in place, and made my way along the Lea Navigation to Hackney Wick, making a number of pictures on my way.

Many more pictures including panoramas at Olympic Area Slightly Open


Osborne’s Budget Cuts – Strand to Westminster, Wed 5 Dec 2012

I around 200 people outside Kings College at Aldwych who were meeting to march to join the rally at Downing St where Stop the War and CND were protesting against Osborne’s attacks on the vulnerable, continued in his autumn statement.

The march had been called by the UCU London Region, and was joined by students, trade unionists, socialists and others, and went down the Strand and into Whitehall shouting slogans against public service cuts, the rich, David Cameron and George Osborne in particular to join a similar number already protesting at Downing St.

Speakers at the rally pointed out the huge cost of military expenditure which was being poured into futile projects – and the pockets of the arms manufacturers:

The Afghanistan war — which everyone knows is futile and lost — is costing around £6 billion a year. The yearly maintenance costs for Trident are £2.2 billion a year. The cost of renewing the Trident system — which this government is committed to do — would cost up to £130 billion. Two aircraft carriers are being built at a cost of £7 billion. Then there’s the £15 billion to be spent buying 150 F-35 jets from the US, each of which will cost £85 million plus an extra £16 million for the engine.”

John McDonnell MP

By now it was freezing, and when the speeches began the speakers were asked to cut their contributions short because of the extreme cold. Among those who spoke were John McDonnell MP, Kate Hudson of CND, author Owen Jones, Andy Greene of DPAC and Green Party leader Natalie Bennett.

Kate Hudson CND

We heard from a nurse about the campaign to keep Lewisham hospital open, where a few days earlier 15,000 had marched and formed a human chain around the hospital. The hospital is successful and well run, but huge PFI debts from another hospital in the area threaten its future.

Green Party Leader Natalie Bennett

A NUT member talked about the problems the cuts were making in education and campaigners had come from Connaught School in Waltham Forest where they are striking against the decision by school governors to pursue academy status despite the opposition of the teachers, parents, the local MP and councillors.

A speaker from UK Uncut urged people to join the protests against Starbucks the following Saturday and many of those who spoke called for trade unions to take action against the cuts, calling on union leaders to stop simply speaking against them and start organising strike action.

More at Osborne’s Budget Cuts.


Cable Street, Fish Island & Hackney Wick

Sunday, October 2nd, 2022

Cable Street, Fish Island & Hackney Wick

On Sunday 2 October 2011 a march and rally celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Cable St, when when Mosley’s fascists were prevented from marching into London’s largely Jewish East End.

Cable Street, Fish Island & Hackney Wick

Over a thousand trade unionists and anti-fascists came to march along Cable St remembering the day, including the then TUC Deputy General Secretary Frances O’Grady, and the marchers were led by Max Levitas who had been at the battle in 1936, then aged 21, and remained active as an anti-fascist until his death in 2018, including serving for a total of 15 years as a Communist coucillor in Stepney.

Cable Street, Fish Island & Hackney Wick

At the rally close to the fine Cable Street mural we were reminded that official bodies including the Board of Deputies of British Jews had advised people to stay away from Mosley’s march and that the local opposition was organised largely by the Communist Party of Great Britain, led by Phil Piratin, who nine ears later became Communist MP for Mile End. As well as large number of local people, both Jews and others, thousands of others opposed to fascism flocked in to defend the area.

An estimated 1-300,000 people gathered at all the roads leading into the East End, determined to stop the march on October 4th by 3,000 uniformed fascists. The fascists waited outside the Royal Mint while 7,000 Metropolitan Police, including their entire mounted section and an autogiro (a primitive form of helicopter with an unpowered rotor) overhead, attempted to clear a route for them.

When the anti-fascists heard the police were trying to force a route along Cable Street, Irish dockers, Jewish tailors and other anti-fascists built three barricades across the street with thousands arriving to stop the police clearing the street. Eventually Mosley abandoned the march and took his supporters back towards Hyde Park.

There were around 175 people injured, men, women and police and around 150 arrests. Most were charged with obstructing the police and received fines, typically of £5, but some thought to be ringleaders were sentenced to three months hard labour.

The event raised public awareness of the British Union of Fascists and led to the passage of the 1936 Public Order Act which prohibited the wearing of political uniforms in public except for ceremonial occasions, outlawed paramilitary organisations, banned offensive weapons at public meetings and gave power to the police to impose conditions on marches and arrest unruly counter-demonstrators. It also allowed the Home Secretary to ban protests in a area where serious disorder was likely and made it an offence to use “insulting words likely to cause a breach of the peace” in public speeches.

Mosley continued to have many supporters in the East End after the battle, and Bethnal Green was one of his strongholds. There were gangs of fascist youths in Mile End who assaulted Jews on the street and smashed the windows of Jewish homes and shops.

Hettie Bower (left)

Levitas was not the only veteran of the 1936 battle at the event, and there were other veteran antifacists taking part too. The oldest was was 106 year old Hetty Bower, still looking extremely well, and walking with the aid of a stick. Rather younger at 94, Beattie Orwell was still looking very sprightly and had been at the battle at the age of 19.

There were also banners from the Spanish Civil War which was also taking place 75 years ago, as well as those from many trade unions and political groups including those representing the newer communities of the area, with local activists reminding those present of the continuing need to fight against fascism and racism, and in particular the need to oppose the English Defence League, who just a few weeks earlier had attempted to march into Tower Hamlets but had been stopped by a popular mobilisation.

A short distance away in Grace Alley Wilton’s Music Hall, the oldest surviving Grand Music Hall in the world, was hosting a four day programme of events commemorating Cable St with various performances, book launches, exhibitions and stalls, street theatre and music along the alley outside.

Battle of Cable St – 75 Years.


Fish Island, Olympic Views & Hackney Wick

Olympic Stadium from Forman’s roof

I left Cable Street and took a bus to Bethnal Green, then walked along the Roman Road and and on across the motorway to Fish Island, on my way to visit the gallery space on the top floor of Forman’s, salmon smokers and one of the few local businesses that seems to have done well out of the Olympics.

Footbridge across the Hertford Union Canal to Hackney Wick

They had been moved from a factory more or less where the Olympic Stadium was being built to new modern premises on the opposite bank of the Lea navigation, designed and painted salmon pink to look like a lump of salmon and appropriately in the area known from its street names as Fish Island. As well as the smoking plant it also houses a restaurant and a large art space, with views over the Olympic site both from the front of the gallery and the adjoining roof terrace.

Shoreditch High St

After viewing the exhibition and taking some photographs there I walked from Fish Island over the footbridge to Hackney Wick, visiting a lively street market there and then walking along the Lea Navigation towpath to the Westway and back into Hackney Wick for a bus back though the City and on the Waterloo.

More pictures at Fish Island, Olympic Views & Hackney Wick.


Bank, London Bridge, Fish Island, Hackney Wick

Sunday, May 15th, 2022

Bank, Victoria Park, Fish Island, Hackney Wick: In 1988 I was still teaching a full timetable at the sixth-form and community college where I worked, but because I took an evening class on Tuesdays I was able to finish the week’s teaching at noon on Friday. As a union rep I had persuaded my members against national union advice to some deviations from the national conditions that suited the peculiar circumstances of the college and made such arrangements possible.

Most of the pictures I made back in 1988 were either taken during the college holidays – we kept more or less normal school terms – or at weekends, but at noon on some Fridays I would rush down to the caretakers stores where I kept my bike, pedal home furiously, dump the bike, pick up my camera bag and rush to the station for a train to London. Until the clocks went back at the end of October there was then time for a few hours walking and taking pictures – in late October sunset is around 5.45pm. I think the pictures in this post were probably taken on the last occasion that year that my journey was worthwhile.

Doorway, Bank Station, Bank, City, 1988 88-10d-25-Edit_2400
Doorway, Bank Station, Bank, City, 1988 88-10d-25

I didn’t make many pictures on this Friday afternoon – around 16 black and white frames and perhaps two or three in colour, perhaps partly because I broke my journey to make this picture. Rather than taking the train from Richmond to Homerton or Hackney Wick, I went up to Waterloo and took the Waterloo & City line to Bank. I’d some time earlier photographed this doorway at Bank station and had for reasons now unknown to me decided I needed another and different image. Possibly I’d been reminded of it when the earlier picture, a closeup of the three heads, was used on a bookjacket.

It perhaps took me a few minutes at Bank to find the doorway still there on King William Street on the side of the splendid Hawksmoor church of St Mary Woolnuth. Having make the single exposure shown here, I made my way to a bus stop for a No 8 bus to Bethnal Green and then walked up Grove Road to Victoria Park.

Old London Bridge, stone alcove, Victoria Park, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-10d-26-Edit_2400
Old London Bridge, stone alcove, Victoria Park, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-10d-26

I’d realised when I got home from my previous walk that I had not photographed the shelters which were stone alcoves from the Old London Bridge. That bridge, built in 1176-1209 had until 1760 been cluttered with houses and shops, leaving only a narrow path across the river. These were cleared in 1760-63, more than doubling the width of the bridge, and seven stone alcoves were installed along each side.

The bridge was demolished in 1831, but these alcoves were sold and two found there way to Victoria Park when it was opened in 1845. Another is in a courtyard at Guy’s Hospital and two ended up on an estate in East Sheen along with some of the balustrade, though only one now remains in the grounds of some 1930s flats at Courtlands, close to the 1st Richmond Scouts HQ.

Percy Dalton, Dace Rd, Hackney Wick, Tower Hamlets, 1990, 90-9h-46
Percy Dalton, Dace Rd, Hackney Wick, Tower Hamlets, 1990, 90-9h-46

From Victoria Park I walked across the footbridge over the East Cross Route to Hackney Wick, then turning south and making my way down Wansbeck Road to the Northern Outfall Sewer on Wick Lane. Steps there took me down to Dace Road and along to Old Ford Locks. Unfortunately although I took a few picture on the walk, none are among those I’ve digitised. So here’s one I took in 1990 on Dace Road of Percy Dalton’s peanut factory.

Loading Bay, Lock, Old Ford, Lea navigation, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-10e-61-Edit_2400
Loading Bay, Lock, Old Ford, Lea navigation, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-10e-61

I walked across the gates at Old Ford Lock and took a few pictures there, including this one of the loading bay at Swan Wharf.

Bridge, White Post Lane, Lea Navigation, Hackney Wick, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-10e-62-Edit_2400
Bridge, White Post Lane, Lea Navigation, Hackney Wick, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-10e-62

The I walked north on the towpath. Now there are two new bridges on this stretch, from Stour Road and Monier Road, but in 1988 the next crossing was at White Post Lane.

Bridge, White Post Lane, Lea Navigation, Hackney Wick, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-10e-65-Edit_2400
Bridge, White Post Lane, Lea Navigation, Hackney Wick, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-10e-65

At left is the splendid 1913-14 Queen’s Yard works, part of the Clarke, Nickolls & Coombs Ltd “Clarnico” sweet and chocolate factory, formerly the largest employer in the area. Much of their five works were damaged or destroyed by wartime bombing and this building needed some restoration. The company was bought by Trebor in 1969 and the works closed. The white building fronting the canal beyond the bridge was the cocoa bean roasting factory built around 1900.

I walked over the bridge and along to Hackney Wick station for a train to Richmond on my way home.


Car Spares And Fly Tipping In Hackney Wick

Wednesday, May 11th, 2022

The final few hundred yards of my walk in Hackney on a Sunday in October 1988 took me to Hackney Wick station and I made a few views using the height of the footbridge across the East Cross Route and also from Hackney Wick station where the railway line runs on a viaduct. The previous section of this walk is Homerton to Hackney Wick.

Footbridge, Hackney Wick, Hackney, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-10d-56-Edit_2400
Footbridge, Hackney Wick, Hackney, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-10d-56

Looking roughly north you can see the tower blocks of the Trowbridge Estate. Some had already been demolished by 1988 – the programme had been started in 1985 and was completed by 1996.

Car Spares, Hackney Wick, Hackney, 1988 88-10d-42-Edit_2400
Car Spares, Hackney Wick, Hackney, 1988 88-10d-42

Coming down the footbridge I got a better view of the large car spares yard on Rothbury Road, past which you can see the embankment carrying the North London Line. At right is the top of a cafe and towering above the railway the remaining towers of Hackney Wick’s Trowbridge Estate. Perhaps given its history my my confusion with Trowbridge and the accident-prone frigate HMS Troutbridge in BBC radio’s long running series with Lesley Phillips, Jon Pertwee, Ronny Barker and others, The Navy Lark was understandable.

Car Spares, Rothbury Rd, Hackney Wick, Tower Hamlets, 1992, 92-8d-41
Car Spares, Rothbury Rd, Hackney Wick, Tower Hamlets, 1992, 92-8d-41

I didn’t photograph the front of the car spares site on Rothbury Road on this occasion – it had been a long walk and I was tired and just wanted to get to the station in time for a train towards home. So here are a couple of pictures from around four years later, when little had changed.

Fence, Car spares, Rothbury Rd, Hackney Wick, Tower Hamlets, 1992 TQ3684-009
Fence, Car spares, Rothbury Rd, Hackney Wick, Tower Hamlets, 1992 TQ3684-009

And one in colour.

Fly tipping, Rothbury Rd, Hackney Wick, Hackney, 1988 88-10d-31-Edit_2400
Fly tipping, Rothbury Rd, Hackney Wick, Hackney, 1988 88-10d-31

The area at the Hackney Wick end of the footbridge was a favourite with fly-tippers, sometimes making it hard to use the bridge.

Wallis Rd, White Posts Lane, Hackney Wick, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-10d-34-Edit_2400
Wallis Rd, White Posts Lane, Hackney Wick, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-10d-34

The whole right hand side of White Posts Lane at the right of this picture was redeveloped in 2018-9, but the low section of wall from earlier demolition in my picture was still there after that though now – like much of Hackney Wick, highly decorated with graffiti. A considerable amount of graffiti in the Wick was removed in tidying up the area for the 2012 Olympics but was soon re-stablished. Wallis Road at left led me to the station.

Hackney Wick, Hackney Wick Station, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-10d-36-Edit_2400
Hackney Wick, Hackney Wick Station, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-10d-36

From the footbridge at Hackney Wick station there were views over the surrounding area. The station has been rebuilt since I made this picture, and now has an entrance on the south side of the line.

This was the end of my rather long walk in the London Borough of Hackney in October 1988 which had begun at the southern end of Stoke Newington in the post South Stokey & Hornsey Detached.


Homerton to Hackney Wick

Monday, May 9th, 2022

Homerton to Hackney Wick – This walk I made in October 1988 continues from where my previous post Morning Lane, Paint, Handbags and Printers ended.

Homerton High St, Homerton, Hackney, 1988 88-10d-01-Edit_2400
Homerton High St, Homerton, Hackney, 1988 88-10d-01

Immediately east of Mackintosh Lane on the south side of Homerton High St at No 178-84 was an unusual arched brick wall, which attracted my attention. Thistle House at 178-82 was a hostel with 33 rooms in multiple occupation. Part of the wall shown in this picture has now been demolished to allow storage of large rubbish bins. The wall goes in front of two distinct houses, both of which have one circular window – but in the joined house it is above the second floor window.

Barnabas Rd, Homerton, Hackney, 1988 88-10d-63-Edit_2400
Barnabas Rd, Homerton, Hackney, 1988 88-10d-63


Barnabas Rd runs south from Homerton High Street past Homerton Station. In 1988 the premises of printers Alan Moor & Co at No 24 was up for auction. It is still there and remains a handsome villa – my photograph doesn’t really do it justice. I suspect it dates from around 1860 when Barnabas Road was called Church Road, (it was renamed in 1936) but can find no details. The rather ugly porch has I think been extended since 1988.

The Immaculate Heart of Mary & St Dominic, RC, Church, Kenworthy Rd, Homerton, Hackney, 1988 88-10d-64-Edit_2400
The Immaculate Heart of Mary & St Dominic, RC, Church, Kenworthy Rd, Homerton, Hackney, 1988 88-10d-64

Originally called the The Church of the Immaculate Heart and St. Dominic it was designed by C A Buckler and built on what was until 1939 Sidney Rd two years after a mission was founded here in 1873. The church, completed in 1883, was badly damaged by bombing and fire in 1941 and was rebuilt in 1955-57. My picture shows it with shops on the corner of Wick Rd, where there is still an Indian takeaway.

Hackney Hospital, Homerton High St, Kenworthy Rd, Homerton, Hackney, 1988 88-10d-65-Edit_2400
Hackney Hospital, Homerton High St, Kenworthy Rd, Homerton, Hackney, 1988 88-10d-65

I went up Kenworthy Road back to Homerton High St, stopping on the corner of Ward Lane to make this picture of the East Wing of Hackney hospital, which I think is Pavilion B, built in 1880-82, designed by William Finch, a typical design for the time with long airy ‘Nightingale Wards’ and towers at the corner containing sanitary facilities. (I stayed on a similar ward in a south London hospital in 2003 just before it was demolished – and collapsed in the disconnected sanitary area after an operation, fortunately in reach of the red emergency cord which I came around sufficiently to pull and bring medical staff running to my aid.) Although Hackney Hospital closed in 1995, parts are still in use for mental health services and a notice calls this the John Howard Centre, which provides low and medium secure mental health services for North East London.

Shops, Homerton High St, Homerton, Hackney, 1988 88-10d-66-Edit_2400
Shops, Homerton High St, Homerton, Hackney, 1988 88-10d-66

These buildings are still there at 201-205 Homerton High Street, though in different hands. Back in 1988 a Bookmakers next to a Turf Accountant (a rather upmarket term for the same thing) seemed excessive, while F A MURRELLS business was completely hidden by shutters. It seemed to be some kind of miniature business, the whold width of the property perhaps around 7 ft with a tiny door only suitable for a slim child in the shutters. Whatever was going on inside – or rather had once gone on inside – obviously involved something of some value, worth protecting with an AFA Burglar Alarm, perhaps a jewellers or pawnbrokers? But this tiny shop had obviously been fairly recently sold – and now appears to be a residential property.

The Adam & Eve, pub, Homerton High St, Homerton, Hackney, 1988 88-10d-51-Edit_2400
The Adam & Eve, pub, Homerton High St, Homerton, Hackney, 1988 88-10d-51

There has been an Adam & Eve tavern in Homerton High Street since at least 1735, but its fine frontage is dated from 1915 and was recently restored. Its cream terracotta front includes a large relief showing very chastely the couple before the fall but underneath an apple tree. In 1988 it was a Taylor Walker pub (though Taylor Walker had been taken over and closed in 1960), now it is described as a gastro-pub, with fresh food from the farm daily and offering “CURING – MICROBREWERY – ALLOTMENT”. The Taylor Walker pub sign was rather better and had above the field gun that came from the Clerkenwell Cannon brewery they took over in 1929.

East Cross Route, Hackney Wick, Hackney, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-10d-55-Edit_2400
East Cross Route, Hackney Wick, Hackney, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-10d-55

The East Cross Route was a part of the disastrous Ringways plan for concentric motorway rings around London. This was one of two major parts of the of the innermost Ringway 1 which actually got built between 1967 and 1973. The cost and environmental devastation caused by the building of the Westway in North Kensington led to a huge backlash which led to the cancellation of the remaining parts of the scheme.

The East Cross Route was less controversial, partly because it was in East London and most politicians and others didn’t much care about what happened there, but also because it largely replaced an existing rail line which had long separated the communities on each side. For much of its length there was in any case little between the road and the natural boundary of the River Lea and the Lea Navigation.

There were relatively few roads which ran across the area, and the links across the new road were maintained with both Wick Lane and Wick Road still leading to Hackney Wick. Olf Ford Road no longer led to Old Ford, except by a footbridge, but for vehicles the detour was relatively short. The bridge I was on when I made this picture carries a footpath across Victoria Park from Cadogan Terrace to Rothbury Road in Hackney Wick. The Trowbridge Estate built in 1965-9 had 7 rather striking 21-storey tower blocks. Demolition of these had begun with Northaird Poiont in 1985 and all had gone by 1996.

The final post in this series, appearing shortly, will include my pictures from Hackney Wick where my walk ended.


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.


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

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.


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.