Posts Tagged ‘High St’

Staines 1987

Saturday, March 6th, 2021

My photographic projects in London relied on being able to get a train from Staines, and although the service was generally rather better back in the 1980s than now, there were still times when I turned up at the station only to find there were no trains running. It was probably on one of these days when I’d arrived at the station with my camera bag on my shoulder that I decided instead of going back home to take a walk around the town instead. There is nothing spectacular about these images, but I think they are an interesting record of a time and place and one that in many respects has changed since I took them in October 1987.

Clarence St, Church St, Staines, Middx, 1987, Spelthorne 87-10i-51-positive_2400
Clarence St, Church St, Staines, Middx, 1987, Spelthorne

This corner has changed relatively little, but Johnson and Clark, the Staines department store said to have been the inspiration for a sitcom closed long ago, and its main building on the other side of the road not in this picture long demolished. It was a business which always seemed stuck in a 1950s time warp. The shop with a closing down sale at right had been Staines first supermarket, a small Tesco , but possibly it was a successor selling up; it is now a Wetherspoons, and the last pub I visited before the lockdown in December.

Market Square, Staines, Middx, 1987, Spelthorne 87-10i-41-positive_2400
Market Square, Staines, Middx, 1987, Spelthorne

The Blue Anchor was in business here, possibly from the 15th century, and the brick facade dates from 1721. Some of its windows are real but others only painted, presumably because of the window tax which first came into force in 1696 and was only repealed in 1851, and its hard to see the difference in this picture. One of the major inns in the old town, it closed as a pub around 2006, and has since been a series of restaurants, currently Turkish and of course only able to serve takeaway meals.

Staines Town Hall was built in 1880, financed by public subscription and the building became redundant when Spelthorne Council built new offices around a mile away – and at roughly the same time was Grade II listed. For some years it was used only for occasional concerts (and is the courtroom in the 1982 film Gandhi) but the council spent £1 million to convert it into a much-needed arts centre in Staines which opened in 1994. But this lost money and was closed in 1999 being at the wrong end of the borough to get support from the Tory council. It reopened as a wine bar from 2004-12, then was left empty (apart from a brief squat) before being sold off to a developer for £1.6 million with planning permission granted in 2018 for conversion to flats despite there being no parking space and inadequate disabled access. Many Staines residents regard it as a scandalous loss of what should have been seen as a major public asset for the town desperately short of cultural facilities.

Cock Tavern, Church St, Bridge St, Staines, Middx, 1987, Spelthorne 87-10i-31-positive_2400
Cock Inn, Church St, Bridge St, Staines, Middx, 1987

The Cock Inn, built in 1832 on a site that had been a pub for several hundred years, closed in 2009 and is now offices. Behind it was Ashby’s Brewery, where a modern building for Courage can be seen peeping over and to the left, but it served Brandon’s Fine Ales, brewed in Putney. Some of the older Ashby buildings still stand, converted to residential and office uses and the Quaker Ashby family was one of the most important in the growth of Staines.

A second Staines brewery, on Kingston Rd, set up by the Harris family was taken over by Ashby’s in 1903 and closed in 1914. Later it briefly became Staines Library and then an adult education centre for Surrey County Council but was closed 15 years ago and has been empty and unused since. Squatters occupied it in 2015 attempting to open up the buildings for community use but were evicted after a couple of months.

Clarence St, Staines, Middx, 1987, Spelthorne 87-10i-26-positive_2400
Clarence St, Staines, Middx, 1987

Clarence Street was built as the approach road to the new Staines Bridge designed by John and George Rennie and opened by King William IV and Queen Adelaide in 1832, a short distance upstream of previous bridges thought to have crossed the river since Roman times close to the Market Square. It was the fourth bridge to be built since the Civil War and is still in use, widened considerably in 1958, but still a bottleneck. The building on the corner of Bridge St was in the 1970s Staines Library.

High St, Staines, Middx, 1987, Spelthorne 87-10i-03-positive_2400
High St, Staines, Middx, 1987

Staines High St is still lined by a few buildings of some architectural interest from the Victorian era, along with some rather less exciting 20th century additions, but the big difference is that it is now pedestrianised.

High St, Staines, Middx, 1987, Spelthorne 87-10h-11-positive_2400
High St, Staines, Middx, 1987

Another view of the north side of the High St, this time looking east towards the ‘Iron Bridge’ which carries the Windsor Line across the road. Almost all of the buildings here have now been demolished, with a large hotel replacing most of them.

London Rd, Staines, Middx, 1987, Spelthorne 87-10h-36-positive_2400
London Rd, Staines, Middx, 1987

The main road through Staines, on the line of the Roman Road to the Southwest which became the A30, becomes London Road to the east of the Iron Bridge seen at the left of this picture. Fortunately the opening of the second section of the Staines bypass in the 1960s takes much of the traffic away from the town which had been a notorious bottleneck. Only the shop and pub barely visible here at the side of the bridge remain (though probably not for long), with both the 1950s shops, the 1930s Post Office and the rest all long demolished and now part of a new partly high-rise largely residential development currently nearing completion – and including a new Co-op store.

London Rd, Staines, Middx, 1987, Spelthorne 87-10h-35-positive_2400
London Rd, Staines, Middx, 1987

A little further along on London Road and some pleasant 1920s style parades of shops on the north side (with some of a similar age on the south side, which would have been in shadow – so I will have decided to photograph them another day in different lighting.)

London Rd, Staines, Middx, 1987, Spelthorne 87-10f-33-positive_2400
London Rd, Staines, Middx, 1987

Surprisingly the Three Tuns and the two shops to the left are still there today, though sadly closed at the moment. As with all pubs we wonder if it will one day reopen, though we hope so, though it isn’t one I frequent. It was listed on this site in 1798 and possibly dates from rather earlier. The large office block is long gone, and development is promised on the site, though when I last looked it was still just earth and rubble.

There are a few more pictures of Staines on page 7 of my album 1987 London Photos, including just a few of the common land and other open spaces around the area on the edge of London – but just inside the M25 which is perhaps its real boundary.


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.


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.


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.