Posts Tagged ‘Lea Valley’

Dangleway, Silvertown and Stratford Marsh

Sunday, June 26th, 2022

Dangleway, Silvertown and Stratford Marsh: My day out on Wednesday 26 June 2013 began by taking the tube to North Greenwich and then walking to the cablecar for the ride across the Thames.

Back then I commented “Given the huge losses it is sustaining I can’t see it remaining open too much longer, so if you’ve not taken a ride don’t leave it too long“, and I’m surprised to find it still running 8 years later. But perhaps not for much longer, as the sponsorship deal with the Emirates Airline comes to an end this month, and no other company has come forward to pick up the tab, even though TfL have offered a huge reduction for the privilege.

Never a sensible contribution to London’s travel network it remains one of London’s cheaper and more interesting tourist attractions. I’m not sure whether the fact that it now lands on the north bank spitting distance from London’s now misplaced County Hall adds to its chances of retention, but it could make it more likely to be brought within the normal London fare structures.

There are already fare reductions for people with Travelcards, and frequent users can buy a ticket which reduces the cost to make it a viable part of a commute to work, particularly as you can take a bike with you for free. However I suspect the number of ‘frequent fliers’ is probably only in two figures. Its also a service which is more affected by weather than surface transport, closing down in high winds.

But it does have the height to give some splended views, even if the surrounding area is perhaps less rich than that of London’s other aerial attraction, the London Eye. Actually for me is considerably more attractive, and it’s an area which is now rapidly developing on both sides of the river, with new residential developments replacing old industrial and commercial uses.

The dangleway is also a part of the East London sculpture trail, The Line, which vaguely follows the Greenwich Meridian, from North Greenwich to Stratford and makes an interesting walk, although this will become a more interesting walk once the riverside path from Cody Dock to the East India Dock Road is opened, something we have been waiting for around 20 years. One day it might even extend past Canning Town station to Trinity Buoy Wharf, but we may not live that long.

Although you can see the riverside from above, little of it is now publicly accessible, though I walked along Bow Creek and a little of the Thames here back in the 1980s taking photographs now on Flickr. But back then the Royal Victoria Dock was largely fenced off and you can now walk around it and over a high-level bridge which also has interesting views.

Or at least you can most of the time. But the area becomes a high security zone with the bridge closed when the Excel Centre is full of arms dealers selling often illegal arms to repressive regimes around the world – every other September. Fortunately it was June, though I was back there for the DSEI protests in September – and in other years.

The DLR also runs through the area on a viaduct, and from the train and the stations you also get some interesting views, though the train windows are often rather to dirty for taking photographs. That you are looking south from the line can also mean the sun is shining directly into the lens.

This is the Woolwich branch of the DLR and at Canary Wharf I changed onto a train towards Stratford, alighting at Pudding Mill Lane to walk up onto the Greenway. I arrived just too late to go into the View Tube there so I had to be content with making pictures from the Greenway which runs high through the area.

I’d begun making photogrfaphs here back in the 1980s, and had published some of these on my my River Lea/Lee Valley web site – and in the Blurb book ‘Before The Olympics‘, returning to the area occasionally and photographing it as it changed and particularly as the Olympic site developed. Progress on restoring the area to some useful purpose appeared to be very slow

More on My London Diary where the pictures are also larger – though you can see these ones larger by opening the images in their own window.
Stratford Greenway Olympic Revisit
Victoria Dock and Silvertown
Emirates ‘Airline’ – Arab Dangleway


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All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall. Contact me to buy prints or licence to reproduce.


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.


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All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall. Contact me to buy prints or licence to reproduce.


Leamouth Panorama 1982

Saturday, February 13th, 2021
East India Dock Gates, Leamouth Rd, Leamouth, Tower Hamlets, 19882 32e-14_2400

It was back in July 1982 I took my first walk down Leamouth Road, where there were still high walls for the closed East India Docks and some wharves on Bow Creek were still in use, their walls and sheds hiding the river from view. But at the southern end, where the river swung around a 180 degree bend, the view opened up, with only a fence and a couple of feet of weed-covered earth between the pavement and the river wall. It was getting late and I had to rush away, but I had seen a view that I could not do justice too with even my widest lens, a 21mm f3.5 Zuiko.

Bow Creek, Leamouth Rd, Leamouth, Tower Hamlets, Newham, 1982 32f-63_2400

The fence was old and rusty, and one short section had broken, and on my return in August I made my way through the gap with my hefty Manfrotto tripod. There wasn’t enough space to set it up properly with the legs fully extended and opened, but after a bit of a struggle I managed to get it level. I checked it with the separate spirit level I carried in my camera bag, then put my Olympus OM1 in place and checked with the level again.

J J Prior, Ship Repairs, Orchard Wharf, Bow Creek, Leamouth Rd, Leamouth, Tower Hamlets, 1982 32f-53_2400

It was a slow business, and I was just a little worried that someone might come along and question what I was doing, though rather more worried that I might fall over the low wall onto the muddy shingle perhaps 6ft below.

J J Prior, Ship Repairs, Orchard Wharf, Bow Creek, Leamouth Rd, Leamouth, Tower Hamlets, 1982 32f-54p_2400

I think the lens I used was probably the 35mm f2.8 shift, though at its central non-shifted position, and I tried to position its nodal point roughly above the axis of rotation, though it was not too critical here as only the first and final exposures would include any near detail.

32f-56p_2400

I then began a series of six exposures, swinging the camera on the tripod roughly 30 degrees between each exposure (the tripod has a scale in degrees) using the handle on the pan and tilt head. All went well until the last of six exposures, though it was a little tricky working in a rather confined space, and I needed to move away from where I had been crouching to the right of the tripod so as not to be in the picture.

Bow Creek, Leamouth Rd, Leamouth, Tower Hamlets, Newham, 1982 32f-41p_2400

It wasn’t a tragedy as I squeezed between the tripod and the fence, and I managed not to knock the whole set-up into the creek, but I did knock it a little out of place, and while the first five exposures have the horizon almost exactly level, the sixth was perhaps ten degrees askew.

Of course I took a replacement, and it was only after I’d printed it that I found it wasn’t quite an exact fit, and when I carefully cut and pasted the six prints to make a single panoramic image the difference showed, at least to me. So instead I put the images, cropped slightly to reduce the overlap, into a row of images with a margin between each of them. More recently of course I’ve been able to scan the images and combine the digital files, and it more or less works, but ends up with a very long thin panorama that doesn’t work well on screen.

A few years later I returned with a panoramic camera and made a very different picture just a few yards away, but the original scene had changed dramatically.

Clicking on any of the larger pictures in this post will take you to a larger version in my Flickr album, from where you can explore other pictures of Bow Creek.


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.


Bow Creek from East India Dock Road

Tuesday, February 9th, 2021

Bow Creek, West Ham Power Station, East India Dock Rd, Tower Hamlets, Newham, 1989 89-4c55_2400
Bow Creek, West Ham Power Station, East India Dock Rd, Tower Hamlets, Newham, 1989

Bow Creek truly became magical as it passed under the East India Dock Road, and although it has now lost much of the interest on its banks, the incredible flattened S-shape as it curves before reaching the Thames remains impressive.

Bow Creek, West Ham Power Station, East India Dock Rd, Newham, 1989 89-4c56_2400
Bow Creek, West Ham Power Station, East India Dock Rd, Newham, 1989

The creek bends almost 90 degrees to flow roughly south under the road at Ironbridge Wharf (the iron bridge long replaces by more modern concrete structures) only to take a hairpin 180 degree bend to return almost back to the road before sweeping another 180 degrees down to go over the elevated Lower Lea Crossing. From there its convolutions continue with a 90 turn to the east and another to the south before entering the Thames as Leamouth, around 900 metres away as the gull flies, but 1900 by boat.

Bow Creek, East India Dock Rd, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, Newham, 198232f-24_2400
Bow Creek, East India Dock Rd, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, Newham, 1982

Its course defines two very different peninsulas; to the west on largely undeveloped and now a nature reserve, with the DLR crossing to it on a viaduct and running up it, and on the east an industrial site, then occupied by the edible oil company Pura Foods (earlier Acatos & Hutcheson) and now the site of the City Island development.

Timber yard,  Essex Wharf, Bow Creek, East India Dock Rd, Newham, Tower Hamlets, 1989 89-4c51_2400
Timber yard, Essex Wharf, Bow Creek, East India Dock Rd, Newham, Tower Hamlets, 1989

On the eastern bank of the river south of Canning Town station is another so-called peninsula, the Limmo Penisula, which became a major Crossrail works site and is now a housing development. The name was previously used for the whole area around this part of Bow Creek and the nature reserve, now the Bow Creek ecology park was first called the Limmo Peninsula ecological park. It is an area of confusing names, with the new development south of the Lower Lea Crossing taking its name, Goodluck Hope, from the area now called City Island. It was also easy to get a little confused by the area itself with the wandering of the river, and even when writing this post I had problems sorting out pictures just from the appropriate area.

Pipe Bridge, Bow Creek, Tower Hamlets, Newham, 1989 89-4c63_2400
Pipe Bridge, Bow Creek, Tower Hamlets, Newham, 1989

The pipe bridge possibly carried gas from the nearby Poplar Gas works to Canning Town; downstream was a disused railway bridge. A new ‘blue bridge’ was later erected between these two (it appears in my 1992 pictures) and the pipe bridge was taken down though its brick piers left in place – now only the eastern one remains.

Timber Yard, Bow Creek, Tower Hamlets, 1989 89-4c65_2400
Timber Yard, Bow Creek, Tower Hamlets, 1989

The pictures in this post were all taken on or close to the East India Dock Road where it crosses Bow Creek, beginning with a couple looking up river and with the rest looking towards the south. In later posts I’ll cover the area further down Bow Creek which played an important part in the industrial (and footballing) history of the nation, and return with the creek back almost to the road.

Bow Creek, Leamouth Rd, Leamouth, Tower Hamlets, Newham, 1982 32f-36_2400
Bow Creek, Leamouth Rd, Leamouth, Tower Hamlets, Newham, 1982

The pictures here are from visits to the area in 1982 and 1989, but I also took some in 1983, and returned again in 1992, mainly to make some panoramic views, which I’ll write about in a later post. You can see more of my pictures in my Flickr album – this area is on page 4 – and clicking on any of the above pictures will also take you to the larger version there.

Sewage & Sulphuric Acid

Thursday, January 21st, 2021

Channelsea River, Northern Outfall Sewer, Greenway, Stratford, Newham, 1983 36p-53_2400

The Channelsea River used to be a fairly important stream of the River Lea as it made its way down to Bow Creek, and the size of the bridge which carries the Northern Outfall Sewer over it close to Abbey Mills Pumping Station reflects this. Now in the few places that it remains visible it is little more than a ditch, and I couldn’t see any water flowing from it, and the Channelsea here is simply a tidal creek, often now called Abbey Creek.

Sewage storm outfall,  Channelsea River, West Ham, 1982 32g-63_2400

Except for this row of openings. When heavy rain falls on London, it pours from the streets into the sewers, augmenting considerably their normal load of sewage. When the system was established in the Victorian era the flows were considerably smaller, but London has grown, with more people, more houses, more streets and more paved, concreted and tarmaced areas to rapidly drain away the water that might have once largely soaked into soil. The excess water (and not just water) has to go somewhere, and that somewhere is here on the Channelsea River.

Sewage storm outfall,  Channelsea River, West Ham, 1982 32g-61_2400

Which certainly accounts for the lushness of the growth around the banks of the stream and on Channelsea Island and which was noticeable (along sometimes with a noticeable odour) as I walked along the path past the rather large pipe on the bank. To the right of the picture you can see a part of the pumping station, which back then was fairly well hidden behind vegetation as you walked along the ‘Greenway’ – you get a much better view now. And at the left are the Bromley-by-Bow gasholders, still present while many others in London have disappeared.

Channelsea River, Stratford, Newham, 1983 36p-61_2400

Looking across the Channelsea from beside that giant pipe showed an industrial landscape, now all gone. Channelsea House, the large six-storey 1960’s office block at right of the top picture, is now flats. But beyond it used to be large factories, including those making sulphuric acid, where there is now mainly empty space, with a small area now the London Markaz (Masjid-e-Ilyas), one of the biggest purpose-built mosques in London with space for 6,000 male worshippers.

Works, Channelsea River, West Ham, 1982 32g-51_2400

These works stretched some way along the bank of the river and between it and the railway lines to the south, as you can see in the picture below, taken looking up the creek with Channelsea House at its left.

Chemical Works, Channelsea River, West Ham, 1982 32g-52p_2400

Immediately north of the bridge over the Channelsea River is the West Ham Sewage Pumping Station built in 1897 by West Ham Corporation to raise their sewage into the Northern Outfall Sewer. Previously they had released it into the creek. This contained three steam pumping engines which were decommissioned in 1972.

Abbey Rd, Stratford, Newham, 1983 36p-42_2400

I didn’t photograph Abbey Mills on my walks along the Northern Outfall as it was hidden or largely so by the vegetation along the edge of the embankment, since largely cleared. But also a part of Bazalgette’s work were a row of houses on Abbey Lane built in 1865 for the workers at the pumping station, with steps at one end leading up to the path along the top of the Outfall.

Northern  Outfall Sewer, Abbey Lane, Stratford, 1983 33x-55_2400

Clicking on any of the pictures will take you to a larger version on Flickr from where you can explore other pictures in the album.


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.


City Mill Lock & Blaker Rd

Thursday, January 14th, 2021

City Mill Lock, Blaker Rd,  Stratford Marsh, Stratford, Newham, 1990 90-9f-32 (2)_2400
City Mill Lock, Blaker Rd, Stratford Marsh, Stratford, Newham, 1990

City Mill Lock connected the tidal Waterworks River with the Bow Back Rivers which are a part of the Lea Navigation and thus at a constant level. There is another lock connecting the two systems further north where Carpenters Lock connects the Old River Lea to the start of the Waterworks River close to Carpenters Road. Both locks were built in the 1930s when considerable work was carried out, mainly to reduce flooding but also with the intent of increasing commercial traffic on the Back Rivers, particularly the City Mill River. But I think this never happened and by the 1960s these streams were seldom if ever used.

City Mill Lock, Blaker Rd,  Stratford Marsh, Stratford, Newham, 1983 36m-35_2400
City Mill Lock, Blaker Rd, Stratford Marsh, Stratford, Newham, 1983

The River Lea was at least theoretically navigable at the right stage of the tide some way further north – and of course much further by kayaks, though there are legal restrictions on parts of its many streams.

Since the Olympics, the tidal flow on the river has been regulated by a new lock on the Prescott Channel at Three Mills which I photographed in 2010. The original intention of British Waterways that the river above this point should be non-tidal but its level still varies, perhaps simply with the river flow.

City Mill Lock, St Thomas's Creek, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1983 36m-22a-positive-2_2400
City Mill Lock, St Thomas’s Creek, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1983

The lock gates had clearly seen rather better times and the lock was unusable. These gates were replaced as a part of the makeover of the area for the Olympics.

City Mill River, Stratford Marsh, Stratford, Newham, 1983 35v-15_2400
City Mill River, Stratford Marsh, Stratford, Newham, 1983

Just to the west of the lock, behind the lock keepers house, St Thomas’s Creek turns towards the north and becomes the City Mill River. A few boats were moored here, next to Blaker Rd.

City Mill River, Blaker Rd,  Stratford Marsh, Stratford, Newham, 1983 35v-13_2400
City Mill River, Blaker Rd, Stratford Marsh, Stratford, Newham, 1983

Continuing north beside the City Mill River along Blaker Road led to a footpath which went under the Northern Outfall Sewer in a tunnel. It was possible to access the Greenway walkway on the sewer from here.

City Mill River, Blaker Rd,  Stratford Marsh, Stratford, Newham, 198335v-26_2400
City Mill River, Blaker Rd, Stratford Marsh, Stratford, Newham, 1983

From where you could look down on the path and the railings beside the river.

City Mill River, Stratford Marsh, Stratford, Newham, 1983 35v-25_2400
City Mill River, Stratford Marsh, Stratford, Newham, 1983

This is the view looking back down the City Mill River towards City Mill Lock, now rather different.

City Mill River, Railway, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1983 36m-43

The footpath led on past the Northern Outfall Sewer to a rather strangely angled basin taking the river under the main railway lines. From here you could continue walking beside the river and eventually reach the north end of Marshgate Lane and Carpenters Road.

The last time I tried to repeat this walk, in 2019, it was not possible, with work still taking place in the area and fences stopping me. As well as work still taking place after the 2012 Olympics, parts were blocked by work on Crossrail.

More pictures on 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 Warton Road

Wednesday, January 13th, 2021

Robbialac, Warton Rd, Stratford, Newham, 1983 35p-15_2400
Jenson and Nicholson, Robbialac Works, Warton Road, Stratford, London E15.

Jensen and Nicholson were the makers of Robbialac paints and had premises here on Warton Road, offices on the Goswell Rd and a further works in Stratford on Carpenters Rd. The business was started in 1821 at the Barbican by William Kingham and John Jenson became a partner in 1840, taking over the business in 1848. He was joined in 1856 by Wilfred Nicholson.

Following a fire which destroyed the company’s factory, Nicholson decided to move to Stratford Marshes and a few years later Nicholson took over the company, which continued to trade under the name Jenson and Nicholson Ltd. As well as Robbialac enamel paints for cars and home decoration, the company also made Copal varnishes and distributed Cuprinol wood preservatives. In 1960 they merged with Berger Paints forming Berger, Jenson and Nicholson who after various takeovers became a part of Crown Paints and were then acquired by the Dutch company Akzo Nobel. (Information from Grace’s Guide https://www.gracesguide.co.uk/Jenson_and_Nicholson.)

The name Robbialac came from the 15th century Italian ceramicist Luca Della Robbia, famed for his brightly coloured enamels and the word lacquer. The major Portuguese paint manufacturer Tinta Robbialac, founded in 1928, also uses it as a brand name.

Bridgewater Rd, Stratford, Newham, 1983 35q-12_2400
Bridgewater Rd, Stratford, Newham, 1983

The concrete bridge here is an early use of ferro-concrete I think had a plaque on it stating it had been built using the Hennebique system and certainly deserves preservation. I photographed it on various occasions and it survived the Olympics and was still present when I last visited the area, but I’m unsure if it will be retained in the future.

Waterworks River, Bridgewater Rd, Stratford, 1983 36m-62-positive_2400
Waterworks River, Bridgewater Rd, Stratford, 1983

The view looking south from the Bridgewater Road bridge along the Waterworks River to the Warton House on Stratford High St, and blocks of flats on the opposite side of the street off Abbey Lane, Albert Bigg Point and Aubrey Moore Point. The footpath on the bank at right was extremely overgrown and the gates to it were locked. At right is one of the many pylons that were taken down for the Olympics.

Carpenters Rd, Stratford, Newham, 1983 35p-51_2400
Carpenters Estate, Stratford, Newham, 1983

I am not sure of the exact location of this doorway with its interesting use of concrete. There were (and are) 3 point blocks on the Carpenters Estate and I think the one in the background here may be Dennison Point and this building may have been on the site now occupied by the Building Crafts College in Kennard Road which moved to a new building here in 2001.

Waterworks River, Railway Bridge, Stratford, Newham, 1983 35q-32_2400
Waterworks River, Railway Bridge, Stratford, Newham, 1983

I think this is from the footpath beside the Waterworks River looking north towards the bridge carrying the Eastern Region main line from Liverpool St across to Stratford. Possibly I had climbed down from Bridgewater Road as I think this path was closed at the time. The factory at right was on Warton Rd.

Waterworks River, Blaker Rd, Stratford, 1983 36m-52_2400
Waterworks River, view towards Blaker Rd from the Greenway, Stratford, 1983

The Waterworks River turns to the left in the distance to go under Stratford High St, with a channel going on under Blaker Rd to City Mill lock. The concrete pillar is part of the bridge carrying the Northern Outfall Sewer across the river and I wondered if the profuse fig tree growing here might be benefiting from some warmth from the sewage or possibly even be nourished by some leakage.

Kerry's, Greenway, Northern Outfall Sewer, Stratford, Newham, 1983 35v-23_2400
Kerry’s, Stratford 1983.

Kerry’s were a company that made and distributed a wide range of products, both those they made themselves and others branded with their name. In 1961 according to Grace’s Guide they were “Wholesale distributors to the motor, radio, electrical and cycle trades, also machine tool makers, specialising in centre lathes, boring mills, power saws, drills and special purpose machines” and even produced a light weight moped, the Capitano. Manufacturing moved to Basildon in the 1960s and the business was bought up and sold at the end of the decade.

Although Kerry’s address was Warton Road, I think the factory was actually rather closer to the Northern Outfall Sewer and reached over the bridge on Bridgewater Road.

More pictures on Flickr.


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


Deep in the Olympic Area

Friday, January 8th, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.


Eastway & Stratford

Monday, January 4th, 2021
Eastway Cycle Circuit, Stratford, Newham, 1983 36n-54_2400
Eastway Cycle Circuit, 1983

I hadn’t taken my bike when I visited the Eastway Cycle Circuit in 1983, so I was walking around the area and keeping out of the way of the few cyclists who were using the track. It was built on a landfill site in 1975, the first purpose-built road cycling venue in the UK, with a one mile circuit used for road racing and time trials, around which many well-known cyclists including the legendary Eddy Merckx raced, and later hosted this country’s largest weekly mountainbike cross-country race series.

Eastway Cycle Circuit, Stratford, Newham, 1983 36n-01_2400
Eastway Cycle Circuit, 1983

The last race took place here on October 21, 2006, with part of the site being used to build the Olympic village. There were a number of protests by cyclists about the closure and what many saw as an inadequate replacement a short distance away in the Olympic park next to the A12. the Lea Valley VeloPark, particularly after its size was reduced from the originally promised 34 hectares to a mere 10.

Eastway Cycle Circuit, Stratford, Newham, 1983 36n-62_2400
Eastway Cycle Circuit, 1983

Running along the west side of the cycle circuit was the Channelsea River, once a major stream of the River Lea going close to the centre of Stratford, but now reduced to a minor ditch. The pattern of waterways in the area is hard to understand with a number of natural and man-made streams, some possibly built to power medieval mills but I think much of its flow was probably diverted into the Waterworks River perhaps around 1745 when the West Ham Waterworks Company opened its works. More changes were made in an extensive programme of flood prevention in the 1920s and 30s, and it was probably then that the Channelsea was severely reduced in status.

Eastway Cycle Circuit, Stratford, Newham, 1983 36n-63_2400
Eastway Cycle Circuit, 1983
36n-64_2400
Eastway Cycle Circuit, 1983
Channelsea River, Eastway Cycle Circuit, Stratford, Newham, 1983 36n-65_2400
Eastway Cycle Circuit, 1983
Freightliner Terminal, Cold Stores, Stratford, Newham, 1983  36n-52_2400
Freightliner Terminal, Cold Stores, Stratford, Newham, 1983

Stratford expanded greatly as a railway town, and much of the area to the north of its centre between Carpenters Road and Leyton Road, south of where the Cycle Circuit was built was covered by an incredible mesh of tracks, engine sheds and railway works by the start of the twentieth century. Most of this had gone by the time I took these pictures, replaced in part by cold stores and a Freightliner Terminal. Now there is a rather bleak Olympic Park and a vast shopping centre along with new housing, and also a new high-speed rail line.

Cold Stores, Stratford, Newham, 1983  36n-53_2400
Cold Stores, Stratford, Newham, 1983 36n-53_2400
Stratford Station, Stratford, Newham, 1983 35r-15 (2)_2400
Stratford Station, Stratford, Newham, 1983

Stratford Station could still show an impressive amount of railway. Since 1983 it has also added new lines, with the DLR from Poplar terminating here and the Jubilee Line opening at the end of the last century. The old North London service which I used to travel here from Richmond to take these pictures has now been rebranded as a part of the London Overground and terminates here, with its parts of its track south of Stratford now a part of the DLR to Canning Town and beyond.

Clicking on any of the pictures in this post will take you to a larger version in my Flickr album River Lea – Lea Navigation 1981-1992.


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.


Fish Island, Hertford Union & Old Ford

Sunday, January 3rd, 2021

Roach Road, Old Ford, Tower Hamlets, 1990  90-9h24_2400
Roach Rd, 1990

The Hertford Union Canal is a short canal which links the Lea Navigation at Hackney Wick to the Grand Union Canal in Bethnal Green, and so to the canal system across England and Wales. Just across the canal at the south of Hackney Wick was a largely industrial area with several street names – Dace Rd, Roach Rd, Bream St – gave it the name ‘Fish Island’. Always somewhat isolated with canals on two sides of a triangle, it became even more so with the building of the A12 East Cross Route effectively severing it on the third side. A new footbridge across the Hertford Union now makes it more accessible from Hackney Wick.

Hertford Union Canal, Hackney Wick, Tower Hamlets, 1983 36n-31_2400
Hertford Union, Fish Island, 1983

There were several timber yards along the Hertford Union, some still at work in the 1980s, although no longer served by the canal.

Hertford Union Canal, Hackney Wick, Tower Hamlets, 1983 36n-32_2400
Herford Union, 1983

There were still a few barges moored at some wharves in 1983.

Hertford Union Canal, Hackney Wick, Tower Hamlets, 1983 36n-34_2400
Hertford Union , 1983

Though most of the wharves – like this one with a roof extending over the canal – were empty. There were no boats moving on the canal when I walked beside it, and little wind to disturb the reflections.

Isle of Dogs Youth, Hertford Union Canal, Old Ford, Tower Hamlets, 1983t 36n-24_2400
Hertford Union , 1983

I’d seen the boat belonging to the Isle of Dogs Youth project moving on the Lea Navigation, but here it was moored, I think outside about the only former industrial building along the whole length of the canal which has not been replaced by flats, the Chisendale works, built in 1942-3 by Maurice Cohen as a factory, CHN Veneers, to glue together layers of wood to make parts for fighters and bombers, including Spitfire propellors. The factory closed in 1972 and was bought by Tower Hamlets Council and left empty. In 1980 they leased it to artists who had been evicted from Butlers Wharf close to Tower Bridge. It took them two years of work to clear the building and make it useable with two dance studios, 40 artists workshops and a public gallery as Chisenhale Art Place.

Hertford Union Canal, Old Ford, Tower Hamlets, 1983t 36n-22_2400
Hertford Union, 1983
A F Suter & Co, Swan Wharf, Dace Road, Old Ford, Tower Hamlets, 1990  90-9h35_2400
Dace Rd, 1990

A F Suter & Co’s building at Swan Wharf is in Dace Road at the south east of Fish Island, close to Old Ford Lock on the Lea Navigation.

Mural, Wick Lane, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1983 36o-31_2400
Mural, Wick Lane, 1983

Wick Lane is one of two roads which lead out from Fish Island, both along its west edge, with Wansbeck Rd leading north to Hackney Wick and Wick Lane taking you across the East Cross Route to Bow. Pedestrians can also leave by crossing the Lea Navigation at Old Ford Lock or on the Northern Outfall Sewer (aka Greenway) or a footbridge across the East Cross Route to Old Ford.

All these pictures are in my Flickr album River Lea – Lea Navigation 1981-1992. You can also find them with other later pictures of the area on my web site: River Lea/Lee Valley.


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.