Posts Tagged ‘Lea Valley’

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.


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.


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.


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 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.


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.


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

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

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.


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.


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.


Clapton – Lea Valley 1982

Thursday, December 31st, 2020

2020 is a year I don’t think I want to look back on, so I’ll eschew that traditional filler and instead look back rather further to continue my series on walks in the Lea valley in the 1980s.

Works, Upper Clapton or South Tottenham, Hackney or Haringey,1982 32c-42_2400

This time of year it has been a tradition for at least some of my family to get together to go on sometimes fairly lengthy walks, usually somewhere in the country. It’s something that has rather tailed off over the years, with both my sons now having young children, and also as my own legs getting old and tired, making anything over six or seven miles something of an ordeal.

Flats, Anchor & Hope, High Hill Ferry, Clapton, Hackney, 1982 32c-41_2400

This year things have become even more difficult, with us all under Tier 4 restrictions on travel etc and in different parts of the country, so our meetings have only been virtual. And although Linda and I have managed some short walks – around 5 miles on Boxing Day – these have all started and finished at our home. But at least I can take a digital walk in the Lea Valley.

Playing Field, Leyton, Waltham Forest, 1982 32c-44_2400

These pictures were not all taken on the same walk, which is one I did several times when working on my Lea Valley project and have repeated parts of rather more times since, sometimes riding on my Brompton folder. Parts of it have changed dramatically over the years, and wherever in these pictures you see a timber yard, factory or power station there is probably now several blocks of flats.

Clapton, Hackney, 1982 32u-64_2400

So many changes make it difficult for me to pinpoint the exact locations of some of these pictures, though others have very recognisable landmarks – such as the railway viaduct in the background above, now with a blue plaque celebrating the work of Alliott Verdon Roe, the first man to build and fly an entirely British aeroplane, built here in one of its arches, back in 1909.

Latham TImber, Clapton, Hackney, 1982 32c-31p (2)_2400

But Latham Timber is long gone, along with its neighbouring yard and the fences on which ‘The Gruesome’ staked their territorial claim and on which P & R pledged their ‘Forever True’ love in white paint on 16-8-82. Where are they now I wonder as I look at these pictures? Though so far as I’m aware I never saw any of them back in 1982 either.

33a-54_2400

The Gruesome Clapton, Hackney, 1982 33a-65_2400

The Gruesome Clapton, Hackney, 1982 33a-63_2400

Latham TImber, Clapton, Hackney, 1982 32c-56_2400

Middlesex Wharf, Clapton, Hackney, 1982 33a-52_2400

More pictures at River Lea – Lea Navigation 1981-1992. My next post in this series will look a little downstream.


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.


Towards Hackney Wick 1982

Wednesday, December 30th, 2020

I continue my virtual walk downriver towards Hackney Wick.

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

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

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

Somewhere I passed a canal-side factory –

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

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

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

as well as some wilder areas where the hogweed grows

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

and was ambushed by a group of children

Hackney Wick, Hackney, 1982 32k-51_2400

who demanded I take their pictures.

Hackney Wick, Hackney, 1982 32k-42_2400

Clost to Eastway I came across a travellers site

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

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

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

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


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

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