Posts Tagged ‘Leamouth’

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.


Bow Creek Panoramas – 1992

Thursday, February 18th, 2021

DLR Viaduct, Bow Creek, Leamouth Rd, Leamouth, Tower Hamlets, Newham, 1982 92-1j61pr_2400

At the end of 1991 I finally bought my first panoramic camera, a Japanese Widelux F8 which I couldn’t really afford. It was a camera that took around 21 pictures on a 36 exposure film, with the film curved around a part of a cylindrical path with the lens pivoting around the centre of the cylinder.

Bow Creek, Bridges, Leamouth Rd, Tower Hamlets, 1992 92-3a42a_2400

The lens is a 26mm f2.8, though it needs to be stopped down to around f8 for most pictures as the camera is fixed focus at around 6 ft and only gets sharp at infinity when stopped down. Winding on the film winds up a clockwork motor and returns the lens to its starting position. On pressing the shutter the lens swings around through about 140 degrees, exposing the film through a slit at its back which swings across close to the film. It has 3 shutter speeds, 1/15, 1/125, and 1/250th, but even at the fastest speed it still takes rather longer to actually complete the exposure.

92-3b38_2400

The design keeps lens to film distant constant – at around 26mm – right to the edge of the film across a negative 24mm x 56mm. If this was flat, the distance to the corner would be more like 40mm and so objects at the edges get stretched to around 1.5 times actual size. This camera eliminates this distortion, but at the expense of introducing its own which you can see in these pictures. This becomes particularly noticeable in the curvature of most straight non-vertical lines.

Pura Foods, Bow Creek, M & J Reuben, London Sawmills, Wharfside Rd, Newham, 1992 92-3b52_2400

In particular, horizons become curved unless the camera is kept absolutely level. The pictures of Bow Creek were made with the camera on a sturdy tripod and with the help of a spirit level. There is one on the top plate of the camera, but I found a larger separate one more useful.

Bow Creek, Orchard Place, River Thames, Lower Lea Crossing, Tower Hamlets, Newham, 1992 92-1n12_leamouth_2400

Although the angle of view is often stated as 140 degrees this is perhaps misleading and I think probably is the angle across the diagonal. Rather more useful is the horizontal angle of view, which I think is just slightly over 120 degrees. Theoretically it would be possible to create a full 360 degree view in three exposures, but practically it needed four, though I don’t think I ever succeeded on the few occasions I tried to make one.

Later I made many more panoramas here and around London, particularly with a similar Russian camera, the Horizon or Horizont which was rather more convenient to use, as well as a few with a much larger medium format version. I also used a Hassleblad X-Pan, a nice camera which was panoramic only in format, with a similar negative size, 58x24mm, but using rectilinear lenses which can’t acheive a really wide angle of view.


To the Thames – 1983

Wednesday, February 17th, 2021

Canning Town, Newham, 1983 35t-36 (2)_2400

The whole area has changed so much since 1983 that I find it very confusing to locate the exact locations of many of the pictures that I took, and I’ve occasionally got some of the captions wrong. Often the only way I can be sure is by carefully studying other pictures that I took where I am sure of the location.

The building at the centre of the above image can be seen in one of the pictures posted yesterday, and is clearly on Victoria Dock Road, this section of the road completely obliterated in the construction of the Docklands Light Railway and the Canning Town transport interchange. Victoria Dock Road now begins on the other side of Silvertown Way. The picture above was taken from somewhere near the flood barrier.

Bow Creek, East India Dock Rd, Canning Town, Newham, 1983 35t-24_2400

The warning light for the flood barrier was some way to the north, where the river bends around close to the East India Dock Road. At the left of the notice is a pub the East India Dock Road, long demolished, but both pylons are still there, along with the Newham Way flyover.

Bow Creek, Orchard Place, Tower Hamlets,  Newham,  1983 36a-26_2400

I think this picture was taken roughly where the Lower Lea Crossing now goes across Bow Creek and the river bends around to the east.

Leamouth Wharf, Orchard Place, Blackwall Point Power Station, Bow Creek, Tower Hamlets, Newham, 1983 36a-15_2400

It is difficult to pinpoint the locations of these views taken on the same day as I walked down beside Bow Creek towards the Thames. The pylon visible here was on the north-east corner of the East India Dock Basin next to Orchard Place and has since been removed. The chimney is a small mystery as I think this is Brunswick Wharf power station which had two chimneys – but I may have carefully lined them up so one is hidden behind the other. In 1983 the station was still in use and only decommissioned in 1984.

Bow Creek, River Thames, Blackwall Point, Power Station, Trinity Buoy Wharf, Newham, Tower Hamlets, 1983 35t-34 (2)_2400

Things are much clearer as the River Thames comes into view, and the creek swings around yet again towards the south. The power station across the river is the Blackwall Point Power Station on a site close to where the Millennium Dome was later built.

Bow Creek, Thames Wharf, Newham, 1983 35t-65_2400

There was then still a railway line leading down to Thames Wharf, and this was still an industrial area. Things are rather busier not with these sheds still in use and the whole area here is now covered by piles of steel stocks as you can see from satellite images on Google.

River Thames, Bow Creek, Lighthouse, Trinity Buoy Wharf, Tower Hamlets, 1983 35t-31_2400

Across Bow Creek I got a good view of London’s only lighthouse, at Trinity Buoy Wharf. Some years later I was to visit this site on various occasions for several art projects, including a show in which a few of my pictures of Bow Creek were part of the display. And with the late lamented London Arts Cafe I came to a picnic on the riverside and sat in the lighthouse to listen for a few minutes to Jem Finer’s Longplayer which began its thousand year performance here at midnight on the 31st of December 1999. But until 1988 it was still owned by Trinity House and busy maintaining buoys.

Heavy Rain, LimehouseBasin, entrance, River Thames, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1983

Thames Wharf on the River Thames was a busy industrial site which back then seemed mainly to be dealing in scrap metal, and I had to walk around a few heaps to make my way along the river. Although I rather felt I was trespassing, no one approached me. Security was far less strict back then.

Thames Wharf, Victoria Dock Entrance, River Thames, Silvertown, Newham 36a-51_2400

This was around the limit of my walk and having taken my pictures – you can see a few more on Flickr – I walked back up Dock Road to Silvertown Way. I doubt if you can follow much of my walk today, but you do get a good overhead view of the area from the dangleway, London’s cable car across the Thames from North Greenwich to Victoria Dock. But don’t wait too long, as the sponsorship deal with the Emirates Air Line ends in 2022 and the future of this hugely loss-making service must be in doubt.


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.


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.