Posts Tagged ‘Limehouse’

East India Dock Road to Bow Common

Monday, February 7th, 2022

More pictures continuing my walk on 31st July 1988 – the previous post is Bow Common to West India Dock Road, so this returns to close to where that started. Like most of my walks it was more about exploring a neighbourhood than getting anywhere.

East India Dock Rd, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7s-61-positive_2400
East India Dock Rd, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7s-61

East India Dock Road was built as its name suggests when the East India Docks were opened in 1806 to provide a more direct and less congested route than Poplar High Street to them from the end of the Commercial Road, also then recently built in Limehouse. It is now part of the A13 and this section in Poplar has in turn been largely bypassed by the Limehouse Link and Aspen Way opened in 1993. Traffic was still very heavy along it in 1988.

The picture with rubbish on the pavement and gutters, a small rather derelict shop to let gave a picture of a run-down area which contrasted with the word Wonderful on what seems a rather faded fabric on a restaurant at right. Buddleia is growing in front of the billboard, always a sign of dereliction. Interestingly the the advert is for a low alcohol lager, hardly a thing back then when most drivers on the streets after closing time were drunk, although the breathalyser had come in back in twenty-one years earlier. But even the introduction of Kaliber in 1986 had not really galvanised the market – but low alcohol beers are now a massive growth area, and some are even drinkable.

There is still a Chinese restaurant in the building at the right of this picture, and rather surprisingly that small shack is still in place in front of Amory Place, now a minicab office.

Chun Yee Society, East India Dock Rd, Birchfield St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7s-62-positive_2400
Chun Yee Society, East India Dock Rd, Birchfield St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7s-62

There are still traces of London’s first Chinatown in Limehouse, which began in the area around 1900, but the centre of the Chinese community had moved to Soho in the 1950s, partly because of extensive bomb damage in Limehouse, but also because of dirt-cheap rents in an area with a bad reputation where few then wanted to live in central London.

Chun Yee Society, East India Dock Rd, Birchfield St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7s-63-positive_2400
Chun Yee Society, East India Dock Rd, Birchfield St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7s-63

The house on the corner of Birchfield St still has the sign for the Chun Yee Society – Chinese School on Sundays over its doorway. not along with a larger and newer version with fewer Chinese characters. Like many similar societies it began as a Tong, variously described as a criminal gang or a semi-masonic bortherhood, and organised various festivals including those commemorating the dead. Founded in 1906 it was a shelter for Chinese sailors as well as providing a Chinese Sunday school for children and is now largely an old peoples centre. Possibly some of the games of dominoes may have got a little out of hand, but the criminality was largely in the mind of Sax Rohmer, his readers and the sensationalist press.

St Mary & St Joseph, Catholic Church, Upper North St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7s-51-positive_2400
St Mary & St Joseph, Catholic Church, Upper North St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7s-51

The Roman Catholic Church of SS Mary and Joseph, Poplar impresses mainly by its scale. Built in 1951-4, its architect Adrian Gilbert Scott (1882-63) was the brother of the better-known Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, both from a distinguished family of architects. I always think of it as an ecclesiastical version of Battersea Power Station, without the chimneys but with a rather odd green pyramid on its roof, but that’s rather unfair as it is a very individual design, sometimes described as Byzantine jazz gothic.

According to the Grade II listing text this is a camel arch, and a similar arch appears at the top of the main windows, supposedly inspired by Persian buildings. The church replaced one on the site behind me as I made the picture which was destroyed by bombing – the site is now a Catholic school. I think I chose an interesting viewpoint, but one that needed a slightly wider lens and a more upright photographer.

Flats, GLC, Temporary Housing, Brabazon St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7s-53-positive_2400
Flats, GLC, Temporary Housing, Brabazon St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7s-53

The second of these LCC temporary buildings has a sign proclaiming it as ‘LANSBURY WORKS OFFICE’ and giving its address in Brabazon St. The street got its name not from the huge white elephant civil airliner that made a few flights in the 1950s before it and the project was scrapped in 1953, but from the 1882 founder of the Metropolitan Gardens Association, the 12th Earl of Meath, Lord Brabazon.

Work began on the layout of the London County Council’s Lansbury Estate in 1949 on a large area devastated by wartime bombing, and its best-known feature, Chrisp Street Market was built the following year and became an integral part of the 1951 Festival of Britain. But construction of the estate continued for many years and was only said to be completed in 1982, by which time it had been transferred first to the GLC and then Tower Hamlets. Since 1998 it has been owned by Poplar HARCA.

But as this picture shows, this part was still not completed in 1988. The large 11-storey tower block Colebrook House with 42 flats was part of the Barchester Street Scheme by the LCC Architects department and completed in 1957-8, named after a shop built at nearby Blackwall Yard. Brabazon St now has a small park to the left of my picture and a row of neat two-story houses along the right side.

Limehouse Cut, Upper North St, Poplar, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7s-54-positive_2400
Limehouse Cut, Upper North St, Poplar, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7s-54

Bow Common Bridge, an iron bridge replacing the earlier bridge here in 1929, is where Upper North Street meets Bow Common Lane across the Limehouse Cut and the factory building here on the north-west side has now been replaced by a block of offices and flats built in 2008-2011, with the 13 storey Ingot Tower at one corner of the largely five storey development. This large site alongside the Limehouse Cut was formerly a chemical works between the Cut and Thomas St (now Thomas Road.)

Phoenix Business Centre, Limehouse Cut, Upper North St, Poplarm Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7s-55-positive_2400
Phoenix Business Centre, Limehouse Cut, Upper North St, Poplarm Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7s-55

Wikipedia recounts that this area had become popular with chemical manufacturers as they could discharge waste into the Cut, and this bridge from at least 1819 was known as Stinkhouse Bridge and the area around became a huge fire risk, culminating in a great fire in 1866. The bridge was also a popular choice for suicides, with a local coroner in 1909 noting he had held over 50 inquests on them there. As Wikipeida comments ‘ In a derisory attempt to enhance its image it was renamed Lavender Bridge.’ But the old name stuck at least until the 1950s.

The Phoenix Business Centre on the north east corner of the bridge has also been demolished and replaced by tower blocks around 2008-2010.

The Sanitas Company Ltd, Council Depot, Watts Grove, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7s-44-positive_2400
The Sanitas Company Ltd, Council Depot, Watts Grove, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7s-44

The Sanitas Company Limited proudly put their name across the top of their 1914 building in Watts Grove, and it remained written in stone (or at least render) for a hundred years until the building was demolished and replaced by a rather blander building completed in 2017, part of a large development on Watts Grove and the new Pankhurst Avenue.

Previously the site stretching down to Yeo Street annd Glaucus Street had been occupied as it was when I made this photograph as a council depot by various of Tower Hamlet’s Councils municipal services (latterly Veolia.)

The Sanitas Company Limited was a local company which specialised in disinfectant and soap-based products. So far as I’m aware they had no connection with other and now better known companies using the name Sanitas, the Latin for Health.


My walk will continue in a later post.

Clicking on any of the pictures will take you to a larger version in my album 1988 London Photos from where you can browse the album.


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Bow Common to West India Dock Road

Friday, February 4th, 2022

Bow Common to West India Dock Road, July 1988. This continues the walk in my previous post Westferry Station, Brunel and Bow Common

Bow Common Lane, Bow Common, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7r-35-positive_2400
Bow Common Lane, Bow Common, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7r-35

Although this image is labelled as being on Cantrell Road in my very skeletal notes written small in black ink on the contact sheet, it is actually still there next to the railway on the west side of the gasworks site in Bow Common Lane.

This fairly substantial house is on the edge of the gas works site mentioned in the previous post and I wondered if it might have been a part of this development, perhaps a manager’s house. The gasholder was removed in 2016-7

Bow Common, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7r-21-positive_2400
Bow Common, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7r-21

I’m fairly sure that Turnbull & Son Builders were not on Cantrell Road as my notes suggest, but certainly somewhere in Bow Common, possibly on Bow Common Lane, Devons Road or St Paul’s Way which were on my route. Little of the older industry in the area now remains.

Bow Common, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7r-23-positive_2400
Bow Common, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7r-23

Again there is a frustrating lack of information on the contact sheet, possibly because I was lost. So I’m unsure of the location of this detached Victorian house, but I think it may have been on Turners Road which I went down on my way to Clemence St.

Sculpture, Trevor Tennant, Dora St, Gatwick House, Clemence St, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7r-24-positive_2400
Sculpture, Trevor Tennant, Dora St, Gatwick House, Clemence St, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7r-24

Finally a location I can be sure of, as the block in the background has two signs on it. ‘No Ball Games’ is on not helpful, but over the entrance way just above the thighs of what looks to me a naked rudimentary female figure I can read ‘Gatwick House’.

Although Trevor Tennant (1900-80) entitled this ‘play sculpture’ Gulliver it still looks female to me. It is described in The Buildings of England London: East as “in Festival of Britain Spirit”, though it looks vaguely Henry Moore to me. Tennant in taught at various art colleges including Camberwell School of Art (1930-4). The sculpture commissioned by the LCC for the Locksley Estatew was probably installed when the block was built in 1954-6 and by the time I photographed it was deteriorating – perhaps due to some rather more robust physical play than anticipated. It was originally at the centre of a large sandpit with the base buried in the sand. I suspect the sand was removed after being too often used as a toilet for dogs, a common fate with sandpits in public places.

Limehouse Cut, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7r-25-positive_2400
Limehouse Cut, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7r-25

A gloomy building by a gloomy canal, close to St Anne’s Church which towers above the tree at right. This building at the rear of a ‘dangerous structure’ on Commercial Road opposite the church is still standing, though the lower structures to the right have been demolished. I think this is 777 Commercial Road, a former sail loft, part of the Grade II listed run of buildings here. According to the listing, 777 dates from 1893-4 and was designed by Marshall & Bradley and built by J.H. Johnson for Caird and Rayner. The site is now ‘Sailmakers’ a mixed-use development which will retain the building frontage.

Limehouse Town Hall, Flood Barrier, Limehouse Cut, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7r-11-positive_2400
Limehouse Town Hall, Flood Barrier, Limehouse Cut, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7r-11

The Flood barrier on the Limehouse Cut presumably became redundant after the building of the Thames Barrier. On the other side of Commercial Road you can see both St Anne’s Church over a billboard and Limehouse Town Hall.

Empire Memorial Sailors' Hostel, Commercial Rd, Salmon Lane, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7r-12-positive_2400
Empire Memorial Sailors’ Hostel, Commercial Rd, Salmon Lane, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7r-12

The Empire Memorial Sailors’ Hostel, now called The Mission Building, was built in 1924 to house some of the many sailors in the city needing lodgings. Money to fund it came from an appeal organised largely by women from across the British Empire to save these men who might otherwise have spent the night and their earnings in the company of the oldest profession. They appealed for the funds to build it as a memorial to the 12,000 merchant seamen who were killed in the Great War.

The Grade II listed building originally had 205 single rooms (cabins) and appears to have been designed to the demands of a committee whose members advocated differing styles. It was enlarged in 1932 along Salmon Lane to meet the huge demand, but as the docks closed became a hostel for the homeless. It closed in 1985, presumably not because of any lack of homeless people but because of the cost of housing them, and in 1994 was sold off to a developer who converted it to a gated and portered residential development.

4-12 West India Dock Road, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7r-14-positive_2400
4-12 West India Dock Road, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7r-14

A little of the old West India Dock Road, this row of shops is now long gone. The large Grade II listed building at right is still there, built as the Passmore Edwards Sailors Palace, the Headquarters of the British And Foreigh Sailors Society in 1901, with a grand frontage including a crowned Britannia holding on each shoulder a strangely morphed galleon and child. The side view here is rather more utilitarian.

Sail Makers, Ships Chandlers, 11, West India Dock Rd, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7r-16-positive_2400
Sail Makers, Ships Chandlers, 11, West India Dock Rd, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7r-16

A sign over the door for Pastel Print shows its use in 1988, when local demand for sails, candles and other marine equipment has shrunk to zero. A plaque near the apex of the facade states ‘ERECTED AD.1860’. I think it has now been made into flats and offices retaining the facade.


The next part of my walk, going back into Bow and on towards Bromley-by-Bow will continue in a later post.

Clicking on any of the pictures will take you to a larger version in my album 1988 London Photos from where you can browse the album.


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


Poplar To Limehouse 1988

Wednesday, January 26th, 2022

Poplar To Limehouse 1988 – my walk continued on the East India Dock Road.

East India Dock Rd, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7q-51-positive_2400
East India Dock Rd, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7q-51

From the posters in the window this was clearly a video rental store, a relatively new thing back in 1988 – the first Blockbuster Video store only opened in Dallas, Texas in 1985. Home video recording only began to be popular after the introduction of Betamax in 1975, followed in 1977 by VHS (along with other formats.) By 1988 VHS had become the dominant format.

But my attention was caught by the notice on the door, ‘NO DOGS OR BIKES ALLOWED’ with a very small ‘Thankyou’ and the two bikes (I think a BMX and a racer) flung down on the pavement outside unlocked by their two young owners.

Poplar Labour Party, East India Dock Rd, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7q-53-positive_2400
Poplar Labour Party, East India Dock Rd, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7q-53

Poplar Labour Party, led by George Lansbury, gained control of Poplar Borough Council in 1919. Poplar was one of the poorest areas of the country and so rateable values there were low. With councils then being responsible for supporting the unemployed and poor, council rates thus had to be set at a much higher level than in wealthy boroughs, which was clearly unfair on boroughs like Poplar who had so many more people needing support. Their rates were the highest in London, twice as high as in the wealthy borough of Kensington.

Poplar Labour had come into office to make changes, to provide greater support for the poor, to set a higher minimum wage for council workers and to pay women equally to men. When a demand from government came in 1921 to increase contributions for cross-London authorities Poplar council refused to pay, instead voting to use the money for the local poor. The authorities took them to court, and 30 councillors marched there with two thousand supporters. All of the councillors were sentenced to prison, where one of the six women, Minnie Lansbury, died, only 32.

Public outcry with large demonstrations and some riots – and other councils following Poplar’s lead – led to the councillors being released with an Act being rushed through Parliament to make the system more fair, with richer boroughs contributing more and the poorer less.

Their protest had clearly been illegal, but was clearly justified, and it led to a much-needed reform. It’s a lesson which still has relevance, particularly with such current matters as statues and the Government’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.

Richard Green, statue, Poplar Baths, East India Dock Rd, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7q-54-positive_2400
Richard Green, statue, Poplar Baths, East India Dock Rd, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7q-54

The statue of Richard Green still stands outside Poplar Baths, a Grade II listed building from 1933, replacing an earlier baths from 1852. The baths were largely to provide washing facilities when few homes had bathrooms in this poor area of the city. As well as ‘slipper baths’ there were also vapour baths, showers and laundry facilities. The new baths in 1933 was a huge building including these facilities and two swimming pools, the larger of which could be covered over and used as a dance hall, theatre and sports hall.

The baths reopened in 1947 after the war despite considerable damage and was closed and converted into a training centre in 1988. My picture from 1988 shows a board advertising the support of the London Docklands Development Corporation in providing disabled access.

The building later became derelict but after a strong local and national campaign for its restoration work began on its redevelopment in 2014 and it reopened again as Poplar Baths Leisure Centre and Gym, along with 100 new homes, in 2016.

Richard Green (1803-63) was a local shipowner, shipbuilder and philanthropist, supporting a Sailors’ Home, schools, an orphanage and hospitals in the area, some of which had been founded by his father, George Green. His Blackwall Yard built many ships for the East India Company and for trade with Australia and China. His company, R & H Green in 1919 joined with Silley Weir as R. and H. Green and Silley Weir, with large premises at the Royal Albert dry docks and others and continued in business until sold to become a part of the government owned River Thames Shipbuilders in 1977.

George Green School, East India Dock Rd, Sturry St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7q-43-positive_2400
George Green School, East India Dock Rd, Sturry St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7q-43

George Green (1767-1849) was the father of Richard Green whose statue with his dog still sits outside Poplar Baths. George married the boss’s daughter and made the reputation of the Blackwall Shipbuilding Yard, building many whalers.

As well as this school dating from 1828 on the East India Dock Road the older Green also endowed schools in Chrisp Street and Bow Lane. The current huilding from 1883 is part of Tower Hamlets College. George Green School in new buildings on Manchester Road became the secondary school for the Isle of Dogs with its first comprehensive intake in 1975.

Poplar Recreation Ground Memorial, schoolchildren, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7q-44-positive_2400
Poplar Recreation Ground Memorial, schoolchildren, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7q-44

The War memorial to the children of Upper North Street School is https://britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/101065215-war-memorial-to-the-children-of-upper-north-street-school-poplar-ward Grade II* listed and includes the inscription: ‘IN MEMORY OF/ 18 CHILDREN/ WHO WERE KILLED/ BY A BOMB/ DROPPED FROM A/ GERMAN AEROPLANE/ UPON THE L.C.C./ SCHOOL UPPER/ NORTH STREET/ POPLAR ON THE/ 13TH OF JUNE 1917./ ALFRED H. WARREN O.B.E./ MAYOR/ J. BUTEUX SKEGGS,/ TOWN CLERK. ‘

There is a fuller story at the link above about the first mass German raid on London by Gotha bombers on 13 June 1917 which killed 162, including these 18 children mainly aged 5 or 6. At least 37 other children at the school were among the 432 injured by the raid.

St Mathias, church, Woodstock Terrace, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7q-45-positive_2400
St Mathias, church, Woodstock Terrace, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7q-45

St Mathias Church is also Grade II* listed, with a number of Grade II listed monuments. Poplar’s oldest church, it was built in 1766 as the Chapel of the East India Company, and became St Mathias as a parish church in 1866. You can see the company’s arms in the roof, and allegedly its columns came from wrecks of the Spanish Armada.

The exterior of the church was altered and enlarged by Teulon in 1875. The church closed in 1976 and was restored for community use by the LDDC in 1990.

Grieg House, Garford St, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7q-36-positive_2400
Grieg House, Garford St, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7q-36

Built in 1902–3 as an officers’ annexe to the Scandinavian Sailors’ Temperance Home, founded by Swedish Free Church missionary Agnes Hedenstrom (1849–1928) who began her mission in the East End in the 1870s, opening the home here in 1888. The mission was taken over by the Salvation Army in 1930.

This was I think the last picture I took on my way to Westferry station where I returned a couple of days later for another walk – and the subject of a later post.


Click on any image to see a larger version in my album 1988 London Photos from where you can browse other images.


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Limehouse, Isle of Dogs & Poplar

Friday, January 21st, 2022

Emmett St, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-63-positive_2400
Emmett St, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-63

Limehouse, Isle of Dogs & Poplar

This post starts where my previous post on the walk left off, on Emmett Street, no longer present, a victim of both the Limehouse Link tunnel and the edge of the Canary Wharf development at Westferry Circus. I think it this was taken just a little further south than the previous picture and the view between buidlings with several cranes is to the luxury flats being built on the Limehouse bank of the Thames.

Westferry Rd, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-65-positive_2400
Westferry Rd, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-65

A little further south on Westferry Road, with the high dock wall at the left and Cascades Tower, designed by the architects Campbell, Zogolovitch, Wilkinson and Gough (CZWG) in the distance ahead. This unusual block of luxury flats built in 1985–88 was the first private high rise block in Docklands. Going down Westferry Road was entering a huge building site – and the graffiti on the bus shelter states WORLDEXIT (though its actually where a bus would take you back into the world.) When built the flats were almost impossible to sell or rent and Tower Hamlets council let them to teachers at £17 a week. Now they are rather more expensive, at around £400 per week for a one bed flat, and selling for around £500,000 and no teachers can afford to live there.

I think the slight rise in the road, which also bends slightly is possibly the former Limehouse Basin entrance and this section of Westferry Road was perhaps what had previously been Bridge Road.

Westferry Rd, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-66-positive_2400
Westferry Rd, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-66

George Baker & Sons (Millwall) Ltd, builders and joiners, were according to the Survey of London only at this site from 1985 until it was cleared in 1987-8. But the name here looks older and this is the remains of a fairly elegant three-storey building, a photograph of which from 1987 is in the Survey of London. It was built on what was then Emmett St in the 1860s for Thomas Dominick James Teighe and Frederick Smith, sailmakers and ship-chandlers, and from 1902 to the early 1980s occupied by Fitch & Son, provision merchants.

Westferry Rd, Isle of Dogs, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-53-positive_2400
Westferry Rd, Isle of Dogs, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-53

Considerable building work taking place close to Westferry Circus, with Cascades Tower visible in the distance.

South Dock Entrance, Westferry Rd, Isle of Dogs, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-41-positive_2400
South Dock Entrance, Westferry Rd, Isle of Dogs, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-41

Sand and gravel works on the north side of the former South Dock Entrance, with a view across the River Thames to Columbia Wharf in Rotherhithe.

Westferry Rd, Isle of Dogs, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-43-positive_2400
Westferry Rd, Isle of Dogs, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-43

A bus stop at left on Westferry Road, the Island Car Service, much needed as the bus service was poor and unreliable and Timber Merchant John Lenanton & Sons Ltd on the corner of Manilla St, with the Anchor & Hope public house part visible at the right edge, and behind one of the towers of the Barkantine Estate. The car service was in the shop at 31 which for many years was Wooding’s newsagents. The Anchor & Hope had been opened since at least the 1820s, and possibly as it until recently stated on its frontage was established 1787. The building is still there though it closed as a pub in 2005. It was extensively refurbished for residential use in 2015 and the ground floor later became a gym.

Ming St, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-44-positive_2400
Ming St, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-44

I walked back north to Ming St in Poplar, part of London’s first Chinatown, and renamed to reflect this in 1938 when many of London’s streets were renamed to avoid confusion – previously it had been since 1820 one of many King Streets. This was part of the Limehouse of Sax Rohmer‘s racist imaginings of opium dens and crime in his 18 book Dr Fu Manchu series, begun in 1913 and continued after Rohmers death by his biographer and assistant Cay Van Ash.

His work brought wealthy upper-class slum-tourists to the area, where they perhaps enjoyed meals in restaurants such as Wah Ying, but they will have found little evidence of Fu Manchu and his team of assassins, human traffickers and drug traders of the dreaded Sci-Fan secret society. Chinatown was one of the more law-abiding areas of the East End, and the Chinese certainly more law abiding than most.

Ming St, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-45-positive_2400
Ming St, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-45

The Peking was another remnant of the Chinatown past, mostly now moved away to Soho, though there is still a Chinese restaurant on the East India Dock Road, along with the Chun Yee Society. Dockland Light Railway trains now run across the bridge in the distance. The building at right with a dome was Charlie Brown’s pub on West India Dock Road. All this is now demolished.

The White Horse, pub, Saltwell St, Poplar High St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-46-positive_2400
The White Horse, pub, Saltwell St, Poplar High St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-46

Going east along Ming St takes you to Poplar High St, and on the corner of Saltwell St where the High Street begins you can still see a large white horse on top of a wooden post, though it seems rather smaller now than in my picture, and is closer to the street corner. There had been a White Horse pub on this site since 1690 though I think the building in this picture is probably from the 1920s when it was taken over by Truman’s Brewery. They sold it in 2003 and it was demolished and replaced by a block of flats. According to the Lost Pubs Project,  “In 1740 it was, scandalously, run by a Mr & Mrs Howes, both of whom were actually female. ”

The horse was Grade II listed in 1973 and has the shortest listing text I’ve come across: “C18 wooden carving of a white horse on post in forecourt.” The lower part of the sign with the pub name fell down and has been removed, but the horse has been repainted since my picture.


Click on any of the images to see a larger version in my album 1988 London Photos from where you can browse the album.


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Church, Pyramid, Star of the East – More Limehouse

Saturday, January 15th, 2022

St Anne's Church, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7o-32-positive_2400
St Anne’s Church, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7o-32

Church, Pyramid, Star of the East – More Limehouse
My walk around Limehouse came back to the area I think of as its heart, close to St Anne’s Church, one of the Queen Anne Churches built after the 1711 Act of Parliament and consecrated in 1730. St Anne’s is one of the six London churches by Nicholas Hawksmoor along with St Alfege’s Greenwich, St George’ Bloomsbury, Christ Church, Spitalfields, St George in the East Wapping andhis only church in the City of London, St Mary Woolnoth.


St Anne's Churchyard, St Anne's Passage, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-7o-34-positive_2400
St Anne’s Churchyard, St Anne’s Passage, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7o-34

I turned my back on the church to photograph the entrance gate to the churchyard.

Limehouse Pyramid, St Anne's Church, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-7o-36-positive_2400
Limehouse Pyramid, St Anne’s Church, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7o-36

The church has featured in many books and publications, including the work of psychogeographers and other more esoteric and mystical writers, and seems to have a special place in the works of believers in ley lines. I’ve not read or seen the film ‘Dark Lines Of London’, but a web page claims to give “Factual Information That Provides the Backdrop to the Story” and includes descriptions and photographs of 10 sites, all from centuries after that in which the story is set, along “a real ley line” one of which is this “Wisdom Of Solomon” Pyramid.

Princes Lodge, Commercial Rd, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-7o-22-positive_2400
Princes Lodge, Commercial Rd, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7o-22

THE 4TH CONFERENCE of the Situationist International was held in London, at a secret address in the East End, 24-28 September 1960, seventeen months after the Munich Conference (April 1959). The situationists assembled in London were: Debord, Jacqueline de Jong, Jorn, Kotányi, Katja Lindell, Jörgen Nash, Prem, Sturm, Maurice Wyckaert and H.P. Zimmer. In fact, to ensure that the proceedings were kept well away from any contact with London journalists or artistic circles, the conference took place at the British Sailors Society hall in Limehouse, “an area famous for its criminals”.

Internationale Situationniste #5

Star of the East, Commercial Rd, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-7o-23-positive_2400
Star of the East, Commercial Rd, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7o-23

Built in the early 19th century and Grade II listed the Star of the East was serving beer at least from 1845. More recently the building had deteriorated and closed as a pub around 2010, was reopened a couple of years later but closed again in 2016. The pub was then taken over and refurbished by the Old Spot Pub Co, who run around a dozen pubs re-opening again in 2019.

Star of the East, Commercial Rd, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-7o-11-positive_2400
Star of the East, Commercial Rd, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7o-11

You can read more about its recent transformation and see some photographs from London Pub Explorer. I’ve yet to return to see for myself. Back in 1988 part of the building was a separate restaurant, but I think the pub now occupies the whole building. The refurbishment appears to have kept at least some of the original interior features.

Three Colts Lane, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-7o-14-positive_2400
Three Colt St, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7o-14

Three Colt St, which has St Anne’s Church at its northern end is one of the oldest roads in the area, part of the route from Limehouse to Stepney and first recorded in 1362. In the Victorian era it was flanked by a number of shops and was something of a middle-class enclave surrounded on both sides by extreme poverty. Little remains from those times. The building here is the former London and Blackwall Railway station, probably dating from the opening of the railway in 1840. The station closed in 1926, but the line remained in use for goods traffic until the 1960s. When the line was reused for the Docklands Light Railway in 1987, Westferry station was built around 300 yards to the east.

Emmett St, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7o-16-positive_2400
Emmett St, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7o-16

Not only this building but the street that it was in have disappeared since I made this picture. Emmett St was at the end of Three Colt St, roughly where the Limehouse Link tunnel entrance is now. Construction of the tunnel began in November 1989 and the project was officially opened in May 1993, at £293,000,000 the most expensive per mile road scheme ever built in the UK, a huge public subsidy to the Canary Wharf redevelopment.

When Mucho Macho released ‘The Limehouse Link’ in 1998 it had one of my pictures wrapped around both the CD and the 12″ LP, where it looked rather more impressive. But this image was from Poplar – and this is the full image from the Urban Landscapes web site and doesn’t show the Limehouse Link at all.


Clicking on any of the black and white images above will take you to a larger version in my 1988 London Photos from where you can browse the album.


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


Limehouse, Horses, Graffiti & Canal

Thursday, January 13th, 2022
Commercial Rd, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7n-23-positive_2400
Commercial Rd, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7n-23

Limehouse, Horses, Graffiti & Canal

This terrace at 582-588 is still there, considerably restored, with the wrought iron railings now continuing in front of 588, but the two storey building beyond the traffic lights for Branch Road, here with a sign GEC Mowlem Railway Group and on its roof the former occupants, scrap metal firm 600 Group has been replaced by a tall I think 12 storey block, the Zenith building, one of the new buildings on Commercial Road with views over Limehouse Basin. Mowlem had presumably been there for the conversion of the old railway line along the viaduct next to the basin into the recently opened Docklands Light Railway.

Clemence St,  Limehouse,Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7n-11-positive_2400
Clemence St, Limehouse,Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7n-11

My notes say that this slender detached house with doorway and detailing that could have graced a rather grander residence was on Clemence Street, and I’ve no particular reason to doubt them, but it may have been in a neighbouring street. I didn’t hear any neighing from the two horses heads in the picture.

G Fawkes Is Innocent, Turners Rd, Limehouse,Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-7n-12-positive_2400
G Fawkes Is Innocent, Turners Rd, Limehouse,Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7n-12

‘G.FAWKES IS. INNOCENT’ is I think a play on the iconic East End graffiti about George Davis, who was framed by Det Sgt Mathews for an armed robbery at the London Electricity Board’s offices in Ilford, Essex in 1974, for which he was sentenced to 20 years in jail. Eventually in 2011 he won his appeal against that verdict. He was imprisoned for other crimes, but never protested his innocence after being convicted. Guy Fawkes, often said to be the only person to enter Parliament with honest intentions was tortured terribly and fell from the scaffold on which he was to be hanged, breaking his neck and thus avoiding being hung, drawn and quartered but is celebrated by being burnt on bonfires every 5th November in an anti-Catholic celebration.

Rhodeswell Rd, Turners Rd, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7o-61-positive_2400
Rhodeswell Rd, Turners Rd, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7o-61

The same building as the picture above but showing its Rhodeswell Rd side and terraced houses down Turners Road. The terrace has surviced, but the building at the left and the empty site at right have both been replaced by new housing.

Turners Rd, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-7o-62-positive_2400
Turners Rd, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7o-62

All of the houses on the north side of Turners Road here have been demolished and replaced by new housing. The terraced houses have equally small but much neater front gardens. No 43 here has the house name ‘City View’.

Copenhagen Place, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-7o-56-positive_2400
Copenhagen Place, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7o-56

One of several small alleys leading off from Copenhagen Place which I think have disappeared, although there is a short cobbled section leading off to Carmine Wharf, and another yard – clearly not this one – at the rear of properties on Pixley St. But most of the area has been completely redeveloped since I made this picture.

Limehouse Cut, Burdett Rd, LImehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-7o-41-positive_2400
Limehouse Cut, Burdett Rd, LImehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7o-41

The Limehouse Cut is the oldest canal in London, first dug in 1770 but widened a few years later to allow barges to pass each other and travel in both directions. Later it was widened to the current width. It provided a route from the Lea Navigation to the River Thames avoiding the convoluted meandering of the tidal Bow Creek and initially had its own basin and entrance lock to the Thames in Limehouse, although the canal was still tidal, at the level of Bow Locks. In 1854 the basin was linked to the nearby Regents Canal Dock but after a legal dispute because bargees didn’t like the Regents Canal terms this was filled in a few years later and only restored in 1968, after which the lock and short length of the cut leader to the Thames were filled in.

Last's Wharf, Burdett Rd, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7o-42-positive_2400
Last’s Wharf, Burdett Rd, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7o-42

310 Burdett Road is now the Royal Mail Delivery Office in Docklands, on the large site of Last’s Wharf leading down to the Limehouse Cut. The picture of the Cut from the Burdett Road Bridge above is looking roughly west, and the different constructions of the bank of the canal remains recognisable but nothing else in the picture from 1988 remains.

My walk will continue in a later post.


Clicking on any of the images will take you to a larger version in the album 1988 London Photos, from where you can browse the other pictures, though in a different order to this post which has them in the order I made them.


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


Limehouse, Pimlico & the City

Thursday, February 25th, 2021
DLR, Limehouse Dock, Limehouse, 1992 92-3d-36-7a_2400
Panorama, DLR & Limehouse Dock, Limehouse, 1992

My walk down the Lea Valley from the source to the Thames took a long time on my posts here, and there are still many pictures in the Flickr album that have not featured here, including those around the other outlet from the Lea Navigation to the River Thames via the Limehouse Cut and Limehouse Basin by which barges could avoid the winding and rather treacherous Bow Creek. There are over 500 pictures in the album, including a number of colour images and they come from various visits over around ten years when I probably made several thousands of exposures. And I continued to make occasional visits there after 1992, the latest I think in 2018 or 2019. So here are just a couple of final images before I return to my wider explorations of London, back in 1987.

Heavy Rain, LimehouseBasin, entrance, River Thames, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1983 33f-45_2400
Heavy Rain, Limehouse Basin entrance, River Thames, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1983

1987 continued

St George's Drive, Pimlico, Westminster, 1987 87-10a-15-positive_2400
St George’s Drive, Pimlico, Westminster, 1987 87-10a-15-positive_2400

My last post about my pictures around London several months ago ended with two pictures from Pimlico taken in early October, and that’s where I will take up the story. The long streets of the area lined with Cubitt’s impressive stucco were developed from 1825, St George’s Drive, along with Belgrave Road were the two principla streets, with these opulent five storey town houses, were built (as Wikipedia quotes) for “professional men… not rich enough to luxuriate in Belgravia proper, but rich enough to live in private houses”.

By the 1980s many houses in the area were beginning to show their age; some had been converted to hotels and others offices, while others were in multiple occupation, often rather crudely converted. Developers were busy buying up properties to convert them into flats, as this picture with its estate agent’s boards and scaffolding illustrates.

Churton Place, Pimlico, Westminster, 1987 87-10a-02-positive_2400
Churton Place, Pimlico, Westminster, 1987

The side streets were also a part of Cubitt’s development, but here the houses were less grand and typically of three storeys.

River Thames, foreshore, Blackfriars, downstream, City, 1987 87-10o-63-positive_2400
River Thames, view downstream from Blackfriars, City of London, 1987

My next visit to London, later in the month took me further east, walking from Waterloo Station to the City meant I had to cross the River Thames and this picture shows a rather misty view downstream, with Southwark Bridge, Cannon St Rail Bridge, London Bridge and Tower Bridge. At the left is a tall warehouse on the upstream side of Queenhithe, London’s earliest dock. Now there would be another bridge, the Millennium footbridge, in the foreground.

White Lion Hill, City, 1987 87-10o-52-positive_2400
White Lion Hill, City of London, 1987

White Lion Hill leads up from the river to Queen Victoria St, where a rather dull office building, the Faraday Building, seems to have the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral on its roof. This part of the building was built in 1890 as a post office sorting office, which in 1905 became the GPO’s first London telephone exchange. A taller extension to the west (to the left of this view) was added in 1933, with the whole complex becoming known as Faraday House. This held the international telephone exchange and in its first years virtually all the world’s international telephone conversations were routed through here.

As this picture shows, Faraday House partly blocked the view of St Paul’s Cathedral from the Thames riverside and this led to the introduction of regulations restricting the height of new buildings in various locations giving a number of protected views from around London – including a well known one from Richmond Park. But the regulations only came in after Faraday House was built and were not retrospective. The photograph also shows another of Wren’s churches, St. Benet Paul’s Wharf, rebuilt after the Great Fire and reopened in 1683. Queen Victoria granted the church to Welsh Anglicans in 1879 and services are still conducted there in Welsh.

Knightrider St, City, 1987 87-10o-43-positive_2400
Knightrider St, City of London, 1987

Redevelopment was in full swing in the Knightrider St area as you can see from these pictures. I think the building at right is is the back of the building on Queen Victoria St now home to the Church of Scientology, and to the left is probably Faraday House. So many of what see like older buildings in the city are now just facades to more recent developments.

Knightrider St, City, 198787-10o-42-positive_2400

The web has many references to Knightrider St, but none that give useful information about its post-war past. Most are about its name, suggesting that Stow’s suggestion it came from being a handy route for knights riding to St Paul’s and Smithfield is unlikely (though there are no positive suggestions), or list buildings along the street which were demolished in the nineteenth century or earlier, and exactly the same information is in those reference books I’ve consulted which mention the street.

Knightrider St, City, 1987 87-10o-41-positive_2400

Addle Hill which runs down to the western end of Knightrider St, which continues west as Wardrobe Terrace. In between taking these pictures I photographed The Bell pub, on the corner of Addle Hill and Wardrobe Terrace which closed in 1989 and was demolished in 1998, one of many pictures not on-line. Further east on Knightrider St is The Horn Tavern, which was renamed The Centre Page in 2002 and is newspaper-themed.

These pictures are from Page 7 of my album 1987 London Photos.


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.


More from Page 5

Wednesday, May 27th, 2020

The previous post Page 5 of my London 1986 pictures looked at some from Hoxton and Islington and there were many more in the album that in my post, including a number form Shoreditch. Later in July I returned to Wapping, Shadwell, Limehouse and the West India Docks with a few other images from Greenwich, Finsbury and the City.

New Crane Wharf, Wapping, Tower Hamlets 86-7i-23_2400
New Crane Wharf, Wapping
Gun Wharves, Wapping,  Tower Hamlets         86-7i-32  Thames foreshore, Wapping High St, W 86-7i-31_2400
Gun Wharves, Wapping
Rotherhithe from Wapping, Tower Hamlets v 86-7i-35_2400
Rotherhithe from Wapping
Limehouse Dock entrance, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets 86-7j-46_2400
Limehouse Dock entrance
Limehouse Dock, Limehouse Cut, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets 86-7j-51_2400
Limehouse Dock
West India Dock, Isle of Dogs, Tower Hamlets  86-7k-65_2400
West India Docks

These are just a few of my favourite pictures from the 100 on page 5 of my Flickr album of pictures I made in London in 1986. Clicking on any image will take you to a larger version 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.


Back to 1986: Page 4

Wednesday, May 20th, 2020
Broadway Bakeries, Brougham Rd, Benjamin Close, Broadway Market, Hackney 86-6m-35_2400
Borough Market

Returning to my London pictures for 1986, and to page 4 of my Flickr album 1986 London Photographs.

The Oval, Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets 86-6m-65_2400
The Oval, Bethnal Green

1986 was the year I began to photograph London in depth, and the album reflects this, with 1370 black and white photographs, a fraction of the number I took that year. The hundred on page 4 are from the boroughs of Hackney and Tower Hamlets and include pictures from Dalston, Shoreditch, Hackney, Bethnal Green, Wapping, Shadwell, Limehouse, Whitechapel and other parts east of the city. There is just the odd image from elsewhere in London.

War Memorial, Cyprus St, Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets86-6o-31_2400
Cyprus St, Bethnal Green

Unlike in some earlier years the routes for my walks around the area were carefully planned, with research from a number of published sources, though information was much less readily available than now before the days of the world wide web. Of course I didn’t always stick to my planned routes, but I did carry a notebook to write down where I actually went and even sometimes some details of what I was photographing.

Hessell St, Whitechapel, Tower Hamlets
Hessel St, Whitechapel

One of my major resources was of course maps, both new and old, not just for the streets but also for the other information included on them. Some marked industrial areas in brown, most showed churches and public buildings and some gave names of various features. The invaluable series of reprints of old 1:2500 OS maps was begun by Alan Godfrey in 1983, but few were available in 1986. I now have a very large collection.

Kingsland Basin, Regent's Canal, Hackney 86-7c-26_2400
Kingsland Basin

My aim was to not to walk along every street (as the woman who produced the London A-Z was sometimes said to have done) but at least to look down nearly all of them, and to photograph all buildings of interest as well as other things I found on my journeys. Later when I had bought a scanner I produced enlarged versions of the A-Z pages, printing them on a black and white laser printer and used highlighter pen after I came home to mark where I had walked. These both showed me any areas I had missed and helped me, together with the notebooks, to mark on the contact sheets where the pictures were taken.

Nuttal St, Hackney 86-7c-36_2400
Nuttal St, Hackney

I mostly travelled by train or underground so often several walks started from a particular station, and perhaps along the same streets close to them. There were also some areas that particularly interested me, either for simple visual reasons or because they were obviously changing, to which I returned.

I’ve posted some of the pictures on this page previously on >Re:PHOTO and I’ve tried to find others to put on this post. You can see all of the pictures – 100 on page 4 – on Flickr – where you can view them larger than on here – by clicking on the link or the image below.

Russia Lane, Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets 86-6l-66_2400

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.


1986 Complete – Page 2

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2020
Varden St, Whitechapel, Tower Hamlets 86-5d-11_2400

Images in this post are embedded from Flickr where you can view them at a large size by clicking on the image. You will need to use your browser back button to return to this post. Or you can right-click and select ‘Open link in new tab’.

My album 1986 London Photographs is now complete on Flickr, and this is the second of a short series of posts pointing out a few of my favourite images from the year.

Fashion St, Spitalfields, Tower Hamlets 86-4r-16_2400

Several things come out strongly to me as I look through these pictures, mostly taken around Brick Lane and other areas of Whitechapel. One of the major themes that has run through much of my photography is the writing on the wall, whether graffiti or signs and posters. Language is such an important aspect of our social interactions and its inclusion in these images makes them into a record of how people lived and thought.

Brick Lane, Spitalfields, Tower Hamlets 86-5a-01_2400

In 1984 London was rapidly becoming the multicultural city we now know, though of course it had been so on a lesser scale for many years if not centuries. Spitalfields where some of these pictures were made had long been a home for new communities moving to London and there was still abundant evidence of its Jewish population as well as the Bangladeshis who had by then largely replaced them.

Commercial Rd, Whitechapel, Tower Hamlets 86-5c-64_2400

Housing, then as now, was an important issue in London in particular, and some of these pictures reflect this and other issues such as racism. Although I think some of these pictures are well-composed and even attractive compositionally, I’ve always considered the formal aspects – line, shape, tone, texture, form etc to be the means to communicate a message rather than an end in themselves. I aimed to make photography that had something to say and said it well rather than to produce well composed, attractive or even striking or popular images.

Limehouse, Tower Hamlets 86-5h-66_2400

There are another 95 pictures on the second page of the album, all with a location, taken from the usually rather incomplete information I recorded on the contact sheets. I’ve tried to check these before posting, but corrections and other comments are always welcome. I’m happy for these pictures – with suitable attribution – to be shared on social media, but they remain copyright and any commercial or editorial use requires a licence from me.


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.

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