Posts Tagged ‘Old Ford’

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was moored, I think outside about the only former industrial building along the whole length of the canal which has not been replaced by flats, the Chisendale works, built in 1942-3 by Maurice Cohen as a factory, CHN Veneers, to glue together layers of wood to make parts for fighters and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.


Page 3

Saturday, April 25th, 2020

I hope it will not disappoint anyone that this is only a post about the third page of my pictures from 1986 on Flickr! Though rather more than usual for me at that time do include people, I think all of them are fully dressed.

All of the pictures on this page are from the East End – Bethnal Green, Stepney, Globe Town, Mile End, Whitechapel, Old Ford, and I think a few in Hackney, though when walking the streets it isn’t always clear which area or even which borough you are in, though the street signs often tell you this. Nearly all of these pictures were taken in Tower Hamlets in June 1986.

104 Mile End Rd, Stepney, Tower Hamlets 104 Mile End Rd, Stepney, Tower Hamlets86-6b-52_2400

I stopped to talk to this man fairly early on a Sunday morning, when he was sitting quite happily on the steps of a house, which I think was empty and derelict, though it did have an empty milk bottle on it, as well as his larger bottle of what I think was cider. He had taken his shoes off and it was a pleasantly warm morning and we had a short chat before I asked if he minded if I took his picture. I think he was actually quite pleased to be photographed, and I was pleased to take his picture, though I would have photographed the house without him.

Sima Tandoori, Mile End Rd, Stepney, Tower Hamlets 86-6b-34_2400

I was photographing this shopfront too when these two young men came out from inside to be in the picture too – and they do improve it, adding a little asymmetry. I think I may have gone back a few weeks later and posted a copy of the picture through the door, as I often did when I’d photographed people, but I’m not sure. If not, perhaps they will see it now on Flickr.

Globe International Autos, Cephas St, Globe Town, Tower Hamlets 86-6e-63_2400

Another business I photographed on several occasions was ‘Globe International Autos!’, whose frontage had some extensive painting, and again I was asked to take their picture by two men working there. There are four pictures of the business on this page, two at times when it was closed.

Print workers march to Wapping, Mile End Rd, Stepney, Tower Hamlets 86-6b-63_2400

Back in the 1980s I wasn’t photographing protests, or at least only those which I was taking part in against racism, South African apartheid and nuclear weapons. I didn’t go to Wapping to photograph the year long “Wapping dispute” by print workers after Murdoch moved printing from Fleet St to a new factory there, ending ‘hot-metal’ printing and replacing it by new computer-based offset litho. Murdoch sacked around 6000 printers after the union refused to accept redundancy for 90% of the workers with flexible working, a no-strike clause, the adoption of new technology and the end of the closed shop.

Although Murdoch had been both devious and brutal, I’d known some in the print and something of the “Spanish Practices” that were apparently widespread in Fleet St. While as a trade unionist (and at the time a trade union rep) I supported the workers who had been extremely badly treated it was clear that change was inevitable.

Bishops Way, Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets 86-6g-66_2400

A rather more upbeat picture was I think of workers enjoying a lunch-break kick-about in an alley just off the Cambridge Heath Road in Bethnal Green.

"Woman and Fish", Frank Dobson, Cambridge Heath Road, Globe Town, Tower Hamlets 86-6e-43_2400

And the closest I came to a ‘Page 3’ picture were a couple of images of Frank Dobson’s “Woman and Fish” on the Cambridge Heath Road in Globe Town. The sculpture had been placed in Frank Dobson Square at the junction with Cephas St on the edge of the Cleveland Estate. Dobson (1886 – 1963) was born and worked extensively in London and the square to commemorate him was made by the London County Council the year he died, with the sculpture at its centre, one of several versions he made in 1951 (another rather uglier one is in Delapre Gardens, Northampton.)

Originally it was a fountain, with water emerging from the moth of the fish, but it was vandalised in 1977 and restored without water. It was restored again after various further vandalisations in 1979 and 1983 and had to be removed completely when restoration was impossible in 2002. A bronze replica by Antonio Lopez Reche in 2006 is now in Millwall Park, Isle of Dogs.

Unfortunately much of Dobson’s work remaining in his studio at the time of his death was destroyed by his widow because of its erotic content, but one of his finest works, London Pride is outside the National Theatre in London.