Posts Tagged ‘Poplar’

Independent Living Ends, Robin Hood Gardens

Thursday, June 30th, 2022

Independent Living Ends, Robin Hood Gardens. On Tuesday 30th June 2015 I joined disabled people at Downing St marking the ending of the Independent Living Fund before going to Robin Hood Gardens, a brutalist estate in Poplar doomed for demolition.


DPAC’s ILF Closing Ceremony – Downing St to Old Palace Yard

Disabled people and supporters of DPAC, Disabled People Against Cuts, met outside Downing St to bring a petition with over 25,000 signatures calling for a continuation of this essential support for the disabled.

Sophie Partridge, disabled Actor, Writer & Workshop artist

The Independent Living Fund which was coming to an end on that day had given them to money to employ support to enable them to live with dignity and for many to continue in work and make a contribution to society. Without it they fear they will simply be shut away and left to rot, many fearing they will now be left for many hours at a time in incontinence pads.

Paula Peters

Outside the gates of Downing Street they wrote slogans on incontinence pads; Paula Peters of DPAC had a message for Iain Duncan Smith, then Secretary of State for Work and Pensions responsible for the ending of support, ‘I want dignity – I want to be treated as a human – You wear one of these I. D. S. They are awful’.

A campaigner dressed as Brittania was among those who had come to hand in the petition which had gained support from a video by the stars of Coronation Street and the Graeae Theatre Company’s 2014 UK Tour of The Threepenny Opera. One of those stars spoke in front of the gates of Downing Street.

John Kelly as Schimmel leads the march

From Downing Street the campaigners marched the quarter mile or so to Old Palace Yard opposite the Houses of Parliament, led by John Kelly as Schimmel, the equine star and proud battle horse of the Threepenny Opera.

Here they were joined by others including Labour MP John McDonnell who spoke at the rally marking the end of the Independent Living Fund, at the end of which a wreath with the message’s ‘RIP ILF’ was laid.

DPAC’s ILF Closing Ceremony


Robin Hood Gardens – Poplar

Two walls of flats protect an inner garden area

The ILF protest had ended a little before 1pm and it was a fine day and I decided to take another visit to Robin Hood Gardens in Poplar, where demolition had begun after the refusal to list the site. Listing had been recommended for listing by the advisory committee of English Heritage in 2009, but the then Minister of Culture Andy Burnham had issued a certificate of immunity against listing which expired in 2014.

These are large and desirable properties, but often have been used to house difficult residents

A further attempt was then made to have the site listed, supported by almost every well-known British architect, but Historic England, now responsible for listing buildings rejected this.

A wall at left screens the estate and there is a lower service and parking area

An open letter signed by many leading architects including Richard Rogers made clear the value of the site, and I quoted from this in My London Diary.

The buildings, which offer generously sized flats that could be refurbished, are of outstanding architectural quality and significant historic interest, and public appreciation and understanding of the value of Modernist architecture has grown over the past five years, making the case for listing stronger than ever.”

The end of the ‘street in the sky’

The refusal to list on both occasions was clearly a political one, almost certainly driven by the huge profits demolition and rebuilding on the site would make for the developers.

As with the award-winning Heygate Estate in Southwark, and the fine Central Hill Estate at Gypsy Hill, Lambeth, the local council, Tower Hamlets, was keen to get rid of the estate and had carried out what I described as “a well funded campaign of vilification“, seeing it “only as a large area with potential for redevelopment at a higher density“, working with “developers who see any area of social housing in London as rich pickings for redevelopment and sale to the rich.”

A large enclosed playground at the south end of the site

By the end of June 2015 most of the west block seemed empty and boarded up and I was unable to gain entry. But I could roam the large garden in the centre of the estate, now let to grow wild, and went inside the still occupied east block, going up to the highest public level, a ‘street in the sky’ built rather less wide than the architects had originally intended, overlooking the Blackwall Tunnel approach. From there I took a number of pictures of the views from the block looking towards the east.

The south end of Robin Hood Gardens was on Poplar High St

As on a couple of previous visits I talked briefly with some of the residents who all told me they were pleased to be living in the block and sad they would have to leave – though some did complain about the lifts (I think only one of the two at the entrance I went in was working.)

Knocking down buildings like these which are structurally in good condition is inexcusable in terms of the huge carbon footprint involved in their construction, demolition and rebuilding. The estate could and should have been refurbished at relatively low cost and would have continued to provide good quality homes for many years. Its replacements – the west section already built – are of lower quality and will almost certainly not last as long as this could have done. The advantage of their roughly three times higher density is at the expense of possible amenity.

As well as walking in and around the estate I also took some pictures of it from the surrounding area, and some other pictures you can see on My London Diary, including a few when I stopped at Canning Town station and took a few pictures of people on the new footbridge across Bow Creek.

Robin Hood Gardens


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Spratt’s, Far Famed Cakes and Bromley by Bow

Thursday, March 3rd, 2022

Spratt’s, Far Famed Cakes and Bromley by Bow. My walk on 31st February 1988 was coming to an end as I made my way towards Bromley-by-Bow District Line station to begin my journey home. You can see the previous part at Lansbury, Brownfield, Teviot and St Leonards Road.

Footbridge, Railway, Spratt's Patent, Clutton St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7t-15-positive_2400
Footbridge, Railway, Spratt’s Patent, Clutton St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7t-15

St Leonard’s Road beyond Langdon Park becomes Uamvar St, an odd name whose origin I can’t find. It used to be a little west of its current route and I think with St Leonard’s Road used earlier to be Bow Lane. I soon turned left onto Clutton St and climbed onto the footbridge over the railway. The bridge has now been replaced by a metal structure on which it would be rather harder to write ‘Happy Birthday’ and ‘I Love You’.

The railway line here carries the Docklands Light Railway line from Poplar to Stratford, but had been a part of the North London Railway (founded in 1846 as the East and West India Docks and Birmingham Junction Railway.) The Spratt’s Patent Limited Offices Fenchurch St are still there, with an entrance from Fawe St.

Farfamed Cake Company, Fawe St, Footbridge, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7t-16-positive_2400
Far Famed Cake Company, Fawe St, Footbridge, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7t-16

The Far Famed Cake Company began in 1881, and was bought by Fitch Lovell in 1950. They merged it with another company to form Hales Trent Cakes in 1962. In 1974 this was bought by Lyons. The factory had employed around 320 people. I think this site is now occupied by a large new block of flats with some shops on Morris Road.

Spratt's Patent Limited, Fawe St, Poplar, 1988 88-8a-62-Edit_2400
Spratt’s Patent Limited, Fawe St, Poplar, 1988 88-8a-62

Separated by a long yard from the block of Spratt’s Patent beside the DLR is another block of Spratt’s Patent Limited, still there and now the A B Fine Art Foundry.

Foresters Arms, pub, St Leonards Road , Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8a-63-Edit_2400
Foresters Arms, pub, St Leonards Road , Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8a-63

The Foresters Arms at 253 St Leonards Road, on the corner with Clutton St, a former Charrington & Co pub closed in 2004 and was sold. It was extended and converted to 6 flats in 2005. There had been a pub on this site since before 1856. It still has an address on St Leonards Road lthough my map calls the road huere Uamvar St.

Limehouse Cut, Blackwall Tunnel Northern Approach, Bromley-by-Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8a-64-Edit_2400
Limehouse Cut, Blackwall Tunnel Northern Approach, Bromley-by-Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8a-64

I continued my walk up Uamver St and on to the Blackwall Tunnel Northern Approach, and this picture was taken beside Tweed House, part of which can be seen at the extreme left. The buildings in the centre have now been replaced by a lower-rise redevelopment but that visible above the wall at the right of the picture is still there.

This section of the Limehouse Cut towpath was then rather overgrown and little used. It is now much busier, with a new floating section taking the path from Bow Locks under the busy tunnel approach road.

Nursery, Flats, Blackwall Tunnel Northern Approach, Bromley-by-Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8a-52-Edit_2400
Nursery, Flats, Blackwall Tunnel Northern Approach, Bromley-by-Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8a-52

I photographed this mural on a nursery and clinic in the flats beside the Blackwall Tunnel North Approach close to Devas St. This was part of the Coventry Cross West Estate, built by the LCC in the early 1950s as an addition to their 1935 Coventry Cross Estate. The name Coventry Cross came from a long-closed pub in the area since 1690 – at 68 St Leonards Street in 1861. The estate passed to the GLC and then TOwer Hamlets before after consultation and vote they joined Poplar HARCA.

From here is was a short distance to the end of my walk at Bromley-By-Bow District line station – from where I began my next walk in early August 1988

This had been an good walk for me and I hope readers will have found the pictures and text about them interesting. There are some more pictures from it in my album 1988 London Photos including some from earlier in the day at Petticoat Lane, in Whitechapel and Tower Hamlets cemetery before I started the walk proper.


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Lansbury, Brownfield, Teviot and St Leonards Road

Tuesday, March 1st, 2022

Lansbury, Brownfield, Teviot and St Leonards Road. My previous post in the series on this walk, Back to Poplar in 1988 contained information about George Lansbury, a leading politician in Poplar and around from when first elected as an MP in 1910 to his death in 1940. From 1932-35 leader of the Labour Party he was forced to resign because he stuck to his principles.

Lodore St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-7t-45-positive_2400
Lodore St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7t-45

Because of its closeness to the docks and the River Thames Poplar had been one of the worst hit areas by bombs from German Zeppelins and bombers in World War I, but suffered far great damage in WW2, with almost a quarter of the buildings in the area being destroyed.

Redvelopment of the area after the war was slow, although part was finished in time to be included as the Live Architecture Exhibition section of the 1951 Festival of Britain, development of the whole of the area designated as the Lansbury Estate, between the East India Dock Road, Burdett Road, Limehouse Cut, and the North London railway line was only completed in the 1980s. The area at the south-east of this was developed by the GLC as an eastern extension to Lansbury, now known as the Brownfield Estate, designated in 1958.

By then its nature had changed with the original and highly praised plans begun under Patrick Abercrombie in 1943 and carried forward by Frederick Gibberd and the LCC Architect’s Department for the Festival being greatly modified, particularly after the Conservative Government which came to power in 1950 altered the housing priorities to provide more homes – which meant more high-rise.

From the GLC, the Lansbury estate passed to Tower Hamlets Council and was badly affected by Thatcher’s ‘right to buy’ and other policies against council housing. Much was transferred in 1988 to Poplar HARCA.

Balfron Tower, Willis St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-7t-46-positive_2400
Balfron Tower, Willis St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7t-46

The iconic block of Balfron Tower is one of three – Balfron Tower, Carradale House
and Glenkerry House – listed blocks by architect Erno Goldfinger on the Brownfield Estate and dates from 1965-8. His development of Carradale House was held back so displaced local residents could be housed in Balfron and it was comleted in 1967-8, with Glenkerry House by Goldfinger’s studio being completed in 1972-5.

Goldfinger and his wife lived in one of the flats in Balfron for 8 weeks after completion. Balfron passed from Tower Hamlets to Poplar HARCA in 2007, promising residents to refurbish the building and re-house them there. They reneged on that promise, converting the block to luxury flats sold at market prices.

St Leonard's Arms, St Leonard's Rd, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-7t-32-positive_2400
St Leonard’s Arms, St Leonard’s Rd, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7t-32

The St Leonard Arms at 162 St Leonards Rd is said to have closed in 1988 and was later converted to flats, probably in 2002. It had been there at least since 1861, when its address was 17 Wilson Terrace and St Leonard’s Road was then Bow Lane. In my picture from 1988 it looks as if it had closed some time earlier.

At the left the Grade II listed St Michael and All Angels, built 1864-5 is undergoing extensive building work – probably part of its conversion to flats as St Michael’s Court.

Five Ways Mission, War Memorial, St Leonard's Rd, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-7t-33-positive_2400
Five Ways Mission, War Memorial, St Leonard’s Rd, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7t-33

Close to the church is an impressive war memorial with the “Christ with one hand raised in blessing and the other holding a wreath above the head of a kneeling warrior in the armour of a crusader“, sculptor A R Adams erected in 1920 with funds from a public “appeal, a football match and tickets for a special matinee performance at the queen’s theatre, high street on Saturday 24 April 1920“.

On the opposite side of the road is the former Fiveways Mission and a car hire service. This building is now smartened and extended at right as private housing.

Five Ways Mission, St Leonard's Rd, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-7t-34-positive_2400
Five Ways Mission, St Leonard’s Rd, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7t-34

A closer, head-on view of the properties at 161-165 St Leonard’s Rd, with some light flare.

St Leonard's Rd, Bright St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-7t-36-positive_2400
St Leonard’s Rd, Bright St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7t-36

A view of from the side of the two properties and the adjoining former London Cooperative Society with a fading and crumbling advertisement for BALSAM for COUGHS and Colds (perhaps the word FRIARS’ had already gone.) Above the shuttered frontage is the word HEADACHES.

St Leonard's Rd, Bright St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-7t-22-positive_2400
St Leonard’s Rd, Bright St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7t-22

On the side of the building is a giant sign for the TEVIOT FESTIVAL, OPEN TO ALL and an arrow pointing in its direction. I also photographed this sign in colour. Much of this area was redeveloped as the Teviot Estate, which is now being redeveloped by Poplar HARCA. It is now often called Langdon Park, a green area at the end of Bright St where there is a newish DLR station.

Teviot Festival, Bright St, Poplar, 1988TQ3881-001

My walk will continue in a later post.


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Back to Poplar in 1988

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2022

My previous post, Around Devons Road, Bow 1988, ended outside Spratt’s Patent Limited on Morris Road on the south bank of the Limehouse Cut. My walk continued south down Chrisp St to the East India Dock Road, then turning east for around 350 yards and then back up the next main route north, St Leonards Road.

Plaque, George Lansbury, Poplar Councillors, East India Dock Rd, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-7t-66-positive_2400
Plaque, George Lansbury, Poplar Councillors, East India Dock Rd, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7t-66-positive_2400

This ‘blue plaque’ is actually and appropriately a red one, placed here by Tower Hamlets Environment Trust with the text ‘Near this place on July 29th 1921 George Lansbury led the people and councillors of Poplar on their march to the high court for the equalisation of rates to poor boroughs.’

According to a long article in Wikipedia, as a youth Lansbury was a supporter of the Liberal Party and particularly Gladstone, but while campaigning for the party he became greatly influenced by leading socialists including William Morris, Eleanor Marx, John Burns and Henry Hyndman, and resigned in 1892, joining the Social Democratic Federation. He worked for a short period as the SDF paid national organiser, leaving that job to return to Bow to take over the running of the sawmill owned by his wife’s family.

Lansbury was first elected to Poplar Borough council in 1903 and in 1910 became MP for Bow and Bromley. He resigned in 1912 in order to fight a by-election in the constituency standing as the ‘Women’s Suffrage and Socialist’ candidate, and although neither Labour nor Liberal parties put up candidates to oppose him he lost to a Conservative candidate with the name of Blair. Reginald Blair had campaigned under the slogan “No Petticoat Government”.

Earlier in 1912 Lansbury had campaigned with others to found a daily socialist newspaper, the Daily Herald, and became editor in 1914. Under his editorship the paper opposed the 1914-18 Great War with Germany and supported the 2017 Russian Revolution.

Lansbury and 29 fellow Poplar councillors were jailed in 1921 for refusing to pay unfair sums from the rates to fund the London County Council, Metropolitan police and other London-wide bodies, instead using the money to support the local poor. Their imprisonment led to public outcry and they were released after six weeks, with a law hastily passed to make richer London boroughs pay their fair share. The campaign made Lansbury a popular hero, and the following year he was elected as local MP with a large majority, holding the seat until his death in 1940.

From 1932 to 1935 Lansbury was the Leader of the Labour Party, but was forced to resign because his Christian pacifist principles became increasingly unacceptable as war with Germany and Italy looked increasingly inevitable. Ernest Bevin put in the final knife, pointing out at conference that his beliefs contradicted the party policy to oppose fascist aggression. Lansbury resigned a few days later, his deputy Clement Atlee becoming leader.

The Falcon, pub, East India Dock Rd, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-7t-51-positive_2400
The Falcon, pub, East India Dock Rd, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7t-51

The Falcon was at 202a East India Dock from 1869 until it closed in 1985. In my picture you can see some of the windows are boarded up inside and one in Bullivant Street is broken. The first building here was around 1819 and was owned by a Poplar wine merchant, so it may have been a pub earlier. The Truman, Hanbury & Buxton building in the picture dates from 1911 and was demolished shortly after I took this picture.

The A13 here has been widened and nothing on the south side of the road here remains. There are flats on the corner of Bullivant St, a few yards further south than the front of the former pub.

Chinese, East India Dock Rd, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-7t-52-positive_2400
Chinese, East India Dock Rd, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7t-52

I think this heavily metal shuttered frontage was a Chinese restaurant on the north side of East India Dock Road, probably in the block opposite Bullivant St. Unfortunately I can’t read the two Chinese characters but was intrigued by them and the hanging curtain behind them in this small aperture at the bottom of the doorway.

Tunnel Furnishers Ltd, East India Dock Rd, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-7t-53-positive_2400
Tunnel Furnishers Ltd, East India Dock Rd, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7t-53

Tunnel Furnishers, a furniture warehouse, was as few doors along East India Dock Road east from The Falcon pub on the corner of Bullivant St. A rather fine 1930s building, this was also lost in the widening of the road not long after I photographed it.

It looks rather like a cinema, but was built in 1938 for the Borough of Poplar as Electricity Showrooms and Offices, replacing an earlier showroom on the site. Closed in 1972, the upper floors continued to be used for training by the London Electricity Board until 1975, after which it was sold for commercial use. Like the rest of the block it was demolished in 1991.

Lodore St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-7t-55-positive_2400
Lodore St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7t-55-positive_2400

My walk took me into what is now the St Frideswide’s Mission House Conservation Area, where a couple of days earlier I had photographed the Follett St Seamen’s Mission, and I took another, very similar picture of that building, before going further along the street and turning into Lodore St.

The view above is I think from Follett St, and shows the rear of one of the buildings of St Frideswide’s on Lodore St, but I think the archway, probably part of the chapel, has been demolished.

Christ Church, Oxford was originally the church of St. Frideswide’s priory, and St Frideswide’s Mission was set up by members of Christ Church College led by the father of Alice in Wonderland, Dean Liddell. A church was built here around 1892, with the Mission house opened in 1893, devoted to a girl’s and mother’s group.

St Frideswide's, Mission House, Lodore St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-7t-41-positive_2400
St Frideswide’s, Mission House, Lodore St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7t-41

The building was paid for by Miss Catherine Phillimore (1847-1929) , who I think was then well-known as an author as well as a translator of Italian books on artists, a wealthy spinster living at Shiplake House in Henley-on-Thames. A number of her books have been reprinted in recent years and are still available.

St Agnes House, Follett Street Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7t-43-positive_2400
St Agnes House, 18, Follett Street Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7t-43

This was built to allow the work of the mission to expand in 1899, and also paid for by Catherine Phillimore. In 1900 it became the Hostel of the Poplar Association for Befriending Girls. The washing on the balcony shows it was still in use in 1988.

St Frideswide’s was the inspiration for the TV series ‘Call the Midwife’ and there is a good article on the Poplar London web site which praises the accuracy of the series and its depiction of the Religious Sisters of Saint John the Divine and their midwives, though complaining that it unfairly makes the residents of Poplar look dirty.


My walk will continue in a later post. You can see larger versions of the pictures by clicking on any of them, which will take you to the album where you can browse more.


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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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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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More Poplar 1988

Sunday, January 23rd, 2022

More Poplar 1988 continues my walk Limehouse, Isle of Dogs & Poplar.

Chaplain’s house, East India Company, Poplar High St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 198888-7p-31-positive_2400
Chaplain’s house, East India Company, Poplar High St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 198888-7p-31

The Survey of London has a long story about this house at 115 Poplar High Street, now a private residence oddly called Meridian House and built together with 26 new almshouses by the East India Company in 1801-2. They had first set up almshouses in Poplar for disabled and retired employees and their widows and orphans in1626, built partly using money seized from the estate of Hugh Greete after his death in 1619. Greete had been discovered to have been swindling the company while trading Indian diamonds and they seized his assets.

The old almshouse was demolished in 1802 replaced by the new buildings. After the Crown took direct control of India in 1858 the government took over these buildings as Poplar Marine Hospital, selling all except the chaplain’s house, burial ground and chapel to Poplar District Board of Works in 1866. They demolished the almshouses to become Poplar Recreation Ground.

The chapel became the Church of St Matthias with the Chaplains house as its vicarage – and it was further enlarged in the following years. When St Matthias was closed in 1976 the house was sold to become a private residence.

Former District Board of Works Offices, Poplar High St, Woodstock Terrace,  Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-32-positive_2400
Former District Board of Works Offices, Poplar High St, Woodstock Terrace, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-32

This Grade II listed building from 1869-70 for the Poplar District Board of Works was the result of a competition for designs which attracted 43 entries and considerable controversy when the prize went to Walter Augustus Hills (c1834–1917) and Thomas Wayland Fletcher (1833–1901) of Bow, both former assistant surveyors to the board. One architectual magazine at the time described it as ‘terribly ugly’. They were obliged to cooperate with the second place pair of Arthur and Christopher Harston over a final design. Once constructed the building was found to have various problems, not least that in the boardroom ‘reverberation was so excessive as to make the speaker almost incomprehensible’.

Various alterations were made and in 1900 the building became the town hall of the new Metropolitan Borough of Poplar, who extended it and then replaced it in 1038 by a new town hall in Bow. It continued in various uses by the council and in 1987 became the Borough of Tower Hamlets’s Directorate of Housing.

Poplar High St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-34-positive_2400
Poplar High St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-34

This small paved area is just off the High St between Norwood House and Holmsdale House and the block in the centre of the picture is Constant House on Harrow Lane, built by Poplar Council in 1936-7designed by the Borough Engineer and Surveyor, Rees J Williams. Both Holmsdale and Constant House were rehabilitated in 1986-7, with more work in recent years. Norwood House was added in the late 1960s and this paved area looks as if it may date from then.

Holmsdale House,  Poplar High St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-36-positive_2400
Holmsdale House, Poplar High St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-36

A similar style block to Constant House, also built for Poplar Council in 1937-8, designed by Rees J Williams.

The Resolute, pub, Harrow Lane, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-21-positive_2400
The Resolute, pub, Harrow Lane, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-21

Built in 1937 on the corner of Poplar High St and Harrow Lane, to replace an earlier pub the Resolute survived until closed and demolished in 2011. The pub on this site was The Harrow from 1797 (or earlier) until renamed the Resolute Tavern around 1881.

The best-known ship of this name was fitted out for arctic service at nearby Blackwall Yard in 1850 and made several trips to the Arctic searching for the lost expedition of Sir John Franklin who had been searching for a North West Passage. Finally the Resolute got stuck in ice and was abandoned in May 1854, the crew escaping across the ice to a relief fleet.

The ship was found drifting by an American whaler over a thousand miles from where she was abandoned in September 1855 in perfect order and was sailed back to New London, Connecticut, arriving on Christmas Eve. Eventually she was bought by the US Congress, refitted and sailed back to be presented to Queen Victoria and rejoining the navy. The Resolute was retired from the Navy in 1879, possibly at the time the pub was renamed. Some of her timbers were then used to create a substantial desk presented by Queen Victoria to US President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1880. Moved out for some years it has been back in use by most presidents in the Oval Office since being replaced there by Jimmy Carter.

East End Snooker and Social Club, East India Dock Rd, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7q-01-positive_2400
East End Snooker and Social Club, East India Dock Rd, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7q-01

This club was at 253 East India Dock Road and has since been converted into Poplar Central Mosque.

Blackwall Tunnel Approach, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7q-65-positive_2400
Blackwall Tunnel Approach, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7q-65

The crunched rear end of D814 VRG presumably had its match on the front end of A506 DMX, but at least it appeared that there were no casualites in the collision at the north end of the Blackwall Tunnel, viewed by me from Poplar High St. A sign a little down the road says ‘Welcome to Tower Hamlets‘ though I think most of the tunnel is in the borough. At left is the unmistakable profile of Erno Goldfinger’s Balfron Tower, built in 1965-6 for the GLC and recently stolen from its residents by Poplar HARCA housing association and sold as luxury housing.

Follett St Seamen's Mission, Follett St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7q-66-positive_2400
Follett St Seamen’s Mission, Follett St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7q-66

Just on the edge of the elaborate interchange between the East India Dock Road and the Blackwall Tunnel Approach is this small Seamen’s Mission, built in 1898 a Christ Church House and a part of the St Frideswide’s Mission House Conservation Area, but this building only locally listed. The mission here was set up by members of Christ Church College Oxford who in 1881 decided to support missions in the East End. Now converted into six flats.

My 1988 walk in Poplar will continue in a later post.


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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Bow Creek: Priors to Pura Foods

Monday, February 15th, 2021

Bow Creek, Leamouth Rd, Leamouth, Tower Hamlets, Newham, 1982 36v-23_2400

Goiong down Leamouth Road roughly south and parallel to the river there were a few places where you could look back up to the East India Dock Road and the disused railway bridge that crossed the creek a little to the south of the road. The bridge had carried a line which came from where Canning Town Station now is along the route now followed by the DLR but continuing across the river to pepper warehouses for the East India Docks opposite the docks on the eastern side of Leamouth Road, still shown on my 1939 Philip’s A B C Pocket Atlas-Guide to London and its Outer Districts.

J J Prior, Ship Repairs, Orchard Wharf, Bow Creek, Leamouth Rd, Leamouth, Tower Hamlets, 1982 36v-36 (2)_2400

Where the river swung around the Limmo Peninsula – now the Bow Creek Ecology Park – the view was wide open with the river only separated from the road by an open fence. Close to the bend to the west was Orchard Wharf, where J J Prior were still carrying out ship repairs. The flats in the background are on the other side of the East India Dock Road.

Pura Foors, Bow Creek, Tower Hamlets, 1983 36v-21_2400

Looking up the creek on the eastern side of the peninisula was the west bank of the second peninsula, occupied by a large edible oil factory, Pura Foods, the smells from which were often rather noticeable. There were local campaigns to have this factory shut down, and eventually it did move out, relocating a few miles down-river. This peninsula is now redeveloped as City Island.

Pura Foods, Orchard Place, Leamouth, Tower Hamlets, 1982 32f-33_2400

Roads in this area were disrupted when the Lower Lea Crossing was built – it opened in 1991. When I first went to photograph the area, Leamouth Road (historically called Orchard St) continued to meet Orchard Place at a T-junction, with Orchard Place going north to the Pura Food site and south, then turning east to Trinity Buoy Wharf.

Pura Foods, Bow Creek, Tower Hamlets, 1989 89-4c52_2400

Although there were still high walls along the northern section of Leamouth Rd, there was a clear view of Bow Creek looking south from the East India Dock Road only around a hundred yards east of where the river, here flowing roughly north, went under the bridge in the opposite direction.

Bow Creek, Pura Foods, Essex Wharf, Wharfside Rd, East India Dock Rd, Newham, Tower Hamlets, 1989 89-4b12_2400

Wharfside Road comes in a short tunnel under the East India Dock Road on which I was standing to take this picture, leading to Essex Wharf and the saw mills for the timber yard. The Docklands Light Railway now runs along here on the route of the the former rail line to the pepper warehouses, just in front of the line of parked cars in this picture.

There is now a footbridge across the DLR leading to a riverside path, built at around the same time as the new railway, the gates to the bridge were kept locked for most of its first twenty years but now seem to be permanently opened, and it provides a good short cut to Canning Town Station, whose riverside entrance was also locked for years after it was built, as well as to a new footbridge to City Island which replaced the factory here. You can also now walk or cycle down here to the right to visit the Bow Creek Ecology Park. Although very different it is still an interesting area in which to walk.

Clicking on any of the above images will take you to larger versions in my Flickr album on the River Lea. A further post will start at Wharfside Road and look at my pictures moving along Bow Creek towards the Thames.


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.


South of Bow Locks – the 1980s

Saturday, February 6th, 2021

Bow Creek, Bow Locks, Hackney, Tower Hamlets, 1983 36v-52_2400

Back in the 1980s it wasn’t possible to walk beside Bow Creek from Bow Locks south to the East India Dock road, as the banks were occupied by various industrial and commercial sites, including two gas works and West Ham power station. And although there have been plans by the councils for many years, even today you can only walk down on the Newham bank as far as Cody Dock, on a path opened to the public some years ago with the ridiculous name of the Fatwalk, but since renamed. There is a tantalising walkway visible continuing past the dock along the former power station bank, but this is still closed to the public.

Clinic, Bromley-by-Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1983 35v-35_2400

While this was a limitation, it was also an opportunity to explore the two areas where roads ran close (or not too close) to Bow Creek to both the east in West Ham and west in Bromley and Poplar, and I was rewarded by some images I found interesting, though parts of my walks were along fume laden streets with heavy traffic.

Blackwall Tunnel Northern Approach, Tweed House, view, Bromley-by-Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1983 35v-3pan_2400

Tweed House, a tall block of council flats on the Blackwall Tunnel Approach Road next to the Limehouse Cut enabled me to take some pictures which I more recently stitched together to create two panoramas of the area – the individual pictures are also in the Flickr album. Click to see the larger versions on Flickr.

Blackwall Tunnel Northern Approach, Tweed House, view, Bromley-by-Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1983 35v-4-pan_2400

From various places both on to the east and west of Bow Creek I found rather satisfyingly bleak views of the distant power station, including one with a young mother with a small baby in a pram.

Lochnagar St, Bromley-by-Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1983 36v-42_2400

Others were emptier still, like this

Lorry Park, Gillender St, Bromley-by-Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1982 32e-42_2400

or more minimal and just occasionally rather threatening; some streets around here featured in crime films and TV dramas of the era, gangster London.

Lochnager St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1982 32e-34_2400

But there was also a little chance for fun, with a cafeteria with two giant cooling towers to take away the cooking fumes and the unlikely name of Oasis.

Oasis, Cafeteria, Cafe, Bidder St, West Ham, Newham, 1983 36v-12_2400

Poplar Gas Works was on a rather smaller scale to Bromley-by-Bow, but its gas holders still dominated the working class housing around it. Two young girls playing on the grass came to see what I was doing and insisted on being photographed, though I perhaps should have stepped back a foot or two to avoid cropping their feet to get the gasholder in the frame.

Girls, Gasholder, Poplar Gas Works, Rutland Terrace, Oban St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1983 35v-55_2400

At East India Dock Road I was able to return to Bow Creek – and things got even more interesting (and although very different they still are) as I hope to show you in the next installment of my work from the Flick album River Lea – Lea Navigation – 1981-92 – the pictures above are all on Page 4.

Clicking on any of the images above should take you to a larger version on Flickr, and you can also go on to explore the album from there.


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.