Posts Tagged ‘Stratford’

Thunderbird, Olympic Park & Transphobia at the Mail

Tuesday, October 19th, 2021

On Friday 19th October 2018 ‘Commander Neil Godwin Tracy’ of International Rescue came from Tracy Island carrying his ship Thunderbird 2 to the Dept for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in London to offer his organisation’s assistance to produce policies which which recognise the desperate need to cut carbon emissions to avoid disastrous global warming and climate change by banning all fracking.

Campaigners say BEIS has spent more time on changing its name than developing sensible policies, and the ministry refused his generous offer of health, and security removed the International Rescue poster he tried to past to the front wall. Police requested he remove a second poster with the message ‘Fracking Awful Business’.

I had another event to cover later in the day and took the opportunity of the several hours between the two to pay a visit to the Olympic Park in Stratford, walking from the station through Stratford Westfield, a vast shopping centre I described as a 21st century version of Hell to do so.

I came out at the back of John Lewis and walked along the road towards the park, over the railway which takes Eurostar speeding through Stratford International station. There are more local trains that stop but I’ve yet to feel a need to go to either Ebbsfleet or Ashford (Kent) a place that has always seemed to me only to exist to confuse those who really want to go to Ashford, Middlesex, now called by the railway Ashford (Surrey).

The part of the park called the Waterglades was actually looking rather good, with the trees beginning to change colour, and I took rather a lot of pictures.

The lake was looking a very bright green. Soon I found I was at a dead end and needed to retrace my steps to cross the River Lea and make my way towards my destination through some of the more arid and desolate areas of the park.

There is a useful bridge now across the Lea Navigation to Hackney Wick where I had time to wander round and photograph some of the graffiti as I made my way to Fish Island and then on over the East Cross Route to catch a bus on Old Ford Road to Bethnal Green tube station.

Sister Not Cister UK had organised a protest outside the Daily Mail building in Kensington after articles demonising trans people, particularly trans women, in The Metro which they publish, and their printing an advertisement campaign for the hate group, “Fair Play for Women”.

The protesters, including many trans people, say that these attacks on the trans community will hurt the most marginalised – trans women, working class trans people and trans people of colour – who are also the most likely to be in need of the services that such hateful campaigners seek to deny them. More were arriving to join the protest when I decided I needed to leave for home.

Mail group end your transphobic hate
Olympic Park walk
BEIS refuse International Rescue help


FlickrFacebookMy London DiaryHull PhotosLea ValleyParis

London’s Industrial HeritageLondon Photos

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


Housing in Crisis – Newham 2015

Sunday, September 19th, 2021

Six years ago I posted about a march through Stratford on Saturday 19th September against social cleansing in Newham, where the council has been rehousing people in private rented properties outside the borough, sometimes as far away as Wales or Liverpool. The directly elected Mayor of this almost monolithically Labour borough until 2018, Robin Wales, made clear his views that if people couldn’t afford to live in London they shouldn’t expect to live there, and council policies appear to reflect this. But Newham – and London generally – needs large numbers of relatively low paid workers – and Covid has helped us appreciate their contribution. Many, even those in jobs well above the London Living Wage, can’t afford market rents and certainly not to buy homes.

Local people, many of whom have lived in the area for years and have developed connections in the area – friends, families, schools etc – who for any reason become homeless want to be rehoused close to these people and services and demand that local resources be used to house local people.

Newham currently in 2021 has 27,000 people on its housing waiting list and 7,000 children in temporary accommodation. Until very recently the few social homes that were available were allocated using a system that gave priority to those in work and the new system will instead focus on health, need and overcrowding.

But the real problem that there is simply not enough social housing remains, and this is more the fault of national government policies over the years, under both Tory and New Labour. The most obvious and and damaging was of course Thatcher’s ‘right to buy’ which has drastically reduced to number of social housing homes, and in particular removed many of the more desirable properties, but councils have also been largely prevented by successive governments from building new and much needed social housing, as well as being starved of the cash needed to properly maintain existing properties and estates.

Many existing council estates were transferred to housing associations, which increasingly seem to be catering for those able to afford the very high ‘market’ rents in London. Councils too, thanks to New Labour housing policies have been demolishing council estates and developing the sites together with private developers to produce mainly homes for sale at high market prices, with often a great reduction in the number of social housing homes available.

Newham has seen a huge amount of building housing in recent years, both on the former Olympic site and elsewhere, with more tower blocks every time I visit the area, but almost all are high rent properties suited to young professionals, mainly working outside the borough, residencies for wealthier students, or expenive investment properties – usually bought with no intention of being lived in but simply to benefit from the increases in London property prices.

In 2013, Newham announced it was going to close a hostel for young single mothers who would then be dispersed in rented flats across England. The women decided to fight and the Focus E15 campaign began. Backed by members of the Revolutionary Communist Group and others who supported them in direct actions that often gained media coverage their fight succeeded and they became well-known nationally and developed into a much wider campaign for proper housing, particularly supporting others in the area with housing problems. As well as holding a street stall in the centre of Stratford every Saturday they accompanied people to the housing offices, gathered to prevent evictions and more.

The march in 2015, two years after the start of their campaign attracted the support of over 40 other organisations, mainly small local groups from around London and the South-East also fighting housing problems. Fortunately not all of them had speakers at the rally before the march but there were quite a few before it moved off from Stratford Park to march around the Town Centre.

As the ‘Housing for All’ march passed Foxton’s estate agency in the centre of Stratford, Class War rushed inside with their ‘New Homes for the Rich’ banner and staged a brief occupation while most of the marchers supported them from outside. They caused no damage and left after a few minutes for the march to continue.

There was another brief halt outside LB Newham’s Housing Office at Bridge House, which was closed. The marchers held banners and posed for photographs and Focus E15 spoke briefly about how their interventions here have prevented homless people from being sent to unsuitable private rented accomodation hundreds of miles away, getting them re-housed in London.

The march ended in the square on the Carpenters Estate in front of the block of four flats which Focus E15 occupied for four weeks as a protest a year earlier. This had made the national news and had ended with the council promising to bring some homes back into occupation – though a year later only 28 of around the 400 empty homes had been re-let. There were a few more speeches and then a party began.


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.


Low Pay, Lousy Conditions. 3rd Aug 2013

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2021

IWGB are harassed by Westfield security after their protest in John Lewis

The two events I covered on Saturday 3rd August 2013 both concerned the fight to get decent wages and conditions for low paid workers in London, something which has largely been left to the left wing and grass roots unions to fight for rather than the big trade unions or the Labour Party.

Outside Sports Direct in Oxford St

The two major ways that low paid workers are cruelly exploited in modern Britain are through zero-hours contracts and outsourcing, and these were at the heart of the two protests.

Security stop protesters from going down the escalator in Sports Direct

The first, at Sports Direct in Oxford St called on the company to abandon the use of zero-hour contracts which deprive all their 20,000 part-time workforce (over 85% of staff) sick pay, holiday pay and other employment rights.

The protest continues inside Sports Direct

Zero hours contracts, as I explained on My London Diary “are a peculiar legal casuistry that in essence denies the whole concept of a contract as normally understood, agreements without substance which gravely disadvantage workers … Although they give no guarantee of any income, they oblige the workers to be available for work at the employer’s whim, making it impossible for them to take on other work.”

IWGB get out flags, placards and banners on the top floor of John Lewis

All the advantages are for the employer who has a contract which imposes great constraints on workers while denying them the employment rights which are a part of normal employment and leaving them open to the whims of managers as to whether they work or not. A limited reform in 2015 prohibited terms in them which prevented people working for other employers, but if that leads to them being unable to work when the employer demands them to, they may still find their hours very much reduced in future or their contracts terminated.

And begin their protest in John Lewis in Stratford Westfield

The protest was a noisy one and after around 50 minutes handing out leaflets and speaking to shoppers on the street outside, they surged into the small street level area of the shop, where they made no attempt to push post security men who stopped them at the entry to the escalator leading down to the main store. They continued the protest inside the store being careful not to cause any damage. After around five minutes one of the police officers who were watching came to talk to one of the leading protesters and was told they would leave shortly, and after a few more minutes they did, ending the protest on the pavement a few minutes later.

They take the escalator to continue the protest on the floor below

I made my way to Stratford to join the IWGB union who were making a surprise visit to protest inside the John Lewis store in Stratford Westfield. The cleaners there are outsourced to sub-contractor ICM of the Compass Group, who had recently announced pre-tax profits for the year of £575 million. They pay the cleaners £6.72 per hour, considerably less than the London Living Wage of £8.55 an hour set by the GLA and backed by the London Mayor.

Everyone in John Lewis could hear the protest and stopped to look and listen

Outsourcing enables John Lewis to distance itself from the low pay and poor conditions of service of these workers who share the workplace with the much-lauded John Lewis ‘partners’, who as well as higher pay and better benefits, also get a share in the company’s profits, enabling John Lewis to claim it is a ‘different sort of company’ with a strong ethical basis, but still leave its cleaners – a vital part of its workforce – on poverty wages.

I met the cleaners outside Westfield and walked with them through the shopping centre to John Lewis at its far end, trying with them to look inconspicuous. In the store we went up to the cafe area on the top floor where they got out banners, placards and a large megaphone from their bags and then proceeded to walk around in a noisy protest.

They then took the escalator to the floor below and walked around that making the case for a fair deal for the cleaners to management and customers. Among those protesting (centre, above) was a man who had been a ‘partner’ in the Westfield store and was dismissed after he gave an interview to The Guardian supporting the cleaners’ case for equal treatment, and he was greeted by many of his former colleagues on the shop floor.

I get told I can’t take photographs

After protesting on each floor of the store, there were a numbber of final speeches, including one by the dismissed ‘partner’, on the ground floor before the group left, going out into the Westfield Centre in front of John Lewis. Here they were met by the centre manager and security staff who tried to stop the protest, with some pushing them (and me) around. Here I was told I was not allowed to take pictures, but took little notice. Very slowly we all made our way out of the centre by the nearest exit, still followed by Westfield security, and were met by two police officers who were told the protest was finishing.

Many more pictures at:

Cleaners in John Lewis Westfield
End Zero Hours Contracts – Sports Direct


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.


House The Homeless In Empty Properties

Wednesday, June 9th, 2021

We don’t actually have a housing shortage in the UK. There are more than enough homes to go round. What we have is mainly a failure to get homeless people into empty homes. A failure to provide homes that people can afford.

Of course there will always be a few empty homes, as people move or die and it takes a little time to sell the empty properties. But the latest official figures for homes that have been empty for more than six months in England is 268,385 – and the figures are growing. According to Crisis, “more than 200,000 families and individuals in England alone will be … finding themselves sleeping on the streets, hunkered down in sheds and garages, stuck in unsuitable accommodation or sofa surfing.”

Covid will make homelessness worse, with huge numbers of people now threatened by eviction as they have been unable to keep up with rent payments. There were various extensions to a ban on bailiff-enforced evictions, but this ban came to an end in England on 31 May – but continues until 30 June 2021 in Wales and 30 September 2021 in Scotland.

As well as making people homeless, evictions also increase the number of empty properties, and those who are evicted are unlikely to be able to afford new tenancies.

There are various reasons why properties remain empty. They may simply be in places where people don’t want to live, and while there is huge pressure on housing in some areas – and we have seen house prices leap up 10% in a month – there are others where houses are difficult to sell – and even some new build houses remain empty for long periods.

Covid has meant that many holiday lets – conventional and Airbnbs – have stayed empty, and demand may be slow to pick up. People with two homes, one close to their place of work, may now have decided they can work from their more distant home and abandon the other. But even when taking these factors into account there seems to be an underlying rise in empty homes.

But housing in England has become a dysfunctional system, and we need changes so that people who need homes can afford them. To put it simply we need some way to provide more social housing. And the best way to provide these is for councils to be given the resources to build this – and to take some of those empty properties into public ownership – including some of those sold off on the cheap under ‘right to buy’, many of which are now ‘buy to let’ properties from which people are facing eviction.

Newham Council, under the then Mayor Robin Wales, began emptying people from the Carpenters Estate in the early 2000s. Many perfectly good properties on the estate have remained empty for years as the council has looked for ways to sell off the area close to the Olympic site, despite the huge waiting list for housing in Newham.

Focus E15 Mums, young mothers facing eviction from a hostel in Stratford, were offered private rented properties hundreds of miles away with little or no security of tenure and relatively high rents. It’s difficult for one person to stand up to the council, but they decided – with support from others – to join together and fight, with remarkable success – which gained them national recognition. And they continue to campaign for others facing housing problems.

Seven years ago on Monday 9th June 2014 they came to the Carpenters Estate to expose the failure of Newham Council pasting up posters on deliberately emptied quality social housing vacant for around ten years on what had been one of Newham’s most popular council estate and called for it to be used to house homeless families.


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.


Stratford 2005

Saturday, January 23rd, 2021

Footbridge at Stratford to Carpenters Estate

Back in 2005 many were still hoping that London would not win their bid to hold the Olympics, particularly those who lived in the area who could see how their lives would be disrupted by this huge event (though in the end it was far worse than they had imagined.)

One of many businesses on Carpenters Road

They also saw how it would impact on the longer term development of the area. Many planners warned how it would distort the proper planning of the area and its future; although investment in the area was welcome, much or most of it would be put into white elephants which would have little long-term utility.

Waterworks River and Old River Lea at Carpenters Lock

On Sunday 23 January 2005 I took my bike with me to Stratford and cycled to the meeting point at Temple Mills for a tour of the Olympic area with No to London 2012, a coalition of east london community groups and social justice campaigners.

Bully Point Nature Reserve

Around 20 of us then took a walk around the area, getting some informative comments at a number of locations. As I remarked in my write-up of the event in My London Diary:

It was an opportunity that IOC delegates are not likely to have, with their view of these particular areas expected to be with a pair of binoculars from a distant tower block.

My London Diary: January 2005

I was already familiar with the area, having photographed around it since the 1980s, but still learnt a lot from some of those who spoke – and had just a little to add.

BMX track at Eastway Cycle Circuit is marked out

On our route around and also on my way to the meeting point I took the opportunity to take a few pictures, and after I’d sat down after the tour to eat my sandwiches by the Lea Navigation, to cycle to another area which was to be affected by the Olympics, Marsh Lane in Leyton, before making my way back to Stratford.

Wick Field, Hackney Wick

We were lucky with the weather, mild for January and with some sunshine, and I’d enjoyed the fairly short rides as well as the guided tour. I’d made several hundred pictures, including a number of panoramic images and felt I’d had a good day.

Leyton Marsh

Of course, London lost – and was condemned to host the Olympics. It was an event that caught the imagination of many of the public for the few weeks it was on, but has left a toxic legacy that will last decades.

You can see more of these pictures on My London Diary, where I’ve also written more about it.


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.


Sewage & Sulphuric Acid

Thursday, January 21st, 2021

Channelsea River, Northern Outfall Sewer, Greenway, Stratford, Newham, 1983 36p-53_2400

The Channelsea River used to be a fairly important stream of the River Lea as it made its way down to Bow Creek, and the size of the bridge which carries the Northern Outfall Sewer over it close to Abbey Mills Pumping Station reflects this. Now in the few places that it remains visible it is little more than a ditch, and I couldn’t see any water flowing from it, and the Channelsea here is simply a tidal creek, often now called Abbey Creek.

Sewage storm outfall,  Channelsea River, West Ham, 1982 32g-63_2400

Except for this row of openings. When heavy rain falls on London, it pours from the streets into the sewers, augmenting considerably their normal load of sewage. When the system was established in the Victorian era the flows were considerably smaller, but London has grown, with more people, more houses, more streets and more paved, concreted and tarmaced areas to rapidly drain away the water that might have once largely soaked into soil. The excess water (and not just water) has to go somewhere, and that somewhere is here on the Channelsea River.

Sewage storm outfall,  Channelsea River, West Ham, 1982 32g-61_2400

Which certainly accounts for the lushness of the growth around the banks of the stream and on Channelsea Island and which was noticeable (along sometimes with a noticeable odour) as I walked along the path past the rather large pipe on the bank. To the right of the picture you can see a part of the pumping station, which back then was fairly well hidden behind vegetation as you walked along the ‘Greenway’ – you get a much better view now. And at the left are the Bromley-by-Bow gasholders, still present while many others in London have disappeared.

Channelsea River, Stratford, Newham, 1983 36p-61_2400

Looking across the Channelsea from beside that giant pipe showed an industrial landscape, now all gone. Channelsea House, the large six-storey 1960’s office block at right of the top picture, is now flats. But beyond it used to be large factories, including those making sulphuric acid, where there is now mainly empty space, with a small area now the London Markaz (Masjid-e-Ilyas), one of the biggest purpose-built mosques in London with space for 6,000 male worshippers.

Works, Channelsea River, West Ham, 1982 32g-51_2400

These works stretched some way along the bank of the river and between it and the railway lines to the south, as you can see in the picture below, taken looking up the creek with Channelsea House at its left.

Chemical Works, Channelsea River, West Ham, 1982 32g-52p_2400

Immediately north of the bridge over the Channelsea River is the West Ham Sewage Pumping Station built in 1897 by West Ham Corporation to raise their sewage into the Northern Outfall Sewer. Previously they had released it into the creek. This contained three steam pumping engines which were decommissioned in 1972.

Abbey Rd, Stratford, Newham, 1983 36p-42_2400

I didn’t photograph Abbey Mills on my walks along the Northern Outfall as it was hidden or largely so by the vegetation along the edge of the embankment, since largely cleared. But also a part of Bazalgette’s work were a row of houses on Abbey Lane built in 1865 for the workers at the pumping station, with steps at one end leading up to the path along the top of the Outfall.

Northern  Outfall Sewer, Abbey Lane, Stratford, 1983 33x-55_2400

Clicking on any of the pictures will take you to a larger version on Flickr from where you can explore other pictures in the album.


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


Around High St Stratford

Tuesday, January 19th, 2021

St Thomas's Creek, Cook's Road, Stratford, Newham, 1983 35q-34_2400
St Thomas’s Creek, Cook’s Road, Stratford, Newham, 1983

There is and long seems to have been some confusion about the naming of this part of the canal system that links the main line of the Lea Navigation at Bow Bridge to the City Mill River and City Mill Lock. On some maps (including Google’s) it is simply referred to as ‘Bow Back Rivers’ but I find it less confusing to give it the more local name, St Thomas’s Creek, sometimes written as St Thomas Creek. The creek got its name from St. Thomas’s Mill, sometimes called ‘Pudding Mill’, I think because of its shape, which also gave its name to the small stream the Pudding Mill River and was actually on that stream on Pudding Mill Lane. For those interested there is a good map of the area before the flood relief works of 1931-5 on British History Online.

Yardley's Box Factory, Stratford High St, Stratford, Newham, 198336m-63-positive_2400
Warton House, former Yardley’s Box Factory, High St, Stratford, 1983

The earliest connection of the Yardley name to soap-making was in the first half of the 17th century, when a Yardley was given the concession to produce soap for the whole of London, but the company dated its founding as ‘Clever Brothers’ to 1770. This company making soaps and perfumes was taken over by William Yardley in 1823 and passed on to his son Charles when he died the following year. The company moved from Bloomsbury to a large factory on Carpenters Road Stratford in 1904 and bought land on Stratford High St in 1918. In 1913 they had trade-marked a picture by Francis Wheatley from his 1793 series, the ‘Cries of London’ to use in their advertising, replacing the primroses in his picture by lavender, and when they built a new art deco box factory in 1938 this was installed at a large scale on the building. Yardleys moved to Basildon in 1966, needing large premises, but in 1967 were taken over by British American Tobacco who sold the business to Beecham in 1985, who again sold it on after they merged to be SmithKlein Beecham. The company went into receivership in 1998. Parts of the box factory – including this section on the High St next to the Northern Outfall Sewer and the Waterworks River are still there, all that is left of Yardley’s in Stratford.

Stratford High St area, Stratford, Newham, 1983 36m-14_2400
Stratford High St area, 1982

I cannot remember exactly where I took this or the next picture, though from other exposures on the same films both are clearly somewhere not far from Stratford High St. I think the canal seen at right here is probably St Thomas’s Creek.

Timber yard, Stratford, Newham, 1982 32v-22_2400
Timber yard, Stratford High St area, 1982

Timber was the main product carried on the Lea Navigation in the later years of its use, and I think this timber yard was probably close to the main stream of the navigation. My attempts to find it again in later years were unsuccesful.

Cafe, Stratford market, Stratford, Newham, 1983 36p-35_2400
Cafe, Stratford market, Stratford, Newham, 1983

The notices on the door offer not just ‘Jellied Eels’ but ‘Best Jellied Eels’, along with ‘Loch Fine Kippers’. My contact sheet puts its location as Stratford Market in Burford Road, just off High St to the south.

Barge, Lea Navigation, Bow Bridge, Bow Flyover, Tower Hamlets, Newham, 1981 29t-26p_2400
Barges, Bow Bridge, October 1981

These last two pictures were some of the first I took in the area after I heard on a radio interview that commercial traffic on the Lea Navigation was to come to an end in a few weeks time.

I think it was the same day that I picked up my camera bag and got on the train to come to look for and photograph any remaining activity. It was a slow journey to Bromley-by-Bow from where I spent an hour or so walking along beside the navigation between Bow Locks and Bow Bridge, where I found three barges loaded with cut timber, photographing all three from the bridge and going down onto the wharf for another picture.

Barge, Lea Navigation, Bow Bridge, Tower Hamlets, Newham, 1981 29t-25_2400
Barges, Bow Bridge, October 1981

I find it hard now to understand why I took so few pictures – only around 30 exposures on the entire visit, and just these two where I found evidence of any remaining commercial traffic.

More pictures from the area on page 3 of my Flickr album River Lea – Lea Navigation 1981-1992.


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.


Marshgate Lane

Friday, January 15th, 2021

Marshgate Lane, Stratford Marsh, Stratford, Newham, 1990 90-9h-53_2400-2
Marshgate Lane from Northern Outfall Sewer, 1990

Marshgate Lane runs through the centre of Stratford Mash and what became the London 2012 Olympic site. It’s southern end was a short distance north of the bridge over St Thomas’s Creek on Pudding Mill Lane, and it ran parallel and a few yards to the east of Pudding Mill Lane, which rejoined it just south of the Northern Outfall Sewer. Marshgate Lane then continued in its northerly route past Knobs Hill to run beside the Old River Lee and across both the City Mill River and the Waterworks River to Carpenters Road.

City Mill River, Marshgate Lane, from Greenway, Northern Outfall Sewer, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1983 33x-32_2400
Industry between Marshgate Lane and the City Mill River, 1983

It’s southern area still follows the same route, though it now starts at Stratford High St, which was previously Pudding Mill Lane, and north of the sewage outfall its route is completely different. But what was back in the 1980s a street lined for much of its route with industrial premises is now a wasteland with some athletic facilities, parts of which will shortly be covered with tall blocks.

Marshgate Lane, Stratford Marsh, Stratford, Newham, 199090-9g22_2400
Maryland Plastics, St Thomas’s Creek, Pudding Mill Lane, 1983

As well as the Olympic devastation, Crossrail has also played havoc with the southern area. An earlier addition with little disruption was the Docklands Light Railway, extended to Stratford for the Olympics and opened to the public in 2011 with a station on Pudding Mill Lane, which gives considerably more convenient access to the area.

Marshgate Lane, Stratford Marsh, Stratford, Newham, 1990 90-9g24_2400
Marshgate Lane, 1990

It isn’t always easy to decide now exactly where I took some of these pictures as I wandered freely around the area, both on the streets, on the Greenway and other footpaths and through some small areas of waste land. So some pictures captioned as Marshgate Lane may actually be on Pudding Mill Lane or even Barbers Rd or Cooks Road.

Marshgate Lane, Stratford Marsh, Stratford, Newham, 1990 90-9g26_2400
Marshgate Lane, 1990

There was considerable opposition from some of the businesses in the area to the redevelopment for the Olympics, and for some it was the end of their business, while a few did well out of their relocation. I continued to photograph in the area during the redevelopment, though access to much of it was closed, the area surrounded by a blue fence and security guards. Now there is little to attract me back to Stratford Marsh, and my few visits before Covid have been sadly disappointing.

Marshgate Lane, Stratford Marsh, Stratford, Newham, 1990 90-9h52_2400
Marshagate Lane, 1990

More pictures from the 1980s 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.


City Mill Lock & Blaker Rd

Thursday, January 14th, 2021

City Mill Lock, Blaker Rd,  Stratford Marsh, Stratford, Newham, 1990 90-9f-32 (2)_2400
City Mill Lock, Blaker Rd, Stratford Marsh, Stratford, Newham, 1990

City Mill Lock connected the tidal Waterworks River with the Bow Back Rivers which are a part of the Lea Navigation and thus at a constant level. There is another lock connecting the two systems further north where Carpenters Lock connects the Old River Lea to the start of the Waterworks River close to Carpenters Road. Both locks were built in the 1930s when considerable work was carried out, mainly to reduce flooding but also with the intent of increasing commercial traffic on the Back Rivers, particularly the City Mill River. But I think this never happened and by the 1960s these streams were seldom if ever used.

City Mill Lock, Blaker Rd,  Stratford Marsh, Stratford, Newham, 1983 36m-35_2400
City Mill Lock, Blaker Rd, Stratford Marsh, Stratford, Newham, 1983

The River Lea was at least theoretically navigable at the right stage of the tide some way further north – and of course much further by kayaks, though there are legal restrictions on parts of its many streams.

Since the Olympics, the tidal flow on the river has been regulated by a new lock on the Prescott Channel at Three Mills which I photographed in 2010. The original intention of British Waterways that the river above this point should be non-tidal but its level still varies, perhaps simply with the river flow.

City Mill Lock, St Thomas's Creek, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1983 36m-22a-positive-2_2400
City Mill Lock, St Thomas’s Creek, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1983

The lock gates had clearly seen rather better times and the lock was unusable. These gates were replaced as a part of the makeover of the area for the Olympics.

City Mill River, Stratford Marsh, Stratford, Newham, 1983 35v-15_2400
City Mill River, Stratford Marsh, Stratford, Newham, 1983

Just to the west of the lock, behind the lock keepers house, St Thomas’s Creek turns towards the north and becomes the City Mill River. A few boats were moored here, next to Blaker Rd.

City Mill River, Blaker Rd,  Stratford Marsh, Stratford, Newham, 1983 35v-13_2400
City Mill River, Blaker Rd, Stratford Marsh, Stratford, Newham, 1983

Continuing north beside the City Mill River along Blaker Road led to a footpath which went under the Northern Outfall Sewer in a tunnel. It was possible to access the Greenway walkway on the sewer from here.

City Mill River, Blaker Rd,  Stratford Marsh, Stratford, Newham, 198335v-26_2400
City Mill River, Blaker Rd, Stratford Marsh, Stratford, Newham, 1983

From where you could look down on the path and the railings beside the river.

City Mill River, Stratford Marsh, Stratford, Newham, 1983 35v-25_2400
City Mill River, Stratford Marsh, Stratford, Newham, 1983

This is the view looking back down the City Mill River towards City Mill Lock, now rather different.

City Mill River, Railway, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1983 36m-43

The footpath led on past the Northern Outfall Sewer to a rather strangely angled basin taking the river under the main railway lines. From here you could continue walking beside the river and eventually reach the north end of Marshgate Lane and Carpenters Road.

The last time I tried to repeat this walk, in 2019, it was not possible, with work still taking place in the area and fences stopping me. As well as work still taking place after the 2012 Olympics, parts were blocked by work on Crossrail.

More pictures on Flickr.


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


Around Warton Road

Wednesday, January 13th, 2021

Robbialac, Warton Rd, Stratford, Newham, 1983 35p-15_2400
Jenson and Nicholson, Robbialac Works, Warton Road, Stratford, London E15.

Jensen and Nicholson were the makers of Robbialac paints and had premises here on Warton Road, offices on the Goswell Rd and a further works in Stratford on Carpenters Rd. The business was started in 1821 at the Barbican by William Kingham and John Jenson became a partner in 1840, taking over the business in 1848. He was joined in 1856 by Wilfred Nicholson.

Following a fire which destroyed the company’s factory, Nicholson decided to move to Stratford Marshes and a few years later Nicholson took over the company, which continued to trade under the name Jenson and Nicholson Ltd. As well as Robbialac enamel paints for cars and home decoration, the company also made Copal varnishes and distributed Cuprinol wood preservatives. In 1960 they merged with Berger Paints forming Berger, Jenson and Nicholson who after various takeovers became a part of Crown Paints and were then acquired by the Dutch company Akzo Nobel. (Information from Grace’s Guide https://www.gracesguide.co.uk/Jenson_and_Nicholson.)

The name Robbialac came from the 15th century Italian ceramicist Luca Della Robbia, famed for his brightly coloured enamels and the word lacquer. The major Portuguese paint manufacturer Tinta Robbialac, founded in 1928, also uses it as a brand name.

Bridgewater Rd, Stratford, Newham, 1983 35q-12_2400
Bridgewater Rd, Stratford, Newham, 1983

The concrete bridge here is an early use of ferro-concrete I think had a plaque on it stating it had been built using the Hennebique system and certainly deserves preservation. I photographed it on various occasions and it survived the Olympics and was still present when I last visited the area, but I’m unsure if it will be retained in the future.

Waterworks River, Bridgewater Rd, Stratford, 1983 36m-62-positive_2400
Waterworks River, Bridgewater Rd, Stratford, 1983

The view looking south from the Bridgewater Road bridge along the Waterworks River to the Warton House on Stratford High St, and blocks of flats on the opposite side of the street off Abbey Lane, Albert Bigg Point and Aubrey Moore Point. The footpath on the bank at right was extremely overgrown and the gates to it were locked. At right is one of the many pylons that were taken down for the Olympics.

Carpenters Rd, Stratford, Newham, 1983 35p-51_2400
Carpenters Estate, Stratford, Newham, 1983

I am not sure of the exact location of this doorway with its interesting use of concrete. There were (and are) 3 point blocks on the Carpenters Estate and I think the one in the background here may be Dennison Point and this building may have been on the site now occupied by the Building Crafts College in Kennard Road which moved to a new building here in 2001.

Waterworks River, Railway Bridge, Stratford, Newham, 1983 35q-32_2400
Waterworks River, Railway Bridge, Stratford, Newham, 1983

I think this is from the footpath beside the Waterworks River looking north towards the bridge carrying the Eastern Region main line from Liverpool St across to Stratford. Possibly I had climbed down from Bridgewater Road as I think this path was closed at the time. The factory at right was on Warton Rd.

Waterworks River, Blaker Rd, Stratford, 1983 36m-52_2400
Waterworks River, view towards Blaker Rd from the Greenway, Stratford, 1983

The Waterworks River turns to the left in the distance to go under Stratford High St, with a channel going on under Blaker Rd to City Mill lock. The concrete pillar is part of the bridge carrying the Northern Outfall Sewer across the river and I wondered if the profuse fig tree growing here might be benefiting from some warmth from the sewage or possibly even be nourished by some leakage.

Kerry's, Greenway, Northern Outfall Sewer, Stratford, Newham, 1983 35v-23_2400
Kerry’s, Stratford 1983.

Kerry’s were a company that made and distributed a wide range of products, both those they made themselves and others branded with their name. In 1961 according to Grace’s Guide they were “Wholesale distributors to the motor, radio, electrical and cycle trades, also machine tool makers, specialising in centre lathes, boring mills, power saws, drills and special purpose machines” and even produced a light weight moped, the Capitano. Manufacturing moved to Basildon in the 1960s and the business was bought up and sold at the end of the decade.

Although Kerry’s address was Warton Road, I think the factory was actually rather closer to the Northern Outfall Sewer and reached over the bridge on Bridgewater Road.

More pictures on Flickr.


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.