Posts Tagged ‘timber’

Timber – Lea Navigation

Saturday, December 19th, 2020

Timber made up a very large proportion of the commercial traffic on the Lea Navigation, certainly in the twentieth century. In its earlier years barge traffic on the River Lea and its canalised sections was largely of agricultural products – malt, meal and grain – being carried down to London, with barges being returned empty or carrying coal upstream. Trade was substantial even before the construction of the navigation began following plans by John Smeaton and the 1767 Act of Parliament, and the river carried an estimated 30,000 tons a year coming mainly from around Ware and Stanstead Abbotts.

The flash locks then in use, with gates that were removed to allow barges to pass wasted large quantities of water and tolls were high, and they also meant that loads going upstream were restricted to a third or a quarter of the 35-40 tons of a downstream load. There were many later improvements to the navigation, though most of the current system comes from an 1866 Act of Parliament.

Timber yard, Towpath Road, Dorford Wharf, Edmonton, 1983 34m-52_2400

In the twentieth century barges carried loads of 100 tons on the waterway and the main traffic was timber, carried upstream from the Surrey docks to a number of timber wharves, one of the larger of which was the Edmonton Wharf at the Lea Valley Trading Estate, which I think was operated by Hahn & Co Ltd, though I can find no further details.

Timber yard, Towpath Road, Dorford Wharf, Edmonton, 1983 34l-16_2400

I made several visits to this large site and took pictures, and returned in later years when it had become a bus depot. Back in 1983 there was another timber yard on the opposite bank of the navigation, which I think was called Dornford Wharf, though the old street plan I used labels this area of the east bank with this name.

Timber yard, Towpath Road, Dorford Wharf, Edmonton, 1983 34l-15_2400

In the Flickr album River Lea – Lea Navigation 1981-1992 I’ve captioned these images as being in Dornford Wharf, Towpath Rd, and I’ve also included a few more images which are simply slight variations on those show here – as well as many other images taken along the river.

Timber yard, Towpath Road, Dorford Wharf, Edmonton, 1983 34m-61_2400

Timber yard, Towpath Road, Dorford Wharf, Edmonton, 1983 34m-63_2400

Timber yard, Towpath Road, Dorford Wharf, Edmonton, 1983 34m-66_2400

If these huge trunks had been brought here by the navigation they will have been here some time as commercial traffic ended a couple of years earlier in 1981. There didn’t appear to be any work being carried on in the timber yard when I took these pictures, but they were possibly made on a Sunday.

Timber yard, Towpath Road, Dorford Wharf, Edmonton, 1983 34m-51_2400

At the side of the yard close to the towpath I came across an area that had clearly been used fairly recently to cut up some wood on a rather smaller scale but which had produced a prolific amount of sawdust.

Although the Flickr album River Lea – Lea Navigation 1981-1992 only currently contains black and white pictures, I did also make some colour transparencies when I was photographing the Lea Valley. Three of them, including the image above, were my contribution to the show Roof Unit Foundations at [ space ] in Hackney in 2007.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

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