Posts Tagged ‘West Ham’

Bow Creek from East India Dock Road

Tuesday, February 9th, 2021

Bow Creek, West Ham Power Station, East India Dock Rd, Tower Hamlets, Newham, 1989 89-4c55_2400
Bow Creek, West Ham Power Station, East India Dock Rd, Tower Hamlets, Newham, 1989

Bow Creek truly became magical as it passed under the East India Dock Road, and although it has now lost much of the interest on its banks, the incredible flattened S-shape as it curves before reaching the Thames remains impressive.

Bow Creek, West Ham Power Station, East India Dock Rd, Newham, 1989 89-4c56_2400
Bow Creek, West Ham Power Station, East India Dock Rd, Newham, 1989

The creek bends almost 90 degrees to flow roughly south under the road at Ironbridge Wharf (the iron bridge long replaces by more modern concrete structures) only to take a hairpin 180 degree bend to return almost back to the road before sweeping another 180 degrees down to go over the elevated Lower Lea Crossing. From there its convolutions continue with a 90 turn to the east and another to the south before entering the Thames as Leamouth, around 900 metres away as the gull flies, but 1900 by boat.

Bow Creek, East India Dock Rd, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, Newham, 198232f-24_2400
Bow Creek, East India Dock Rd, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, Newham, 1982

Its course defines two very different peninsulas; to the west on largely undeveloped and now a nature reserve, with the DLR crossing to it on a viaduct and running up it, and on the east an industrial site, then occupied by the edible oil company Pura Foods (earlier Acatos & Hutcheson) and now the site of the City Island development.

Timber yard,  Essex Wharf, Bow Creek, East India Dock Rd, Newham, Tower Hamlets, 1989 89-4c51_2400
Timber yard, Essex Wharf, Bow Creek, East India Dock Rd, Newham, Tower Hamlets, 1989

On the eastern bank of the river south of Canning Town station is another so-called peninsula, the Limmo Penisula, which became a major Crossrail works site and is now a housing development. The name was previously used for the whole area around this part of Bow Creek and the nature reserve, now the Bow Creek ecology park was first called the Limmo Peninsula ecological park. It is an area of confusing names, with the new development south of the Lower Lea Crossing taking its name, Goodluck Hope, from the area now called City Island. It was also easy to get a little confused by the area itself with the wandering of the river, and even when writing this post I had problems sorting out pictures just from the appropriate area.

Pipe Bridge, Bow Creek, Tower Hamlets, Newham, 1989 89-4c63_2400
Pipe Bridge, Bow Creek, Tower Hamlets, Newham, 1989

The pipe bridge possibly carried gas from the nearby Poplar Gas works to Canning Town; downstream was a disused railway bridge. A new ‘blue bridge’ was later erected between these two (it appears in my 1992 pictures) and the pipe bridge was taken down though its brick piers left in place – now only the eastern one remains.

Timber Yard, Bow Creek, Tower Hamlets, 1989 89-4c65_2400
Timber Yard, Bow Creek, Tower Hamlets, 1989

The pictures in this post were all taken on or close to the East India Dock Road where it crosses Bow Creek, beginning with a couple looking up river and with the rest looking towards the south. In later posts I’ll cover the area further down Bow Creek which played an important part in the industrial (and footballing) history of the nation, and return with the creek back almost to the road.

Bow Creek, Leamouth Rd, Leamouth, Tower Hamlets, Newham, 1982 32f-36_2400
Bow Creek, Leamouth Rd, Leamouth, Tower Hamlets, Newham, 1982

The pictures here are from visits to the area in 1982 and 1989, but I also took some in 1983, and returned again in 1992, mainly to make some panoramic views, which I’ll write about in a later post. You can see more of my pictures in my Flickr album – this area is on page 4 – and clicking on any of the above pictures will also take you to the larger version there.

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.


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.


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.


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.