SE6: It’s witchcraft

Featured

SE6 is Catford. Brewer’s Dictionary of London Phrase and Fable says of Catford: “Perhaps surprisingly, the name is not some arcane corruption , but probably does mean that wild cats did frequent the ford that is now the site of Catford bridge, although an alternative explanation is that “the cat” was a local landowner’s nickname.

Wikipedia has other suggestions including this is “the place where cattle crossed the River Ravensbourne in Saxon times” and goes on to say”. It is also said that the name originates from all-black cats, associated with witchcraft, being thrown into the ford to drown during the witch hunts.” Sadly neither of these assertions are backed up by citations.

We start our walk at Catford Post Office which in Numbers 187-189 Rushey Green. Turn right out of the Post Office and our first stop is a little way along the same pavement.

Stop 1: The Black Horse and Harrow pub

This is a grand Victorian pub called the Black Horse and Harrow.

IMG_1420

IMG_1422

It dates from 1897 and the sign says there has been a pub here since at least 1700.

IMG_1469

It would have been a coaching inn on the road to Tonbridge and Hastings, but clearly became a bit of a Victorian “gin palace”

Now retrace your steps and go down the alleyway which runs through Octavia house.

IMG_1467

On the other side you will be in the middle of Catford Island, our next stop..

Stop 2: Catford Island

Catford Island is possibly one of the most inappropriate bits of development to grace the streets of London.

IMG_1464

Who thought it would be a good idea to put an american style retail centre here where the inadequate A21 London – Hastings road crosses the even more inadequate South Circular Road. Needless to say this is what you get.

IMG_1463

Many years ago there were plans to sort out the roads here properly but there are no active plans for this.

The Lewisham website has something called “The Catford Plan”. Here is a link to the Frequently asked questions: https://www.lewisham.gov.uk/myservices/planning/policy/LDF/catford/Pages/Catford-Plan-frequently-asked-questions.aspx

One of which is:

“Has the Council given up on the plans to re-route the South Circular behind the Laurence House?

Transport for London (TfL)’s long-standing proposal, which would potentially remove the Catford gyratory, still has no clear timetable or funding strategy. There are reasons why this project has not happened, primarily that it would be complex, expensive and difficult to implement.

The Catford plan therefore includes alternative proposals which would be more deliverable. These include simplifying pedestrian crossings, improving the Thomas Lane/Catford Road and Rushey Green/Catford Road junctions, and widening Sangley Road to create an eastbound bus lane to cut the number of northbound buses on Rushey Green.”

So this bottleneck is not going to be sorted out any time soon.

Now head to the opposite side of the retail park from the Bingo club and turn right along that road. Our next stop is at the corner.

Stop 3: former ABC cinema

This was the Central Hall Picture House when it opened in December 1913. It was renamed the Plaza in 1932 and was taken over the ABC chain in 1937. It was renamed ABC in 1962. It was split into two screens in 1981 and continued to operate as a cinema until 2001.

IMG_1428

According to the wonderful “Cinema Treasures” website “In 2002, it was purchased by the Brazilian based Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, who also purchased the former Granada/EMD in Walthamstow, and who already operated the former Astoria Finsbury Park” (aka the Rainbow).

They were refused planning permission to convert the Catford cinema in 2003. The case at Catford went to a Public Enquiry in 2005, which allowed the church to use the former stalls area, on the proviso they let out the former circle as a 200 seat cinema. Not sure what happened this idea as the cinema treasures site does not have any up to date info. No sign of a cinema. However the church is certainly operating here.

Now cross over Sangley Road, go past the Post Office and you will see our next stop just over the road on the left.

Stop 4: Broadway Theatre

This is a little gem of a 1930s building adjoining the modern civic suite.

IMG_1429

The Theatre’s website says:

“A grade II* listed building, the theatre was built in 1932 and is an example of Art Deco design. The architects were Bradshaw Gass & Hope; the slightly Gothic features were intended to relate to the adjacent Gothic Revival Town Hall which has since been demolished.

It has two auditoriums, an 800-seat main theatre and a small 80-seat studio theatre. Its programme consists of a diverse mix of theatre and music, including a pantomime season featuring star names, stand up comedy, nostalgia shows, drama and children’s theatre.”

For many years it was called the Lewisham Theatre which was somewhat confusing as it was in Catford.

IMG_1423

Broadway is a better name although it has the disadvantage that it is so generic a name it could be anywhere.

IMG_1425

As you look at the theatre head to the left and our next stop is the building next door.

Stop 5: Civic Suite

The old Town Hall of 1875, was replaced by the current Civic Suite in 1968, soon after the merger of the metropolitan boroughs of Lewisham and Deptford to form the London Borough of Lewisham.  On the other side of the road is Laurence House, where many of the Lewisham Council offices are housed. That is on the site of old St Laurence’s Church.

Go into the courtyard of the Civic Suite and you will see a couple of plaques on your right.

IMG_1440

IMG_1441

These relate to a fire in New Cross which killed 13 young black people in January 1981. This plaque has 14 names because one person (Anthony Berbeck) who was in the house at the time of the fire, committed suicide later.

The way the authorities investigated the fire provoked a huge uprising in the black community. There was a strong view that the fire was caused deliberately but this could not be proved. Forensic science has developed since then. So while some still believe the fire to have been a result of arson, it seems that such evidence as there is suggests it was a tragic accident.

Over the years a number of memorials have been created, including a stained glass window in St Andrew’s Church Brockley (2002), a blue plaque from Nubian Jak Community Trust (January 2011), a stone memorial and bench in Fordham Park, Deptford (2012). There is also a memorial to the victims consisting of a park bench plus 13 trees with a plaque at either end on Hackney Downs. And of course this one.

And just opposite is the statue of a sad looking girl.

IMG_1442

IMG_1443

This statue is bronze and was commissioned by Lewisham Borough Council in 1992 from the artist Gerda Rubinstein.

Now keep walking along the main road and you will get to our next stop – the two railway stations in Catford. You will see a little access road to the right which is a good way into the first station you get to (Catford Bridge)

IMG_1397

Stop 6: Catford’s stations

The two stations in Catford are almost side by side but on different lines, one line goes under the road whilst the other above the road. Interchange on one ticket is allowed between the two stations.

Catford Bridge station was built by the Mid-Kent and North Kent Junction Railway and opened in January 1857. But from the start the line was worked by the South Eastern Railway.

IMG_1399

IMG_1391

This still has original buildings although the main one does not seem to be used by the railway. This station is also unusual in having two exits from each platform – one on the level and one up steps to the road bridge.

The two stations are separated by the site of the former Catford Stadium. Although the stadium closed in 2003, and is currently being redeveloped, it is still mentioned on the direction signs here.

IMG_1401

The other station has lost all its old building and has this rather nasty modular building as a ticket office and little more than a bus shelter on the platform.

IMG_1408

IMG_1406

Catford station was opened by the London, Chatham and Dover Railway in July 1892. This is the next station after Crofton Park going out of town and has an equally poor service.

Now retrace your steps and as you approach the Civic Buildings you will see a pedestrianised street to your left.

Stop 7: Catford Broadway

This sad looking street is called Catford Broadway.

IMG_1418

IMG_1419

It has a few stalls and some dull looking shops – and when I was there, not many people. But at least it was not run down and abandoned, as it so easily could have been.

Our next stop is at the end of Catford Broadway on the left.

Stop 8: Catford Shopping centre

This was designed by the architect Owen Luder (Born 1928) in 1974. He was well known for Brutalist architecture, with its massive bare concrete sculptural forms with no cladding and little or no decoration. Unfortunately time has not been kind to these buildings. In the damp British climate unclad concrete buildings soon become dull and greyer and they get streaked where rainwater runs. Often poor maintenance makes things worse.

But at least Catford Shopping centre is still standing unlike a number of Luder’s other well known projects, such as the Tricorn Centre in Portsmouth, Trinity Square Gateshead and the Southgate shopping centre in Bath.

IMG_1449

The most prominent feature is the Catford Cat, a giant fibreglass sculpture of a black cat above the entrance.

IMG_1447

Lewisham Council website credits the Catford Cat to Owen Luder and Embassy Signs with the date 1974.

The Catford Centre was bought by Lewisham council in 2010 for “regeneration”. But this does not seem to have happened yet.

Now cross over the road and have a look at the concrete building on the other side.

Stop 9: Eros House

This is called Eros House and was also designed by Owen Luder. It dates from 1960 and so is somewhat older than the Catford Centre. I am not sure that the proportions quite work. It would probably look better if the tower were taller. And it does not have the elegance of the Goldfinger buildings we saw in Poplar and Westbourne Park.

IMG_1452

The site has an interesting history as it contained not one but two places of entertainment. As ever I am endebted to the “Cinema Treasures” site for much of the following information.

At the corner of Rushey Green and Brownhill Road was the Lewisham Hippodrome Theatre which opened as a variety theatre in February 1911. It was designed by renown theatre architect Frank Matcham. Again this must have been confusing given it was not in Lewisham, proper.

In the late 1920s and early 1930s it was sometimes used as a cinema and sometimes a theatre. In 1931 alterations were carried out by architect Cecil Masey, with interior decoration by designer Theodore Komisarjevsky. It reopened as a cinema in April 1931 but by 1933 was operating as a music hall, with films only shown on Sundays.

It was closed by bomb damage in 1940 and re-opened in 1943. It was closed as a live theatre in 1952 and re-opened as the Eros Cinema in May of that year. The Eros Cinema finally closed in November 1959

Adjacent to the Hippordome/Eros was a purpose built cinema. This opened in December 1913 as the Queen’s Hall Cinema. It was acquired by Gaumont in 1928 but continued operating as the Queen’s Hall Cinema until September 1954  when it was renamed Gaumont.

The Gaumont closed in November 1959. It was demolished in July 1960, together with the adjacent Eros/Hippodrome building. The office block named Eros House was built on the site.

IMG_1458

IMG_1460

On the green outside there is a sculpture.

IMG_1456

This is called Waterline. It is by Oliver Barratt and dates from 2006

IMG_1457

The sign says “This sculpture remembers the waters that once flowed though the green rushes where watercress was farmed and celebrates the dynamic rhythm of life and change” Here is a link to the artist’s website:

http://www.oliverbarratt.co.uk/water-line/

So it is also a little reminder of why the street here is called Rushey Green.

Stop 10: Rushey Green

And so just by Eros House is a green encased in railings with a water pump.

IMG_1454

Not sure how old this is.

Just further along on the other side of Brownhill Road is this sculpture

IMG_1475

It is called “Chariot / Blue on Green” and is by artist Oleg Prokofiev (1928 – 1998). It seems it was bequeathed by Prokofiev family.

Now walk along Rushey Green away from Catford centre. Take the second right which then splits into Farley Road and Honley Road. You want the former which is the left hand way.

Stop 11: Number 48 Farley Road

Our next stop is a fair way down Farley Road.

IMG_1488

Number 48 was the childhood home of film actress Elsa Lanchester (1902 – 1986), who although she spent most of her career in Hollywood was actually from here in South London.

According to Wikipedia: “[She] studied dance as a child and after the First World War began performing in theatre and cabaret, where she established her career over the following decade. She met the actor Charles Laughton in 1927, and they were married two years later. She began playing small roles in British films, including the role of Anne of Cleves with Laughton in The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933). His success in American films resulted in the couple moving to Hollywood, where Lanchester played small film roles.

Her role as the title character in Bride of Frankenstein (1935) brought her recognition. She played supporting roles through the 1940s and 1950s. She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for Come to the Stable (1949) and Witness for the Prosecution (1957), the last of twelve films in which she appeared with Laughton. Following Laughton’s death in 1962, Lanchester resumed her career with appearances in such Disney films as Mary Poppins (1964), That Darn Cat! (1965) and Blackbeard’s Ghost (1968).” She also played a witch in the 1958 film “Bell, Book and Candle”

Our final stop is just a little way along the road.

Stop 12: Woskerski mural, Farley Road.

Just before you get to Laleham Road, there is a striking mural on the right.

IMG_1497

This is by street artist Woskerski who describes himself as “A street artist based in London, painting since 1997.”

His website says that this particular mural is of Ray Charles and Louis Armstrong and it was a commission in 2016. It is a little surprising to see this looming up at you in a side street in Catford. I somehow doubt that either Ray Charles or Louis Armstrong had any connection with this part of London, so who knows why someone chose them as the subject of a mural here.

Now we are the end of our walk. But I thought I should just point out a couple of old street signs here. Just beyond the mural, Laleham Road crosses Farley Road and unusually for this part of town there are two signs which are what must be the original signs, as they say just SE without the number.

IMG_1493

IMG_1498

There are lots of these old street signs in the borough of Wandsworth but most other boroughs have systematically replaced them with their own branded street name plates.

So Catford proved to have some interest. Again it seems odd that this was once a significant entertainment centre. There were four theatre/cinema buildings in close proximity up until the late 1950s. But today it is a dull collection of shops with constantly congested gyratory system, and just one working theatre building.

You have a choice about onward travel from here. you can retrace your steps back to the stations or else go back to Rushey Green and jump on one of numerous buses that will take you to Lewisham.

 

 

SE5: All’s Well

Featured

SE5 is Camberwell. This was once quite an entertainment centre. Not now. Today it is a major focus for buses, but it has been unserved by rail transport for a hundred years despite there being a line almost through its centre.

We start our walk at the Post Office at 25 Denmark Hill. Turn left and head towards the junction. Our first stop is the large building at the corner with the Nandos on the ground floor.

Stop 1: site of Metropole/Empire Theatre/Odeon Cinema

IMG_1277

This large corner site was a place of entertainment for many years. First there was the Metropole Theatre which opened in October 1894. In 1906 it was renamed Camberwell Empire Theatre. Films were being shown from 1914 and from 1918 it became a mixed use live theatre and cinema known as the Camberwell Theatre and Picture House. From 1924 it was a full time cinema known as the Camberwell Empire and Picture Palace.

Odeon bought the theatre in May 1937. It closed in August 1937 and was quickly demolished for a new Odeon Theatre to be built on an expanded site. The Odeon opened in March 1939.

A key difference from its predecessor was the location of the entrance. The entrance to the original theatre was at the corner of Denmark Hill and Coldharbour Lane, whereas the new Odeon was designed with a matching entrance on each road, with a square fin tower clad in light yellow tiles and carrying the name “Odeon”.

The cinema was never split up and was closed in July 1975. After six years of disuse, in 1981 it became a pile ’em high sell ’em cheap jeans warehouse called Dickie Dirts. That lasted a couple of years and then the building was disused again, finally being demolished in spring 1993, There is now a block of flats for homeless young people here.

Now retrace your steps to the corner of Orpheus Street (right back by the Post Office)

Stop 2: site of the Palace Theatre

IMG_1267

At this corner was a theatre called the Camberwell Palace which opened in 1899.  Films formed part of the variety bill in the early 1900’s but in September 1932, it was taken over by Associated British Cinemas (ABC). It became a full time cinema, known as the Palace Cinema. When ABC opened their new Regal Cinema (which we shall see shortly) in 1940, and they disposed of the Palace Cinema to an independent operator.

After a few years, it re-opened under new management in April 1943 as a live variety theatre, and went back to its original name, Camberwell Palace Theatre. The Palace Theatre then went over to staging ‘girlie’ shows. No doubt this was Camberwell’s answer to the famous Windmill theatre in Soho. One of the ways round the law at the time was that the “girls” could only be naked if they were still, as in a work of art in a gallery. Unfortunately one of the girls here, the delightfully named Peaches Page (aged 19) broke the law by moving whilst in the nude. A mouse had come on stage while she posed. She was sacked and the Palace Theatre was closed soon after in April 1956. No long after it was demolished and replaced by this dull looking building. This was until recently HSBC bank.

Much more info on this and the Metropole/Empire on the wonderful Arthur Lloyd site.

http://www.arthurlloyd.co.uk/Camberwell.htm

(Interestingly the usually great Cinema Treasures site, has a slightly different story, talking about the theatre called the Oriental being built here in 1896 and then replaced. Arthur Lloyd says that this never actually happened. Also Cinema Treasures gives the address as 23 – 31 Denmark Hill but says the site of the theatre was where the Post Office is now. That is number 25 Denmark Hill whereas the HSBC bank branch was 23 Denmark Hill. However the picture on the Cinema Treasures site looks like the old theatre was on the left hand corner of the side street (the HSBC side) rather than the right hand (Post Office) corner. So I think the evidence suggests Arthur Lloyd is right.)

Now immediately over the road was another place of entertainment.

Stop 3: a former cinema (28 – 32 Denmark Hill)

IMG_1269

The building which now houses a Co-Op supermarket started out in 1913 or 1914 as the Golden Domes Picture Theatre, The building originally had a very decorative exterior with large domes on each side. Right through to the late 1930s it operated on a policy of mixing movies with variety performances.

The cinema was refurbished and renamed Rex Cinema in January 1952. It was taken over by the Essoldo chain in August 1954 becoming the Essoldo Cinema in January 1956.

The cinema closed in August 1964 and the building was converted into a supermarket. The ornate facade was removed, but you can still see the roof of what must have been the auditorium from the street

Our next stop is back on the same side as the Post Office where you will find a little shopping precinct.

Stop 4: Butterfly Walk

Camberwell has a somewhat underwhelming pedestrian shopping area, called Butterfly Walk.

IMG_1274

And there is even a butterfly on one of the buildings facing Denmark Hill.

IMG_1270

I puzzled over this as I could find nothing on the web about the age of the shopping centre or why it is called Butterfly Walk. But then I discovered that there is a butterfly known in Britain as the Camberwell Beauty, first spotted in Coldharbour Lane in 1748. This butterfly can be found in both Europe and North America and elsewhere it is known as “Mourning Cloak”. the butterfly has mainly dark wings but they are edged with bright yellow and some blue. The pattern has been likened to a girl in mourning who defiantly lets a glimpse of a brightness show below her mourning dress.

Now head to the main road junction and take a left.

Stop 5: Two Bus Garages

Curiously Camberwell has two bus garages almost opposite each other. As we walk along the road, the one on the left is called Camberwell Garage and is run by Go-Ahead London.

IMG_1261

This was built as a bus garage and although finished in 1914 it was actually only used from 1919. It is one of the largest bus garages in London and extends a long way down the side road and across to the next street.

IMG_1257

And the one on the right is called Walworth Garage.

IMG_1253

This garage is run by Abellio, a wholly owned subsidiary of Netherlands state-controlled rail operator Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS). It uses the NS logo.

The site started as Camberwell Tram Depot in 1891. Then in 1950, it became a bus garage. As there was already a Camberwell Bus Garage, it changed its name to Walworth Bus Garage, even though it is actually in Camberwell..

Just before the railway bridge and opposite to the entrance to Walworth Garage, you will see a street on the left called Camberwell Station Road. Go down here.

Stop 6: site of Camberwell station

IMG_1234

And soon you will see a street called Station Terrace.

IMG_1235

But the thing is that there has not been a passenger station here for a hundred years.

IMG_1236

There was one here, opened in October 1862 by the London, Chatham and Dover Railway as part of the company’s new route into the City of London. In May 1863 it became known as Camberwell New Road but in October 1908 reverted to the name Camberwell.

As with many other lesser used London stations, it was closed to passenger traffic during the First World War. It never reopened. Camberwell was well served by electric tram services which gave direct access to more places that the railway could, so like many of these inner suburban stations the traffic had been in decline anyway..

The trams had gone by the early 1950s but Camberwell remained unconnected by rail. There had been plans in the 1930s to extend the Bakerloo line here from Elephant and Castle starting but after the Second World War, there was no money for this kind of project.

The idea was revived in around 2006 and since then Transport for London has consulted on various ideas about extending the Bakerloo line to Lewisham and possibly beyond. However the most recent consultation (February 2017) makes clear the preferred route is along Old Kent Road missing out Camberwell completely. However Camberwell may still get reconnected to the rail network as there is now talk of reinstating the station here so it would be served by Thameslink trains.

There is precious little left of the old station which closed in April 1916. At track level there is the ghost of an island platform and at street level there is a much altered building which I guess would have been the entrance and ticket hall.

IMG_1239

It has lost its upper floor and the main structure has been used as a car repair facility. But you can just about imagine it as a station.

By the way if you look on the other side of the road you can see a large bus park which is part of the huge Camberwell Bus Garage.

IMG_1246

Now retrace your steps back to Camberwell Green where you should turn left, continuing with the Green on your right. Our next stop is just beyond the end of the green on the left.

Stop 7: Former ABC cinema

Now we have an old cinema building which is still standing largely intact.

IMG_1286

This was the Regal Cinema. It had been started just before the start of the Second World War and it was finished off finally opening in June 1940. It had been developed by an independent company but was sold to Associated British Cinemas prior to completion.

IMG_1288

Within weeks of opening, in September 1940, the Regal was closed by bomb damage but it quickly reopened the next month. It was renamed ABC in December 1961 and finally closed in October 1973.

It was converted into a Bingo Hall and operated under various names including Jasmine and Gala until February 2010, when it suddenly closed. The building was sold to a church which is what it is today.

Return to Camberwell Green and our next stop is around the first part of the green you get to.

Stop 8: Camberwell Green memorials

There are a number of memorials here. First there is a bench round a tree, dedicated to Corporal Sidney Bates VC.

IMG_1282

He was a local lad who was killed in France and posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for Gallantry.

Then there is a path to the left with a couple of Second World War memorials.

IMG_1299

Immediately to your right is one dedicated simply “For those who lost their lives in the Second World War”.

IMG_1296

But further on is a more site specific one, and one with a very poignant story.

IMG_1297

Although the plaque starts off “In memory of the people of Camberwell who died or suffered in War” it then goes on to record a specific incident from 17 September 1940. There was a direct hit on a bomb shelter here and it killed 13 members of the same family who had just been celebrating a wedding.

Here is a link to the story in the Guardian from 2007

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2007/sep/17/secondworldwar

And then to the left of this is a chunky wooden bench.

IMG_1295

This has a little plaque which says “The CoolTan Arts bench. A safe place to sit, rest and a gift to our local community. Dedicated to Debbie and everyone with experience of mental distress.”

IMG_1293

CoolTan Arts is an arts in mental health charity run by and for adults with experience of mental health conditions. According to its website, CoolTan Arts has existed since 1991 and became a charity in 1997. It took its name from the disused CoolTan sun lotion factory where the founders of CoolTan squatted. Today it is based in railway arched near to here in Walworth Road.

I do wonder about siting a bench referencing mental distress so close to three war memorials. Which came first, I wonder?

Now go to the end of the Green and turn left. Our next stop is in Wilson Road a side turning on the right just beyond the church. 

Stop 9: Camberwell School of Art, Wilson Road (Formerly Wilson’s School)

Camberwell is home to a well known art school, now part of the University of the Arts London. The Camberwell School is on two sites. The main location which opened in 1898 is a little further along the main road along with the South London Gallery which opened in 1891. The old Town Hall of Camberwell Borough Council dating from 1934 is also along here. Architectural guru Pevsner describes that building as “singularly undistinguished”

By the way Camberwell Borough Council’s motto was “All’s Well” as in “All’s well that ends well” or maybe “All’s well that Cambers well”.

It is a bit too far to go to see these buildings but we can content ourselves with the other Art School building in Wilson Road.

IMG_1310

This building was originally Wilson’s Grammar School. There is a plaque you can just see through the railings which says “Grammar School founded by Edward Wilson, Vicar of Camberwell 1615 Rebuilt 1882.”

IMG_1308

And this is echoed on the street by this stone.

IMG_1314

Wilson’s School still exists and has claim to be one of the oldest state schools. It moved to a new development called Roundshaw on the site of Croydon Airport in 1975. One famous old boy of Wilson’s School was actor Michael Caine

Now retrace your steps along the main road and turn left into Camberwell Grove.

Stop 10: Camberwell Grove

IMG_1315

This is a lovely, rather unexpected street. Pevsner describes Camberwell Grove as “well preserved late Georgian terraces and semi detached houses connected by one storey entrance bays”.

The street began as a private avenue behind the mansion of the Cock family and was built up after the house was sold in 1776 and demolished. What is unusual is the development focuses on a single avenue. There are no squares or crescents.

The first part you get to is the oldest with some houses dating from the 1770s and 1780s

IMG_1320

Further up on the right is a little chapel – the Grove Chapel which dates from 1819 and is still going.

IMG_1325

Grove Chapel is an independent church which has no formal links with any particular denomination or church grouping,

Sadly not all Camberwell Grove is Georgian. A little way along you come to some newer (less attractive) buildings and it opens out. (Note the picture below was taken looking back from the way we have just come)

IMG_1334

And look to your left and you can see a four track railway line in deep cutting. You cannot see this on the right as the line goes into a tunnel.

IMG_1330

Then a bit further on to your right you will see a house at the end of a terrace with a large white plaque.

IMG_1342

This records that Joseph Chamberlain (1836 – 1914) lived here.

IMG_1341

Joseph Chamberlain was a major politician first in local Government and then nationally. We came across him in Highbury, N5, where there is also another (non blue) plaque to him. He moved to N5 in 1845, but he was born in Camberwell, so I guess this was the place (or one of the places) where he lived as a small child.

Now take the side just a little before this house, Stories Road

IMG_1343

There is a nice little sign on the left at the start of the street proclaiming the extent of Mr Stories’ property.

IMG_1344

Continue along Stories Road and take a right at the end. Follow this road along. On the left you will see the beginning of the site which is our next stop.

Stop 11: William Booth Training College

IMG_1347

But before we get to the main entrance, have a look at the artwork as the road bends

IMG_1351

IMG_1352

This is called “Run”. It dates from 2009 and is by Leigh Dyer. There is a wolf in one bed and a number of sheep in the other bed. The piece at once blends in but is visible, so I think it works really well on this site as the main road bends.

Now follow the main road round and you will get to the main entrance of the Salvation Army training college.

The Salvation Army’s William Booth Memorial Training College was designed by Giles Gilbert Scott and was completed in 1932; Gilbert Scott’s other monumental South London buildings are Battersea Power Station and Bankside Power Station (now Tate Modern). The simplicity here is partly the result of repeated budget cuts during its construction. Apparently much more detailing, including carved Gothic style stonework surrounding the windows, was originally planned.

IMG_1356

Even so it is very impressive.

In front there are statues of General William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army and his wife Catherine. They apparently did not die but were “promoted to glory”.

IMG_1361

IMG_1359

Our final stop is just over the road from the College.

Stop 12: Denmark Hill Station

Denmark Hill Station was opened by the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway in 1865. Today the entrance is an uninspiring box behind the original somewhat grander station building.

IMG_1383

But the old footbridge is still in use and as a result of refurbishment, the station does now have lift access to all platforms.

IMG_1385

There is also some nice multi coloured brickwork at platform level.

IMG_1389

The original station building just to the left of the new entrance is in the Italianate style and sits above the tracks which are in a deep cutting. The building suffered a fire in 1980 and after restoration, a public house took over the main building. It was initially called the Phoenix and Firkin to commemorate the fire, then it became O’Neills and but it is now just the Phoenix.

IMG_1367

IMG_1379

Sad this is not still the station entrance but at least it is a good use for the building.

We are close to King’s College Hospital and the Maudsley Hospital and you can easily pop over and see them from this point. But I am not planning to. So that brings us to the end of our SE5 walk.

Camberwell was clearly once quite a centre of entertainment with theatres and cinemas but today there are none left. The shops are pretty standard inner city fare and it is busy without too much character. Still there were one or two unexpected things along the way: the memorials on Camberwell Green; Camberwell Grove is lovely and the Salvation Army College was somewhat of a surprise.

We are now at Denmark Hill station which has trains into Victoria and Kent plus it is on the southern arc of London Overground from Clapham Junction to New Cross Gate and beyond. Or maybe pop into the Phoenix for a quick drink!

SE4: Jack be nimble, Jack be quick

Featured

SE4 is Brockley which is one of those places one tends to pass by on a train – it being on the main line out of London Bridge towards Croydon and Brighton. But now I have the chance actually to walk round here.

We start our walk at Brockley Post Office which is at 185 Brockley Road, SE4. Our first stop is just across the road and is a pub called the Brockley Barge..

Stop 1: Brockley Barge

IMG_1123

This seems to suggest there might be a canal here but there is not. At least not today. The name of this pub recalls the barges which plied their trade on the Croydon Canal. This canal opened in 1809 and ran from Croydon to New Cross where it joined the Great Surrey Canal to access the Thames.

It was not a financial success and it closed in 1836 – the first canal to be closed by Act of Parliament. The canal bought by a railway company, the London and Croydon Railway who used much of the route for their new railway from London Bridge to West Croydon, the latter station being built on the filled in basin at the southern end of the canal.

 

IMG_1124

This pub was built in 1868 and was originally called the Breakspear Arms. It was rechristened the Brockley Barge in 2000 when it became a Wetherspoons.

Our next stop is a little way along Brockley Road as if you had turned right our of the Post Office. 

Stop 2: Brockley Station

The London and Croydon Railway opened through here in 1839, but Brockley did not get a station until March 1871, though there is precious little there today to suggest it was a Victorian station. The buildings are modern, but there is an old footbridge.

IMG_1206

There are four tracks here (two slow and two fast lines, with the fast ones together in the middle) but like all the stations between New Cross and Norwood Junction, Brockley only has platforms are the slow lines.

Today this station has 12 trains an hour. Four are Southern trains which go from London Bridge and end up at either Caterham or loop back to Victoria. The other 8 trains are the newish London Overground service extending the old East London line from New Cross Gate to either West Croydon or Crystal Palace. Must be slightly frustrating to be here if you want to get to central London when two thirds of your trains go on an arc around the centre. But at least they connect in with the tube quite well.

An interesting point to note about this station is that there is another railway line which passes over the end on the platforms.

IMG_1212

This was opened in June 1872 by the London, Chatham and Dover Railway on its Greenwich Park Branch Line and there was once a station here on this line, as we shall hear shortly.

Exit the station the way you came in and turn left and head back to the main road. Go under the railway bridge. Ahead is a junction which goes by the name of Brockley Cross.

Stop 3: Brockley Cross

IMG_1114

Before venturing to the mini roundabout that is now Brockley Cross. Just look to your left as you pass under the railway bridge. This is what is left of the entrance to Brockley Lane station.

IMG_1103

IMG_1105

Brockley Lane is on that line that crosses over Brockley station. Brockley Lane station opened in 1872 but closed to passengers in January 1917 though it continued as a goods station until May 1970. There was a building at road level which was used as a shop until a fire in 2004. There is lots more info about this dead station at the wonderful Disused Stations site: http://www.disused-stations.org.uk/b/brockley_lane/

And according to the Disused Stations site, just across the road is the old station master’s house. Here it is today.

IMG_1200

I guess it would be too expensive to reopen the station and create an interchange at Brockley so you could travel from say Croydon or Norwood Junction to Lewisham  or  perhaps Blackheath without having to go up to London Bridge. This kind of orbital journey does happen and such an interchange might help reduce congestion in central London. Maybe one day.

Now look ahead beyond the mini roundabout along Malpas Road and you get a view of some of the towers at Canary Wharf.

IMG_1109

Stop 4 The Tea Factory

Turn back look along Endwell Road from Brockley Cross and you see this strange sight looming up. It says on the side “Tea Factory”

IMG_1111

If you go along Endwell Road, you can see it full on.

IMG_1116

This was apparently constructed in the late 1940’s by the London Tea and Coffee Company whose original warehouse was destroyed in the Second World War. It is rather nicely done but it is in a strange location which must have delightful views of the two railway lines that cross near here.

Now head away from Brockley Cross along Godfrey Road. Our next stop is a little way along this street.

Stop 5: Cedar Mews, 74 – 78 Godfrey Road

My eye was taken by this rather handsome newish development on the right, called Cedar Mews.

IMG_1192

IMG_1193

These apartment buildings have been fitted in and are the same scale as the 19th century houses nearby and yet they are completely different.

The buildings were completed in 2013 and are by West London based Groves Natcheva architects, who I have never heard of. They may not be to everyone’s taste but at least someone thought to make the effort.

Keep walking along Godfrey Road to the end where you will reach Wickham Road. Just take a short detour to your left along Wickham Road to see Number 42.

Stop 6: Number 42 Wickham Road

IMG_1191

Unlikely as it may seem Lily Langtry, actress and mistress of the Prince of Wales, who is believed to have lived at 42 Wickham Road – at least according to Lewisham Council.

This is referred to in a council planning document about Brockley Conservation area: https://www.lewisham.gov.uk/myservices/planning/conservation/conservation-areas/Documents/BrockleyConservationAreaCharacterAppraisalPart1.pdf

Now head back along Wickham Road right to the end and you will be back at Brockley Road where you turn left. Our next stop is a little way along on the left.

Stop 7: Brockley Cemetery

This entrance is to Brockley cemetery, although when it opened in 1858 it was called Deptford Cemetery.

IMG_1125

There is a helpful map on the right as you go in.

IMG_1127

It is a quiet well kept cemetery – not at all overwhelmed by vegetation.

IMG_1129

There are a couple of war memorials – both of which are of rather strange design.

First you will come across the Deptford War memorial.

IMG_1132

This has a column and then a big space with a back wall. in the space are a series of small marker stones with numbers – presumably they have some significance such as they are for the location of wreaths at the annual Remembrance Day ceremony.

Further on there is another war memorial, again an odd design which does not encourage you to approach closely.

IMG_1137

One curiosity about this cemetery is that it was actually two cemeteries and there was a wall between them until 1948. Just around here I think.

IMG_1149

The two were opened in the same year (1858) and the other was originally called Lewisham Cemetery and is now Ladywell Cemetery.

Just near the boundary between the two cemeteries is this interesting memorial which sits on its own.

IMG_1148

This monument tells a sad tale. Below the figure is an inscription detailing the horrific events surrounding the death of Jane Clouson on 25 April 1871.

It says: “A motherless girl who was murdered in Kidbrooke Lane, Eltham aged 17 in 1871. Her last words were, “Oh, let me die”.”

IMG_1147

The monument was funded by public subscription following the contentious trial and acquittal of Edmund Walter Pook, a printer from Greenwich, who had been accused of her murder.  More on that story can be found on Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jane_Clouson

There is a site run by the Friends of Brockley and Ladywell Cemeteries which has some interest stuff about the cemetery. http://www.foblc.org.uk/

Retrace your steps to the main road and turn left. Our next stop is ahead on the left.

But going along you might spot some little reminders that this was once a tram route.

IMG_1181

These are relics of the London County Council (LCC) Tramway system. We saw some in Tooting SW17 and here they are again. The key thing which made the LCC system different was that there were no overhead wires. The trams got their power though a live rail in a conduit in the street. These manhole covers would have been part of that system. Amazing they are still here given that the trams were withdrawn from this street in 1952.

Our next stop is a little way on the left.

Stop 8: Crofton Park Library

This lovely building opened in 1905 and was funded by Scottish American industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie (1835 – 1919). It is one of around 19 he supported in Greater London.

IMG_1153

Although Crofton Park Library is part of Lewisham Library Service, for the past 5 or so years, it has been a volunteer run Community library hosted by an organisation called Eco Communities. It manages to open 5 days a week and maybe this volunteer model is the future for many libraries.

Note the crest over the door, with the motto “Salus Populi Suprema Lex”.

IMG_1152

This translates roughly as: “The welfare of the people shall be the supreme law” and is attributed to Cicero. This was the motto of the Metropolitan Borough of Lewisham  which was created in 1900 and it was taken up by its successor, the London Borough of Lewisham which was formed in 1965.

We are right by a railway bridge here and if you look over the road, you will see the side of our next stop.

Stop 9: Rivoli Ballroom

IMG_1158

Keep going along the main road and you will see the front.

IMG_1154

This is quite an amazing survivor.

The Rivoli started life as a cinema in July 1913 when it opened as the Picture Palace  According to the wonderful Cinema Treasures site:

“It soon became known as the Crofton Park Picture Palace and by 1918 was renamed Crofton Park Cinema. In 1931 it had been renamed Rivoli Cinema and some alterations had been carried out to modernise the buildings facade in a rather plain Art Deco style, plus a cafe was added to the facilities.”

It remained an Independently operated and owned cinema throughout it life. It closed on 2nd March 1957.  The building was boarded up for a couple of years and then reopened on 26th December 1959 as the Rivoli Ballroom. The interior is apparently much as it was from back then which makes it so special.

Despite threats to demolish the building in 2007, it remains open today catering to lovers of all sorts of dance and in February and April 2017, they are even having a pop up cinema over a couple of days.

Here is a link to their website for more info. https://www.rivoliballroom.com/

Our next stop is just across the road.

Stop 11: Crofton Park station

This is a strange little station which was opened by the London, Chatham and Dover railway in 1892 on what is known as the Catford Loop, which provided an alternative route for the Chatham line between Brixton and Shortlands. It also has a connection to the route into Blackfriars near Loughborough Junction which is where the trains go today

IMG_1177

IMG_1163

IMG_1165

But it is a rather poor train service. Only two trains an hour. they are Thameslink trains on the West Hampstead to Sevenoaks route. Unsurprisingly this station had only around 0.75m passengers in 2015/16 compared with over 4m at Brockley.

IMG_1168

Now if you have gone in the station, then come out and turn left and head along the main road. Our final stop is ahead on your right.

Stop 12: Brockley Jack

There has been a hostelry here for some time. For much of the 18th century it was known as “The Crooked Billet”, for much of the 19th century “The Castle”

The London Encyclopaedia says “Brockley remained agricultural until the 19th century, the only building of note being the Brockley Jack formerly a curious, rambling hostelry, reputedly the haunt of highwaymen”.

The pub was rebuilt in 1898 by the brewers Noakes. There are a couple of reminders of Noakes. High up on the left hand side you can see the words “Noakes Entire”.

IMG_1174

“Entire” originally meant a blend of three separate beers, consisting of one third each beer, ale, and strong beer. Initially it was mixed in the bar just before service but later it was mixed at the brewery and shipped out ready to be served..

And by the front door there is a foundation laid by Wickham Noakes.

IMG_1176

Noakes by the way was a local Brewery based in White Grounds, SE1 (which is just off Crucifix Lane close to London Bridge station). Noakes was taken over by Courage in 1930.

When the pub was rebuilt in 1898, it had a function room at the rear. This has been used for various things, such as a dance hall, a snooker room and a music venue. But since the early 90s, it has been used for theatrical performances. It now goes by the name of “The Jack Studio”.

The theatre website says: “In 2017 the Jack Studio the marks twenty three years of creating theatre. It is a vibrant and intimate performance space in south east London, with a long history both within its community and the London-wide theatre scene. We are committed to producing theatre that inspires, challenges and entertains our audience. The theatre is keen to continue its tradition of supporting new companies, providing a space for them to develop their work, alongside the productions created each year by the Jack’s in-house team.”

More info about the theatre and what’s on there at: http://www.brockleyjack.co.uk/

Well we have reached the end of our SE4 tour. Some interesting things along the way in the form of a couple of pubs, a couple of stations, a library and a dance hall.

I should just mention that there is a blue plaque in SE4 for the reporter and crime writer Edgar Wallace who lived at 6 Tressillian Crescent, SE4, but it was just a little too far off the route to include, but you could see it between stops 6 & 7. As you are heading along Wickham road, take a left along Harefield Road and keep going to the end

We are close by Crofton Park station with its pathetic train service, so you might want to jump on a bus back to Brockley or else go on to Forest Hill both of which have much better services.

SE3: Sun, Sand and Postcards on the edge…

Featured

SE3 is Blackheath, which centres on one of London’s suburban villages. It is an area with somewhat more character than the previous postcode, SE2.

We start our walk at Blackheath Post Office in Blackheath Grove. Head out of the Post Office towards the main road and station. The latter, which is over the road, is our first stop.

Stop 1: Blackheath station

The railway arrived in Blackheath in 1849 on a line from Gravesend towards Lewisham and on to London Bridge. The building at street level dates from 1879, but down at platform level are some original buildings.

IMG_0852

It has an odd arrangement in that the main access to the platforms does not go through the ticket hall. There are also no ticket barriers here because there is not really the space, so they just have the free standing Oyster validators.

IMG_0850

The London bound platform did have an adjoining bay platform which could be used for terminating trains from London. It is still here but overgrown and disconnected, now the platform has been extended to take longer trains.

IMG_0846

I have always been puzzled as to the railways in this part of South East London. There are three parallel lines which head out of London Bridge and come together again at Dartford. The northern one runs through Greenwich and Woolwich, the middle one through Bexleyheath and the southern one through Sidcup. But then there is this odd linking line connecting the northern and middle ones between Blackheath with Charlton. Why was this put in? The answer is that this link is the original line – the more direct route through Greenwich was only completed in 1878 and the line through Bexleyheath in 1895 (as we heard in SE2 in connection with William Morris’ travels to and from the Red House).

Now if you are in the station, head out on to the street, turn right and cross the road. Take the first turning on your left, which is Bennett Park

This short street has no less than three blue plaques. The first you come across is at Number 4 on the right. This is for Sir Arthur Eddington (1882-1944) who was a mathematician and astrophysicist. But I am going to skip him and focus on the other two.

Stop 2: Number 5 Bennett Park

This is on the left as you come down the road.

IMG_0859

And there is a blue plaque to graphic artist Donald McGill (1875 – 1962)

IMG_0861

McGill’s name is today synonymous with saucy seaside postcards. He was a naval draughtsman until 1904. An in-law encouraged him to design postcards after seeing an illustrated get-well card he had made for a sick nephew. Within a year it was his full-time occupation. He spent most of his life in the Blackheath area. Not sure how long he was living at 5 Bennett Park.

The cards feature stereotypical images of buxom young women, fat old ladies, drunken and/or lecherous middle aged men, honeymoon couples and vicars. He has been called ‘the king of the saucy postcard’. They are little well drawn masterpieces of social observation with a Music Hall sense of humour.

He did well out of this but even at the height of his fame he only earned three guineas a design, and he did not get anything when the image was continually reproduced.

Strange I do not know why but I kind of thought he was Scottish – probably the name and the sense of humour.

Continue along Bennett Park to the very end which is where our next stop is.

Stop 3: Number 47 Bennett Park

This rather lovely building has the words “Blackheath Arts Club” over the door on the left.

IMG_0863

The Blackheath Art Club was founded here in 1883 to:

“promote social intercourse among gentlemen interested in science, literature, painting and music in Blackheath and the neighbourhood”.

The purpose-built studios at 47 Bennett Park were intended to be commercially self-sustaining and subsidise the building of the art school and conservatoire but this never really worked out. The Art Club had its last exhibition in 1916 and the building was requisitioned by the Government for war use. The Club itself was wound up soon after the First World War.

The building then went through a variety of uses but was taken over in 1933 by the GPO Film Unit. Headed by a man called John Grierson, this Unit was set up to produce sponsored documentary films mainly related to the activities of the Post Office.The unit was a pioneer in making documentary films and had contributions from well known people such as Benjamin Britten, W.H. Auden, E.M. Forster and J.B Priestley.

IMG_0866

The GPO Film Unit became the Crown Film Unit in 1940 with a remit was to make films for the general public in Britain and abroad, basically moral boosting propaganda. This went on to become part of the Central Office of Information.

Today the building has been converted into flats.

Retrace your steps along Bennett Park and turn left at the end. Continue along here until the roundabout where our next stop is on the left.

Stop 4: Blackheath Halls

There are a pair of interesting buildings here. Blackheath Halls was established via a public subscription and built in 1895 by William Webster. The adjoining Conservatoire of Music and the School of Art, which you come to first, were completed in 1896.

IMG_0876

The Hall building has some lovely relief panels.

IMG_0878

IMG_0879

IMG_0897

The venue initially hosted orchestral and choral works with people like Dame Clara Butt and Percy Grainger appearing here.

During the 1980s the Halls were threatened with demolition but were saved with the support of local businesses and the community. After extensive renovation and restoration followed, the Halls reopened in 1991.

Blackheath Halls are now owned by Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. This was formed in 2005 as a merger of two older institutions – Trinity College of Music and Laban Dance Centre.

The Great Hall seats 600 and there is a 160 seat recital room.  The Halls cater for classical and non classical concerts as well as stand-up comedy.

Continue walking past the Halls and turn left down the first street.

Stop 5: Blackheath Park

This is a private street (or rather a group of streets) which the Cator estate.

IMG_0881

IMG_0880

According to architectural guru Pevsner, this area formerly belonged to Wrinklemarsh Manor, owned in the 17th century by Sir John Morden, more of whom anon. The estate passed through various hands until it was purchased in 1783 by a John Cator. He demolished the house and started to develop the land.

The street, Blackheath Park, dates from the early 1800s, and of course no such development would be complete without a church.

IMG_0882

This is St Michael and All Angels and is noticeable because of its very slender spire. The church itself also very slim profile. This was built in the late 1820s..

IMG_0884

IMG_0890

There are some interesting 19th century houses here and also some notable post war 20th century developments which have been fitted in, including a number by a company called Span who built some 13 developments within the Cator estate in the 1950s.

As you return back along Blackheath Park have a look out on the left for number 10 – a modern building which lurks like a stealth bomber in amongst the older stock.

IMG_0891

IMG_0894

This dates from 1968 and is by Patrick Gwynne. Very well done. At once uncompromisingly modern and yet not out of place as it does not shout its presence.

Now retrace your steps and leave the estate, going back past the Halls and the station. Just beyond the station the road splits.

IMG_0902

Take the left hand road. This is the centre of Blackheath Village and very lovely it is too.  This street is called Tranquil Vale which is a superb name, don’t you think? Go past the Crown pub.

IMG_0904

And our next stop is on the left.

Stop 6: Mary Evans Picture Library

This is the Mary Evans Picture Library. It is a private library which specialises in providing pictures for commercial use in books, newspapers, magazines, adverts, web sites and all manner of other media.

IMG_0906

IMG_0907

Mary Evans and her husband Hilary founded the library in 1964. Its core philosophy, unchanged for over 40 years, is “to make available and accessible all the wonderful images created for people to enjoy over the centuries which were originally published in books, on posters, in advertisements, or as prints”. This is not high art but “ordinary” images which display such skill and creativity on the part of the artist, and the style, medium and texture of which defined the era in which they were created.

Sadly this is not somewhere where you can just pop in and browse. But if you want to find out more follow this link: http://www.maryevans.com/about.php?pageName=about1&prv=%27menu%27

Ahead you will see the church of All Saints, our next stop.

Stop 7: All Saints Church

IMG_0915

All Saints Church dates from 1857 – 1867 and Pevsner describes it as “Puginian … already old fashioned.” going on to say “Remarkable for the way in which it is placed right into the heath. Surrounded on all sides by grass, it stands as if it were a model.”. Yes it does look slightly unreal.

But the other unreal thing about this spot is the fact you can see the tops of some of the Canary Wharf towers in the distance.

IMG_0918

There is so much I could cover here about the heath and the village,

IMG_0921

But I want to press on as there are some things a little further afield I would like to get to. However as a result the rest of the walk is a bit spread out.

From the Church follow the edge of the heath, passing by the Clarendon Hotel and the Princess of Wales pub. Keeping the heath to your left, turn along South Row. Note the rather lovely early 18th century building to your right.

 

IMG_0952

With this crest.

IMG_0953

The crest has the motto “Nihil sine labore” which is often translated as “Without work there is nothing”. In other words you have to work for things.

Continue walking along side the heath and our next stop is on your right.

Stop 8: The Paragon

This is at the other end of the Blackheath Park development and is called The Paragon.

IMG_0957

It is a rather grand sweeping crescent overlooking the heath. It was built over a period of years from 1794 to 1807 and is part of the Cator estate.

IMG_0959

IMG_0960

The road is private and guarded by a small lodge at each end. Pevsner says these are post war creations but comments they are “entirely convincing”.

Then just ahead you will see a green space with a gatehouse. That is our next stop, or rather will be, when we get to it.

Stop 9: Morden College

IMG_0961

IMG_0964

So far so uninviting. But look to your left and you will see a sign for a footpath – not any old footpath but the “Sir John Morden Walk, London SE3” no less.

IMG_0966

Go down here because that way you can see the historic building at the heart of the college.

Confusingly Morden College is not an educational establishment and self evidently it is not in the place called Morden..

Their website http://www.mordencollege.org.uk/ explains:

“Sir John Morden, born in 1623, was a merchant, a member of both the Turkey (Levant ) Company, and of the East India Company. From 1669, with his wife, Dame Susan, he lived at Wricklemarsh Manor, Blackheath.”

He founded his College to provide accommodation and support for merchants like himself, but who had fallen on hard times through no fault of their own; were single, either widowers or bachelors; of a minimum age of 50 years, and members of the Church of England.

As you walk along the path the main building appears on your right.

IMG_0971

The original College was built between 1695 and 1700 in the style of Wren: This had 40 apartments around a quadrangle, with a Chapel all of which were set in gracious grounds.

IMG_0976

Since the Second World War more accommodation has been built in Blackheath and also Beckenham, raising the capacity from 40 to 400.

So basically this is rather unusual old people’s home.

Keep walking along the path and you will reach a street. this is Kidbrooke Grove. Cross over tis and keep going down the path which leads you to Kidbrooke Park Road. When you get here turn left and go to the end. This is Shooter Hill Road. Hard to believe this is the A2, the main road to North Kent and Dover.

Turn right here and walk on to our next stop.

Stop 10: The Sun in the Sands pub

This is one of those names which you hear a lot on traffic reports as it is a junction on the A2 and Blackwell Tunnel Southern Approach. You cannot immediately see the latter as it runs below the roundabout in a cutting.

IMG_0977

The junction gets its name from a pub, which you can see on the far side of the road interchange.

IMG_0989

This is an unusual pub name and the Dictionary of Pub Names says the name comes from the sight of the setting sun amidst dust, kicked up by sheep herded by drovers from Kent travelling towards London. However Greenwich Council says in its “Sun in the Sands Conservation Area Character Appraisal (Adopted 26 September 2007)” that “The name “Sun in the Sands” refers to the sand pits formerly around the pub.”

This document also says: “A building on this site appears on Rocque’s 1745 map, and this appears on Hasted’s Plan in his 1778 History of Kent. The first reference to a public house appears in the 1790s rate books, the ‘Sun Ale House’ is recorded as such in 1812. This building seems to be the  same as that illustrated in the 1830 watercolour reproduced above on the front page. The present Sun in the Sands Public House is said to date from 1842 – and is believed to have been substantially rebuilt at the end of the 19th century. However comparison of the photos below of the present building with the 1830 drawing shows that the pub retains the same form – wide gable ends and 5 bay width which were there and already ‘old’ in 1830. This suggests that, whilst no doubt much altered and rebuilt, the building frame predates the 1840s and is likely to be substantially the 18th century one seen in the 1830s watercolour.”

So it has a bit of history.

Sad it looks like this, with the Blackwall Tunnel southern approach thundering under the roundabout.

IMG_0987

Now go over to the far side of the roundabout on the other side of the Blackwall Tunnel southern approach road from the Sun in the Sands pub. You will see a pathway which parallels the main road go along this. This leads to a road which you should follow. Take a left at the end (which is Old Dover Road). Go along here through a small shopping area and past a library. Our next stop is just before the end on the left.

Stop 11: site of an old cinema, Old Dover Road

Hard to see now but this M & S Food store is on the site of an old cinema

IMG_1002

The cinema was originally called the Roxy and opened in 1935. The newly built cinema building was taken over by Associated British Cinemas(ABC). According to the wonderful Cinema Treasures site “it was not designed by their usual in-house architect W.R. Glen, but by noted theatre architect Bertie Crewe”. It was closed by war-time damage and only reopened in January 1947. It was renamed ABC in 1963 and survived as a cinema until February 1974.

The cinema was demolished in the spring of 1981 and a rather uninspired supermarket structure was built on the site. Not sure what it was when it opened but it is now an M & S.

Go to the end of the road and ahead you will see a green. Cross over to the other side of the green and our final stop is straight ahead.

Stop 12: Pegga Stores, Number 188 Westcombe Hill

This is an old fashioned survivor of a shop. It is called Pegga Stores and sells greeting cards and small gifts

IMG_1012

For 45 years this was the domain of Peggy Hawkes – and Londonist told the story in a great article about the shop in 2016.

http://londonist.com/2016/01/pegga

She had started working at the local newsagents/stationers for an elderly couple, the Munns. Her son, Andrew, cannot be sure 188 Westcombe Hill has been a stationer’s since it was built but he does know the Munns had it for 50 years before they retired, a year or so into Peggy’s employment.

“She was horrified to think she’d lose her job,” says Andrew. “So the family got together and bought the shop.”

For local people Peggy’s passing in December 2015 brought a mixture of sadness, disbelief — she was an institution no one imagined could die — and fear.

“Everyone’s been asking ‘are you going to sell the shop; are you going to change it?’ We’re not. We love it,” says Andrew. “But we will clean.”

“People try to buy the shop all the time,” says Andrew. “We get notes shoved under the door (there’s no letterbox) and people even come in. Mum used to send them away with a flea in their ear.

“Me and Angie are going to give this a go.” Angela Wing worked with Peggy for many years and also has no intention of changing anything.

IMG_1013

IMG_1014

The question which does remain unanswered is why is it called Pegga store and not Peggy? Even her son does not the answer to that one.

So we have now reached the end of our SE3 walk. We have seen quite a bit of one of London’s lovely suburban villages with some interesting historic connections, including a college which is not a college and a church which looks like a model.

We are a bit of a way from a station here but you can get buses 54, 108 or 202 back to Blackheath station or else you have buses 108, 286 or 422 to Westcombe Park station

SE2: Knee hill-ism

Featured

SE2 is Abbey Wood. This postcode is actually the furthest east of the London postcodes. The area cannot be said to have much of interest and this is somewhat of a contrast to the previous postcode SE1. But as ever we will find enough to entertain ourselves.

We start our walk at Abbey Wood Post Office, 90 Abbey Wood Road, which is in the heart of what is called “Abbey Wood Village”

Stop 1: Abbey Wood Village

IMG_0826

Sadly the reality is a little disappointing. This is not some quaint historic village but a short street of rather nondescript shops. Perhaps the only points worth commenting on is that there seem to be no charity shops and only one empty one. However the selection of shops is somewhat pedestrian.

IMG_0831

Then there is a dull looking pub – the Abbey Arms – at the end.

IMG_0834

There really is not much to detain us in this “village”. Just beyond the pub is our next stop.

Stop 2: Abbey Wood Station

Abbey Wood railway station was opened in 1849, although there is nothing left to suggest that there was an old station here. It is being rebuilt and will be the end of one of the branches of Crossrail. The new station is emerging and will look quite impressive – it certainly will stand out in this otherwise dull area.

IMG_0720

IMG_0840

There will be two pairs of platforms by the look of it. On the south side will be the Southeatern services and on the north side will be the new Crossrail services.

IMG_0719

IMG_0715

IMG_0710

IMG_0842

It does not look like they have arranged things so there could be a cross platform interchange with Crossrail. This maybe could have been done if Crossrail lines had been placed in the middle. Thus terminating Crossrail trains could have had a cross platform connection with the Kent bound trains and then they could head out and reverse and go back west from the platform adjacent to the London bound Southeastern services. And if they ever extend Cross rail services into Kent that arrangement would make life easier.

Now retrace you steps back through the “village” and turn left by the Post Office and go under the flyover. This is called Abbey Road and goes under a road called Harrow Manorway.

Stop 3: Harrow Manorway

I pause here because this massive flyover and car park beneath seems quite out of keeping with the area.

IMG_0723

The flyover carries a road called Harrow Manorway and was built in the 1960s to replace a level crossing when nearby Thamesmead was being developed. Here is a view from above, should you be interested. It feels like it should have been part of a bigger road scheme but it just ends here in Abbey Wood.

IMG_0779

Keep walking along Abbey Road. We are heading for Lesnes Abbey.  Lesnes Abbey of course is how the Abbey part of Abbey Wood came about.

Ignore the sign pointing to Lesnes Abbey which sends you up New Road. Instead keep going and you will an open space on you left. Ahead is a concrete bridge over the road. This carries the Green Chain walk – a linked system of open spaces between the River Thames and Crystal Palace Park in South East London.

IMG_0729

It is here you should leave Abbey Road, by climbing the steps and onto the path leading to our next stop.

Stop 4: Lesnes Abbey

This open space contains the ruins of a 12th century Abbey – the Abbey of St Mary and St Thomas the Martyr founded in 1178 by Richard de Luci (or Lucy)

IMG_0736

IMG_0766

According to Bexley Council’s website: “De Luci, who had supported Henry II in his dispute with Thomas Becket, which ended with Becket’s murder in Canterbury Cathedral in 1170, probably founded [the Abbey] as an act of penance.”

“Lesnes was not a large or wealthy foundation. Throughout much of its existence, the abbey was in financial difficulties. This was partly caused by the expense of maintaining the river walls and draining the marshes along the banks of the Thames. This reclamation helped transform the land from unusable marsh to valuable pasture. Nevertheless, the abbey gradually built up debts and through the fourteenth century its buildings fell into neglect.”

It never became a large community, and was closed by Cardinal Wolsey in 1525, under a licence to suppress monasteries of less than seven inmates. Lesnes, with only an abbot and five canons, became one of the first monasteries to be suppressed in England. Most of the monastic buildings were pulled down soon after the dissolution, Henry Cooke, who acquired the site in 1541, retained the Abbot’s Lodging for the manor of Lesnes.

It eventually passed to Sir John Hippersley who having salvaged building materials, sold the property to Thomas Hawes of London in 1632. It was then bequeathed to Christ’s Hospital in 1633. They kept it until 1930, when the London County Council purchased it. In 1931 Lesnes Abbey was opened to the public as a park. Ownership transferred to the London Borough of Bexley in 1986.

More info at: http://www.bexley.gov.uk/article/3907/Lesnes-Abbey-ruins

There are a few things to explore here.

Go up to the left and you will see an old Mulberry Tree.

IMG_0735

The sign says this was part of a failed attempt during the reign of King James I in the early 17th century to create home grown silk.

IMG_0734

And beyond that is a viewing area.

IMG_0750

There are plans to provide signage about the park’s history and the landscape beyond and  there is going to be what is called “interpretive abbey windows” to “help to help frame to views across Thamesmead, Woolwich, Dagenham and all the way to central and south east London.” There are just the stubs where the “window” will stand but in the distance you can just about make out the towers of Canary Wharf.

IMG_0756

In the woods behind, there is a “fossil wood” with a rather splendid carved beast of some kind.

IMG_0759

A bit of investigating suggests this is a “Coryphodon” (there is more info about this kind of prehistoric beast on wikipedia if you are interested!  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coryphodon )

IMG_0763

I could not see any actual fossils (but maybe I was not looking properly) but they did have some plaques which indications of the kind of fossils I guess were found hereabouts.

IMG_0760

It seems you are sort of free to go rummaging round here to look for fossils – subject to certain rules:

http://www.bexley.gov.uk/article/3912/Fossil-bed

Return back to the ruins, which are worth a little wander round. Within the ruins are some signs to indicate what the various areas were used for.

IMG_0737

IMG_0739

Bexley’s website says: “Rosesia was the great granddaughter of Sir Richard de Lucy, and as a young girl she was raised at Lesnes Abbey… She eventually married and moved away, becoming Roesia de Dover. However, when she died her heart was buried at Lesnes Abbey as a relic to be prayed for in order to speed the passage of her soul through purgatory.”

Beyond the main ruins is an enclosed area which is called the Monk’s Garden, which is being developed with plants typical of when this was a religious establishment.

IMG_0744

Now head off towards the new structure with the green roof, which was shut up on my visit but is supposedly a visitor centre of some kind.

IMG_0768

Keeping this building to your right leave the open space and turn right into New Road. Go down New Road to the end and turn left back along Abbey Road. Just before the flyover, turn left into Manorside Close and go along the little path head which takes you up to the roundabout where Harrow Manorway meets Knee Hill, which is our next stop.

Stop 5: Knee Hill

Head up the street called Knee Hill but look out over the open space to your left,

IMG_0780

You will see a stone plaque (almost opposite the end of Federation Road)

IMG_0788

This commemorates a connection with William Morris who lived at the nearby Red House, in Bexleyheath from its completion in 1860 until 1865. Morris regularly walked to Abbey Wood station. He also used a decorated wagon to  travel between Abbey Wood station and Red House, Bexleyheath. Clearly this area was then poorly served by train. In fact the line through Bexleyheath (which today provides a nearer station to Red House) only opened in 1895.

IMG_0787

By the way “Si je puis” (If I can, in English) was Morris’s motto and can be found in a tile in the porch at Red House.

This, it seems, is the nearest Abbey Wood can get to a blue plaque – and it is not even blue and it only commemorates that someone famous passed by!

Now the name of this place brought to mind that it sounded like it might have something to do with nihilism. In philosophy nihilism is: “the belief that nothing in the world has a real existence.”. Perhaps this is kind of fitting for SE2 which is a kind of uninspiring non-place where the only thing which is deemed worth remembering is something so fleeting that it hardly had any real existence.

Now back in the “real” world, take a right into Federation Road.

Stop 6: Caravan Club

Just along here on the left is a surprising sight – a camping and caravan site which is owned and operated by The Caravan Club.

IMG_0791

The Club was founded in 1907 as The Caravan Club of Great Britain and Ireland. Its aim was to “… bring together those interested in van life as a pastime…to improve and supply suitable vans and other appliances…to develop the pastime by collecting, publishing and supplying to members, books and periodicals and lists of camp sites etc… to arrange camping grounds.” Now known simply as the Caravan Club it runs some 200 sites of which this is one of two in Greater London.

Just seems kind of odd to find a place like this here.

Now keep walking along Federation Road

Stop 7: Co-op Estate

The houses here were developed by the Royal Arsenal Co-operative Society (RACS). They owned two farms in the vicinity of Abbey Wood and created the Bostall Estate between 1900 and 1930. The housing is largely traditional terraced houses in yellow London brick, with gardens to the front and rear. This was apparently also known locally as “The Co-op Estate”

The streets are named after Co-operative themes (Alexander McLeod was the first secretary of the RACS, Rochdale was location of the first modern Co-op, Robert Owen is regarded as the father of the Co-operative movement, plus there are streets called Commonwealth, Congress, Conference and Federation). There were some shops but no public houses to tempt the good people of the estate.

IMG_0789

IMG_0821

IMG_0796

By the way I gather snooker champion Steve Davis lived in Commonwealth Way (don’t know exactly where) and went to Alexander McLeod Primary School and Abbey Wood Secondary School.

In the late 1950s the London County Council built the Abbey Estate starting with one road south of the railway and later extending on the northern side on former RACS marshland. The later in the mid-1960s the Greater London Council began building the first phase of Thamesmead on more ex-RACS land, north-east of Abbey Wood station. But that is now in SE28, so we will have to save that for a future date.

Now take a right down Shieldhall Street and ahead on the other side of McLeod Road is our next stop.

Stop 8: Greening Street Green

My eye was drawn to the open space ahead which is known as Greening Street Green.

IMG_0804

IMG_0807

It is a sad space imprisoned in a high wire mesh fence. Not at all inviting. It is almost as if the Council want to stop people using this. No doubt in the past it seemed a good idea to have this high fence stop balls escaping and dogs entering. But it really could be done better.

At the end of Shieldhall Street, I found our next stop.

Stop 9: Numbers 71 – 81 Abbey Wood Road

Facing on to Shieldhall Street and Greening Street are six terraced houses with names. They have the delusion of grandeur in that they are all “villas” despite being quite modest terraced houses.

IMG_0817

Starting on the left there is Stanley and Eric.

IMG_0808

And then there is Marie and Jessamine.

IMG_0809

And finally Hyacinth and Myrtle.

IMG_0813

Presumably these were relatives (or maybe friends) of the developer or builder. These people may have been so proud or honoured to have a house named after them. Their names live on it over the doorways of these six houses but who they were and why their names were chosen is I guess lost in the mists of time.

Walk along Abbey Wood Road as if you had done a right out of Shieldhall Street. Our next stop is ahead on the left

Stop 10: St Michael and All Angels Church

Architectural expert Pevsner normally so effusive in the description of churches simply mentions the existence of this one.

IMG_0820

IMG_0822

St. Michael and All Angels Parish Church opened in a temporary building in 1905. The permanent church, designed by well known church architect Sir Arthur Blomfield, was consecrated in 1908, and the original building became the church hall, which can be seen at the western end of the church…

Unusually for a church of this period the foundation stone is modest in the extreme.

IMG_0824

It does not even have a name, just saying “To the Glory of God June 15 1907”.

So that brings us to the end of our SE2 walk – well sort of.

Postscript

There is one thing which is really worth a visit in SE2 but it is a little too far to go to. That is the Crossness Pumping Station – a piece of wonderful Victorian engineering which was a key part of the sewage system created by Sir Joseph Bazelgette (1819 – 1891) in the 1860s.

Crossness is at the eastern end of the Southern Outfall Sewer and the facility included storage tanks and an engine to pump out the sewage on the falling tide.

IMG_0773

The Beam Engine House is a Grade 1 Listed Industrial Building constructed in the Romanesque style and features some spectacular ornamental Victorian cast ironwork. Today the Engine House is open for visits but the times are limited. See attached link:

http://www.crossness.org.uk/visit.html

A word of warning – according to TfL Journey Planner, the nearest bus stop to the Crossness site is some 28 minutes walk away. So probably best to use your own transport if you want to visit.

Well that really brings us to the end of our SE2 walk. Not the most inspiring postcode but even so it had the remains of a medieval abbey and a reminder that William Morris passed through here on the way to his house.

Assuming you did not go to Crossness you will see that you are virtually back to Abbey Wood station for onward travel.

 

 

 

SE1: All the World’s a Stage

Featured

SE1 is Waterloo, London Bridge, Bankside and Borough. There is so much here and like so many of the central postcodes I can only offer a small selection. I am going to focus on the part I know best – the bit west from London Bridge to Bankside, as this is where I worked for 8 years.

We start our walk at London Bridge Post Office, which is at 19a Borough High Street, just by the big railway bridge. Turn right out of the Post Office and then take the first right which is called London Bridge Street. Our first stop is up ahead.

Stop 1: London Bridge Station

This station is currently being completely rebuilt and so is in a state of flux. When it is finished in 2018, it will be very smart and modern, as can be seen from what has been done so far. Go in the station and work your way down to the lower level.

 

WP_20161220_14_03_51_Pro

Hard to see now but this is one of the most historic railway sites in London. This was the terminus of the first passenger railway in central London – opened by the London and Greenwich Railway in December 1836. The story of this station is hugely complex but here is a bit of the tale.

Prior to completion, the London and Greenwich Railway had entered into an agreement with the proposed London and Croydon Railway. This allowed the Croydon company to use the Greenwich tracks from Bermondsey, and to share its terminal station. The Greenwich railway could not afford to build a sufficiently large station for the traffic for both companies because it had underestimated the cost of building the viaducts which carried most of its line. So in July 1836 it sold some land adjacent to its station site to the Croydon railway to build their own independent station. This was inconveniently on the north side of the Greenwich station which meant the two companies’ trains had to cross each other.

WP_20161220_14_01_22_Pro

Parliament decided that the London and Greenwich route should be the entry point for services serving south east England and so two more companies started to use the station and approach tracks – the London and Brighton Railway in 1841 and the South Eastern Railway (running to Dover via Redhill and Tonbridge) in 1842.

With all this traffic the two tracks into the station were inadequate and so in the early 1840s the line was widened to four tracks. It was at this point the London and Greenwich swapped its station with the London and Croydon and so the conflict down the line was solved.

The Croydon and Brighton companies merged to form the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway in 1846 and the South Eastern took over the London and Greenwich Railway in 1847. And these two companies ran their stations side by side but independently.

In 1864 the South Eastern extended their line to Charing Cross and a couple of years later to Cannon Street. The two halves of the station stayed separate until the creation of the Southern Railway in 1923.

London Bridge was badly damaged in 1940/1941. It was patched up and then there was a comprehensive redevelopment in the 1970s. But the two distinct stations could still be discerned. It was only finally with the Thameslink upgrade project that there was finally a chance to do a proper rebuild of the station.

The station is being rebuilt from one with 6 through platforms and 9 terminating ones to one with 9 through platforms and 6 terminating ones. And as part of this a new viaduct has been built over Borough Market to provide extra tracks to the west and to the east the tracks are being reordered so the Thameslink trains can reach the Brighton line without having to cross Kent trains on the level.

WP_20161220_13_59_44_Pro

One of the features is the opening out of the brick arches underneath the station. This was started with the opening of the Jubilee line extension here and the consequent rebuilding of the underground station in the late 1990s.

WP_20161220_13_59_04_Pro

But now an even bigger area has been created for the national rail station for a street level concourse linked to all the platforms by escalators. It is impressive now and it is only half open.

WP_20161220_13_56_14_Pro

At last London Bridge is getting the station it deserves

Now from this new concourse, go out into St Thomas’s Street and turn right. Our next stop is across the road on the left.

Stop 2: Guy’s Hospital

This is a surprising sight – a lovely courtyard. This was built in stages through the 18th century for Guy’s Hospital.

WP_20161220_13_35_34_Pro

To the right is a Chapel. Do go in if it is open.

WP_20161220_13_36_13_Pro

This dates from the 1770s and architectural commentator Pevsner describes it as “a unique survival”.

WP_20161220_13_36_51_Pro

Now look at the back wall and you will see this statue.

WP_20161220_13_37_13_Pro

This is the guy himself. Strange to think there was a man called Guy – Thomas Guy actually, and he founded the hospital.

WP_20161220_13_37_23_Pro

What I had not appreciated was that Thomas Guy set up his hospital opposite St Thomas’ Hospital to relieve overcrowding of the latter. St Thomas’ can trace its origins back to the 12th century and only Barts can claim an older heritage.

But when the South Eastern Railway extended their lines westwards, this was very disruptive and St Thomas’ moved in the late 1860s to its present site by Westminster Bridge. However since 1993 the two hospitals have come under the same NHS trust

There is one other things to spot here. Look just to the left of the Guy statue at this brass plaque.

WP_20161220_13_37_54_Pro

This commemorates four times Prime Minister, William Ewart Gladstone’s connection with the hospital. Despite his other responsibilities he seems to have found time to be a Governor of the Hospital for 63 years – presumably this did not entail much.

Now head out of the Chapel and go though the main archway. This leads to a colonnade with an enclosed courtyard either side.

WP_20161220_13_40_58_Pro

On the left is an odd stone shelter with the statue of a man sitting inside.

WP_20161220_13_41_36_Pro

The stone structure is an alcove which came from the 18th century London Bridge which was removed when the bridge was widened in the early 1900s. And the person is the poet John Keats (1795 -1821) – he was a student at Guy’s in 1815/1816.

If you keep going you reach a peaceful open space. Or at least it is peaceful when there are no medical students are around.

WP_20161220_13_42_57_Pro

Now retrace you steps back to St Thomas’s Street, not forgetting to look up to your right, where you will see the Shard towering about the Guy’s Hospital Tower, which looks so clunky (and short) against the Shard. The 34 floor Guy’s Tower was apparently the tallest hospital building in the world from when it was built in 1974 until it was overtaken in 2010 by one in Houston, Texas.

WP_20161220_13_35_55_Pro

Turn left into St Thomas’s Street and you will pass a couple of things of interest on your way to the next stop. On the left is a blue plaque, to John Keats and his friend Henry Stephens who lodged here whilst studying.

IMG_0704

We have come across these two before – Keats when in Lower Edmonton, N9 where he lived before becoming a student here and Henry Stephens when in N3 – he is the ink man.

Then on your right is a church like looking building which now houses the Old Operating theatre Museum and Herb Garret,

IMG_0705

IMG_0706

This is a museum of surgical history and is one of the oldest surviving operating theatres, dating from 1822. It is housed in what was once the attic (or garret) of St Thomas’s Church. This it seems was part of the original site of St Thomas’ Hospital. The garret was created when the church was rebuilt in the late 18th century. It was described as “the herb garret” in 1821 and it seems likely this was because it was used by the apothecary of St Thomas’ hospital to store medicinal herbs.

At the end of St Thomas’s Street turn left. Our next stop is across the road.

Stop 3: Borough Market

Borough Market claims to go back to the 11th century but it has been on this site since around the middle of the 18th century. The main market building are mid 19th century although there is this 1932 entrance which Pevsner describes as “mediocre”.

IMG_0699

IMG_0692

Although today the market is largely a retail one, for most of the 20th century it was really a wholesale market like Covent Garden. One of the things which allowed it to reinvent itself as today’s go to place for food was the fact that the Market is not controlled by central or local Government body but a board of trustees drawn from the locality. This meant it could adopt a policy of allowing only food related businesses and could prevent chains from invading. Thus it has a unique atmosphere, whereas Covent Garden and now Spitalfields have lost much of their special charm. There are one or two non food shops on the fringes but I believe these are in buildings not controlled by Borough Market Trustees.

Keep walking along Borough High Street. Our next stop is on the left.

Stop 4: The George Inn

The George is in a courtyard and the remaining part of a galleried coaching inn. The buildings on the right date from the late 17th century – the Inn had to be rebuilt after the Great Fire of Southwark in 1676. A large chunk of it was lost in the 1880s when the then owners, the Great Northern Railway, demolished the central and northern wings .

IMG_0685

IMG_0687

Nevertheless what is left is lovely and one can see how the theatres of Shakespeare’s time evolved from this. This pub is actually owned by the National Trust but is leased out and operates as a normal pub. Do go in for a drink!

IMG_0688

Now return to Borough high Street and turn left. You will note there are various alleys and courtyards off the main road which would have housed other inns, including the Tabard. The Tabard is mentioned in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales which are the stories of a group of pilgrims as they travel to visit the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral. This is a contest and the prize is a free meal at the Tabard Inn at Southwark on their return. The old Inn was lost in the Great Fire and its successor demolished in the 1870s.

Ahead you will see St George;s Church, borough ahead. Sadly we do not have time to venture down there, as we will be taking the first street on the right, Union Street.

IMG_0677

Having turned into Union Street, continue down here. Just before a crossroads you will discover a little open space on your right. This is our next stop.

Stop 5: Crossbones Garden

This piece of land was once a burial ground – thought to be for those who could not be buried in consecrated ground, such as the local prostitutes. It was closed in 1853 and eventually the site was built over. Then when the Jubilee line extension was built in the 1990s, the site was used in part for an electricity sub station. As a result excavations took place and almost 150 graves form the first part of the 19th century were discovered.

IMG_0665

Transport for London still own the site and its future is unclear. A local volunteer group, Friends of Cross Bones, is campaigning for a permanent memorial gardens. But in the meantime, the garden is open between 12 noon and 2pm Monday to Friday and a vigil is held on the 23rd of every month to honour the outcast, dead and alive.

More about Crossbones Gardens at: http://crossbones.org.uk/

Now as you turn to leave, you can appreciate better the wooden shelter which has been consructed over the entrance way.

IMG_0673

And just on the left as you leave do have a look at this great sculpture.

IMG_0675

The figure on the left represents the Bishop of Winchester under whose jurisdiction this area fell for many hundreds of years. He is in fact a kind of a gargoyle and when it rains the water from the roof above flows through his mouth and on to the other part of the sculpture, which is a bird. In fact it is a goose, symbolic of the local prostitutes who plied their trade around here and who were known as Winchester Geese. They were able to work here as it was outside the City of London and indeed the Bishop of Winchester at one point actually licensed them.

There is one bit of the space which is best seen from the other side of the boundary. So go out of the garden and turn right and then right again, into Redcross Way. you will see various City buildings poking their heads up over the railway.

IMG_0658

On the right you will see a gateway festooned with ribbons.

IMG_0660

And look though the gate.

IMG_0661

Continue along Redcross Way towards the railway bridge. At the bridge Southwark Street crosses. Take a left here and our next stop is just ahead on the left.

Stop 6: Menier Chocolate Factory

IMG_0646

This was built as the British outpost of a French chocolate company between 1865 and 1874.

IMG_0650

By the 1980s, the building had become disused. But it was reborn in 2004 when it reopened as a small studio theatre, an art gallery and a restaurant.

Today it runs an eclectic programme of plays and musicals, and it has had a number of successes in getting its productions transferred – most recently its revival of the musical Funny girl with Sheridan Smith.

Now return along Southwark Street and turn left just before the railway bridge.

Stop 7: Cromwell Buildings

Our next stop is soon on the left.

IMG_0637

This is Cromwell Buildings, an early social housing development dating from 1864. It was put up by the Improved Industrial Dwellings Company, founded by Sir Sydney Waterlow whose statue we saw in Highgate

IMG_0641

Keep straight on and follow the road round to your left

Stop 8: Site of the Anchor Brewery

The site ahead and to your left is a surprisingly low scale housing development, dating from the 1980s.. There are a few little plaques along the way. First at the corner of Maiden Lane is one which commemorates a roman connection

IMG_0633

Then as you go along Park Street and find one which celebrates an obscure “international incident”.

IMG_0630

And finally as we follow the development round to the left

IMG_0629

Here we get the story of what was actually on this site – it was the Anchor Brewery. Note the name Thrale. For much of the 18th century, the brewery was in the hands of two members of the family Ralph, then his son, Thomas. It was Thomas and his wife Hester who were great friends with Samuel Johnson, as we heard when we were in SW16.

On Thomas’ death in 1781, the brewery was sold to Barclay Perkins and Co who operated it until 1955 when they were bought out by Courage. Brewing finally ceased here in 1982.

If you carry on walking down Park Street, have a look back and you get a nice view of the Shard.

IMG_0626

Our next stop is a little further along Park Street, on your left just before the overbridge.

Stop 9: Site of Globe and Rose Theatres

You will see a relief plaque commemorating the site of the original Globe theatre.

IMG_0619

And behind this is a little viewing platform up some steps.

IMG_0620

IMG_0621

IMG_0623

This was the site of the original Globe theatre which was built in 1599 by Shakespeare’s playing company, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men. It burnt down in June 1613. A new theatre was up and running within a year and that carried on until it was closed down by the puritans in 1642.

The site was built over and today much is below a listed terrace from the 18th century but a fragment was uncovered in the 1980s when the area was being redeveloped.

But this is not the only place where there are remains of a Shakespearean theatre.

Go under the bridge and there is a doorway on the right. This leads to the remains of the Rose Theatre.

IMG_0615

IMG_0617

This predates the Globe and was the first theatre here. It was discovered when the office building on the site was demolished. There was such an outcry when it was discovered that the Rose Theatre was here and would be destroyed. So the solution was to build the new building over the remains. And there is a Trust looking after the remains – more info here: http://www.roseplayhouse.org.uk/

According to their website, around two thirds of the original foundations have been excavated and protected for future generations to experience. The Rose Theatre Trust is now engaged in raising funds to excavate the remaining third and to make the site a permanent display as an educational and historical resource for the public to learn from and enjoy.

In the meantime you can visit (on Saturdays only I believe) and there are also theatrical productions you can see there.

Now keep walking and turn right down New Globe Walk and our next stop is right here on the left.

Stop 10: Globe Theatre

IMG_0582

This is the replica of the Globe theatre. American actor and director Sam Wanamaker (1919 – 1993) is credited with the idea of building a replica. It is apparently quite realistic, though it only accommodates 1400, less than half the original. But then that is modern day safety considerations for you,. Sadly Wanamaker did not live to see the playhouse open in 1997.

Beyond the chimney of the old Bankside Power station, which is now Tate Modern, more of which anon.

IMG_0586

But there is also another neighbour which is peeking up ahead. This is a new residential tower called One Blackfriars.

IMG_0584

Our next stop is just a little further along the river.

Stop 11: Cardinal Wharf

This range of buildings is dates from the early 18th century and includes a building called Cardinal’s Wharf.

IMG_0590

IMG_0592

Look at the plaque.

IMG_0596

Now that is a compelling story. It even seems to be borne out by the fact that if you look round you get a great view of St Paul’s across the river.

IMG_0597

The trouble is that this plaque does not actually belong to this house. It seems it was moved here in the 1940s when the original house it adorned was demolished. that was a bit further along the river near the Founder’s Arms pub apparently.

Here is a link which explains: https://memoirsofametrogirl.com/2013/12/18/cardinals-wharf-bankside-history-survivor-of-early-18th-century-the-globe-tate-modern/

Before we leave here, just take a look by the river and you will see a quotation on the riverwall. It starts boldly “Men’s evil manners live in brass”…

IMG_0600

Then continues rather more faintly “Their virtues we write in water”

IMG_0601

This it seems is a quote from Shakespeare’s play Henry VIII

IMG_0604

Now continue walking along the riverside and our next stop is just on the left past the Millennium Bridge (which I am ignoring)

Stop 12: Tate Modern

Tate Modern opened here in the former Bankside Power station in 2000 and kickstarted the regeneration of this part of the South Bank.

Over time, Tate had become the guardians of two national art collections: British Art and International Modern Art. Taking over this space allowed Tate to split its permanent collections between two sites and give them more space.

The power station has closed in the 1980s and the disused hulk proved perfect for being reincarnated as a modern art gallery. It has been hugely successful and in June 2016 an extension was added expanding the floor space by some 60%.

WP_20160612_17_07_14_Pro

Since the new extension opened, Tate Modern has had a wonderful (and free) viewing terrace at Level 10 from which you can look out in all directions. Even if you do not like Modern Art do go in to go up to this terrace.

The view to the east is dominated by the Shard, with the Guy’s Hospital tower in its shadow..

WP_20160612_18_33_18_Pro

The going round anti-clockwise, you get a great view of the City from the corner.

WP_20160612_18_36_10_Pro

Then straight over the original Bankside Power Station, you see the Millennium Bridge and St Paul’s beyond. This is course is not a protected view of St Paul’s and it shows.

WP_20160612_18_38_08_Pro

The going round you can look west over the two bridges at Blackfriars – first the railway bridge, with its distinctive solar panel roof to the station which spans the bridge and then the road bridge.

WP_20160612_18_35_49_Pro

And finally walk round to the back. It is at this point you can just see parts of the Palace of Westminster (although I neglected to take a photo of that) And you can look into the nearby Neo development of apartment blocks, which have floor to ceiling windows. They look like show homes and seem unlikely to be the kind of places where anyone lives as their main home.

WP_20160612_18_45_30_Pro

Beyond you can see the yellow and grey flecked Palestra, which is opposite Southwark tube.This was a speculative office block designed by Will Alsop Architects. Palestra was an ancient Greek wrestling school, so perhaps it is fitting a building with this name now houses Transport for London staff who are responsible for the scrum that is London’s rush hour. In the distance you can see the distinctive shape of the new residential tower at Vauxhall.

In the summer of 2016 I joined the group of volunteers who give guided tours at Tate Modern, so if you time it right you can come on a tour with me (for free). Have a look at the “Come on one of my walks” tab for info on when I am next doing a Tate tour.

We are now at the end of our SE1 walk. There is so much we could have seen, but I thought I would stay mainly back from the river to point out a few things like Crossbones Gardens, Cromwell Building and the site of the Anchor Brewery which you might not have come across.

If you go back to the river, you will see Blackfriars mainline station to your left running across the river. But if you want the tube then follow the orange lamp posts from the landward side of the building and they will take you to Southwark tube station.

E20: The Games the thing

Featured

E20 is London’s newest postcode. It is basically the Olympic park and was carved out of E15. Here is a press notice from Royal Mail explaining its creation:

http://www.royalmail.com/sites/default/files/docs/pdf/Olympics_statement_for_pafnewsc.pdf

And one might add this postcode has the distinction of being the only one where almost everything is 21st century.

So far there is no post office in E20 so we will begin our journey where many people will. That is Stratford Station. I suggest you go out on the “town” side of the station so you can then do a U turn and go back over the railway on the large pedestrian bridge.

IMG_0356

Stop 1: Westfield Stratford shopping centre

The centre opened on 13 September 2011. According to Wikipedia, it is the third- argest shopping centre in the United Kingdom by retail space behind the MetroCentre and the Trafford Centre. But taking the surrounding shopping area into account, it is the largest urban shopping centre in the European Union in terms of size.

Now one of the features of 21st Century shopping developments are these outdoor/indoor streets. This runs to the left of the main Mall and I suggest you go along here.

IMG_0358

IMG_0362

The reason is that you get some views if you look down to the left. First there is the ArcelorMittal Orbit which we shall get to at the end.

IMG_0360

And just a little further on, you can see the former Olympic Stadium.

IMG_0366

Now head on into the Mall itself and you will see that unusually it has three levels of shops.

IMG_0372

I have to say though I think the Westfield at Shepherds Bush is nicer. It just feels more spacious and has a better layout with the large open area in the middle with the food offering.

The anchor stores at Stratford are M & S (at the “town” end) and John Lewis (at the “far” end). Given the size of the place, Debenhams or House of Fraser are conspicuous by their absence. Maybe this was the price of getting John Lewis here.

It is worth a detour into the John Lewis store because you can get a view out over the Olympic Park. First go to the second floor – to the side directly opposite where you came in..

IMG_0375

There is also an equivalent area with a view on the third floor, although the dedicated viewing area does not seem to be open. The sign says this is for a private function.

IMG_0387

But if you go to the side of this, you can peek in.

IMG_0381

And discover that the shop is using the area as a dumping ground! Not quite what you expect at John Lewis.

But you can look through the window at the view. The pattern on the window makes for a pretty picture.

IMG_0385

Now exit the shopping mall, and go down the steps.

IMG_0391

Just ahead is our next stop.

Stop 2: Stratford International station

Now here’s a funny thing. this station is called Stratford International to differentiate it from the main station which is simply called Stratford. You would think that the “international” tag might mean you could get a train going to foreign parts, especially as the Eurostar trains pass through here. But no. Although this station was designed to allow international trains to stop, they never ever have, and there seems no prospect of them ever doing so. So the station name is a little misleading to say the least.

In fact there are two stations here.

IMG_9448

One is served by the Southeastern High Speed trains running from St Pancras International to destinations in Kent.

IMG_9451

This has a large airy concourse and is the first you get to from the Westfield shopping mall.

IMG_0247

It is much bigger than it needs to be and part of the reason for this is that it was supposed to have more services, in particular international ones. Indeed you can see a whole section which has never been used by the public, which I guess would be where the international passengers might have gone through.

IMG_0241

And downstairs there are platforms which are not used at all.

At the end of the concourse furthest from the shopping centre is a little plaque to remind us of what was here before.

IMG_0246

This reads: Stratford Depot was here from 1839 to 2006 when it was the largest traincrew depot in Europe. The Eastern Counties and Great Eastern Railways built engines and trains on this site. The world record for the fastest build of a steam engine is still held by the Old Stratford Works, part of the Depot, and stands at 9hr 47min. This plaque commemorates the thousands of railway workers who worked at Stratford Depot.”

And there is a logo of High Speed 1, which is another name for the Channel Tunnel Rail link. But sadly there is nothing left of the actual works today.

Then just beyond, there is the Docklands Light Railway station which is a much simpler affair, without an enclosed concourse..

IMG_0234

And you can look down to the tracks below.

IMG_0233

Now do a bit of a U turn and have a look at the building going up at the corner.

Stop 3: Manhattan Loft Gardens

This is a 42-storey building which consists of a 150 room hotel at the lower levels with a 34 storey residential tower above with 248 residential units.

IMG_0251

It is designed by internationally renown architects, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. Their website says

“The design aims to promote social interaction and reflect the area’s diversity. Amenities include leisure facilities, a swimming pool, a spa, meeting and conference spaces, and a roof garden that overlooks Olympic Park. The building also features a series of sky gardens that ensure residents are never more than nine stories from an outdoor space.”

There are lots of information panels on the hoardings around the site.

IMG_0394

IMG_0395

There may be unobstructed views out from the tower but it seems that the tower itself spoils the protected view of St Paul’s from King Henry’s Mound in Richmond Park. See this article from the Guardian on 23 November 2016.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/nov/23/london-mayor-urged-to-act-over-tower-that-compromises-st-pauls-view

King Henry’s Mound is 15.5km (9.6 miles) from St Paul’s Cathedral and the Manhattan Loft Gardens development is a further 7km (4.35 miles) beyond that, making the new building around 22km (14 miles) from Richmond.

It seems incredible that a view that has been protected for so long should be spoiled by what seems to be an oversight. No one thought that a building so far away could mar the view, I guess.

Now head away from the shopping mall along the broad boulevard, which goes by the name of Celebration Avenue.

IMG_0236

This is not the only name round here which has just a whiff of 1984 and Big Brother. Further on we will see Victory Park and Prize Walk.

IMG_0253

IMG_0398

Take a right turn at Liberty Bridge Road. Ahead just after the corner of Cheering Lane (another 1984 name) is our next stop.

Stop 4: Sir Ludwig Guttman Health and Wellbeing Centre

IMG_0257

IMG_0264

Sir Ludwig Guttmann (1899 – 1980) was a German-born Jewish doctor who had escaped Nazi Germany just before the start of the Second World War. He is considered to be one of the founding fathers of organised physical activities for people with a disability. His role in establishing the Paralympics is why he gives his name to a health centre on the Olympic Park.

The site here was actually used for the 2012 Olympics Medical and Doping Centre, and was then adapted for NHS use post-Games.

The building uses a number of green technologies. Rainwater is collected to flush toilets; a green roof has been planted to improve biodiversity and reduce roof temperatures; and electricity, heating and cooling is fed from the energy efficient combined heat and power plant scheme that supplies the Olympic Park.

Now go down Cheering Lane and our next stop is ahead.

Stop 5: Chobham Academy

These buildings that were first used during the 2012 Summer Olympics as the main base for organising and managing teams. They were rebuilt after the games to become an education campus consisting of a nursery, a primary school, a secondary school, a sixth form and an adult learning facility. It opened in September 2013.

IMG_0268

IMG_0267

And just outside the Academy is this red marble wall with an inscription.

IMG_0272

This is by Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809 – 1892) from his epic poem “Ulysses” written in 1833 and published in 1842.

“.. that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

It seems that this quote popped up in the 2012 James Bond movie “Skyfall” when it was deployed by no less than Dame Judi Dench.

There is a nice blog about this here:

https://blogs.surrey.ac.uk/english/2012/11/04/skyfall-bond-and-tennyson/

Follow the road round and take a right back into Celebration Avenue. Keep going past Honour Lea Avenue.

IMG_0277

(Makes me think of the song “Puff the Magic Dragon” except he came from the land of Honali or possibly Honalee. Not that he actually came from anywhere as he was not not real)

Here Temple Mill Lane comes in from the right and does a 90 degree turn so straight ahead is also Temple Mill Lane. Then go left into Abercrombie Road, presumably named after Sir Patrick Abercrombie (1879 – 1957) who was best known for the post-Second World War replanning of London.

IMG_0406

Our next stop is ahead on the right.

Stop 6: The Lee valley Velopark

You can see the Velodrome in the distance, but there are also some outdoor facilities.

IMG_0409

IMG_0410

But the Velodrome itself is the star here. It is one of the iconic buidling of the Olympic Park.

IMG_0414

IMG_0418

But actually to build this meant destroying the Eastway Cycle circuit which had been created in 1975. Here is a piece mourning the loss of Eastway:

Eastway 1975 – 2006 Ten Years Gone

This concludes: “Although there is now a world class Velodrome, the Velopark lacks what Eastway had – community and usability”

Just beyond the Velodrome building is a docking station for the bike hire scheme.

IMG_0422

There was a not a single bike available in the racks. Mind you there were almost no people here when I visited!

Keep walking and go over the bridge and then turn left. You will see some Olympic Rings on your left.

IMG_0425

I wondered why there was no colour but walking on, you discover that this is the back and the rings are coloured on the other side.

A little further on we get to the Paralympic symbol which comprises three “agitos”, coloured red, blue, and green, in an asymmetrical crescent . (“agito” means “I move” in Latin)

The picture below is taken looking back so we see the “front” and if you closely at the picture you can see the Olympic rings in colour in the far distance.

IMG_0451

As we walk along you will see one of the other Olympic venues on your right. This is the Copper Box Arena, used for handball, modern pentathlon, fencing and goalball during the 2012 Games. It has retractable seating for up to 7,500 spectators, and can host a wide range of different sports and activities including basketball, wheelchair basketball, handball, volleyball, netball, fencing, badminton and gymnastics.

I have to say that this is not the most inspiring building, and it is not even copper coloured!

In front of the Copper Box are three letters spelling the word “run”

IMG_0460

Keep walking and you will come across the next stop.

But do look over to you left back towards Stratford, and the Manhattan Loft Gardens building and the Westfield shopping centre

IMG_0463

IMG_0468

If you had been looking the other way you see the City, although it seems strangely small from this angle..

IMG_0315

Keep walking ahead crossing over the road.

Stop 7: Mandeville Place

Then stop at this seemingly random selection of brick columns and other stuff. It actually has a story.

IMG_0479

According to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park website:

“The name Mandeville Place has been chosen to reflect the fact that the Paralympics started in Stoke Mandeville, England in 1952, and after the 2012 Mascot, Mandeville.
Taking inspiration from the use of apples in the 2012 Opening Ceremony, Mandeville Place features a stunning orchard … the area brings together apple and other fruit trees with man-made elements, such as a pavilion made from the original Athletes Village Paralympic Wall.”

IMG_0476

Our next stop is just ahead on the left.

Stop 8: Carpenters Road Lock

Finally we get to see a little reminder of what was here before the Olympic park.

IMG_0485

This is possibly the oldest thing we have seen. It is called Carpenters Road lock.

IMG_0489

It is located on the Bow Back Rivers and was constructed in 1933/34. It is apparently the only lock in Britain with rising radial gates at both ends (not sure what this actually means!). British Waterways, the then owners, were hoping to restore it as part of the upgrade to Bow Back Rivers which took place for the London 2012 Games. However the gantries which enabled the gates to be raised were demolished to accommodate a wide bridge giving access to the main stadium. After the games, most of the overbridge was removed. Now it seems funding for the restoration of the lock has been found and the lock is due to be brought back into use in 2017. Mind you when I was there, no one seemed to be working at the site so who knows.

From here you get a great view of our next stop.

IMG_0487

Stop 9: The London Stadium

Now we can hardly come to the Olympic Park and not see the main stadium.

This has some impressive screens

IMG_0503

IMG_0505

It was built as the principal stadium for the 2012 Summer Olympics and Paralympics, hosting the track and field events and opening and closing ceremonies. It has subsequently been renovated as a multi-purpose stadium, with its primary tenants being West Ham United Football Club and British Athletics, although there is some controversy about the deal and its finances. There is also some concern about the building’s suitability to operate both as a football ground and an athletics venue, given they have different spectator needs and it seems the costs of switching from one sport to another has been wildly underestimated.

Our next stop is just to the left of the Stadium.

Stop 10: ArcelorMittal Orbit

IMG_0522

This is the largest piece of public art in the UK standing some 114.5 metres tall. It was built for the 2012 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games and intended to be a permanent lasting legacy of London’s hosting of the games. Situated between the Olympic Stadium and the Aquatics Centre, it allows visitors to view the whole Olympic Park from two observation platforms.

Orbit was designed by Turner-Prize winning artist Sir Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond of engineering Group Arup.

The project was said to have cost £19.1 million, with £16 million coming from steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal, Chairman of the ArcelorMittal steel company, and the balance of £3.1 million coming from the London Development Agency.

The name “ArcelorMittal Orbit” combines the name of Mittal’s company, as chief sponsor, with “Orbit”, the original working title for Kapoor and Balmond’s design.

The ArcelorMittal Orbit closed after the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, while the this area of the Park was reconfigured for a public outdoor space. It reopened to the public on 5 April 2014.

In the summer of 2016, the structure was modified to incorporate the world’s tallest and longest (178 metres) tunnel slide. This was designed by Carsten Höller who had previously put slides into Tate Modern.

Basically this is a way of getting more visitors here. You can peek through the railings and see where the slide comes out. From time to time a person does pop out, but it did not seem very busy when I was there.

IMG_0527

Just by here is another artwork, called Pixel Wall.

IMG_0516

There is a sign which has clearly been ignored.

IMG_0513

And indeed when I was there it was being ignored!

IMG_0520

Now our next stop is just over the way and is another of the iconic building of the Olympic Park

Stop 11: Aquatics Centre

IMG_0511

This was actually designed by architect Zaha Hadid in 2004 before London won the bid for the 2012 Summer Olympics. It was built alongside the Water Polo Arena, and across the Waterworks River from the Olympic Stadium.

The complex has a 50m competition pool, a 25m competition diving pool and a 50m warm-up pool. Because the centre was designed before the Olympic bid was completed, the spectator wings were not part of the original design. They were later added to give the venue a capacity of 17,500 and made it look rather ugly.

The two temporary “wings” have been removed, reducing the capacity to a regular 2,500 with an additional 1,000 seats available for major events. And it has regained it sinuous profile.

Here is a slightly surreal picture of me taking a picture of the glass end wall.

IMG_0552

But in some places you can go up to the windows and look in, although it was remarkably hard to get a picture because of the reflections.

IMG_0561

Stop 12: Since 9/11 memorial

Now go to the left of the Aquatic Centre and down the path to the car park. you will see our next stop on a little mound across the way on your left. Go round and back up to it. This is the “Since 9/11” memorial.

IMG_0572

IMG_0577

It is made from steel from the World Trade Centre which was destroyed in the attack on 11 September 2001. It was created by american artist, Miyo Ando.

IMG_0573

“Since 9/11” is an educational charity based in Britain which supports pupils to learn about the events, causes and consequences of 9/11.  According to the BBC, the 28ft tall artwork was gifted to the UK by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in 2010 on the condition it was permanently sited. It was originally placed in Battersea Park in 2011 but  was removed after a few weeks. It languished in storage until this home was found.  The then Mayor Boris Johnson unveiled it here in March 2015.

Well we are now at the end of our E20 walk, and one that has been unique given the fact that this is basically a new district. It is a huge area and one wonders how long it would have taken to redevelop if the Olympics had not provided the impetus. And whatever you might think of the developments, it does seem some thought has gone into to making this a “place”, albeit something quite different from what we are used to in London.

We are now close to the Westfield Shopping centre and Stratford International station. You can either go from there or else walk through the shopping centre to the main Stratford station where there are many more options for onward travel.

 

 

E19 does not exist as a postcode

Featured

It is strange that when the Royal Mail came to create a new postcode for the Olympic Park they christened it E20 when the highest numbered E postcode was E18. It was even odder when one considers that the BBC had chosen to locate the soap opera Eastenders in the fictional district of Walford and gave that the postcode E20.

Why is there no E19? Who knows?

But in the absence of a proper E19, I thought I might do a little walk around E1W which is a sub division of E1 – the W substitutes for the 9 if you see what I mean.

We start our walk at Wapping Post Office which is at 52 Wapping Lane. Turn left out and walk along Wapping Lane. Our first stop is ahead on the right..

Stop 1: St Peter’s Church

This church has an unassuming street frontage, and you might almost miss the fact there is actually a church here.

IMG_9920

But the signs on the outside give a clue that this is no ordinary church.

IMG_9923

IMG_9924

There is a clergy house, as well.

IMG_9922

The entrance to the church is via a small courtyard. Do go inside, if you can.

IMG_9926

This is high Victorian and high church. Although it is a Church of England it is almost more catholic than a catholic church.

This church was begun in 1865 and architectural expert Pevsner says this was important in the rise of Anglo-Catholicism. It originated as a “mission” church of St George in the East in Stepney.

But all is not what it seems. In fact the west end of this church, although designed in between 1884 and 1894 was not actually completed until 1939. And then it was badly damaged by bombing so what we see today is a post war reconstruction.

Pevsner describes the church as having “A muscular exterior” and “The atmospheric interior is equally muscular”.

Now continue along the street and you will see a green with a bus stop. This is our next stop.

Stop 2: The Wapping Health Centre bus stop and its role in a mini movie

This bus stop features in a little YouTube video dating from 2013.

IMG_9929

This was to promote the Freedom Pass, London’s concessionary travel pass for older and disabled people. It featured the Ladies who Bus who were travelling on every London bus route using their Freedom Pass. They were by the way the inspiration for my project of walking London one postcode at a time.

So here is a link to YouTube where you can watch this masterpiece. At the time (Summer 2013) I was responsible for managing the Freedom Pass scheme, amongst other things. I pop up in the video in three ways. You will see my signature at the start, I am a passenger on the bus (if you know where to look) and I did the narration!

It was mainly filmed with a hired bus on the streets of Wapping on a Sunday morning. It was fun to do, even though it was a long day!

Strangely this did not lead a flourishing media career for me.

Now continue walking along Wapping Lane. Our next stop is ahead a little way on the left.

Stop 3: Tobacco Dock

Having gone over a bridge you will see the entrance to what is today called Tobacco Dock.

IMG_9934

This was part of the London Docks built between 1799 and 1815. London Docks specialised in high value luxury commodities such as ivory, spices, coffee and cocoa as well as wine and wool. The actual bit called Tobacco Dock was a small linking pool between the much larger western and eastern docks. Much of these docks have been filled and most of the buildings have been demolished. But on the north side some impressive buildings remain. These were part of a Tobacco Warehouse dating from the early 1810s.

IMG_9931

They were converted into shops in the 1980s – the idea was to create a kind of Covent Garden style attraction. This predictably failed given the location. Today the site is used for corporate and commercial events and there is some space for start up businesses. But it could perhaps be so much more.

Now walk along the waterside.

Looking ahead you will the Shard.

IMG_9936

Follow the waterway. It is hard to believe you are so close to the City. You could almost be Holland.

IMG_9942

The waterway turns to the left. As it turns look back and you can see the tower of St George in the East in Stepney which I mentioned in connection with St Peter’s Church. St George was designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor and consecrated in 1729.

IMG_9944

Then the waterway turns to the right. Ahead you will see the Shard, again.

IMG_9948

And behind is Canary Wharf

IMG_9947

IMG_9949

Keep walking ahead and go under the roadway. Ahead you will see our next stop.

Stop 4: Hermitage Basin

This basin was added to the London Docks between 1811 and 1821 to create a second entrance. Pevsner says it closed in 1909. It now has a row of modern housing and a sculpture called “Rope Circle” and is by Wendy Taylor. This sculpture dates from 1997 and is made out of ships hawsers which have been shaped and stiffened to keep their form. The Sculptor’s studio was in the old pump house at the other end of the Basin.

IMG_9954

The brick building on the far side is was a pumping station which was used to maintain the water level in the dock basin.

IMG_9956

It has a Port of London Authority marker with the date 1914.

IMG_9960

Now go back to the road and go down towards the river where you will see a garden in front of you. This is our next stop.

Stop 5: Hermitage Memorial Riverside Garden

This was part of the site of the Hermitage Wharf which was destroyed in a firebomb raid in December 1940. When the land came up for redevelopment there was a requirement to keep some of the river front accessible to the public.

And fittingly the garden which was built here commemorates the civilians who died in the London blitz which commenced on 7 September 1940 and ended on 10 May 1941.

IMG_9962

You get a great view of towards Tower Bridge and the Shard from here.

IMG_9966

There is a sculptural memorial here with a bird shape cut out. And if you stand in the right place you can see the Shard through the bird.

IMG_9964

But the overall effect is a little uninspiring. This south facing site has such potential. But I guess we have to be grateful that it was not all built over.

Now exit the gardens as if you are walking away from the City and head down the street paralleling the river. Our next stop is ahead on the right.

Stop 6 Wapping Pier Head (and the Town of Ramsgate pub)

IMG_9971

IMG_9973

This group of early 19th century houses on either side of a garden is called Pier Head even though there does not appear to be a pier here. The garden was in fact where the original main entrance into London Docks ran from the Thames. Pevsner says the garden was created in the early 1960s on the filled in dock.

Just past the Pier Head is the one of Wapping’s riverside pubs – The Town of Ramsgate.

IMG_9975

It is an atmospheric pub, long and thin, with delightful old fittings – eventually leading to a river terrace.

Following is the story of the pub as told on their own website (please excuse their grammar and punctuation):

“The first pub on the site probably originated during the Wars of the Roses in the 1460s and was called The Hostel.

During more peaceful times in 1533 it became known as The Red Cow, a reference to the bar maid working at the time. The notorious Judge Jeffreys was caught outside the ale house as he tried to escape disguised as a sailor on a collier bound for Hamburg after the Glorious Revolution of 1688; which overthrew King James II. Presiding over the Bloody Assizes after Monmouth’s unsuccessful rebellion against James II, Judge Jeffreys had taken great pleasure in sending hundreds to their execution, and in abusing their attorney’s, which was a costly mistake as one of them recognised him resulting in his capture.

In 1766 the pub became known as Ramsgate Old Town and by 1811 it had again took on a new identity known as The Town of Ramsgate. The reference to Ramsgate became about after the fishermen of Ramsgate who landed their catches at Wapping Old Stairs. They chose to do so as to avoid the river taxes which had been imposed higher up the river close to Billingsgate Fish Market. Ramsgate harbour of 1850 features in the pub sign and is also etched on the mirror near the entrance to the pub.

As for the Wapping Old Stairs next door, they also have a bloody history.

If you visit during low tide, you can still see the post to which condemned pirates were chained to drown as the tide rose. The Stairs were made famous in Rawlinson’s cartoon and Dibden’s poems. John Banks came here, with Captain Bligh to inspect the Bounty before purchasing it for the ill-fated voyage to Tahiti. More happily, many returning sailors were met by their sweethearts on the Old Stairs at the end of a voyage. The silent question that must have been on many sailor’s lips is answered by a verse on the wall of the pub.
“Your Polly has never been faithless she swears, since last year we parted on Wapping Old Stairs.”

Here is a link to the relevant page: http://townoframsgate.pub/?page_id=13

The street here still has the feel of it being a warehouse area, with the metal bridges going over the street.

IMG_0003

Keep walking along the High Street.

Stop 7: Metropolitan Police – Marine Policing Unit

Just along here are some property belonging to the Police. First you come to this modern building.

IMG_0008

And just here you can go down towards the river and see the pier which is used by the police boats. If you closely you might just spot the traditional Metropolitan Police blue lamp on the pier. Also note ahead you can see Canary Wharf.

IMG_0013

And then there is this older building with a blue plaque.

IMG_0014

IMG_0015

Note the date of founding is 1798. This predates the creation of the Metropolitan Police in 1829. The Marine Police Force is considered the first preventive police unit in the history of policing in England and it was originally financed by shipping companies to address the theft of cargo from London’s docks. It merged with the Met in 1839.

Today the Marine Policing Unit is responsible for waterborne policing of the 47 miles of the Thames between Hampton Court in the west and Dartford Creek in the east.

Now cross the road and go though the little park. This was the former churchyard of St John’s church which we shall see shortly. The park was created in 1951 and is bounded by high walls which were in fact the walls of the London Docks.

IMG_9990

There is an intriguing little green sign up on the far wall.

IMG_9988

This commemorates an event in the mid 17th century during the time of the English Civil War. The area had wharves then but this was before the building of the docks.

Go through the archway and turn right. Our next stop is straight ahead on the corner of a street called Green Bank.

Stop 8: The Turk’s Head

This former pub dates from between the wars according to Pevsner.

IMG_9992

It is now a cafe, as explained on the little plaque at the front.

IMG_9997

This has an interesting stone on the first floor level by the corner.

IMG_9996

It says “Bird Street Erected Anna Dom 1706” and below there is a rider which says “Rebuilt 1766 and 1927”

Our next stop is just a little way down the street from the Turk’s head.

Stop 9: former St John’s Church

IMG_9993

This church was built in 1756, but it was largely destroyed in the Blitz. The tower was restored in the 1960s and later flats were created within the outer walls in the 1990s.

Walk to the end of the street and turn left and continue along the High Street. Our next stop is a little way along on the right.

Stop 10: Wapping Station

This does not look much of a station and it isn’t.

IMG_9917

Go downstairs and you find these really narrow platforms which feel rather unsafe even when no one else is there.

IMG_9904

The walls feature a number of drawings of the area round the station and telling some of the history..

IMG_9908

The one shown below is particularly significant as it shows a cross section of the tunnel as it was being built.

IMG_9906

And this of course is no ordinary tunnel and there is something rather interesting which you can just about see from the platforms – the original tunnel mouth – or rather mouths.

IMG_9914

This is in fact the first tunnel known to have been constructed successfully underneath a navigable river. It was built between 1825 and 1843 using a newly invented tunnelling shield technology, by Marc Brunel and his son Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

The tunnel was originally designed for horse-drawn carriages, but the money ran out and the ramps to get down the  carriages to the tunnel were never built. It became a pedestrian tunnel and then later a railway tunnel.

On occasion in the past, when the railway has been shut for various reasons it has been possible to walk the tunnel.

I did this a couple of years ago and wrote about it on my other blog:

https://stephensldn.wordpress.com/2014/05/26/walking-under-water-a-stroll-through-brunels-tunnel/

Now back on the surface, turn right out of the station and keep on walk along the High Street and then follow it round as it becomes Wapping Wall, where our next stop is on the right.

Stop 11: The Prospect of Whitby pub

No visit to Wapping is really complete without a visit to the venerable Prospect of Whitby pub.

IMG_0029

This is one of those great riverside pubs. It claims to be London’s oldest riverside pub dating back to 1520 (but who really knows – note the Town of Ramsgate claims to have an even older origin). It is called the Prospect of Whitby after a ship which brought coal from North England and which was frequently moored nearby in the early 19th century.

This is what the pub’s website says:

“The Prospect Of Whitby is London’s oldest riverside pub dating back to 1520. The original flagstone floor survives and the pub also has a rare pewter-topped bar as well as old barrels and ships masts built into the structure. Most areas of the pub have spectacular views over the River Thames, including the beer garden and first floor balcony and terrace. The pub was originally frequented by those involved in life on the river and sea and it was a notorious haunt for smugglers, thieves and pirates.

Other notable customers have been Charles Dickens, Samuel Pepys, Judge Jeffries and artists Whistler and Turner. In more recent history the Prospect was a favourite during the 1960’s with celebrities and royalty including Kirk Douglas, Paul Newman, Glenn Ford, Rod Steiger, Princess Margaret and Prince Rainier. The public house features briefly in an episode of Only Fools And Horses. When Uncle Albert goes missing in one episode, Del Boy and Rodney travel around London looking for him. Nicholas Lyndhurst is shown in one scene walking out of the pub. There is also a scene from the 1956 film D-Day the Sixth of June starring Robert Taylor and Richard Todd where Taylor’s character is seen with Dana Wynter’s character having drinks together during the Second World War in London.”

It was originally called the Pelican which explains the name of some steps on the right hand side which lead down to the river.

IMG_0030

If you go down here you will see an odd sight when you get to the river.

IMG_0031

Yes you can see a hangman’s noose (and of course Canary Wharf).

IMG_0035

Why you may ask. Apparently it is a reminder that this was the hostelry of choice for “Hanging” Judge Jeffreys who lived nearby. He was chased by anti-Royalists into the nearby Town of Ramsgate, as we just heard.

Our next stop is just over the road.

Stop 12: Wapping Hydraulic Pumping Station

This impressive red brick structure was built by the London Hydraulic Power Company, and has the date 1890 on the side.

IMG_0041

IMG_0039

Hydraulic Power was a 19th century solution used to run lifts, cranes and workshop and theatre machinery before electric motors were powerful enough. This system avoided the need to have individual steam engines at each location. Basically each site was hooked up to a pressurised water main which could be used to power machinery. And this required pumping stations – initially run by steam and later by electricity.

The London company provided hydraulic power across central London north of the Thames and at its height had five pumping stations. Wapping was the last to be built and was the last to close (in 1977).

It has been used as an exhibition and restaurant space but now seems to be closed, which is a shame as it has quite a lot of the original equipment inside apparently.

Just here is Shadwell Basin and from the bridge over the water you can look east and see Canary Wharf.

IMG_0048

And to the west you can see the City.

IMG_0046

We are now at the end of our Wapping walk. This is a fascinating area of old and new and it is sometimes hard to believe you are so close in to central London. Sometimes it is even hard to believe you are actually in England.

Just here you can get a D3 bus to Limehouse or Shadwell station, or else it is a short walk back to Wapping station on the Overground.

E18: By wisdom and courage

Featured

E18 is Woodford – or more accurately South Woodford, because Woodford itself is actually in an IG postcode. It is quite a small postcode and one which seems completely devoid of blue plaques, though there is one famous connection with a non-blue plaque.

I am grateful to fellow guide and local resident Debbie for giving me the low down on South Woodford, which was great as I found precious little to go on.

I was also stumped as to what to call this walk until I found out that the motto of the former Wanstead and Woodford Urban District Council was “Consilio et Animo”. That translates as “By wisdom and courage”. With that in mind, let us venture into E18.

We start our walk at the Post Office at Number 139 George Lane. Go down Glebelands Avenue which is almost opposite the Post Office. At the end, cross over the High Road and into Bressey Grove.

At the junction of Byron Avenue, you will see an alley to the right. Go down there but just before you do look down Byron Avenue.

IMG_0098

Debbie assures me that on a clear day you can see Canary Wharf! Sadly I did not see it when I was there.

Go down the alley way and ahead you will see a bridge with a sign saying Willow Path.

IMG_0100

This is to lull you into a false sense of being in a bucolic country scene, when it fact you are about to cross over 10 lanes of roaring traffic.

IMG_0102

This is the North Circular Road with the slip roads going up to Waterworks Corner.

Once over the bridge, turn right and go along Grove Road.

Stop 1: Church End Estate

IMG_0109

The roads just here all have a connection.

Going north – south, we have: Peel Road; Walpole Road; Carnarvon Road; Stanley Road; Malmesbury Road and Buckingham Road.

And east – west, we have: Chelmsford Road and Derby Road

This is like that part of the Only Connect quiz where you have to make the connection between seemingly random clues. We have some prime ministers (Peel, Walpole, Derby); we have some earls (Derby, Malmesbury, Carnarvon) and we have some places (Carnarvon, Malmesbury, Buckingham, Chelmsford, Derby). But none of these link all the names.

Debbie gave me a clue when she said they were all 19th century cabinet Ministers. So I did a little research and as far as I can establish the only time these men (and they are all men) were in the Cabinet at the same time was between June 1866 and March 1867, as follows:

Earl of Derby (PM); Lord Chelmsford (Lord Chancellor); Duke of Buckingham (Lord President); Earl of Malmesbury (Lord Privy Seal); Spencer Walpole (Home Secretary); Earl of Carnarvon (SoS for the Colonies); Lord Stanley (Foreign Secretary) and General Jonathan Peel (SoS for War).

Note the Walpole and the Peel, are not the famous ones – Sir Robert Walpole who was Prime Minister in the 18th century or Sir Robert Peel who was Prime Minister in the 1830s and 1840s.

It is surprising that the estate agents haven’t christened the area something like “The Ministers” or the “Cabinet estate”. But interestingly this area does seem to have a name which is hinted at on a number of benches which are placed along Grove Road. Here you can sit and hear the drone of the North Circular Road.

IMG_0107

IMG_0112

Debbie uncovered an article on the internet which indicates that the A.C.E. in A.C.E. Residents Association stands for Action on Church End because this area is known as the Church End estate.

http://www.ilfordrecorder.co.uk/news/politics/former_residents_association_treasuer_reacts_angrily_to_request_from_redbridge_council_to_release_funds_1_2015492

The article dating from 11 April 2013 suggests that the ACE Residents Association has folded up.

Go along Grove Road and turn left into Buckingham Road.

One other thing I noticed was that unusually for a London postcode area, the street signs do not include the postcode. Most look like this.

IMG_0115

But I did find one that admitted we were in an E postcode area.

IMG_0114

Looking closely I this may have been added unofficially. Perhaps the powers that be wanted to pretend this area was in Essex like Woodford just up the road (but like South Woodford, Woodford is also in the London Borough of Redbridge).

At the end of Buckingham Road turn right and go to the end where you will turn right again. this is the High Road and our next stop is almost immediately on the right.

Stop 2: Parish Church Memorial Hall

IMG_0127

This quite nice building has the date 1902 on the front.

IMG_0117

And there is a sweet little foundation stone to the left of the door.

IMG_0121

But perhaps the most interesting thing is mentioned on another plaque at the front. This says that “William Morris lived at Woodford Hall 1840 – 1847. The House demolished in 1900 stood to the rear of this site.”. This seems to be the nearest South Woodford gets to having a blue plaque.

IMG_0116

The artist, designer and social activist, William Morris lived here from age 6 until he was 13 or so. The family moved to a smaller house after his father died in 1847. That is the house in E17 which now the William Morris Gallery.

Our next stop is right next door.

Stop 3: St Mary’s Church

This is an odd looking church.

IMG_0130

It looks very unlike a Church of England parish church, more like a non conformist place of worship.

IMG_0156

Architectural guru, Pevsner says the entrance dates from 1888 but was rebuilt after a fire in 1969, But what is even odder is that this entrance is at the east end of the building.

The church itself is a strange mix of ancient and modern.

IMG_0153

But there is an interesting tower at the western end, which Pevsner describes as “a sturdy brick tower, 1708, with broad corner buttresses rising to stumpy polygonal pinnacles. (these and the parapet rebuilt 1899).”

IMG_0152

Behind the church to the right is a marble column which was put up in memory of a man called Peter Godfrey who died in 1769.

IMG_0145

And by the wall is a grand tomb, the Raikes Mausoleum, first used from the burial of Martha Raikes who died in 1797.

IMG_0150

Now Pevsner suggests that Sir John Soane came here in 1800 and sketched this tomb. He later used a similar shape for his own family mausoleum in St Pancras’ Old Churchyard. And this in turn was said to be the inspiration for Giles Gilbert Scott’s design for the iconic red telephone box of the 1930s.

Returning to the front have a look at the rather prominent tomb on the green.

IMG_0131

This turns out to be the tomb of none other than William Morris’ parents – William and Emma.

IMG_0133

Walk along the High Road crossing over. Our next stop is just outside the modern library.

Stop 4: Some odd artwork

Here we have a seat with lots of little panels with snippets of the history of Woodford.

IMG_0161

IMG_0162

One of the panels explains that “This bench has been created to celebrate the history of Woodford with photographs … London Borough of Redbridge commissioned artist Tim Ward of Circling the Square to design this bench which was installed in 2012.

IMG_0163

It is a nice idea but I do not think it really works. If you sit on it, you have to twist around to see anything. It is particularly hard to see many of the pictures, especially the ones inside the ring of the seat. So whilst it looks nice enough what was the point of going to all this trouble of researching and reproducing all these pictures when no one is likely to appreciate them..

Stop 5: Elmhurst

Keep walking along the High Road and our next stop is soon on the left. It is one of several 18th mansions which have survived along the High Road.

IMG_0167

IMG_0168

It was converted to be a hostel for Queen Mary College in 1926 and subsequently the land behind was developed for student accommodation. This has since been redeveloped as we shall see, but the house remains, as a commercial building with a branch of the pizza chain Prezzo tucks in at the right hand end.

Now look ahead and over the road for our next stop.

Stop 6: Some more odd artwork

IMG_0171

According to Redbridge Council’s website: http://www2.redbridge.gov.uk/cms/leisure_and_libraries/leisure_and_culture/arts_culture_theatre/arts_events_and_activities/public_art/south_woodford_public_art.aspx#sthash.6VHPwW0O.dpuf

“Lucien Simon was commissioned to produce three sculptures for the bridge over the A406 in South Woodford which were installed in February 2012. The programme also included benches and decorative paving by artist Tim Ward and the addition of new planters with silver birch trees.

The three sculptures were designed to bring a contemporary take on the natural world into a predominantly urban landscape and to reflect the historical context of South Woodford as a rural and semi-wooded area and the proximity of Epping Forest, a still magnificent area of ancient woodland and London’s largest open space.

The structures are just over 7 metres high, and fabricated from stainless steel with leaf shapes laser cut into the fabric and lighting within the columns and at a stacked glass section between the column and the leaves at the top of the sculpture. The columns are of a sinuous, natural shape to emphasise the organic inspiration behind the installation. Local school students worked with the artist to come up with the leaf shapes so that there was strong community involvement in the project.

The project was funded by Telford homes as a condition for the nearby Queen Mary’s Gate development, meaning that the money could only be spent on public art and related works within the area.”

I guess the circular bench we saw earlier was also part of this commission

It is an attempt to brighten up an otherwise dull street scene. But really who is going to linger here given you are sitting atop 10 lanes of roaring traffic. (By the way the Queen Mary’s gate development is the one you can see from the bridge looking back towards Elmhurst. This is the redevelopment of the site used by Queen Mary College)

IMG_0181

You will see as you pass over the bridge, there is a Waitrose supermarket to the left. go down here.

Stop 7: Waitrose, South Woodford

IMG_0184

Now if you look to the right end of the supermarket you will see there is an old building, on to which the new supermarket appears to have been grafted.

IMG_0187

This is Grove Lodge, an 1835 gothic style villa. Pevsner comments: “It deserves a better setting”. Maybe but at least it is still here, serving in part as Waitrose’s cafe.

Continue along the High Road. our next stop is at the corner of George Lane on your left.

Stop 8: Electric Parade

IMG_0195

IMG_0191

This parade of shops dates from 1925 and when built must have been a very visible indicator of the creeping urbanisation here. Debbie says the name denoted the arrival of electricity to the area.

Our next stop is on the opposite corner of George Lane.

Stop 9: The George

IMG_0199

This rather lovely pub is probably early 18th century in origin with some later additions. The name therefore makes sense as this was the time of the Hanoverian kings who were called George.

It is in fact slightly overshadowed by our next stop which is just next door.

IMG_0197

Stop 10: Odeon Cinema

This working cinema opened as the Majestic Theatre in November 1934. According to the wonderful Cinema Treasures site, it was the last to be built of a small independent chain of five Majestic Theatres built in the outer London suburbs and the South East of England.

The opening was presided over by Winston Churchill who at that time was the local Member of Parliament.

The Majestic Theatre was taken over by Associated British Cinemas (ABC) in August 1935. It became the ABC and was later split into three cinemas. In 1986 it was renamed Cannon and later Odeon. Further screens have been added so it now has seven.

It is nice to see an old cinema still in use. But the outside is looking a little sad and I doubt there is much of the 1930s interior left inside.

You will see a little alley just beyond the Odeon. Go down this and it will take you to our next stop.

Stop 11: Sainsbury’s South Woodford

This is a none too special supermarket today.

IMG_0210

But it was actually built on the site of South Woodford’s other cinema. the Plaza. According to the Cinema Treasures site, the first cinema in this site was called the South Woodford Cinema in 1913 with a seating capacity for 601. It was closed in 1934, to be enlarged and modified in an Art Deco style. It reopened as the 1,600 seat Plaza Cinema in September 1934. In other words just before the Majestic opened.

It always seems to have been independently owned and operated. It finally closed in May 1977. The building was demolished and a Sainsburys supermarket was built on the site.

But they did at least put some reminders of old South Woodford here on some panels, including one about the Plaza.

IMG_0211

Interesting the dates on the sign (opening 1932 and closing 1978) are different from the usually reliable Cinema Treasures site.

But really Sainsbury’s. Did you have to put the trolley shelter in front of these panels. Typical insensitivity of a major retail chain.

IMG_0208

There is some other interesting stuff about the locality including a mention of suffragette Sylvia Pankhurst, even she was mainly connected with Woodford proper. (She is also mentioned on the bench on the bridge).

IMG_0214

If you keep going down the side of the supermarket you will end up on George Lane. turn right and this will take you to South Woodford station

Stop 12: South Woodford Station

There has been a station here since 1856.

IMG_0088

And originally there was a level crossing by the station. This was replaced by an overbridge a little up the track when the line was rebuilt to become part of the Central Line in the late 1940s.

IMG_0084

IMG_0082

But today the buildings of the station are later. There is an 1880s building on the London bound platform and the ticket hall building on the Epping bound side dates from 1910. There are some further additions from the late 1940s. It looks like the canopies over the platforms were extended at this period.

On the far side of the tracks is an odd survival of a sign on the wall of a building

IMG_0081

This is for the Railway Coffee House, no doubt this was meant to tempt people away from the Railway Bell pub over the road. Sadly today there is no sign of the Coffee Tavern on the road side of this building now – not even a modern day Coffee shop.

And finally there is one little quirk to the station and that is its name.

IMG_0080

It has “George Lane” in brackets after South Woodford. As far as I can determine there was only ever one station at South Woodford so there was no chance of confusion. The name change actually happened in 1937 before the Underground took over, but the full name was taken forward when the Central Line was opened.

But why? The Central Line eastern extension had a station at Bethnal Green where there was a nearby station of the same name but no attempt to differentiate the two. Indeed for many years there were two quite separate station with the name Shepherds Bush, one of which was on the Central Line. So it really is a mystery why it was felt necessary to have George Lane in the station name here.

Well that brings us to the end of our E18 walk. Thanks to Debbie for showing me round and helping to ferret out some interesting stuff about this relatively quiet edge of East London.

E17: Awesomestow – or going to the dogs?

Featured

E17 is Walthamstow – end of the Victoria line, once home to a dog racing track and artist Grayson Perry’s studios and the place that gave its name to a pop group. In exploring E17, I am indebted to fellow guide, Jo Moncrieff for sharing her notes about Walthamstow.

We start our walk at the Post Office at Number 48 High Street (the one at the western end of the High Street). turn right out of the Post Office and walk along the High Street, which usually has a lively selection of market stalls, selling all sorts of stuff.

Apparently this is the longest street market in Europe at over 1km and it has been around since the 1880s.

Our first stop is at number 76, High Street.

Stop 1: L Manze’s Pie and Mash Shop

This is one of those amazing survivals.

IMG_9737

The plaque outside explains that the Manze family were originally from Ravello in Italy and came to England in 1878. they founded an empire of 14 pie and mash shops,. This particular one was rebuilt in 1929.

IMG_9736

According to an article I found (Daily Mail dated 30 October 2013):

“The Manze family ran the east London eatery until 1970 before it came into the hands of current owner Jacqueline Cooper.”

Apparently David Beckham’s love of the dish has made it trendy again, the owner says.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2480460/Pie-mash-shop-L-Manze-opened-1929-given-Grade-II-listing.html#ixzz4OaTloS5W

There are some other shops with the Manze name elsewhere in London but they are separate businesses from this one.

As I was here, I had to go in and sample the pie and mash.

IMG_9740

To be honest this is not the greatest food. It is bland and with little texture. I prefer to have a meat pie where there are visible lumps of meat rather than this style where the meat has been ground into tiny globules.

I am reminded of the advice given by Mrs Lovatt in Sondheim’s version of Sweeney Todd where she is telling the lad Toby how to grind the “meat” for the pies. She explains that the secret for making the pies so juicy is to grind the meat three times. I think it is entirely possible that the meat in Manze’s pies may have been ground a few more times than that.

I did take some pictures of the interior which is lovely, even if the seats are clearly not designed to make you linger. There were quite a few other customers in at the time, but they just cannot be seen!

IMG_9742

IMG_9744

The shop advertises eels but all the customers I saw were eating pie and mash with the green specked liquor.

Now continue along the High Street. Our next stop is a little way along the High Street.

Stop 2: Palace Parade (site of Palace Theatre)

Heading along the High Street our next stop is on the left almost opposite the indoor shopping mall. There is a row of shops which have the name Palace Parade.

IMG_9732

And it is that name that gives away what was once on this site.

IMG_9731

This was the location of the Walthamstow Palace, a music hall/variety theatre which opened at the end of December 1903. The Palace was designed by Oswald Cane Wylson and Charles Long who also designed the Palaces at Chelsea, East Ham, Euston and Tottenham. Only the last of these has survived, as we saw when in N17.

For most of its life, it mainly presented variety shows. It finally closed in February 1954 and was soon left abandoned, becoming derelict. It was demolished in 1960, to replaced by this parade of shops with flats above.

Stop 3: the “Awesomestow” sign

Now go into the shopping mall, which goes by the oh so original name of “The Mall”.

IMG_9761

The Mall is not particularly interesting – the only surprise is that there is a branch of Waterstone’s in amongst the “economy” shops. If you get to Waterstone’s look back for our next stop, which is above where you have just walked.

IMG_9766

IMG_9764

This is an attempt to “rebrand” Walthamstow. The fact this neon sign is in such a mall is perhaps not the best way to proclaim the “awesomeness” of Walthamstow. And some people no doubt consider the changes in Walthamstow are not for the best.

Now exit the Mall into a kind of square, turning right into the High Street. Our next stop is across the road.

Stop 4: Empire Cinema

IMG_9774

Here we have a new block of apartments which includes a new multiscreen Empire Cinema and some restaurants. It really does look so continental – not English at all. The free standing sign for the cinema is a nice touch.

IMG_9773

The cinema has 9 screens and opened in November 2014.

Now walk to the end of the High Street and you will see our next stop ahead.

Stop 5: Central Parade

Across the road is a rather splendid post war building, with clock tower. All very 1950s

IMG_9776

I love the wavy canopy facing Hoe Street and then there is this series of crests below the clock.

IMG_9780

And in case you were wondering what the shields represent, there is a little key if you look. (It is between the main door and the shields).

IMG_9782

But I am none the wiser as to the connections to Walthamstow. They do not seem to be twin towns so I guess they are the crests of families which have had connections with the area. One that jumps out is Warner. Sir Courtney Warner (1857 – 1934) was a local landowner, MP and the first Mayor of Walthamstow. He was responsible for developing substantial amounts of housing in  the local area from the 1880s. And from Jo’s notes I guess Maynard might be Sir Henry Maynard. As a result of a bequest of £50 by him, the local workhouse was provided with a brewhouse in 1747 to make it more comfortable!

Earlier this year, the building was converted from council use into what is described as “a mixed use creative hub”, with a variety of retail; workspace and studio space, and bakery cafe. The building will be open for two years whilst the long term future of the site is being decided upon. It would be a terrible shame if the council decide to demolish such a distinctive building.

Now walk a little way along Hoe Street and you will see our next stop.

Stop 6: Former Granada cinema

This was one the site of the Victoria Hall which opened in May 1887 and which was used for dances and concerts. It became a live theatre and eventually a cinema, called the Victoria Picture Theatre . It was purchased by Sydney Bernstein in March 1930, and was immediately demolished to be replaced by a brand new Granada cinema which opened in September 1930.

IMG_9786

It was the second Granada Theatre of what would become a major chain. It was designed by Cecil Masey in a Spanish Moorish style with an interior design was by Russian theatre set designer Theodore Komisarjevsky, who went on the design the interiors of many more Granada cinemas.

IMG_9791

Like many super cinemas of this period, it had stage facilities which were used for things like Christmas Pantomimes and one night pop shows – The Beatles amongst other famous names appeared here, as evidenced on this little blue plaque on the front.

IMG_9793

By the way, look at the originator of this plaque – Street of Blue Plaques. More info on this at: http://www.dannycoope.co.uk/street-of-blue-plaques/

Anyhow back to the Granada story – In October 1973, the cinema was tripled. And it continued as a main stream cinema under various names (Cannon, Virgin, ABC) until about 2000. By then ABC had been taken over by Odeon who closed the cinema. They put a stipulation on any sale of the building, that it could never screen English language films again.

The cinema was purchased by an independent operator, and it was re-named EMD Cinema showing Bollywood films. After a court battle, this operator gained permission to screen regular films again. However the EMD Cinema  closed in January 2003.

The story since then has been complicated – see the wonderful Cinema Treasures site for the details: http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/9397

But the story seems to have moved on. In 2015, Soho Theatre announced it was working with Waltham Forest Cinema Trust and the London Borough of Waltham Forest to create a new comedy, theatre and cinema venue here. The last update on their website is December 2015 so not sure what is happening there.

But the building is starting to be used for entertainment again, as evidenced by the notice boards on the building:

IMG_9794

And this website:

http://mirthmarvelandmaud.com/

If fact, on 31 October 2016, one of the smaller screens was opened for a presentation of Mel Brooks “Young Frankenstein”, the first film to be shown in the cinema for over 13 years.

Hopefully this Grade II* Listed building has a bright future.

Now go back down Hoe Street and turn left by the clock tower into Church Hill. Go along Church Hill until just after the Girls School where you will see a newly laid out mini piazza.

IMG_9799

Turn right here and head towards the church

Stop 7: Monoux Almshouses

Just before the church is a pathway.

IMG_9806

This is called Vinegar Alley and by it are some almshouses.

IMG_9802

IMG_9805

These almshouses were founded along with a school in 1527 by local benefactor, George Monoux who was a city merchant and Lord Mayor of the City of London in 1514/1515. He died in 1544.

(By the way, Jo says that the name is pronounced locally as “Monnocks” not “Monnow”)

The school stayed here for over 350 years. It moved to its present site in Chingford Road in 1927. Famous old boys include choreographer Matthew Bourne, jazz musician Sir John Dankworth and footballer Teddy Sheringham.

The eastern end of the almshouses was almost wholly rebuilt in the late 18th century with the western end remaining untouched until being destroyed by a German bomb in 1940. That was rebuilt in 1955.

Now head past the church, which although medieval was renovated in the late 19th century and again after the Second World War having been damaged by bombing in 1940.

IMG_9807

Just after the church is our next stop.

Stop 8: The Ancient House

IMG_9811

When I saw this I thought: am I actually in Wathamstow? But yes I am. Pevsner says this is “a notably complete timber framed hall house of 15th century.”

Do go down the side street, Orford Road..

IMG_9842

The building is not on a hill and there is a fascinating sign which explains why the side wall looks like it does.

IMG_9829

Whilst here do have a look down this street at the nearby Nag’s Head. According to the notes from Jo the original pub was opposite the Ancient House and the first record of that is from 1673 in connection with the illegal playing of shovelboard and tippling. That pub became unfit so it was demolished.

IMG_9834

The Nags Head was the terminus in the 1850s of a horse bus service operated by the landlord, Francis Wragg. He ran eight times a day to Lea Bridge Station (opened in 1840) for trains to London, there being no railway to Walthamstow for another thirty years. In 1859 the pub was relocated to its present site in Orford Road and a coach house was built alongside. The coach house still stands, but is now residential.

IMG_9839

The horse bus service closed soon after 1870 when the Great Eastern Railway arrived at Walthamstow.

More info at:

http://pubshistory.com/EssexPubs/Walthamstow/nagshead.shtml

The railway passes really close by just beyond the Nags Head. Interestingly the station was not put here near the actual village but a little way to the west, at what is now Walthamstow Central.

Now turn left out of Orford Road.

Stop 9: Vestry House Museum

Our next stop is ahead after the Squires Almshouses. This is the Vestry House Museum.

IMG_9828

IMG_9827

According to Pevsner, this was built by the parish as a workhouse in 1730 and used as such to the 1830s. It became a museum in 1931. There is a stern warning here on a plaque which says “if any should not work neither should he eat”. Unaccountably I failed to take a picture of this!

But I did get a picture of this plaque.

IMG_9826

But outside there is something you can hardly miss.

IMG_9823

This is from the portico of Robert Smirke’s General Post Office in St Martin Le Grand. When the building was being demolished this was purchased by a local stone mason Frank Mortimer who presented it to the Borough of Walthamstow.

IMG_9825

It was first placed in Lloyd Park (close to the William Morris Gallery) but was transferred to its present position in 1954. https://londonhistorians.wordpress.com/2015/12/14/posties-and-the-capital/ 

Now retrace your steps back past the church and the mini piazza. Cross over Church Hill and head up The Drive which if you carry straight on(ish) becomes Hurst Road. Our next stop is at the end of the street – ahead across Forest Road.

Stop 10: Walthamstow Civic Centre

This impressive Civic Centre was built by Walthamstow Municipal Borough Council in the 1930s. Pevsner explains that the Borough had been created in 1929 and held a competition for a new Civic Centre in 1932. By the time the scheme started in 1937 it had been simplified and only two of the three planned buildings were begun. Their fit out was limited by wartime restrictions.

The civic centre is set back off the road along a drive and beyond a circular fountain pool. You can see why after the new borough of Waltham Forest was created in 1965, they opted for this as their main location rather than Leyton Town Hall which we saw in E10.

IMG_9864

To the right is the Assembly Hall which was completed in 1943.

IMG_9866

The Assembly Room has this worthy slogan across the front: “Fellowship is life and the lack of fellowship is death”

IMG_9865

To the left are the Courts.

IMG_9869

They were only built in the early 1970s and so are in a different style to the other buildings in this group. Pevsner describes the Courts as “firmly of its time, a tough nephew beside a maiden aunt”. They sort of complete the set piece but sort of don’t.

Now go along Forest Road as if you had turned left out of Hurst Road. Our next stop is at the junction with Hoe Street known locally as Bell Corner (named after a pub).

Stop 11: Former Empire Cinema

IMG_9872

This sad looking building on the corner has all the signs of being a cinema. And indeed it was. It started out as the Empire Cinema which opened in February 1913. It went through a number of owners and by 1937 it was being run by Clavering and Rose. In March 1961 it was re-named Cameo Cinema. Closed as a regular cinema in August 1963, it became a bingo club.

Clavering and Rose had been taken over by Classic Cinema, and this building was reincarnated as a cinema under the Tatler name in April 1970, screening uncensored sex films as a members only club. The Tatler Film Club closed in August 1981.

The building was converted into an amusement arcade, and then it became a snooker club. But even that is no longer operational.

IMG_9875

It is unclear what fate lies ahead for this building. In January 2016 a planning application to demolish the building was refused.

It may not be pretty, nor is it a great example of an early cinema building, but it would be sad to see it go. However given there is a modern nine screen cinema down the road and the rather more interesting Granada cinema is likely to return to entertainment use, it is hard to see how this building could be brought back to life.

Now continue along Forest Road. Our next stop is just on the right.

Stop 12: William Morris Gallery

Set back off the road is this lovely house.

IMG_9880

IMG_9881

There is a blue plaque which tells us that William Morris (1834 – 1896) lived here from 1848 to 1856. We saw his house in Hammersmith W6 and also his works in Merton Abbey Mills in SW19.

IMG_9884

Pevsner debates on the age of the house saying the front looks later 18th century but suggests there is evidence of this being an older house which was remodelled.

But the reason this house is preserved and now houses the William Morris Gallery is done to the descendants of a later occupier, one Edward Lloyd.

Edward Lloyd (1815 – 1890) was a London publisher. He published serialised fiction, known as Penny Dreadfuls. One such was called “A String of Pearls – a Romance” published in instalments between November 1846 and March 1847. This was the tale of Sweeney Todd, the demon barber of Fleet Street. Meat Pies again!

In 1842 he started a Sunday publication which was a newspaper in all but name. He tried various rouses to avoid stamp duty which was payable on newspapers at the time. But in the end gave up and it settled down to become Lloyd’s Weekly and be the only newspaper to reach a circulation of one million in the 19th century. He later created the Daily Chronicle.

As I noted when in E8 at the blue plaque for Marie Lloyd, she took her name from Lloyd’s Weekly. She said this was because everyone’s heard of Lloyd’s. But now Lloyd’s Weekly is long forgotten having gone bust in the early 1930s.

By the way do have a look at the Gallery. It is the only public gallery devoted to the life and legacy of William Morris: designer, craftsman, socialist.

http://www.wmgallery.org.uk/

It opens 10 until 5 Wednesday to Sunday, so don’t come on a Monday or Tuesday. (Same applies to the Vestry House Museum by the way)

So we are now at the end of our E17 walk. Thanks again to Jo for sharing her notes on E17. We have seen an old pie and mash shop, an old cinema and a new one, the kernel of the old village of Walthamstow, some impressive civic buildings and an important Gallery. Sadly though we did not get to the site of the now defunct dog track, the location of Grayson Perry’s old studio or the former Walthamstow Urban District Council tramway offices.

We are a little way from Walthamstow Central which is probably easiest for onward travel. You can walk there. Go down one of the road opposite the Gallery (eg Ruby Road or Gaywood Road) and that leads you in to Hoe Street which in turn will lead you to the station. Or else go back to Bell Corner and hop on a bus.

 

 

 

 

E16: Out of the strong came forth sweetness

Featured

E16 is Victoria Docks and North Woolwich and I have to say this postcode is quite unlike any other I have visited. It is a strange mix of industrial dereliction and modernity. Even though there has been a lot of building going on, much of it is still rather a wasteland.

We start our walk at the North Woolwich Post Office which is at 17 Pier Road, E16. This is just along the road from King George V Docklands Light Railway (DLR) station. Turn right out of the Post Office and go over the cross roads. Head towards the Woolwich Ferry. Our first stop is just on the left.

Stop 1: Royal Victoria Gardens

The area is a bit run down but suddenly – and rather unexpectedly – you come across a proper little park with grass and trees. This is Royal Victoria Gardens.

IMG_9519

According to the London Gardens Online site:

“Royal Victoria Gardens were opened by the LCC in 1890 on land acquired with funds raised through public subscription. The former marshland had been acquired by George Bidder’s North Woolwich Land Company in the 1840s and was rapidly developed for industrial use, encouraged by new rail and ferry links. In 1850 the proprietor of the Pavilion Hotel expanded his hotel and laid out tea gardens, which he opened in 1851 as the Royal Pavilion Pleasure Gardens. Crowds of visitors were attracted to its numerous entertainments but in the early 1880s it began to make a loss, but the site was saved from development. The public gardens were completely redesigned, with little remaining of the pleasure gardens apart from the riverside terraces and central walk. There were a series of cells of a different character or activity, and a bandstand in the centre of the southern terrace. The Gardens suffered bomb damage during 1940 and little of the Victorian layout remains today.”

There is more about these gardens on the attached link: http://www.londongardensonline.org.uk/gardens-online-record.asp?ID=NEW027

Now you will see a concrete ramp close to the entrance. Go up here. This leads onto the riverside walk.

IMG_9521

From the riverside walk you have a great view over to new developments on the other side of the river to the east of Woolwich.

IMG_9524

And go to the right and you will see another concrete walk way with our next stop peeking up beyond the flood wall.

IMG_9533

Go up these steps and view the building over the road.

Stop 2: Former North Woolwich Station

IMG_9528

This was once North Woolwich station.  And if you look closely you will also see the words (or at least many of the letters of the words) “Great Eastern Railway Museum”

IMG_9526

The station first opened in June 1847 at the southern end of the Eastern Counties and Thames Junction Railway from Stratford.

The route became an extension of the North London Line in 1979 and the line was electrified in 1984. But this end of the line became in effect a single track. The original station building here ceased to be used and was replaced by something rather more basic just along the way.

The station and the line to Stratford closed in December 2006 to allow for conversion of the North London Line between Stratford and Canning Town to become part of the DLR. But the far end of the line through Silvertown to North Woolwich did not become part of the DLR and so was abandoned – though we shall see much of it (but not this far end) is going to get a new lease of life. The area was not left isolated as it was served by King George V DLR station which opened in December 2005.

For over twenty years (from 1984 to 2008), the original North Woolwich station buildings and one disused platform became the North Woolwich Old Station Museum which was dedicated to the history of the Great Eastern Railway.

But as we can see this too is no longer. Here is what the Great Eastern Railway Society had to say about the closure:

“The Society regrets that the North Woolwich Old Station Museum closed at the end of November 2008.

Although the Great Eastern Railway Society had a significant interest in the Museum, and had contributed much to its opening and some of its displays it had no involvement in the Museum’s management. This was in the hands of the London Borough of Newham who, unfortunately, were no longer in a position to financially support the facility.

The contents of the Museum have not been moved together, but have been dispersed to various other locations:

* Some items have been returned to their owners who had placed them there on loan.
* The bulk of the smaller artefacts have gone to the East Anglian Railway Museum at Chappel.
* The GER horse-drawn parcels lorry has gone to Mangapps Railway Museum at Burnham-on-Crouch.
* Many documents have passed to the GERS and have been placed on loan and deposited at the Essex Record Office at Chelmsford.”

Kind of sad that this did not survive, but perhaps there were just not enough people interested in the Great Eastern Railway to justify it having a dedicated museum.

Now turn and look over towards the river for our next stop.

Stop 3: Woolwich Ferry

The Woolwich Ferry is a strange kind of relic that ought not to be here in the year 2016.

IMG_9543

There has been a ferry operating in Woolwich since at least the 14th century, and commercial crossings operated intermittently until the mid 19th century.

Today’s ferry operates as a free service under an 1885 Act of Parliament. Originally the service was operated by paddle steamers. New vessels came into use in 1923 and these in turn were replaced in 1963 by the present fleet of “Roll On Roll Off” ferries.

The three boats are named after prominent London politicians of the past:

*John Burns (1858 – 1943) – a Liberal politician who was at one time MP for Battersea.

*Ernest Bevin (1881 – 1951) a Labour politician who at the time of his death was MP for Woolwich East

* James Newman who was Mayor of Woolwich from 1923 to 1925.

 

IMG_9531

IMG_9540

Normally the service is operated by two boats and in recent years they have carried around 20,000 vehicles a week. This translates to about 2 million people when you count vehicle passengers and the odd traveller on foot.

The Woolwich Ferry is where the South and North Circular Roads meet in the east. The continued existence of a ferry here is because of the inability of successive Governments (national and local) to address the issue of building more road crossings across the Thames in the east of London.

Additional links such as the Thames Gateway Bridge and the Gallions Reach Crossing have been proposed as replacements, but the schemes have come and gone and nothing has been built. So there are no immediate plans to discontinue the Woolwich Ferry as long as there is a demand. But given the boats are now well over 50 years old, I guess there must come a time when a decision has to be taken to replace them or withdraw the service.

Interestingly Tolls cannot be levied on the ferry without changing the 1885 Act of Parliament, but that may be necessary if the ferry continues after new East London crossings have been created as these will have tolls in order to pay for them. And this means the ferry could not realistically be left as a free crossing.

Pedestrians do not have to wait for the ferry as there is also the option of using the Foot Tunnel – which is our next stop.

Stop 4: Woolwich Foot Tunnel

IMG_9558

This tunnel opened in 1912 and was in part due to the efforts of East End politician, Will Crook who we heard about in E14. The surface building is now Grade II listed.

Inside there is a lift and a spiral staircase. The lift has been automated but still has the old wooden panels inside, even if it no longer has a lift attendant.

IMG_9550

The number of people using the foot tunnel has declined particularly since the opening of the DLR service to Woolwich. It was eerily quiet when I was there.

IMG_9551

Back on the surface, there is probably the most depressing bus terminal in London.

IMG_9561

And just across the road is probably the most depressing riverside park in London. Clearly some money was spent on this once, as there are these various bits of industrial heritage artfully distributed.

IMG_9568

IMG_9564

But the area is strewn with litter and in many places it is overgrown. Have the authorities forgotten that this exists? Maybe once the vacant land near here gets built on, someone will find the money to rehabilitate this riverside garden.

Continue along Pier Road and then turn up Henley Road walking away from the river. Turn left into Factory Road.

As we walk along Factory Road we see indications of some Crossrail works, which are where the old railway line to North Woolwich used to be. Here the line is on the surface and about to go into a tunnel under the Thames to get to Woolwich and Abbey Wood.

IMG_9583

IMG_9582

As we head down Factory Road, a strange sight looms up. It is a chinese style canopy.

IMG_9586

And it turns out to be announcing the entrance to a Chinese cash and carry supermarket. It looks like it is closed, though, judging by the signs.

IMG_9587

There does seem to be quite a random selection of business down here. Just along a side road here there is a bus garage.

IMG_9592

This is the home of Docklands Buses which is actually a subsidiary of Go-Ahead London.

Continue walking along Factory Road and you will see our next stop up ahead on the left.

Stop 5: Tate & Lyle Silvertown refinery

This is the Thames Refinery operated by Tate and Lyle and one of the largest sugar refinery in the world and possibly the largest in the European Union.

It was opened by Henry Tate and Sons in the late 1870s. They manufactured sugar cubes here. Tate had not invented the sugar cube. In 1872, Henry Tate purchased the patent from a German called Eugen Langen and it made Tate’s fortune. That year he built a new refinery in Liverpool and later he opened a refinery here at Silvertown which remains in production.

IMG_9598

Curiously there is a sign for Lyle’s Golden Syrup. It seems odd to find it here as we shall see.

IMG_9720

IMG_9606

Stop 6: site of Silvertown station

Just here we are walking along side the old railway line that went to North Woolwich which was closed in 2006. As we saw this section is being reused for the Abbey Wood branch of Crossrail. There is a little gap in the wall where you can peek through to see the work in progress.

IMG_9604

Ahead you will see a footbridge on the right. If you go up onto that you can look at the line below. The tracks are laid but the overhead power lines have yet to go up.

IMG_9609

Just about here was the site of Silvertown station – no sign of this survives today. And there will be no station here when Crossrail opens in a couple of years. However there is what is called passive provision for a station, so one may get built at some point in the future – presumably once more of the land round here gets redeveloped.

And looking the other way (to the west) the line curves off to the right and heads towards the Connaught Tunnel, which has been rebuilt for Crossrail.

IMG_9610

You can also see a strange looking building to the left that looks like it might have escaped from Disneyland. That is our next stop which you reach by returning to Factory Road, turning right and carrying straight on.

Stop 7: Brick Lane Music Hall

This was St Mark’s Church dedicated in 1862. It is in gothic revival style and was built to stand out amongst the docks and industry.

The church was declared redundant in 1974 and bought in 1979 by Newham Council, with the intention of turning it into a museum. A major fire in 1981 largely destroyed the roof, which was replaced between 1984 and 1989. Wikipedia says that “the building could have been destroyed by fire had it not been for the weight of pigeon-muck on the roof which fell and quickly extinguished the flames.”

IMG_9617

On closer inspection this building is no longer a church but a venture called the Brick Lane Music Hall.

Their website claims it is “the only permanent home for music hall, we have a range of shows including traditional music hall bills as well as freshly devised production shows with more up to date and innovative material.”

As the name suggests it started life in Brick Lane – that was in 1992. It then moved to Shoreditch and ended up here in 2003/04. And what a good use for the building.

However it does feel quite out of the way for a place of entertainment. I am sure many people would not feel safe here at night, even today when the area is at last getting some new development.

Continue walking straight ahead. You will see the DLR viaduct coming in from your right. Past the roundabout the road continues as North Woolwich Road. Follow the DLR viaduct. 

IMG_9632

Our next stop is just to the left.

Stop 8: Thames Barrier Park

IMG_9635

The Thames Barrier is a movable flood barrier which has been operational since 1984. Its aim is to protect London wast of here from being flooded by exceptionally high tides and storm surges moving up river from the North Sea. You first see the barrier in the distance along a road behind a gate..

IMG_9634

But then you come to a park with great views of the Barrier. This park which dates from 1995 was apparently built on the site of a chemical factory and this land was highly polluted.

IMG_9641

IMG_9644

There is a visitors’ centre for the Barrier but it is on the other side of the River. but on this side there is a cafe and a rather lovely “Green Dock”

IMG_9649

Now head away from the river towards the DLR viaduct and Pontoon Dock station.

Stop 9: Millennium Mills

Our next stop can be seen from  the station. This is the imposing Millennium Mills.

IMG_9657

Apparently this area was important for flour milling. This particular building is one of the few reminders. It dates from the mid 1930s and was built for Spillers. There have been many plans to redevelop or reuse this site since the docks were closed in 1981, but it does look like something is finally about to happen.

Now continue along North Woolwich Road past Pontoon Dock Station and turn left down Bradfield Road. Ahead of you on the left you will see a little park.

Stop 10: Lyle Park

In 1924, Sir Leonard Lyle, a grandson of Abram Lyle (the Lyle of Tate and Lyle), donated the land to the local council to be used as a park for the benefit of local residents.

As you approach the park, the first gate you come to may be locked but if you carry on to your right, there is another gate near the children’s play area and you can get in there.

It is worth a detour as there are a couple of interesting things to see.

IMG_9685

As you walk in the park widens out and there is a single football pitch. Go to the right and in the far corner you will come across this little monument.

IMG_9704

This is a First World War Memorial in the form of a water fountain.

IMG_9701

And amazingly the tap actually works. When pushed it produces water!

Now walk the length of the football pitch and go up the steps. Ahead is another item of interest – a set of ornamental gates leading to nowhere.

IMG_9688

The sign explains these gates stood at the entrance to the Harland and Woolf shipyard in Woolwich Manor Way – which confusingly is actually on the north side of the river in E16 and not in Woolwich.

IMG_9690

Harland and Woolf is most famously associated with Belfast and their shipyard there was where the ill fated Titanic was built. I had not realised the company had a number of other locations, including here in North Woolwich.

You can walk over to the riverside here and see the odd mix of wharves and other industrial buildings with a sprinkling of new housing developments.

IMG_9693

IMG_9696

And there is a nice touch on one of the benches.

IMG_9698

I guess a fairly recent addition, but frustratingly whoever sponsored the seat did not think to put a date or dates on the little plaque.

Now retrace your steps to the main road. Notice how this little park is hemmed in by industrial sites even today – in fact on the west side there is a construction waste processing plant which you can see in a couple of places looming over the boundary. You can also hear the noise of the operation with the odd boom shattering the otherwise tranquil park.

IMG_9705

Stop 11: Tate & Lyle’s other works

Having left Lyle Park go back under the DLR and turn left. Follow the main road (with the DLR above your head) past the new housing developments going down to the river.

IMG_9676

Ahead is West Silvertown DLR station and when you get to the station you can see on the other side of the viaduct the other Tate and Lyle factory here.

We are around a mile from the Thames Refinery and this is Plaistow Wharf. It is the home of Lyle’s Golden Syrup and was first opened by Abram Lyle in the 1880s. And it still makes Golden Syrup today.

In 1921 Lyle’s business merged with Tate, to become Tate & Lyle. In 2010 Tate & Lyle sold its sugar refining and golden syrup business to American Sugar Refining, although Tate and Lyle still exists as a business – it just does not refine sugar anymore.

What is so odd is that with all the closures and rationalisations that happen in business, the Tate and Lyle empire have kept the two factories here, even though they are so close together.

IMG_9718

Lyle’s Golden Syrup tin bears a picture of a dead lion with a swarm of bees and the slogan “Out of the strong came forth sweetness”. This is a reference to a Old Testament Biblical story (Judges – Chapter 14) This has Samson travelling to the land of the Philistines in search of a wife. During the journey he killed a lion, and when he passed the same spot on his return he noticed that some bees had colonised in the carcass.

Samson later turned this into a riddle: “Out of the eater came forth meat and out of the strong came forth sweetness”. Abram Lyle was a religious man, and it has been suggested that the use of this quote refers either to the strength of the Lyle company or the tins in which golden syrup is sold. But no one actually knows for sure.

And according to Guinness World Records Lyle’s Golden Syrup is Britain’s oldest brand, its imagery being almost unchanged since 1885.

While we are here do look ahead from the station.

IMG_9714

You get a great view of Canary Wharf and also the cable car.

IMG_9708

We are now at the end of our E16 walk which has proved a walk of contrasts. A new world is slowing emerging from the industrial dereliction but it still has pockets of working industry which makes for an interesting mix. But there is more to see in E16 – we did not manage to get to Canning Town or London City Airport for example.

We are right by West Silvertown station here for onward travel.

 

E15: Robert and the Railway Tree

Featured

E15 is Stratford, a place which grew because of the railway and more recently became the location of the 2012 Olympics – though the Olympic Park is now a separate new postcode (E20) which we shall come to in due course. But Stratford was here long before the railway, when there was an Abbey.

We start our walk at Stratford’s main Post Office which is at 26 – 28 The Broadway. Outside is one of those postboxes painted gold following the 2012 Olympics. This one is slightly different from most of the others in that it does not celebrate a particular athlete but rather the Games themselves. (The paint job hasn’t weathered too well though)

IMG_9421

Walk as if you have turned right out of the Post Office and soon you will come upon the Langthorne pub.

IMG_9423

I am sure the drinkers in here have no idea about where the name of this pub came from. It comes from the name of the medieval Abbey that stood nearby until the 1530s. Sadly there is nothing of the Abbey left to see, so far as I am aware.

Continue walking and ahead you will see a traffic island. Go onto that.

Stop 1: The Railway Tree

Here in the middle of the road is our first stop. It is an artwork made out of rail shaped metal and it is called “The Railway Tree”. This celebrates Stratford’s railway history as a major railway centre for both passengers and freight and also as the locomotive works of the Great Eastern Railway.

IMG_9428

There is a plaque below which explains this is by Malcolm Robertson and dates from 1996. It was commissioned by Stratford City Challenge – City Challenge was a now largely forgotten scheme of the 1990s to encourage regeneration.

IMG_9426

Keep heading away from your start point and cross the carriageway to your right.

As we head over the bridge, look out for this Meridian marker in the pavement on the bridge. We saw some different style markers when in E11. We also saw a building called Meridian House in E14 which turned out not to be on the Meridian at all!

IMG_9433

Now look over the road.

Stop 2: Sync (former Rex Cinema and Borough Theatre)

IMG_9431

The first theatre here was opened in 1896 as the Borough Theatre and Opera House. It seated 3,000 and was designed by Frank Matcham. Look up and you will see the name of the original theatre.

IMG_9430

And now look down and you will see a little head.

IMG_9461

This is apparently Beethoven, though quite why I have no idea. He did write a couple of Operas –  Fidelio being the best known. But I wouldn’t have thought he would be first choice on a building that called itself (however briefly) an Opera House.

The first incarnation of this building closed in 1933 and then well known cinema designer George Coles created a modern cinema here with a new corner entrance and a 1,889 seat Art Deco auditorium. It reopened as the Rex Cinema in 1934. In 1935 it was taken over by Associated British Cinemas who operated it until closure in 1969.

According to the wonderful Cinema Treasures site, it was converted into a bingo club which remained until 1974 when it briefly became a cinema again for a few months, screening Asian movies. The building then lay empty and decaying for 21 years.

In 1996, the original stage house and dressing room block were demolished and a new high-tech unit was built. The rest of the building was restored to its 1934 condition and became a multi-use venue for concerts, live performances and a nightclub with a capacity of 2,500 patrons.

Since then it has had a somewhat chequered history having closed in 2007 and again in 2009. In late October 2012, it reopened as Sync, but it seems to be closed again now.

Now cross the main road. There is no actual crossing nearby but there seem to be big gaps in the traffic so it is quite easy.

Stop 3: Stratford High Street Station

This looks like a railway station and indeed it was. It also now appears to be the entrance a Docklands Light Railway (DLR) station but all is not quite what it seems – as we shall see.

IMG_9437

The first station here was built by the Eastern Counties and Thames Junction Railway in 1847 on the line from Stratford to Canning Town. The line was leased to the Eastern Counties Railway which itself became part of the Great Eastern Railway in 1862. Initially it was called Stratford Bridge station but it was renamed Stratford Market station in 1880 after the nearby fruit and vegetable market.

In 1892 it was rebuilt for the Great Eastern Railway, so that is the date of this building. The station closed in 1957 although the line however continue to function until 2006. It was rebuilt as part of the Stratford International extension of the DLR and a station was put back here which opened in 2011. But interestingly the station building did not get reused for the new station, as can be seen when one actually walks round.

IMG_9446

The DLR station is completely separate from the old building.

Return to the High Street and turn right. Out next stop is a little way along on the right.

Stop 4: Stratford Town Hall

First you will see the old Fire Brigade building. Architectural expert Pevsner suggests that all that remains of the original 1860s building is the small section with the carved inscription. the rest of the building to the right is slightly later dating from the 1870s.

IMG_9469

Note these old telephone boxes which I believe are of the K6 variety. They are available to let as very small shops!

IMG_9467

But the main attraction here is the Old Town Hall itself. The first section was completed in 1868 and then it was enlarged in the 1880s. Pevsner describes this as a “confidently Victorian version of arched cinquecento”, in other words in the style of the Italian Renaissance of the 16th century,

IMG_9382

By the way look over the road. In the middle you will see a plain obelisk.

IMG_9380

This dates from 1861, and is dedicated to Sir Samuel Gurney who lived at Ham House. The grounds of that house are now West Ham Park as we saw when we were in E7. He was one of the many Quakers to contribute to the area’s civic and charitable life in the 19th century.

Keep walking along the main road.

Stop 5: King Edward VII pub

Just along here on the right there is an older interloper which is the two storey King Edward VII pub. Pevsner describes this as an 18th establishment remodelled in the 19th century with “ornate and bumptious doorcases”.

IMG_9394

This is quite an unusual name for a pub and it turns out that this pub was called “The King of Prussia” until the beginning of the First World War. Obviously not a great name to have then so it got changed. But it did not get the name of the then current monarch but the previous one. Presumably it was felt it was not quite proper to name the pub after a living British King.

This is quite an interesting survivor of an old style pub and feels like it should be in some small country town and not in East London.

Continue walking along the main road. Our next stop is on the right.

Stop 6: Number 55 – 57 Broadway (site of Empire theatre)

This modern building was the site of the Stratford Empire theatre.

IMG_9384

The Empire Palace of Varieties was opened on 3rd April 1899. Initially part of the London and District Empire Palaces it soon became part of the Moss Empire chain.

The building was designed by noted theatre architect W.G.R. Sprague, From 1906, the Empire Theatre was equipped to screen films as part of the variety programme and this continued for many years.

The building received a direct hit from German bombs in October 1940. The wreck of the building stood until it was demolished in 1958. At one point the office building here was named Empire House but that does not seem t be the case anymore.

Continue along The Broadway and cross over at the junction with the lights. This is the start of Romford road. Our next stop is ahead on the right.

Stop 7: Stratford Library

IMG_9389

This modern building, dating from 2000, need not detain us. The focus here is immediately outside the Library where there are a couple of memorials.

First is to the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844 – 1889)

IMG_9392

The reason for this stone is that he was born in a house near here and it was his childhood home until 1852. He was brought up in the High Anglican tradition but converted to Catholicism and became a Jesuit priest.

IMG_9391

I do not know much about poetry but apparently much of Hopkins’s historical importance is about how he challenged what had hitherto been the conventional rhythyms of poetry.

The second memorial seems to have two dedications. The upper panel relates to a woman called Edith Kerrison (1850 – 1934) and below there is the inscription: “Erected by many friends in memory of a life of service to others”

IMG_9388

She was the first woman councillor to be elected to West Ham Borough Council and was an advocate for women and children. Today there is a nursery school named after her in E16.

But below this is a reminder that there was at one time gardens here. According to this plaque they were damaged in the Second world War and were restored for the 1951 Festival of Britain.

IMG_9387

No sign of these gardens now!

Cross the main road and head for the big church you can see ahead of you. Go past the church and into the driveway on the left to find our next stop.

Stop 8: The Martyrs Monument

Here in front of St John the Evangelist Church is a rather large Victorian memorial.

IMG_9485

This commemorates the burning at the stake of 11 men and 2 women in the 1550s under Queen Mary. They were protestants who refused to recant their beliefs. . There seem to be a few more people who were killed for their protestant beliefs who get a mention on this memorial.

It is not exactly clear whether this was the site of the actual burning. It might have been at the Fairfield in Bow – we stopped by there when in E3. Even St John’s own website suggests that this bit of Stratford may not have been the actual location: http://www.stjohnse15.co.uk/fabric/martyrs.html

IMG_9482

IMG_9481

Although it says erected in 1878, it was actually inaugurated in a ceremony on 2 August 1879, presided over by the Earl of Shaftesbury.

Now return to the street and our next stop is just over the road.

Stop 9: Broadway shops

Long before the arrival of the Westfield Shopping Centre, Stratford was once an important suburban shopping centre. It had a couple of department stores. One was called Boardmans which was at numbers 64 – 76 The Broadway and seemed to go round the corner into a side street built over by the Stratford Shopping Centre in the early 1970s.

IMG_9476

There is a photograph on the Newham Council website which shows the store in 1971 when it was celebrating its centenary.

http://www.newhamphotos.com/p607709718/h2334BAA9#h1b03ae4f

It was taken over by a Southend Department Store called Keddies later in the 1970s but closed down in 1984. The building was demolished and an office block was built on the site, called Boardman House, with a few shops on the ground floor.

IMG_9477

Then just a little further east at Numbers 78 – 102 was another large store, the Co-Op. This is a 1950s building which has survived.

IMG_9489

Today it is mostly taken up by Wilkos but there is also a Poundstretcher and a pub called The Goose.

IMG_9517

Return towards the Library and before you get there, take a turn down Salway Place (Maplins is on the corner). It looks like just an alley but keep walking and you find yourself in Stratford’s “cultural quarter”. We pass an arts centre called Stratford Circus on our left, which opened in 2001. And on our right is the Picturehouse cinema dating from 1997.

IMG_9509

Keep on and you get to a little piazza called Gerry Raffles Square. Gerry Raffles (1928–1975) worked with director Joan Littlewood on such productions as A Taste of Honey and Oh! What a Lovely War. But he was also her partner for many years. But we are jumping ahead.

Stop 10: Theatre Royal

We cannot come to E15 and not visit this veritable institution.

IMG_9508

This theatre dates from 1884. It had a make over by renown theatre architect Frank Matcham in 1902. For most of its life it has been known as the Theatre Royal Stratford East, presumably to distinguish it from other Theatre Royals, notably Drury Lane and Haymarket.

It seems to have been a rather struggling enterprise, opening and then closing though the 1920s and 1930s. But its survival today is down to what happened after the Second World War when Joan Littlewood’s Theatre Workshop company took a lease on the theatre in 1953.

Theatre Workshop had been formed in 1945 as a touring company.  They presented a mixed programme of classics and modern plays with contemporary themes. But the theatre they took on in Stratford was virtually derelict and no funds were available for renovation. The actors cleaned and painted the auditorium between rehearsals – and to save money the cast and crew slept in the dressing rooms, although Joan Littlewood had a home to go to – which she apparently did.

Many well known actors began their professional careers at Theatre Workshop under Littlewood. They included Harry H. Corbett, Richard Harris, Nigel Hawthorne and Barbara Windsor.

“Fings ain’t wot they used t’be” also started off here. Originally it was as a play about East End low life written by a man called Frank Norman but after Joan Littlewood read it, she asked Lionel Bart to write the music and lyrics. It was first performed by Theatre Workshop, produced and directed by Littlewood in February 1959. And the next year Bart produced his most famous work, the musical Oliver! based on the Dickens’ story of Oliver Twist.

IMG_9497

This sculpture of Joan Littlewood outside the theatre is by Philip Jackson (1944 – ) and dates from 2015. We saw another of his works in our E13 walk – he was responsible for the World Cup statue near the old West Ham Football Ground.

I have to say though it reminds me of those real life “statues” you see in tourist places usually painted gold or else as a character from Star Wars or Tolkien. There is something decidedly odd about sticking the figure on a little pole like this.

IMG_9501

Now head onto the main road and turn left, following the main road round until you get to the crossing. Go over that and ahead is our next stop.

Stop 11: Stratford Station

Stratford was an early railway centre and today it is one of the major transport hubs in London, with not only a major rail interchange but also a large bus station.

IMG_9367

IMG_9373

IMG_9370

Outside there is an old steam engine called Robert.

IMG_9365

But all is not what it seems. This engine has nothing whatsoever to do with Stratford’s railway history, so why is it here?

IMG_9368

As the sign explains, it was built in Bristol for an industrial railway in Northamptonshire. It ended up in London because it was bought by the London Docklands Development Corporation as an example of a 20th century industrial steam engine. It was put on display in Beckton initially but was moved here in 2011 “to commemorate the area’s association with railways which began when the first station opened here by the Eastern Counties Railway in 1839.”

The railway has been an important part of the development of Stratford. But the story of the building of the various lines though Stratford is as tangled as the railway lines themselves and I cannot do justice to the story so here is a link to Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stratford_station

However I will just mention the eccentric platform numbering.

IMG_9359

Platforms 1 and 2 were added in 2009 and are on the north side of the station, next to platform 12. They were built for the London Overground North London line which now runs from here to Richmond and Clapham Junction.

At one time the North London line ran between North Woolwich and Richmond via a pair of low level platforms which were numbered 1 and 2. But the DLR took over the most of route south from Stratford and these platforms after being rebuilt for DLR became numbered 16 and 17.

That is because they are next to the Jubilee line platforms opened in 1999 which were numbered 13 to 15. That meant all the low level platforms could be numbered in a single group. I guess the alternative would have been to keep platforms 1 and 2 next to platforms 13 – 15, but then the new London Overground platforms would have to be numbered 16 and 17 but next to platform 12.

But it does not stop there. If you then go on to the high level platforms you discoverpPlatforms 4a and b are not between platforms 3 and 5 as you might expect. As you enter from the main ticket hall, they are off to the left before you get to platform 3. This is because there used to be a little bay platform numbered 4 between platforms 3 and 5. This was taken over when the DLR first got to Stratford from Poplar. However the end of this line was all single track and when capacity had to be increased some of the single track was doubled and a two platform station created at Stratford.

The original platform 4 was abandoned and the new DLR platforms (which were no longer between platforms 3 and 5) were numbered 4a and 4b.

So hopefully should you be wandering round Stratford station and wondering why the platforms numbers are not in a logical order, that is the reason.

So that brings us to the end of our E15 walk – a bit of theatrical history, a bit of railway history, a bit of shopping history plus some monuments including one which is probably not in the right place. As we are at Stratford station, I hardly need to tell you about onward travel!

E5: Blame it on the Rivoli

Featured

E5 is Clapton which is often confused with Clapham, but of course it is a completely different place.

We start our walk at Upper Clapton Post Office which is just at the start of Mount Pleasant Lane near its junction with Upper Clapton Road.

Turn right out of the Post Office and walk along Mount Pleasant Lane. The road straight ahead becomes Mount Pleasant Hill and goes over the railway. Keep going straight past the former industrial buildings on your left. Turn left into Theydon road (there is a Co-op store on the corner). Our first stop is just on the left.

Stop 1: De Havilland House

This is now flats but was once part of a factory.

IMG_7495

IMG_7153

It seems that this building was designed in the 1930s by Sir Owen Williams (1890 -1969), who was the forefront of developing the use of concrete.

He was the engineer responsible for the three 1930s Daily Express buildings (London, Glasgow and Manchester) and was also architect for the latter. His practice was responsible for a number of road structures, most notably Gravelly Hill Interchange (better known as Spaghetti Junction) which was completed after his death.

According to the View from the Bridge website

http://www.leabridge.org.uk/gazetteer/photo-album/de-havilland-building-2.html

“The De Havilland Building is an early modern movement building in the international style.

It is a concrete frame building with a very thin single layer of reinforced concrete forming the building envelope. De Havilland House is a former ‘Metal Box’ factory.

The attribution to De Havilland, the aircraft company, has not been sourced, but may speak to the first flight of an English aircraft by an English pilot of A.V. Roe nearby.”

But the aircraft connection makes it sound better than if it were just a plain old metal bashing factory.

Carry on walking along Theydon Road. It turns to the left. just before it goes under the railway there is a bit of a yard on your right. This has a way through to the River. Go down the yard and then when you get to the riverside path turn left and go under the railway

IMG_7485

Stop 2: Riverside walk (and Anchor and Hope pub)

So here we have the River Lea. It is quite attractive here

IMG_7488

However it is very flat. And it is crisscrossed by pylons and railway lines with much dull building in the distance.

IMG_7481

Now as you may know singer Adele has a song on her latest album called “River Lea”. She spent her early years in Tottenham, so probably would not have come this far along the river. However I thought I would mention it as we are by the River Lea – although for the first few times I heard the song I thought she was singing about “The Rivoli”, which of course she isn’t.

Keep on walking and there is a reasonable looking pub The Anchor and Hope. I wonder if the name comes from people who are not used to sailing boats and when they stop they put down their anchor and hope…

IMG_7159

It is all very modest, although I guess in summer this gets mobbed.

Stop 3: Springfield Park

Just a little further along the path, there is a children’s playground on the right and then on the left is the entrance to Springfield Park.

Springfield Park opened in 1905 and was the grounds of three houses, one of which was retained as we shall see.

IMG_7162

Go in this entrance and follow the path which goes up the hill to your left. You can look back across the River Lea to the other side.

IMG_7164

As we saw this bit of the river Lea is not at all industrial and the view is quite pleasant in a low key unflashy way

Follow the path round and head for the pond. Keeping the pond to your left.

IMG_7165

Then ahead of you you will see a house.

IMG_7169

This is now the Ranger’s Office and a cafe with toilets, but was one of the original houses whose grounds now form this park

Go out the gate at this end of the park. Go right into the road (which is called Springfield) and at the end turn left into Upper Clapton Road. Our next stop is quite a walk along the main road.

Stop 4: Clapton Station

Clapton station is on the left. The station building is quite unprepossessing and rather too close to the road.

IMG_7152

Downstairs the old station has half survived.

IMG_7146

That is the London bound platform still has what looks like the original canopy and a covered stairway, whilst the outbound platform has lost what ever canopy it might have originally had. It also has an open staircase. However there is an ugly looking modern canopy so you are not completely in the open if you are waiting for a train going to Walthamstow or Chingford.

Keep walking along Upper Clapton Road. Our next stop is on the right at the corner of Brooke Road.

Stop 5: site of Brooke House

Today there is a college on this site.

IMG_7172

But once there was a grand house. According to the architectural bible, Pevsner, Brooke House was Hackney’s most important mansion.

It was a courtyard house of medieval origin. Its owners included Thomas Cromwell amongst others. It was demolished in 1954/55 after partial war damage. Pevsner says that a 15th Century wall painting from the Chapel is in the Museum of London, whilst panelling is in Harrow School.

A secondary school was built on the site in the late 1950s. The building was reclad later and is now used as a sixth form college.

Just beyond here is a roundabout which seems totally out of keeping with the streets around. It must have been part of a bigger plan which never got realised.

There is a bus park in the middle. This is where the buses which stop at Clapton Pond go to rest.

IMG_7173

Go straight on at the roundabout which takes you into Lower Clapton Road.

Our next stop is just on the right.

Stop 6: Former Kenninghall Cinema

This building currently looks disused

IMG_7180

But it was once a cinema. You can see there is some kind of hall structure behind the entrance.

This started as a cinema in 1910. that was when the function room of  the White Hart public house built in 1896 was converted into a cinema, known as the Clapton Cinematograph Theatre. In 1919 it was given a new name – the Kenninghall Kinema after the nearby Kenninghall Road.

It was taken over by the Odeon chain in April 1938 and a new modern facade and foyer was added to the building, designed by architect George Coles. The plan was eventually to demolish the Kenninghall Kinema and build a modern Odeon Theatre on the expanded site of the cinema and the adjacent pub.

Due to the Second World War the redevelopment never happened and the Kenning Hall Cinema (as it had become) carried on as an unimportant outpost of the Odeon circuit.

It was leased out to an Independent operator from 1958 and eventually closed in June 1979. It was unused for a while until 1983 when it was converted into a nightclub. initially called Duggies. Then it had a couple of name changes; Elite Nightclub and the Palace Pavilion.

This was not the nicest of areas gaining the tag “The Murder Mile”. The White Hart pub building next door closed down after shootings and drug related crime which also affected the nightclub. That seems to have closed down in April 2006.

A local community group, The Friends of Clapton Cinematograph Theatre, was set up in December 2006  with the aim of preserving and restoring cinema. This Group still appears to exist as they have a meeting in May 2016. But it is unclear what has happened to the idea  of reviving the cinema.

The Friends website http://www.saveourcinema.org/ seems silent on the matter and the sign on the outside the building says it is the property of a rather obscure church.

IMG_7179

Keep walking along Lower Clapton Road. There is then a C of E church and our next stop is just past that.

Stop 7: Site of ABC cinema

Another anonymous block of flats, you might say.

IMG_7197

But once this was the site of another cinema. It opened in October 1939 as the Ritz Cinema, although it was built by Associated British Cinemas (ABC). It was in Art Deco styles with seating in stalls and circle.

According to the wonderful Cinema Treasures site, the Ritz Cinema had a very uneventful life. The only significant happening was in 1962 when its name was changed to ABC to bring it into line with all the other cinemas in the circuit.

The ABC closed in September 1973 and within weeks the building was demolished. The empty site stood unused apart from cars parking on it. In 1994 a block of flats was built on the site.

Keep walking along the main road and cross over.

Stop 8: Clapton Pond

You can hardly miss our next stop surrounded as it is with railings.

IMG_7182

I have often seen Clapton Pond as a destination of buses. And here it is. A fairly small pond in a fairly small garden.

IMG_7196

On the far side from the main road are some older houses – from the time when Clapton was a country village.

IMG_7186

Our next stop is on the far side of the pond from the main road.

Stop 9: Bishop Wood almshouses

This is the range of buildings to the left as you look from the main road.

IMG_7192

And there is a plaque explaining about the almshouses.

IMG_7191

The almshouses were built with money left by Thomas Wood (1607 – 1692), who was born in Clapton and became Bishop of Lichfield after the English Civil War.

The homes were refurbished in the 1880s and again in the 1930s. A gothic style chapel was added in the 19th century and it was said to be one of England’s smallest places of worship.

It seems to be up for sale. Indeed it may even have been sold by now.

Here is a report from the Hackney Citizen dated 20 February 2014:

http://hackneycitizen.co.uk/2014/02/25/bishop-wood-almshouses-sale/

Dr Spurstowe and Bishop Wood Almshouses Charity, which owns the buildings, said it would “dearly love” to refurbish them but claimed this work would cost “getting on for three quarters of a million pounds”.

A spokesperson added: “The charity cannot justify spending that kind of money to provide only four modern flats.”

The last residents were relocated to Dr Spurstowe and Bishop Wood Almshouse on Navarino Road in 2103.

You can understand the charity’s dilemma. But at the end of the day, it surely must be better from them to realise the value in this historic building and build something which is better to suited for older people to live in.

Clearly this is not going to be knocked down and it would be much better to have a sensitive refurbishment and reuse by someone with deeper pockets than for the charity to struggle to maintain such heritage buildings.

Continue walking along Lower Clapton Road. 

Stop 10: Site of Rink Cinema

Our next stop is opposite the corner of Linscott Road

IMG_7203

Now I do not normally stop at petrol stations but I make an exception here as it is built on the site of a very old cinema.

Well actually it started out as a rolling skating rink in December 1909. Unfortunately the Clapton Premier Skating Rink opened just as the craze for roller skating was in decline. It briefly became a dance hall and in 1910 was converted into an ice rink.

This too did not last and in spring 1911 it was rebuilt as a cinema. It opened in July 1911 as the Clapton Rink Cinema, seating 2,000 with a mixed programme of cinema and variety acts.

By 1928 it had been acquired by Gaumont British Theatres who the policy of cine-variety running for a few years. It was closed when German bombs badly damaged the cinema in 1942. It never reopened as it was considered irreparable. The remains were finally demolished in 1950 and a petrol station was built on the site.

Now go down Linscott Road

Stop 11: The Portico

Our next stop is straight ahead – and what a surprising vista along a suburban side street

IMG_7206

IMG_7208

This is now part of a secondary school but this portico is all that remains of the London Orphan Asylum founded in 1813. This particularly impressive structure dates from the early 1820s.

The Salvation Army took over the premises in 1881 and created a huge assembly hall by roofing over a courtyard. This seated 4,700 people according to Pevsner.

The majority of the building was demolished in 1975 to make space for the Clapton Girls Technology College. And this later became Clapton Girls Academy. But it seems the Portico was not used and languished as a heritage building “at risk”.

In 1999 a temporary installation by Turner Prize winning artist Martin Creed stimulated public interest in the Portico. This was titled Work No.203 and was a large neon text installed on the front of the Portico which read “Everything is Going to be Alright”.

This “artwork” has since been acquired by the Tate, see: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/creed-work-no-203-everything-is-going-to-be-alright-t12799/text-summary

And in a way it was alright. As part of the Labour Government’s Building Schools for the Future a new building was created incorporating the Portico. This opened in 2010 as the Portico City Learning Centre – a place where students and teachers can access the most up to date computer technology.

Now return to the main road and turn left.

Stop 12: The Round Chapel

Here just at the corner of Powerscroft Road is another religious building.

IMG_7209

This was built by the United Reformed Church between 1869 and 1871 and Pevsner describes it as one of the finest non-conformist buildings in London.

IMG_7213

It apparently has a magnificent interior. Clearly far too big for the modern day church, it was repaired and refurbished in the mid 1990s as a performing arts centre.

IMG_7211

So that brings us to the end of our E5 walk. Some fascinating stuff as ever. There are fragments of the old village still poking out by the pond and reminders of the strong tradition of non conformist church going in this part of London with the Round Chapel and also the former Salvation Army building. We also saw some reminders of how even less busy suburbs could have numerous cinemas – we saw three locations in quite a short distance.

We also saw a little bit of industrial heritage and there was a nice park going down to the River Lea. Even the river has it charms, although when you are wandering the streets of Clapton you would not really know that it is there just down the hill.

For onward travel either retrace your steps back to Clapton station (which is quite a trek) or else take one of the many buses that run along Lower Clapton Road. Hackney is really just around the corner and even though the tube has not got here, it has plenty of Overground connections.

E4: A hunting we will go …

Featured

E4 is Chingford, which has the distinction of being the most northerly London postcode (even though it is an E postcode). It is also the only London postcode to include an area which is not within the administrative district of Greater London, more of which anon. I am grateful to fellow guide and resident Chingfordian, Joanna Moncrieff for sharing some of her extensive knowledge of the area.

We start our walk at Chingford Post Office which is at 104 Station Road, E4 6AP. Turn left out of the Post Office and our first stop is just along the road opposite the Station.

Stop 1: Doric House – site of a cinema

IMG_7225

This dull looking building on the corner of Station Road and Connaught Avenue replaced a cinema. When the cinema first opened in October 1920, it was called the Chingford Pavilion. It was re-named Chingford Cinema in late 1929 after it had been equipped to screen sound films.

It was renamed Doric Cinema in May 1941, closing in July 1957. It reopened under new owners in January 1959, as the New Doric Cinema but closed for good in 1961 to be demolished for offices. Today there is a Driving Test Centre operating from the building.

Our next stop is right opposite.

Stop 2: Chingford Station

The railway arrived in Chingford in 1873. The Great Eastern Railway’s plan was originally for a line to High Beach in order to serve Epping Forest. Initially the line was built as far as Chingford.

The first station in Chingford was in Kings Road (then called Bulls Lane) near the junction with Larkshall Road (then called Hale End Road). But in 1878 the line was extended about 600 yards towards the Forest and the original terminus was replaced by a much grander station on the edge of town, overlooking the forest.

IMG_7222

The relocation of the station was actually less convenient for those who wanted to go to Chingford. This was all about encouraging leisure travellers to visit the forest and to stimulate suburban growth in what were then fields. But the way the station was built does suggest the plan was for the line to go further, as they did not put the station building across the end of the tracks.

IMG_7220

IMG_7219

Well the line to High Beach never happened because by the 1870s there was quite a movement to stop Epping Forest land being enclosed for agriculture or being built on. This lead to the Epping Forest Act 1878 which halted the loss of forest land. Epping Forest ceased to be a royal forest and the City of London Corporation took over as Conservators. They still perform this role today, as we shall see.

And this explains why the built up area of Chingford stops so abruptly here.

Now turn right out of the station forecourt and follow the main road, which is Station Road and then becomes Rangers Road.

Note the road going off to the left (Bury Road)

IMG_7229

Seems odd to see a sign for Epping Forest with a City of London crest and a street sign showing a London postcode.

Keep walking along the main road. You will need to use the left hand path (the forest side) as the right hand path does not go all the way.

Our next stop is just as the road bends.

Stop 3: Former Royal Forest Hotel

The first hotel was built here in 1881 but it was much rebuilt in 1925 after a fire.

IMG_7233

As you can see it is a huge building – testament to the fact that this was a destination. This building was here to capitalise on the visitors who came on the train for a day out in Epping Forest. Not sure how many of them would have stayed the night but it does seem to have been a hotel as well – rather than just for serving daytrippers with refreshments.

How sad it is now a Premier Inn, with a Brewers Fayre catering facility (I hesitate to call it a restaurant).

IMG_7235

But at least it has not suffered the fate of Jack Straw’s Castle on Hampstead Heath which we saw in NW3.

Our next stop is just next door.

Stop 4: Queen Elizabeth’s Hunting Lodge

The Royal Forest Hotel may be fake Tudor but here we have the real thing.

IMG_7237

This is called Queen Elizabeth’s Hunting Lodge even though it was built for her father King Henry VIII in 1543. It is apparently a unique example of a surviving timber-framed hunt lodge.

It was built so that Royals could shoot deer from the first floor rather than go to the inconvenience of having to chase them round the forest. Note the whole building is whitewashed, which is how it should be, as opposed to what one usually sees where the structural timbers are painted black.

The building, like Epping Forest itself, is run by the City of London Corporation. The lodge is open to the public and has displays on Tudor food and fashion. (There is also a building between the Hotel and the lodge which is called The View and contains a display on the history and ecology of Epping Forest. That is where you go to ask for access to the Lodge if its door is locked)

IMG_7239

Inside it is clearly geared up for the school/children audience but it is still worth venturing in to find out more about the building.

IMG_7242

IMG_7241

That chap in the fireplace gave me quite a turn. He is rather good at keeping totally still.

Do go upstairs for the view.

IMG_7248

Obviously these deer are sitting targets, being made of wood.

Whilst you are here do have a look at the building just a little further along past the green.

IMG_7252

This is called “The Butlers Retreat”. Today it is a cafe serving lovely food but it was originally a barn built in the mid 19th century. It is named after John Butler who lived here in the 1890s. It is one of the few remaining Victorian retreats within the forest. Retreats were promoted by the Temperance movement and so served only non-alcoholic refreshment.

Now retrace your steps back to just past Bury Road. Now the development is on both sides of the road. You will see a path striking off on your right along side the golf course running parallel to the edge. Go down this. Or alternatively you can walk along the road (called with startling originality “Forest View”). This street has not been adopted by the local authority and it shows.

IMG_7257

You might complain about your local council’s road maintenance but public roads never ever get this bad!

If you are on the road hop back on the forest side path when you get to Eglington Road. Keep on walking up the hill in a roughly straight line and then when you get near the crest turn left. You should be able to see our next stop.

Stop 5: Pole Hill

We are on Pole Hill and you can see there is a stone obelisk.

IMG_7261

This was was erected in 1824 under the direction of John Pond then the Astronomer Royal and it was to mark true north for the telescopes of the Royal Observatory at Greenwich.

IMG_7264

It was placed on high ground along the line of the Greenwich Meridian. This was recalibrated later in the 19th century, at which point it was determined that the obelisk was actually 19 feet west of the revised meridian line.

The nearby triangulation pillar marks the modern line, but that is apparently a co-incidence.

But there is another plaque on the obelisk.

IMG_7263

This records that the land here was conveyed to the City of London by T E Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) in 1930. He had originally intended to build a house here with his friend Vyvyan Richards in which to print “fine books” (!?!).

Head down the hill towards the road you can see. This is Mornington Road. Our next stop is just ahead on the right.

Stop 6: Arabia Close

Now here is a nice little touch. The land here was also owned by T E Lawrence and so that is why the street is named as it is.

IMG_7269

Sadly it is somewhat dull.

IMG_7270

Continue along Mornington Road and cut through a pedestrian bit and turn right. Our next stop is just here.

Stop 7: Chingford Assembly Hall

This is the Chingford Assembly Hall built in 1959.

IMG_7271

At the far end is a mosaic, installed for the Millenium

IMG_7274

Note the picture of Winston Churchill, at the bottom on the left. He was the local MP for many years, as Chingford came under the Epping constituency. Churchill was MP for Epping from 1924 to 1945 and then there was boundary changes and so he became MP for Wanstead from 1945 to 1964.

I think Chingford stayed within the Epping constituency so Churchill ceased to be the local MP in 1945. Chingford became a constituency in its own right in 1974. Since then has had two very high profile MPs: Norman Tebbit (1974 – 1992) and Ian Duncan Smith (since 1992).

Walk by the green ahead of you keeping the church to your left. Our next stop is just past the junction with traffic lights, on the right.

Stop 8: Kings Head pub

IMG_7283

According to Joanna, this is where a certain David Ivor Davies played the piano when he was stationed at nearby Chingford Aerodrome in the latter part of the First World War. He was a not too successful probationary flight sub-lieutenant. Having twice crashed a plane, he was moved to an office job and out of harm’s way for the duration of the war. But his real contribution to the war effort was his song “Keep the Home Fires Burning” for which he wrote the music in 1914. He of course became better known as Ivor Novello.

Here is a little link to Jo’s blog post about this:

http://westminsterwalks.london/2015/04/ivor-novello-in-chingford/

The aerodrome closed in 1919 and reverted to pasture. In 1951 the site disappeared for ever under the William Girling Reservoir (named after the chairman of the Metropolitan Water Board) and it is that you can see if you look down the road in front of the pub.

IMG_7279.

Now go down the road called The Ridgeway (a left turn at this cross roads).

Stop 9: Former Town Hall

A short way along The Ridgeway is our next stop on the right.

IMG_7285

This is the former Chingford Town Hall originally built in 1929. Chingford became an Urban District in 1894 and gained municipal borough status in 1938.

This does seem a strange place to put the Town Hall, not exactly in the main centre of things. And of course today it has outlived its usefulness as offices and has been converted into housing.

It is odd to think we are in the London Borough of Waltham Forest here – it is one of the quirks of the way London boroughs were created that Chingford is in the same borough as the rather more gritty urban Walthamstow and Leyton.

Keep walking along the Ridgeway. As the road bends to the right take a left turn into Endlebury Road. You will see an entrance to Ridgeway Park which is our next stop.

Stop 10: Ridgeway Park

IMG_7288

Now this park contains a model railway.

IMG_7290

According to the Waltham Forest Council website, there is a rather interesting story about a visitor to it in 1954. In case the link breaks and the text is lost for ever, here is what it says:

“Walt Disney Story as passed down from member to member

ridgeway-walt-disney

Walt Disney was a very keen miniature railway enthusiast and had his own 7¼ inch miniature railway at his home in USA. One day whilst visiting London on business and as he had completed his work asking his chauffeur if he knew of any miniature railways in London, the chauffeur brought Walt Disney to Ridgeway Park in Chingford. That day the park was holding the Chingford Day celebration we believe the year was 1954. Walt Disney drove trains around the track and allowed the press to take some photographs and had a good time.

When the public heard that Walt Disney was visiting the railway every body rushed over to see him, just as the Mayor of Chingford was about to open the celebration which he did almost on his own.

Information provided by the Chingford and District Model Engineering Club”

Ridgeway Park also lays claim to another famous connection. In 1979 a man called Peter King founded a football club for local youngsters in the park. He called it called Ridgeway Rovers and local boy David Beckham was once on the team..

Here is an article from the Guardian about the club. http://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2015/jan/08/ridgeway-rovers-david-beckham-harry-kane

Continue along Endlebury Road going over the cross roads, you are now in Simmons Lane. Our next stop is on the left.

Stop 11: Pimp Hall Park

You will see an entrance to Pimp Hall Park. Go through the gates.

IMG_7292

This is the land of the 16th Century Pimps Hall. The name derives from Reynold Pympe who was lord of the manor in 1500.

According to Historic England’s website:  “The estate has been named after different owners at various times; the Buckerells, Gowers or Pimps. It belonged to the Buckerell family in the 13th century. In the late 15th century it was held by Sir J Gower. At one stage it was held by Henry VIII. In 1538 it was sold to Sir G Monoux. In the 16th century Pimp Hall was a farmhouse. It was demolished in 1936-9.”

Chingford Council bought the Hall and surrounding land in 1934 and the site divided between allotments, a council-run nursery, and this small park.

I am sure the name might lead to all sorts of jokes riffing on pimps or pimples, but I am not going there.

To be honest there is not much to see.  But there is a fine view of Chingford down below.

IMG_7294

There is a rather interesting old feature in the grounds but I did not spot this until much later.

Return to the street and across the road you will see our next stop.

Stop 12: Friday Hill House

IMG_7296

Friday Hill House is a Grade II listed house built in 1839 by the architect Lewis Vulliamy.

IMG_7298

It was owned by Robert Boothby Heathcote, who was both the lord of the manor and rector of the local church.  The building was used for a number of years as a further education centre, but was put up for sale by the local Council in 2012. It is currently undergoing refurbishment.

At this point, I did a little detour. At the end of Simmons Lane I turned right into Friday Hill and went down the road a little to see this pub.

IMG_7300

Today it is called the Dovecot and claims to have the biggest beer garden in Chingford.

IMG_7304

Now at one time this pub was apparently called the Sirloin.

There are various stories about Kings using their swords to “knight” a hunk of beef and so name it “Sir Loin”. Sometimes it is King Henry VIII in Windsor, or King James I in Lancashire, but Chingford also has claim to the story – This time with King Charles II.  If you follow this link through you will (eventually) find the story which specifically mentions King Charles II and Friday Hill, Chingford.

http://wordhistories.com/2012/06/25/folk-etymology/

Of course it is all a bit of fun. In fact the name sirloin is an anglicisation of the middle French term “sur longe” – that is the upper part of the loin. So it is really the story of someone having a play with words.

I decided to hop on a 212 bus back into Chingford, as it is quite a way.

Now as the bus turns left from Friday Hill into Kings Road keep a look out to the left. These are the allotments of Pimp Hall Park and in the distance you can see an old building. This is the Pimp Hall Barn and Dovecot dating from the 17th Century.

IMG_7305

(not a bad picture considering it was taken from a moving bus!)

In conclusion I have to mention again that E4 is the only London postcode to include an area outside the administrative boundary of Greater London. This is a place called Sewardstone. There is not a lot there but it does contains the world HQ of the Scout movement at Gilwell Park.

But getting there proved to be too much of a challenge as it only has a sporadic bus service. Route number 505 runs between Chingford and Harlow just six times a day. It is not part of the London bus network and is currently operated by a small independent bus company called Trustybus.

Sadly to get there and back from Chingford involves a wait of at least an hour and a bit, sometimes two hours in Sewardstone. Fascinating though Sewardstone may be I decided not to take the diversion. But one day, I will definitely have to visit the place, just to say I have been!

So that brings us to the end of E4. Even though we did not get to the bit outside Greater London, we have certainly seen a great variety of stuff, with fascinating connections with Tudor royalty, through to Winston Churchill, Ivor Novello, Lawrence of Arabia, Walt Disney and David Beckham. And thanks to Joanna for her info about Chingford.

If you took my advice and got the 212 bus, this will take you back to Chingford station for onward travel. Otherwise it is a bit of a trek from Friday Hill. Retrace your steps along Friday Hill, turn left at Kings Road and then right at Station Road which will eventually lead you to the station.

E3: Not those bells…

Featured

E3 is Bow but it is not the location of the “Great Bell of Bow” in the Nursery Rhyme “Oranges and Lemons”. Nor does being born in Bow E3 mean you are a true Cockney. You have to live within the sound of the bells of St Mary-le-Bow in Cheapside in the City to qualify and that is where the Great Bell of Bow is. But some people from Bow like to call themselves true Cockneys, as indeed did my father who grew up in Bow.

We start our walk at the Post Office at 603 Roman Road. This is actually just a little way along from where you finished the E2 walk. Turn left out of the Post Office and walk along Roman Road which here is a part time market. Our first stop is at the junction with Parnell Road.

Stop 1: Iceni Court

Just by this junction across the road on the left is a non descript block of flats called Iceni Court.

IMG_7105

No this is not the site of an old cinema but I had to stop to because of the sign here.

IMG_7099

Not sure how accurate this is. The Romans certainly came to Britain in AD43 and they did built a road from London to Colchester. But surely the road to Colchester leaves the City at Aldgate and goes through Whitechapel and Mile End. The alignment of the modern day street called Roman Road is further north and would mean leaving the City at Bishopsgate and then turning right.

However looking at the map you can see that if you carry straight on from Roman Road and cross the River Lea you are in Stratford in direct line with the road to Colchester. So maybe it was just an alternative route. But which one came first?

At this end of the northern route we have the district known as Old Ford perhaps indicating that this was the older crossing of the Lea but at the east end of the southern route we have Aldgate, which means Old Gate. It just seems more logical that the road went directly out of a gate. Who knows? So even if they built the road from London to Colchester and beyond as soon as they got here in AD43, it is not clear whether the early road was on the alignment of the street we now call Roman Road.

The other curious thing about this block of flats is that the name that the powers that be have chosen to use.

IMG_7102

Iceni was the local tribe in Roman times (at one point headed by warrior queen, Boudica). So they are celebrating the Romans by naming the building after a tribe that revolted against the Romans.

Turn right into Parnell Road and at the end turn left into Tredegar Road and then almost immediately right into Fairfield Road. Our next stop is on the left before the railway, set back behind some railings.

Stop 2: Bow Quarter (Former Bryant and May Match Factory)

IMG_7071

This is the former factory of the Bryant and May match company. Once when almost everyone smoked and before the days of electric light, matches were a key item in every household.

IMG_7073

This site was acquired by two Quaker businessmen William Bryant and Francis May in 1861 to produce what were known as “safety matches”. These are matches which only work when struck against a specifically prepared surface as opposed to any old rough surface. This makes them safer to handle.

The concept was developed in Sweden in the 1840s by Gustaf Erik Pasch. Pasch patented the use of red phosphorus in the striking surface. Then two brothers by the name of Lundström started making safety matches on a commercial scale and Bryant and May bought the British patent so they could produce safety matches here.

Match production ceased in 1979 and the building is now private apartments known as the Bow Quarter.

IMG_7075

In the 19th century, match making was a hazardous business for the workers because of the exposure to dangerous chemicals in particular Phosphorus. In 1888, there was a strike of workers which arose out of the dismissal of a worker and led to the whole factory stopping work. They are always described as “match girls”, so I guess they were all or almost all women employed in this work. Some of the strikers went to see a local social activist Annie Besant and to ask for her assistance.

IMG_7080

It was at this point she became involved as she was concerned by their precipitate action and by the number of women who were now out of work with no means of support. She did not start or lead the strike, in fact she never worked at the factory.

Annie Besant sounds quite a character. She became interested in Theosophy, which seeks to understand the mysteries of the universe and the bonds that unite the universe, humanity, and the divine. Theosophy had a particular interest in eastern mysticism and Besant travelled to India and later became involved in the movement for Indian independence.

The factory was rebuilt in 1911 and the brick entrance includes a depiction of Noah’s Ark and the word ‘Security’. This featured in their trademark which was used on the matchboxes.

IMG_7081

Go under the railway bridge and our next stop is soon on the left.

Stop 3: Bow Bus garage

IMG_7064

This bus garage has the look of a tram depot and indeed it was. Originally this was a tram depot for the North Metropolitan Tramways Company. Their first route had been a horse tram service from Whitechapel to Bow which started in 1870. The building we see today was built in 1908 by which time the trams were electric. It was used to house trolley buses from 1939 and became a bus depot in 1959. Today it houses lots of the Boris buses (which are used on Route 8).

IMG_7065

Continue walking along Fairfield Road and just before the end, there is a plaque on the right.

Stop 4: Site of the Fair Field

IMG_7061

So this is the origin of the name Fairfield. Obvious really and in fact the Fairfield Halls in Croydon is similarly named after an old fair site. Interesting that “rowdiness and vice” at public events is not such a new thing.

Actually the building on which this plaque is placed is our next stop but to get a better view go to the junction with the main road (Bow Road).

Stop 5: Former Town Hall

This was built as the Town Hall for Poplar Borough Council, which confusingly they chose to build in Bow. The building dates from 1937/38 and the architect is Clifford Culpin who went on to design the better known Greenwich Town Hall.

IMG_7052

IMG_7057

There are five relief panels with depictions of the type of workers involved in creating the building: welder, carpenter, architect, labourer and stone mason. Here are three of them.

IMG_7056

IMG_7055

IMG_7053

Turn left and you will see the road divides around a statue. This is of William Ewart Gladstone, 19th century prime minister.

IMG_6986

Cross the road near the statue. Once across you will see a little garden and a church at the end. Go in the garden.

Stop 6: Bow Church

Ahead is St Mary’s Church.

IMG_6989

This started as a Chapel of Ease for Stepney in 1311, and only became a parish in its own right in 1719. Architectural guru Pevsner says the tower is 15th Century and the north aisle wall is the oldest part dating from the 14th Century. The mishmash of old bits survived because there was no money to rebuilt completely. When rebuilding was required following the collapse of the Chancel in 1896, the approach was to conserve and retain rather than replace wholesale. The building was damaged in the Second World War but repaired.

And if you look back, you get this view.

IMG_6992

It is hard to believe we are on a traffic island in the middle of one of London’s main roads.

Now head back out of the garden and turn left. Cross the road and turn right heading back towards the Town Hall. Our next stop is on the left and is bright orange.

Stop 7: Bow Bells pub, 116 Bow Road

This pub perpetuates the myth that Bow is somehow connected with the nursery rhyme “Oranges and Lemons” and with being a cockney.

Exhibit One is the pub sign.

IMG_6978

And Exhibit Two is this board on the pub’s frontage with the words of Oranges and Lemons.

IMG_6980

This is of course complete nonsense, because the bells referred to are those of St Mary-le-Bow in Cheapside in the City. But why let the facts get in the way of a good story.

By the way the Bow we are in derives its name from the bridge over the nearby River Lea.

In 1110 Queen Matilda, wife of King Henry I, was crossing the ford over the river Lea hereabouts on her way to Barking Abbey and is said to have taken a tumble. As a result she ordered a bridge to be built.

The bridge had a distinctive bow shape and so the area on the west side of the river became Stratford-atte-Bow (Stratford at the Bow) which over time was shortened to Bow. This distinguished it from the Stratford on the east side of the Lea which was known as Stratford Langthorne after the name of the Abbey there. But of course today, that is just plain old Stratford.

Head back towards the church but turn right at the crossing next to the statue of Gladstone. Follow that road round as it bends to the left. This is Bromley High Street, which may once have been a humming centre but which today is almost completely devoid of any commercial activity. At the end you will see a gateway across the road to your right.

Stop 8: St Leonard’s Churchyard

At the end of Bromley High Street where St Leonard’s Street comes in from the right, you will see an old gateway. This was the entrance to St Leonard’s churchyard.

IMG_6993

This gateway dates from 1894 and was built as a memorial to the Rev How, the vicar at St Leonards who had died the year before.

IMG_7003

IMG_7001

Go though the gateway.

IMG_6994

It is a depressing site. It obviously at one time had been sorted out but today it is a complete mess. And it is hardly a tranquil spot as the northern approach to the Blackwall Tunnel is on the far side and you can see the road from a hole in the fence. The traffic noise is very evident.

IMG_6998

This in fact was the site of St Leonard’s Priory, a Benedictine nunnery founded in 11th Century. Geoffrey Chaucer has a little reference in the prologue to The Canterbury Tales where he introduces the Prioress.

“Ther was also a nonne, a prioresse,
That of hir smylyng was ful symple and coy;
Hire gretteste ooth was but by seinte loy;
And she was cleped madame eglentyne.
Ful weel she soong the service dyvyne,
Entuned in hir nose ful semely,
And frenssh she spak ful faire and fetisly,
After the scole of stratford atte bowe,
For frenssh of parys was to hire unknowe.”

Basically the Prioress had learned French from the Benedictine nuns here. As a result she had a distinct Anglo-Norman dialect, which was regarded by sub-standard French, compared to that spoken in Paris.

Like other religious houses, the Abbey was destroyed in the 1530s. The property was mostly acquired by Sir Ralph Sadleir, who lived at Sutton House in Homerton (which is now owned by the National Trust).  But the church became the parish church of St Leonards. There is no church here today as it was destroyed by bombing in World War II and by the building of the Blackwall Tunnel approach road. All that remains is this rundown garden and the Victorian archway.

Go back out of the Churchyard and go down St Leonard’s Street which is immediately to your left.

Note the school on your right.

Stop 9: Old Palace School

IMG_7107

Pevsner describes the school as “Light curtain walled buildings in the Festival style, fresh and cheerful”. The building dates from 1952, the year after the Festival of Britain.

It is called Old Palace School because it is on the site on a palace was built for James I in 1606. Well actually it was more a hunting lodge than a Palace. Some of the stonework was recycled from the remains of the priory just over the road.

It remained in Royal use in the reigns of Kings Charles II and James II. But by the 18th century the Palace was converted into two houses for merchants, and then it had other uses including becoming a boarding school. The house was demolished at the end of the 19th century by the London School Board so they could build a local school.

But we are stopping here not because of the school itself but because of the little plaque on the main building facing the road. This commemorates firefighters who were killed here in April 1941. This is said to be the largest single loss of fire personnel life in English history.

IMG_7109

Now just here on the left is Franklin Street.

IMG_7004

I only mention this because this is the street my father lived in as a child and young adult. However the street he knew was completely destroyed in the blitz, maybe it was the same raid as hit the school. So today there are houses that look like they were built in the 1950s or early 1960s.

IMG_7005

Continue walking along St Leonard’s Street and ahead on the right is our next stop.

Stop 10: Bromley by Bow Centre

The Bromley by Bow Centre is a community organisation which encompasses an array of integrated social enterprises based around art, health, education and practical skills. And one of the entrances is though this old archway.

IMG_7008

This gateway is 18th century (possibly late 1740s) and was originally at a riverside entrance to Northumberland House in the Strand near modern day Charing Cross Station.

So how did it get to Bow? The answer is that when Northumberland House was being demolished in 1874, the arch was bought by a man called Rutty who owned a house here in Bow called Tudor House. He wanted it to embellish his garden. That garden was bought by Poplar Borough Council in 1900 to form a public open space.

The park was first called Bromley Recreation Ground and was also known as Grace Street Park. It was later Bob’s Park renamed by local people after the park keeper, Robert Grenfell.

The archway was moved to its present location with money from Tescos who had built a large supermarket nearby.

The entrance to the park from St Leonard’s Street is just past the archway.

Go into the park and as you enter you will see an obelisk on your right.

IMG_7014

This is actually a First World War memorial but it has been positioned so that the writing faces away from the pathway – almost as if the authorities wanted to hide what its original purpose was.

As you go into the park you will see a building looming over it on the far side. I think it must have been around here that my father and his twin brother got into trouble for playing cricket on the wall and disturbing the Indian gentleman who was staying in the building. More of which anon.

IMG_7023

Now head through the park and out the other side turning right (This is Powis Road). Our next stop is the large building on the right.

Stop 10: Kingsley Hall

IMG_7019

This is Kingsley Hall, named after Kingsley Lester who died aged 26 in 1914, leaving money for work in this area for “educational, social and recreational” purposes. His sisters Doris and Muriel bought and converted a disused chapel. It outgrew its original building and a new Hall was designed by well known architect Charles Voysey.

There was a stone-laying ceremony which took place on 14 July 1927. The Kingsley Hall website lists 18 stones representing different aspects of life and they seem to have had an appropriate person laying each stone. So Voysey laid the brick of “Architecture”, sculptor Gilbert Bayes laid “Art”, writer, John Galsworthy “Literature” and actor Sybil Thorndike “Drama”, but oddly local Labour politician George Lansbury laid the brick “Sunday Evening Service”.

Well as you can see there is a blue plaque on the front of the Hall which indicates a certain indian man called Mahatma Ghandi (1869 – 1948) stayed here in 1931.

IMG_7021

He had been invited to England but refused to stay in a hotel so was put up here in the East End for some 12 weeks from September to December 1931. So it was him who my father and uncle (aged 8) must have been disturbing.

More about this building is on the Hall’s website: http://www.kingsley-hall.co.uk/kingsleyhall.htm It has quite a history.

Now head along Bruce Road and turn left into Devons Road. Follow this, as it does a right hand turn and carry along the road which is still Devons Road. Go past the DLR station for our final stop which is on the left.

Stop 12: The Widow’s Son pub

Pubs in this area are becoming a rare sight, what with the change in demographics, drinking habits and property values. But this unpromising looking pub just by Devons Road DLR station has a rather unqiue story.

IMG_7118

The story goes that there was an old widow whose only son left to go to sea. He wrote to her saying that he would be returning home at Easter and to have a nice hot cross bun waiting for him. He never returned, but his mother continued to put by a fresh hot cross bun every Good Friday for the rest of her life. After her death a hoard of hot cross buns was discovered.

A pub was built on the site of her cottage in 1848 and so began a tradition of a sailor placing a new bun in net over the bar each Good Friday.

IMG_7122

You can’t help thinking “Widow’s Son” ought to be “Hot Cross Bun” in cockney rhyming slang – but it is not, so far as I can tell.

This pub was sold by Punch Taverns in 2012 to a developer who has been seeking planning permission to convert the building to flats, so far unsuccessfully. The pub is still trading but one wonders how much longer this quirky little slice of London will survive.

So that brings us to the end of our E3 walk though Bow and Bromley. Whilst this area suffered badly during the Blitz, it still retain some older buildings with reminders of a world before industrialisation and also of a quite radical past.

You are close by Devons Road DLR station for onward travel.

 

E2: All behind Ewan and ‘is London Fog

Featured

E2 is Bethnal Green and what is surprising is that there is quite a lot of green in Bethnal Green.

We start our walk at Bethnal Green Post Office at 223 – 227 Bethnal Green Road. (NB there are two Post Offices in Bethnal Green Road and this is the one which is closest to the City – ie the west end of the road.)

Turn left out of the post office and our first stop is on the left.

Stop 1: Former Essoldo Cinema, Number 283 Bethnal Green Road

A quick glance at this building does suggest cinema and indeed it was.

IMG_6833

It started life as Smart’s Picture House in April 1913. It was remodeled in 1938 by well known cinema architect George Coles. A new streamlined Art Deco facade was added and the auditorium was given an Art Deco makeover.

It reopened as the Rex Cinema and in December 1949 it was taken over by the Essoldo chain of cinemas and re-named Essoldo. The cinema closed in 1964 and it became a bingo club until around 1990.

The building became a storeroom and trade only retail outlet but today it seems to be unused.

Continue along Bethnal Green Road. Our next stop is just after the junction with Valance Road  – on the right before you get to Hague Street.

Stop 2: E Pellicci, Number 332 Bethnal Green Road

Well this is an unexpected survival.

IMG_6826

IMG_6828

This italian cafe was established in 1900 and it is still owned by the founding family. But it is the makeover it had in 1946 that makes it special.

It is now Grade II listed. English Heritage inspectors describe it as having a ‘stylish shop front of custard Vitrolite panels, steel frame and lettering as well as a rich Deco-style marquetry panelled interior, altogether representing an architecturally strong and increasingly rare example of the intact and stylish Italian caf that flourished in London in the inter-war years.”

Return to Valance Road and turn left. Go past the park on your left and stop just before you get to the railway.

Stop 3: Numbers 170 – 184 Valance Road

Here is a little redevelopment by self builders which was “inaugurated” by Prince Charles on 15 September 1988. (Not sure what that means in the context of a building)

IMG_6936

IMG_6933

If the current street numbers equate to the old ones then this was about where the notorious Kray family lived. According to Wikipedia, the family moved to 178 Valance Road from Stean Street in Hoxton in 1938.

Return along Valance Road and turn right into the park which is our next stop.

Stop 4: Weavers Fields

According to the architectural reference book, Pevsner, this open space was created in the 1970s by the complete destruction of a densely packed area of early 19th century two storey weavers’ cottages.

IMG_6932

IMG_6931

If you keep walking along the path you will get to a kind of a roundabout. In the middle is an interesting sculpture, called Weaving Identities. It was a commission by Tower Hamlets Council and completed in December 2003.

IMG_7133

IMG_7132

Here is a link to some more information of the work.

http://www.arte-ofchange.com/content/weaving-identities

At the artwork do a left turn and head out of the park. There is a big red brick building ahead of you. This is Oxford House and dates from the 1890s.

IMG_7137

Oxford House was established in 1884 as a “university settlement house”. Students and graduates from Keble College, Oxford undertook a period of residential volunteering to learn at first hand about the realities of urban poverty. These volunteers lived upstairs in Oxford House which was like a mini Oxford college in the heart of Bethnal Green.

Today Oxford House carries on with providing affordable office space for local groups, an arts centre and volunteering opportunities.

More info at: http://www.oxfordhouse.org.uk/

This includes information about their plans to develop the building, including renovating the chapel.

Go along the street (Derbyshire Street) ahead of you – with Oxford House on your right. Then when you get back to Bethnal Green Road, turn right and keep going. Pass under the railway bridge and turn left into a little street facing a garden.

Stop 5: Paradise Row

This is a lovely little terrace of houses dating from late 18th and early 19th century set beside a little green.

IMG_6796

And here at Number 3 is a local blue plaque.

IMG_6799

Daniel Mendoza (1764 – 1836) was an English prizefighter, who was boxing champion of England in 1792–1795. He was of Portuguese-Jewish descent.

In 1981, he was inducted into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame (who knew such a thing existed!)

Here is a link to his story on their site:  http://www.jewishsports.net/BioPages/DanielMendoza.htm

Our next stop is just across the main road (Cambridge Heath Road)

Stop 6: V & A Museum of Childhood

This building is an outpost of the Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington.

IMG_6776

IMG_6775

It does look a bit like it was an old tram shed, but actually the building has a much more interesting heritage.

The building we see today dates from 1868 – 1872 but incorporates the iron structure of the first temporary museum erected at South Kensington in the mid 1850s with the proceeds of the 1851 Great Exhibition.

According to Pevsner, as work was beginning on the permanent museum structure, the Government offered the temporary building to any London district capable of, or interested in, taking it. The plan was to split it so as to establish museums in more than one place. But in the end, it came to Bethnal Green – or rather two thirds of it came here. A bit stayed in South Ken but was subsequently demolished in 1906.

At first the Bethnal Green building held the Wallace Collection (now in Manchester Square) and later it had exhibits related to the trades and industries of the East End. It became the V & A Museum of Childhood in 1974.

And if you look down the right hand side by the gardens, you will see these rather lovely panels high up on the walls. These represent the work of man in the arts, sciences, industry and agriculture.

IMG_6773

Our next stop is just along Cambridge Heath Road.

Stop 7: Mayfield house, Number 172 Cambridge Heath Road

IMG_6783

On the site of this dull block of flats once stood a cinema.

When it opened in December 1912 it was called Museum Cinema, a nod to its neighbour just down the road.

It was rebuilt and enlarged in 1931. Taken over by the Odeon chain in February 1943, it was renamed Odeon Bethnal Green in 1950. After closure in December 1956, the building was demolished and Mayfield House was built on the site.

Our next stop is just next door to Mayfield House.

Stop 8: Town Hall Hotel

This building was the town hall of Bethnal Green Borough Council. The front dates from 1910 but there is a 1930s extension with the interiors in Deco style.

IMG_6787

No longer a Town Hall the building was converted to become a boutique hotel in 2010.

IMG_6791

Now retrace your steps along Cambridge Heath Road. Our next stop is at the corner by the church.

Stop 9: Bethnal Green Underground station and memorial

The Underground station here opened in 1946 but the building was well advanced before the war and so the station was used as an air raid shelter.

The station is an example of the style adopted by London Transport for new tube stations built under the “New Works Programme 1935 – 1940” . Downstairs the platforms have cream tiles and very so often there is a little special decorative tile showing an image in relief. These seem to have survived the refurbishment of 2007

IMG_6764

IMG_6765

IMG_6766

Back on the surface at the south west corner of the junction (diagonally opposite the church)  is a rather neglected bit of art work in the pavement. according to Pevsner this dates from 2004 and is by A J Bernasconi.

IMG_6814

It is described as pavement set lights in glazed segmental curved trenches with embossed images of ‘child friendly’ objects.

IMG_6817

Obviously it references the nearby Museum of Childhood. But it is looking sadly neglected.

On the south east corner of the junction is a green. As you go in, there is a monument looming up.

IMG_6808

IMG_6811

This is the memorial to what is considered to have been the largest single loss of civilian life in the UK in World War Two and the largest loss of life in a single incident on the London Underground network.

On 3 March 1943, people had crowded into the underground station due to an air raid siren at 8:17pm. There was a panic at 8:27pm coinciding with the sound of an anti-aircraft battery being fired at nearby Victoria Park. In the wet, dark conditions the crowd was surging forward towards the shelter when a woman tripped on the stairs, causing many others to fall. Within a few seconds 300 people were crushed into the tiny stairwell, resulting in 173 deaths. The media reported that there had been a direct hit by a German bomb. The results of the official investigation were not released until 1946.

Here is a piece from the BBC about the disaster: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-21645163

A small memorial plaque was put up in the 1990s.  In 2007 the “Stairway to Heaven Memorial Trust” was established to create a more fitting memorial to those who died in the disaster. This is only partly complete as there is eventually going to be an actual staircase suspended from the concrete upright. More info at: http://www.stairwaytoheavenmemorial.org/

Go down Roman Road (This runs between the green and the church). you will see ahead on the right a sculptural structure featuring a globe.

IMG_6954

This marks the beginning of what is known as Globe Town.  This district began to be built up in the early 1800s to provide for the expanding population of weavers around Bethnal Green attracted by improving prospects in silk weaving. By the 1820s, the silk industry was in decline but the area turned to manufacturing other goods such as furniture, boots and clothing.

Take the left turning at the cross roads by the Globe. This is Globe Road.

Stop 10: East End Dwelling Company buildings, Globe Road

Just a little way along Globe Road, you come into an area which was redeveloped by a private company, the East End Dwellings Company (EEDC) between 1900 and 1906.

This company was incorporated in 1884. One of its founders was the Reverend Samuel Augustus Barnett, who later with his wife went on to establish Hampstead Garden Suburb which we saw in NW11. They also founded the first University Settlement at Toynbee Hall (near Aldgate) in 1884, which sadly we did not get a chance to see in E1.

The aim of EEDC was to “house the very poor while realising some profit”. Their first development was Katharine Buildings in Aldgate, which was followed by a number of schemes here in Bethnal Green.

First comes Mendip House which dates from 1900.

IMG_6951

Then ahead is a series of 5 storey blocks of flats dating from 1901 – 1906.

IMG_6945

But the company also built some terraced housing as can be seen on the right hand side of the road. These date from 1906.

IMG_6948

Continue along Globe Road and turn right into Cyprus Street. Go along the first part and continue through the modern development. The bit of the street you have come to see is on the other side.

Stop 11: Cyprus Street

According to Pevsner, this street was built in 1850/51 as Wellington Street. Interesting in that the Duke of Wellington died in 1852, by which time he had retired from public life. So one wonders why the street got this name. Maybe it was actually named in 1852. But by 1879 it had been renamed Cyprus Street. No idea why.

IMG_6944

Lovely though this street is, what makes it rather interesting is this unusual war memorial, which sits opposite Clyde Place.

IMG_6943

During the Great War, unofficial memorials were often set up to local men who had been killed in battle. Such memorials were usually temporary and were later replaced by grander, official ones after the war.

The Cyprus Street plaque was originally paid for by the Duke of Wellington’s Discharged and Demobolised Soldiers and Sailors Benevolent Club; a group who were based at and took their name from a local pub (now closed like so many in this part of the world).

But all is not what it seems, according to this site:

http://blackcablondon.net/2013/11/03/wwi-100-londons-memorials-cyprus-street/

In the 1960s the Cyprus Street memorial was nearly lost for good when the local housing association decided to build a modern block of flats on the site. (I guess that is what we just walked through) During the demolition of the house upon which the memorial was located, the plaque was damaged. The monument was rescued and it (or perhaps a replica) was reinstated further down the street.

At the end of Cyprus Street turn left and then right. Soon you will see the gateway style entrance to the Cranbrook Estate.

IMG_6957

Go in and follow the road straight ahead (Mace Street)

IMG_6959

Veer towards the left and walk through the estate. As you come past Offenbach House have a look to your right where you get a glimpse of the Shard.

IMG_6960

By the way the Cranbrook Estate dates from the first half of the 1960s and was the last of three developments by Skinner, Bailey and Lubetkin for Bethnal Green Borough Council. The latter of course we came across in relation to the privately developed Highpoint flats in Highgate which were built in the 1930s.

Keep walking through the Cranbrook Estate and when you come out the other side you will be back on Roman Road. There is another Globe gateway sculpture here.

IMG_6963

If you turn right onto Roman Road you will soon see our final stop, set back off the main road in a fenced off area.

Stop 12: The Blind Beggar and his Dog

This is the Blind Beggar and his Dog by Dame Elizabeth Frink.

Or perhaps as the locals almost certainly would not call it: “All behind Ewan an’ ‘is London Fog” (All Behind = Blind; Ewan McGreggor = Beggar and London Fog = Dog). Well possibly!

IMG_6969

You cannot normally get near because it is a private garden but I struck lucky when I was passing. A handyman was working in the area and he let me in the gate, so I could get a bit closer.

IMG_6970

So that is the Blind Beggar and his dog we heard about in E1 where there is the pub of that name. Of course as we heard then, the legend of the Blind Beggar actually relates to Bethnal Green.

So that brings us to the end of our E2 walk. Again there was much more than I could possibly cover. In particular I could not include the Boundary Estate an early example of social housing, nor the location of the now closed Club Row market, which specialised in live animals. But we did get to see some interesting street artworks and memorials, not to mention the sites of two cinemas and the outpost of a major national museum.

You are now on Roman Road where you can get buses back to Bethnal Green tube or to Mile End for onward travel.

E1: You either see it or you don’t

Featured

E1 is the start of the real East End. It is a challenge as there is so much of interest to see. I have therefore focussed on the area from Whitechapel to Spitalfields, and even then I have had to leave out some things which I would loved to have mentioned.

We start our walk at Whitechapel Post Office, 208A- 210 Whitechapel Road. Turn right out of the Post Office and our first stop is a little way along on the other side of the road.

Stop 1: Former Mann’s Albion Brewery

IMG_6473

IMG_6475

According to architectural guru Pevsner, a brew house was established here in 1808 by the landlord of the nearby Blind Beggar pub.  In 1818, two Lambeth brewers, Blake and Mann, bought the lease. Philip Blake retired in 1826 leaving John Mann to run the business alone. The Company’s name changed to John Mann, Brewer and in 1843 to Mann and Sons. Mann soon got new partners during the 1840s with Robert Crossman and Thomas Paulin. The company’s name then changed to Mann, Crossman & Paulin Ltd – as you just about see on this picture.

IMG_6477

By the 1950s, five generations of the Mann and Crossman families had been associated with the brewing and “Mann’s Brown Ale” was perhaps their best known product.

In 1959 the company merged with Watney, Combe, Reid and Co. to form Watney, Mann Ltd. Later in 1972 this Company was bought by Grand Metropolitan, who closed the Albion Brewery in 1979. The buildings were converted to flats in the early 1990s.

And just at the corner is the Blind Beggar pub.

IMG_6470

There has been an ale house here for a long time possibly back to the late 17th century, although the present building dates from 1894.

IMG_6471

The pub’s name references the story of the Blind Beggar of Bethnal Green. According to the legend in the 13th century there was a blind beggar living in Bethnal Green who was in fact Henry de Montfort, eldest son of Simon de Montfort. His identity was revealed at the wedding feast of his daughter Bessie.

A depiction of the beggar had appeared on the head of the staff of the local beadle from 1690. And when the Metropolitan Borough of Bethnal Green was formed in 1900 the borough seal depicted a scene based on The Beggar’s Daughter of Bednall Green. This was a version of the story from a poem in Percy’s Reliques of Ancient English Poetry, published in 1765 but which had been around since the time of Queen Elizabeth I.

In 1865, William Booth preached his first open-air sermon outside the Blind Beggar, which led to the establishment of the East London Christian Mission, later to become the Salvation Army. Although today their headquarters is in Queen Victoria Street in the City and the UK HQ is Newington Causeway SE1, the Salvation Army still has a presence locally. We will pass Booth House as we walk along the main road later.

This pub was also the location of a notorious murder on 9 March 1966 when local villain, Ronnie Kray shot and killed George Cornell, an associate of a rival gang, the Richardsons.

More info on this lovely website: http://www.eastlondonhistory.co.uk/the-blind-beggar-pub/

At this point you could take a short diversion down Sydney Street and right into Ashfield Street

Stop 1a: Number 91 Ashfield Street

Sir Jack Cohen (1898-1979) founder of Tesco Stores, lived at 91 Ashfield Street as a child.

IMG_6484

Jack Cohen began with a market stall in 1919. According to the Tesco company website, the Tesco name first appeared in 1924, after Cohen purchased a shipment of tea from T. E. Stockwell and combined those initials with the first two letters of his surname, and the first Tesco store opened in 1929 in Burnt Oak, Barnet. Tesco then went on to become the retail giant we know (and love?) today.

IMG_6488

Return up Cavell Street and then left into Whitechapel Road. But if you have not taken the diversion just retrace your steps along Whitechapel Road.

Stop 2: Royal London Hospital

Our next stop is on the left.

The Royal London Hospital was founded in September 1740 initially as The London Infirmary becoming the London Hospital in 1748. The hospital moved to its current location on the south side of Whitechapel Road in 1757. The buildings we see today date from the late 18th and 19th century. The hospital only got its Royal tag following a visit by the Queen in 1990, when the hospital celebrated its 250th anniversary.

IMG_6460

The hospital is undergoing a multi million pound rebuild at the moment and so the older buildings facing Whitechapel Road are surrounded by hoardings at present.

IMG_6466

But if you look to the left of the main portico you might just spot this blue plaque to Nurse Edith Cavell (1865 – 1915).

IMG_6464

She worked here from 1896 until 1901.  She was a nurse in German occupied Belgium in the First World War and helped some 200 Allied soldiers escape. She was arrested and accused of treason, found guilty by a court-martial and sentenced to death. Despite international pressure for mercy, she was shot by a German firing squad.

Continue walking along Whitechapel Road. Note the great view towards the City.

IMG_6468

And also Booth House across the road.

IMG_6690

Stop 3: Whitechapel Bell Foundry

Just at the corner of  Fieldgate Street is our next stop, the Whitechapel Bell Foundry – a quite amazing survival.

IMG_6699

The foundry was first recorded in Whitechapel in the 15th century and has been on this site since 1738. However Pevsner suggests most of the buildings we see on Whitechapel Road are 19th century. The Foundry made many famous bells including of course Big Ben and the Liberty bell which can be found in Philadelphia.

“Big Ben” by the way weighs 13½ tons and is the largest bell ever cast at the foundry.

The foundry is still making bells – large and small.

The place has a curious old fashioned look about it.

IMG_6700

It is like it is in a time warp – except of course for the no smoking sign which drags it back to the 21st century.

Keep walking along Whitechapel Road. Our next stop is on the left.

Stop 4: Altab Ali Park

IMG_6707

IMG_6705

This is the site of the church which gives the area its name. The church here was called St Mary Matfelon. It was at first a chapel of ease – that is a subsidiary church – to St Dunstan’s Stepney. It had a whitewashed exterior and so became known as the White Chapel. The name Matfelon comes from the family who rebuilt the church in the 14th century.

The church was rebuilt a couple of times, most recently in the 1870s. The church was severely damaged by fire in the Blitz and the ruins were finally demolished in 1952. But part of the church outline is traced out in some paving in the garden.

IMG_6708

The churchyard became St Mary’s Gardens in 1966 but was renamed Altab Ali Park in 1989 after a Bangladeshi student murdered in 1979.

There is also a monument here in the diagonally opposite corner from where you first started with this park.

IMG_6710

This is called the Martyrs Monument and dates from 1999. It is a copy of a monument originally erected in Bangladesh to the memory of 5 students killed in 1952.

Cross over the main road and take the right hand turn called Osborn Street. This is just before the Whitechapel Gallery (which sadly we have not got time to cover)

Stop 5 Brick Lane

Osborn Street becomes Brick Lane. Today this area has been rechristened (if that is the right term!) Banglatown.

IMG_6516

The street is a seemingly endless strip of curry houses all vying for trade. Pevsner says this “has much character but little that stands out architecturally”. The street was strongly Jewish in the early 20th century but has since become a centre for Bangladeshi immigrants who settled in the area in large numbers from the 1970s.

Useless fact: The street’s name came from the nearby clay pits used for brickmaking. It was first built up haphazardly during the 17th century and much rebuilt around 1900.

We can take a slight diversion here and keep going along Brick Lane.

Stop 5a: Former Truman Brewery

Ahead is the former Truman Brewery. you cannot really miss it as part of it spans the street.

IMG_6519

The brewery was established in this area in the 1660s and was in the ownership of  Joseph Truman in the 1680s. A succession of Truman ran it for the next 100 or so years.

The last Truman to operate the brewery was Benjamin Truman. When he died in 1780, he left most of the brewery to his grandsons, with the rest going to his head clerk James Grant, who took over the running of the brewery. After Grant’s death in 1788, his share was purchased by Sampson Hanbury, who went on to run Truman’s for the next 46 years.

Hanbury brought new levels of professionalism and efficiency, including purchasing the brewery’s first steam engine in 1805. In 1808, Hanbury’s nephew Thomas Fowell Buxton joined the firm, which then became Truman, Hanbury, Buxton and Co Ltd.

IMG_6526

In 1971 Truman’s became the centre of a bidding war between Grand Metropolitan and Watney Mann, which as we have just heard had a local foothold with its brewery in Whitechapel. Eventually, Grand Metropolitan won. It then pursued and took over Watney Mann whereupon Grand Metropolitan then merged Watney Mann with Truman’s.

Grand Metropolitan made many changes to the company, in particular focussing on keg beer. But the company’s fortunes did not improve and although cask beer was brought back in the 1980s along with the traditional Truman’s eagle logo, the Brick Lane brewery was shut in 1989. Today it is an interesting mix of commercial premises, including some trendy market areas.

If you go under the bridge bit there is a the building on the left with a blue plaque.

IMG_6521

This is for Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton (1786 -1845) who was an anti-slavery campaigner in addition to being a key player in the beer business.

IMG_6523

Go down Hanbury Street. This will be a left if you have not gone to the Brewery or if you have, retrace your steps down Brick Lane and take a right 

Stop 6: Hanbury Street

Hanbury Street is no doubt named after the brewery family. There are a couple of things to mention on this stretch of Hanbury Street west of Brick Lane, both on the left as you go along the street.

First is Hanbury Hall.

IMG_6513

IMG_6515

As the blue plaque says this was built in 1719 as a French Huguenot church. Having escaped France which at the time did not tolerate protestants, they had settled in the area and were largely engaged in the silk trade. Later it became a German Lutheran church, then a Baptist and finally a Methodist church. In 1887, the local Church of England parish church, Christ Church, bought the building and made it their church hall.

And it has some other interesting connections. Charles Dickens was a regular visitor in the 1800s using the building for public readings of his works and in 1888 young women working at the local Bryant and May match factory held their strike meetings here as they prepared to protest against working conditions at the factory. This was an important step in establishing trade unions.

And just before the junction with Commercial Street, there is a very red shop with a blue plaque.

IMG_6511

This was the birthplace of comedian Bud Flanagan (1896 – 1968).

IMG_6508

He was one of the Crazy Gang, a group of British comedians who were popular in the 1930s and 1940s , The members were: Bud Flanagan, Chesney Allen, Jimmy Nervo, Teddy Knox, Charlie Naughton and Jimmy Gold and sometimes ‘Monsewer’ Eddie Gray. Essentially the gang comprised three double acts; Flanagan and Allen, Naughton and Gold, and Nervo and Knox (with some input from Gray). They had all had success before the Crazy Gang but not of the same magnitude.

Flanagan also wrote the song “Underneath the Arches” which in effect became Flanagan and Allen’s theme song,

At the end of Hanbury Street turn right into Commercial Street. Our next stop is across the road.

Stop 7: Spitalfields Market

According to the City of London Corporation website,  Spitalfields is one of the City’s younger markets, starting life as a thirteenth century market in a field next to St Mary Spital on the edge of the Square Mile. It explains:

“In 1682, King Charles II granted John Balch, a silk thrower, a Royal Charter that gave him the right to hold a market on Thursdays and Saturdays in or near Spital Square. For the next 200 years, the market traded from a collection of sheds and stalls, doing its best to cope with London’s growing appetite for fresh fruit and vegetables. As time went by, it became a centre for the sale of home-grown produce, which was being traded there six days a week.

By 1876, a former market porter called Robert Horner bought a short lease on the market and started work on a new market building, which was completed in 1893 at a cost of £80,000. In 1920, the City of London acquired direct control of the market, extending the original buildings some eight years later.”

IMG_6543

And here is a detail from over the doorway which refers to Robert Horner and so predates the City Corporation’s ownership.

IMG_6541

Not sure which Queen Victoria Jubilee this would be, Is it the 50th (Golden) which would have been 1887 or perhaps the 60th (Diamond) which was 1897?

The wholesale market moved out to purpose built premises in Leyton in 1991. And for a while it was not clear what would happen.

In the end around two-thirds of the historic market was kept and rebuilt to include restaurants, shops and a large indoor arts and crafts market.

IMG_6551

But the 1920s market extension to the west was replaced by a Norman Foster designed office block. Pevsner says “The baleful  effect of this cannot be overemphasised and marks the continued, and doubtless irresistible, empire building of the City of London over the domestic and social needs of the East End.” Quite.

If you have ventured in to the market come back out. Our next stop is on Commercial Street on the diagonally opposite corner to the old market building.

Stop 8: Christ Church, Spitalfields

Christ Church Spitalfields is the Nicholas Hawksmoor masterpiece, started in 1715 and consecrated in 1729. It was built in part to demonstrate the power of the established church to the dissenting Huguenots, who had established a number of their own chapels in the area.

IMG_6546

The church has gone through some hard times, having been closed as unsafe in 1958. In 1966 the crypt was restored and then starting in 1976 a major restoration was undertaken. It is a wonderful space, well worth a visit. It is open most days. It is also used for concerts, events and functions.

Now take the street to the left of the main market building. This is Brushfield Street, The site immediately on the left (south) side of Brushfield Street is currently being rebuilt. Only the facade of the old building remains. This was the Fruit and Wool Exchange building of 1926.

IMG_6554

Stop 9: Brushfield Street

Just after this building site is a run of interesting old buildings on your left, some are facsimiles (numbers 8 – 10 near Bishopsgate were rebuilt after a fire in 1983)

IMG_6552

Numbers 40 – 42 and 14 – 16 are genuine 18th century. Number 40 is Verde and Company.

IMG_6561

This is a lovely little shop which does great sandwiches and salads plus some luxurious food items. You often see oranges on display.

IMG_6566

Well this seems to be a little nod to the author Jeanette Winterson who owns the building.

In an article in the Guardian in June 2010 she said:

“My house had been the offices of an oranges importer – which seemed auspicious, as my first novel was Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit. Then I found out that the business had been called JW Fruits – so I had to buy it, didn’t I?”

A coffee chain wanted to rent the premises but she explained:

“It never occurred to me open a food shop. The coffee offer forced me to focus on what I would really like to happen, instead of either doing nothing or passively accepting what someone else would like to happen – so it was a pretty good life lesson, too.”

So she went into partnership with an american called Harvey Cabaniss to create the shop and I think he is still at front of house. By the way, the name Verde comes from a 1930s sign that was on the facade.

Here is a link to the full article in the Guardian:

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2010/jun/13/once-upon-a-life-jeanette-winterson

Now on the right you will see a branch of Patisserie Valerie. Go into the pedestrianised area here keeping Patisserie Valerie on your right. The Foster buildings (so hated by Pevsner) are on your left.

Just ahead you will see a little area of water and beyond that is a rectangular hole in the ground. There is a lift here or else go down the steps at the far end of the hole.

Stop 10: The Charnal House

IMG_6570

This is what’s left of the Charnel House of St Mary Spital (although the sculpture is modern).

There was a Roman cemetery hereabouts but in 1197 the site of this cemetery became a priory called The New Hospital of St Mary without Bishopsgate. This became known as St Mary Spital – hence the land nearby was Spital Fields. This religious foundation was one of the biggest hospitals in medieval England and there was also a cemetery which included a stone charnel house (used to store bones) and mortuary chapel.

There are these lovely information panels. They are rather attractive but almost impossible to read especially if it is sunny.

IMG_6572

The Charnel House was uncovered when the area was redeveloped in the early 2000s.

Keep going straight ahead. You are now in Spital Square, which is no longer a square since redevelopment. At the end take a left into Folgate Street

Stop 11: Dennis Severs’ House, Number 18 Folgate Street

Just here in a terrace of houses dating from 1724 is a fascinating place, a visitor experience like no other.

IMG_6501

This was the creation of one man, an American called Dennis Severs (1948 – 1999). There are ten rooms all furnished in period and are arranged as if they are in use and the occupants have only just left. So there is half-eaten bread, discarded clothes and wigs, and smells and background sounds. But no wax models of people. Severs called this “still life drama”.  You go round in your own time in silence. Highly recommended!

IMG_6502

The motto of the house is: “You either see it or you don’t”. And in a way that is the watchword of this whole walk, be it the stones that trace the outline of the church on the site of the White Chapel, the sign giving a clue to the developer of Spitalfields Market, a basket of oranges or the little reminder of an artist’s work which we shall see at the next stop.

Now go along Folgate Street and take the next left into Elder Street. Our next stop is just on the left hand side of the street.

Stop 12: Number 32, Elder Street

This house was lived in by artist Mark Gertler (1891 – 1939).

IMG_6505

Here is the Blue Plaque

IMG_6506

And in addition there is this lovely little roundel in the pavement which shows a little extract of one of his famous paintings: “Merry-Go-Round”

IMG_6574

“Merry-Go-Round” dates from 1916, when he was 24 years old. It depicts men and women (many in uniform) on a merry-go-round fairground ride.

We are now at the end of our E1 walk. There was far more to see than I could possibly cover, but hopefully I have shown you a good slice of this intriguing part of London.

For onward travel return to Folgate Street, turn right and at the end is Bishopsgate with lots of buses and just down the road is Liverpool Street station.