E19 does not exist as a postcode

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.

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

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There is a clergy house, as well.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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And behind is Canary Wharf

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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.

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

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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

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

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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

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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.

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

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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And to the west you can see the City.

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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.

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E18: By wisdom and courage

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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

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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

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

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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).”

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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)

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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?

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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

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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”.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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Turn right here and head towards the church

Stop 7: Monoux Almshouses

Just before the church is a pathway.

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

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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.

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Just after the church is our next stop.

Stop 8: The Ancient House

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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..

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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But outside there is something you can hardly miss.

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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.

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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.

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To the right is the Assembly Hall which was completed in 1943.

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The Assembly Room has this worthy slogan across the front: “Fellowship is life and the lack of fellowship is death”

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To the left are the Courts.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.