E20: The Games the thing

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:


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.


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.



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.


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


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


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..


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.


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


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.


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


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.


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


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


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.


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.


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..


And you can look down to the tracks below.


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.


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.



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.


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.


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.



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



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.



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


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:


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


(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.


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.



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



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.


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.


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.


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”


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



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


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.


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.”


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.


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


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.


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



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


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.


Just by here is another artwork, called Pixel Wall.


There is a sign which has clearly been ignored.


And indeed when I was there it was being ignored!


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

Stop 11: Aquatics Centre


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.


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.


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.



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.


“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

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.


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



There is a clergy house, as well.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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


And behind is Canary Wharf



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.


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


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


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.


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


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.


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)



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.


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.


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.


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.


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



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.


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


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.


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


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


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


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.


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


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


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


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.


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:


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.


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.


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


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


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.



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.


And to the west you can see the City.


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

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.


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.


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.


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


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.



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.


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.


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


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


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


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


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.


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.


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


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.


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).”


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.


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


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.


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


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.



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.


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.



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


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)


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


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.


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



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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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).


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.


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.



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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!



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.


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


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”.


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.



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


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.


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


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


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).


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.


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.


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.


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:


And this website:


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.


Turn right here and head towards the church

Stop 7: Monoux Almshouses

Just before the church is a pathway.


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



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.


Just after the church is our next stop.

Stop 8: The Ancient House


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..


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


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.


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.


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

More info at:


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.



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.


But outside there is something you can hardly miss.


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.


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.


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


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


To the left are the Courts.


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


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.


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.



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.


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.


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

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.


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.


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.


And go to the right and you will see another concrete walk way with our next stop peeking up beyond the flood wall.


Go up these steps and view the building over the road.

Stop 2: Former North Woolwich Station


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”


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.


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.




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


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.


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.


Back on the surface, there is probably the most depressing bus terminal in London.


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.



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.



As we head down Factory Road, a strange sight looms up. It is a chinese style canopy.


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.


There does seem to be quite a random selection of business down here. Just along a side road here there is a bus garage.


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.


Curiously there is a sign for Lyle’s Golden Syrup. It seems odd to find it here as we shall see.



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.


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.


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.


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.”


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. 


Our next stop is just to the left.

Stop 8: Thames Barrier Park


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..


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.



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”


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.


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.


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.


This is a First World War Memorial in the form of a water fountain.


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.


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.


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.



And there is a nice touch on one of the benches.


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.


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.


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.


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.


You get a great view of Canary Wharf and also the cable car.


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

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)


Walk as if you have turned right out of the Post Office and soon you will come upon the Langthorne pub.


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.


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.


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!


Now look over the road.

Stop 2: Sync (former Rex Cinema and Borough Theatre)


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.


And now look down and you will see a little head.


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.


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.


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.


Note these old telephone boxes which I believe are of the K6 variety. They are available to let as very small shops!


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,


By the way look over the road. In the middle you will see a plain obelisk.


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”.


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.


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


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)


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.


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”


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.


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.


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



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.


There is a photograph on the Newham Council website which shows the store in 1971 when it was celebrating its centenary.


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.


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.


Today it is mostly taken up by Wilkos but there is also a Poundstretcher and a pub called The Goose.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.




Outside there is an old steam engine called Robert.


But all is not what it seems. This engine has nothing whatsoever to do with Stratford’s railway history, so why is it here?


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.


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!

E14: Brutal reality

E14 is Poplar but also covers the Isle of Dogs, including Canary Wharf. As such it contains the huge contrast from post war social housing to flash offices of banks and other multinational companies, but there are some reminders of an older time.

We start our walk at Poplar Post Office at 22 Market Square in the heart of the Chrisp Street market area. Our first stop is here.

Stop 1: Chrisp Street Market

This was redeveloped in the 1950s and reminds me so much of Crawley New Town where I grew up and which has many shopping parades that looks rather like this.


It has a market area covered over by a later overall roof.


The shops are basic and at the cheap end of the range, but there are almost no chain stores here.


Within the market area is this mini museum called “Lansbury Micro Museum” which celebrates the development of this estate, which when it was being planned went by the glamorous name of “Neighbourhood Number 9”. Sadly it has been closed when I have been there, so I cannot vouch for the contents.


Neighbourhood Number 9 is better known as the Lansbury Estate, named after George Lansbury, local MP. The original part of this was designed to showcase post war reconstruction as part of the 1951 Festival of Britain.

It has a rather wonderful clock tower which dates from this time, and originally had open staircases and a public viewing platform. Sadly these are now closed, no doubt due to vandalism and anti-social behaviour.



The clock tower and the older part of the shopping area were designed by Frederick Gibberd. One of his first buildings was Pullman Court which we saw in SW2. He became the chief architect for Harlow New Town and went on to design the Roman Catholic Cathedral in Liverpool.

If you head out of the shopping area by the Clock Tower, then turn left (Chrisp Street) and then right (Willis Street). Go straight ahead and through the delightfully named “Brownfield Estate”.


You can see our next stop ahead. 

Stop 2: The “Goldfinger” towers

We now come to some housing blocks which were designed by Hungarian born architect Erno Goldfinger in the late 1960s, whose home we saw in NW3.

Here we have three different solutions to the issue of separating the lifts and services from the residential bits of the building. The first we see is the 15 storey Glenkerry House.


Here the lift tower is put to the side at one end of the tower. It has an external balcony only every third floor.

Then we have Carradale House, completed in 1969, where we have the service tower in the middle with residential bits either side.


And finally we come to the 27 storey Balfron Tower, dating from 1967, where the service tower is at one end. The access to the flats is only every third floor, so the front door next to yours will be a flat above or below you. This arrangement meant fewer stops for the lifts and in theory you were more likely to meet your neighbours as the balcony would be busier than if each floor of flats had its own separate access.


This is one of the best examples of 1960s Brutalist architecture. And if you think you have seen this before, well we did see its younger sister, the Trellick Tower by Westway in W10. Here Goldfinger had learned from the Balfron Tower – in particular Trellick Tower has three lifts rather than two which means the residents are less likely to suffer a complete loss of lifts – if one goes out there are still two to take the strain.

Two years ago I was lucky enough to be involved with the National Trust doing tours of the area including the flat in Balfron Tower where Goldfinger stayed. I wrote about this on my other site. Here is the link if you would like to read more of the story of this fascinating building and the National Trust opening in 2014.


Walk alongside the Balfron Tower. You will see the slip road between the Blackwall Tunnel Northern Approach and the East India Dock Road on your left and ahead is East India Dock Road which you should cross over. Turn right and go a little way along. Then head into the housing estate to your left. Beyond the thin veneer of new building is another iconic social housing estate.

Stop 3: Robin Hood Gardens Estate

Here we have the sad sight of Robin Hood Gardens estate. This is slightly later than the Goldfinger buildings, having been finished in 1972. It was designed by Alison and Peter Smithson who were advocates of the idea of the building as a street. The layout of this estate is two massive blocks with high level walkways and bedrooms looking inward onto a green space, so as to protect the residents from the noise of traffic on the nearby main roads.


The resulting estate has its fans but also its detractors.


Today it is rather forlorn with most, if not all, of its occupants having moved out. This estate is destined to be redeveloped, whereas the Goldfinger towers have been or are being renovated.


Curiously there is a sign showing that here was a Millennium Green (We saw one of these in New Southgate).


Not sure that this green has much of a future unless it gets revamped and swept up into the new development.

Now retrace your steps to East India Dock Road and turn left. Pass by All Saints Church and the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) station of the same name. Our next stop is on the left.

Stop 4: Poplar Baths

This massive building was built by Poplar Borough Council in the early 1930s as public baths.


It does look more like a factory, but impressive nonetheless. The side street has the name “Poplar Bath Street” which does show rather a lack of originality.


Outside is a statue of a man called Richard Green.



Richard Green (1803 – 1863) was a shipowner and philanthropist. Son of shipbuilder George Green, he entered the business which specialised in ships for whaling and the East India Company. He had a concern for the welfare of his ships’ crews and this led to his large contributions to the Merchant Seamen’s Orphan Asylum, the Dreadnought Seamen’s Hospital and the Poplar Hospital. He was popular and this is I guess why there is this statue to him.

If you look closely at the dog, you will see his right ear is missing, Apparently this is because a boy got stuck behind it when climbing the statue and it was damaged in his rescue.

Now continue along East India Dock Road. By the by across the road was George Green School (now part of Tower Hamlets College)


He was Richard Green’s father and had founded the school in 1828. This building though dates from the 1880s with a clock tower added in the 1920s.


Our next stop is on the left.

Stop 5: Poplar Park

This was originally called Poplar Recreation Ground and was created by the Poplar Board of Works in 1866 on the site of a group of East India Company Almshouses.


It has this unusual monument just in from the road.


This commemorates 18 children who were killed nearby by a German bomb in June 1917.


Little did the local population know that just over 20 years later bombing of this area would be so commonplace that there was no way such events could have this kind of monument.

Head out of the park to the left of the monument and turn right in the rather lovely old side street (Woodstock Terrace) dating from the 1850s. Our next stop is on the right (but you will also have seen this from the park)

Stop 6: St Matthias Old Church

This church has an interesting history.


According to the architectural fount of all knowledge, Pevsner, this started as a chapel built in the 1650s, modelled on the now lost Broadway Chapel in Westminster. It became a parish church in 1866 when it was remodelled and given a Kentish ragstone exterior.

There is a little plaque on the wall as you approach the church.


This signifies a stop on the Poplar Heritage Trail – it is actually stop 7 on a trail of 13 stops. Here is a link:


This trail runs from St Vincents estate in Limehouse to Blackwall steps in Virginia Quay. There are 13 plaques which highlight points of historical significance and celebrate the rich diversity of Poplar and Tower Hamlets. Each plaque was developed with the help of the community during free events and workshops.

I am not sure they thought through the design of these plaques very well as they are really hard to read. The writing is etched into the metal of the plaques and does not stand out. Plus the picture is quite small.

Go to the end of Woodstock Terrace and turn right into Poplar High Street. Just at the corner by the way is a rather lovely high Victorian building, which is being renovated at present.


This was built by the Poplar Board of Works in 1869/70.


Our next stop is just next door on the right.

Stop 7: Meridian House (115 Poplar High Street)


This modest little building is, according to Pevsner, the surviving part of an alms house development by the East India Company and was the Chaplain’s house. The East India Company acquired this land on the north side of the High Street in 1628 and this house was the centrepiece of what Pevsner calls “an almshouse composition of 1801-02”. This presumably extended up to where the park now is.


Curiously the building is now called Meridian House. I know we are close to the Greenwich meridian here so I checked exactly where it goes. I was slightly disappointed to find that it actually goes somewhat to the east of this spot.

Here is a link if you should ever want to check whether somewhere is actually on the meridian.


There are more Tower Hamlets College buildings on the left and just after them is an access to Poplar DLR station. Go down there.

Stop 8: Poplar DLR station

As you approach the station you get a good view of the Canary Wharf development over the tracks.


And here is a view from the station platform.


Canary Wharf is a business district employing over 100,000 people. It vies with the traditional City of London as a major financial centre. The tower at the centre (known as One Canada Square) was built in 1991 and was the tallest building in the UK, until it was overtaken by the Shard in 2012.

Canary Wharf was built on the old West India Docks and takes its name from No. 32 berth of the West Wood Quay of the Import Dock. This was built in 1936 for Fruit Lines Ltd, a subsidiary of Fred Olsen Lines for the Mediterranean and Canary Islands fruit trade. At their request, the quay and warehouse were given the name Canary Wharf.

And from the bridge you can see the tangle of lines here as they cross over the Limehouse Link road. The Limehouse Link was built between 1989 and 1993 at a cost of £293 million and was at the time by far the most expensive road scheme per mile ever built in Britain. I suspect it still holds that record.


Then looking away from Canary Wharf you see the main depot for the DLR.


Poplar was one of the original stations on the DLR. The initial system opened in 1987 with just two routes, from Tower Gateway or Stratford to Island Gardens. Most was elevated on disused railway viaducts or new concrete viaducts, whilst the stretch from Poplar to Stratford was a disused surface railway line.

The trains were fully automated, controlled by computer, and needed no driver. But there is a staff member on hand checking tickets, making announcements and controlling the doors. This staff member could take control of the train in case of equipment failure and emergencies.

The junction at the centre of the original lines is just over the Limehouse Link road from Poplar. It was originally a flat triangular junction, which was known as the Delta junction.  As part of the 1994 extension to Beckton, one side of the original flat triangular junction was replaced by a grade separated junction. Poplar station was rebuilt to give cross-platform interchange between the Stratford and Beckton lines. East of Poplar station a new grade separated junction was built where the Stratford and Beckton lines diverged.

In the early 2000s it was decided the trains needed to be expanded to three cars and as part of an upgrade to allow three-car trains, strengthening work was necessary at the Delta Junction. The opportunity was taken to have further grade separation to eliminate the conflict on Stratford and Bank services. A new grade-separated route from Bank to Canary Wharf was created in 2009 but it bypasses West India Quay station because of the gradient needed to get the line under the Stratford route. However trains run on the old route in the evening when there are fewer trains.

Retrace your steps to Poplar High Street where you turn left. Our next stop is just on the right.

Stop 9: Will Crooks Estate


I am stopping here not because there is anything particularly special about the estate buildings.


Rather it was to mention Will Crooks (1852 – 1921). He was another local politician and he was known for his campaigning work against poverty and inequality.

He was elected to the London County Council (LCC) for Poplar in 1892. On 3 August 1895, he opened Island Gardens, which is the south end of the Isle of Dogs (and which is in E14 but sadly too far to go from here). He also campaigned for the first Blackwall Tunnel, and as Chairman of the LCC Bridges Committee in 1898, he was instrumental in the building of the Greenwich and Woolwich foot tunnels (which were completed in 1902 and 1912 respectively). He continued on the LCC until 1910.

In 1900 he became the first Labour mayor of Poplar, and in 1903 he was elected to Parliament as MP for Woolwich. He remained an MP until a few months before his death in 1921 apart from a short period in 1910.

He is commemorated in this mural which sadly is imprisoned behind bars.



Just as we leave the Will Crooks Estate there is an unusual survivor in terms of street signs.


Most of the signs round here have been replaced with ones with the Tower Hamlets name and logo. But this one is from the predecessor borough here and I guess it survived because it was set back off the road on the side of a block of flats.

Continue walking along the High Street.

Stop 10: The White Horse

At the end of Poplar High Street is a statue of a White Horse on a column.



This is a reminder of a pub which stood hereabouts. It originated in the 17th century and was last rebuilt in the 1920s, according to Pevsner. I assume the pub was lost in the Blitz.

Keep walking straight ahead, following Cycle Superhighway Number 3.


Cross the road and go under the DLR. Ahead you will see some remnants of the old dockyard.

Stop 11: Dockmasters House and West india Dock warehouses


Here we have a Dock office building which started off as a single storey building in 1804 which was remodelled and enlarged by Sir John Rennie in 1827.

Across the way is a range of early 19th century warehouses which formed part of the West India Dock.


Today they have been repurposed as restaurants, offices and as an outpost of the Museum of London.

Also just here is an interesting panel from when the construction of these docks was started in 1800.


I like the end part which says:


Which under the favour of GOD shall contribute




Now just go a little further into the dock area. Look back and you will see the other side of the warehouse range.


But our next stop is to your right.

Stop 12: Cannon Workshops


The domed building was a guard house built 1805 for the dock’s Military guard. The other old buildings ahead were built by Rennie in 1825 and were stores and workshops.


Today they are small business units. The buildings were converted in 1980/81 as one of the Port of London Authority’s early attempts to introduce new employment opportunities in the docks after they had closed in 1980. They could hardly have foreseen how much of the old West India Docks would eventually develop as a financial centre. That would have just been unthinkable back in 1980.

So that brings us to the end of the E14 walk where we have heard about some East India Company connections, seen some of the post war housing redevelopment of Poplar and dipped into the brave new world of Canary Wharf with a sprinkling of old dock buildings.

We are close by to West Ferry DLR station. To get there retrace your steps back to Cycle Superhighway 3 and turn left. Follow this to the station trying not to get run down by speeding cyclists.





E13: A place for playing

E13 covers West Ham, Upton Park and Plaistow. E13 comes between Manor Park (E12) and Poplar (E14) in the numbering system so it must be Plaistow which set the number.

According to Brewer’s Dictionary of London Phrase and Fable: “It has acquired the cockney pronunciation of “Plarstow” but the name probably derives from “play-stow” a place of recreation, although a link has been suggested with a former lord of the manor Hugh de Plaitz. So it may or may not be a place for playing.

We start our walk at the Royal Mail sorting office in High Street E13. Turn left and go along the High Street. You can see our first stop looming ahead on the railway bridge.

Stop 1: Plaistow Station



The station was opened in 1858 by the London, Tilbury and Southend Railway (LTSR) on a new direct route from Fenchurch Street to Barking that avoided Stratford. The station was first served by the District Railway from 1902 and first electric trains arrived here in 1905. And that is the date of the main station building with its rather strange partly blocked in arched windows.

The Fenchurch Street–Southend service was withdrawn from Plaistow in 1962 and the platforms used by that service were abandoned but can still be seen beyond the fence on the westbound platform for District and Hammersmith and City line trains..


You can see the initials of the LTSR in the canopy brackets and also a little more unusually under the seats on the platform.


If you are in the station do have a look at the City skyline you can see from the internal footbridge looking west.


And finally another little survivor of an earlier railway age is in the lobby.


Here we have a blue and white enamel sign in the colours of the Eastern Region of British Railways, so dating from the 1950s or early 1960s.

Now retrace your steps along the High Street and our second stop is on the left.

Stop 2: Black Lion Pub



Architectural commentator Pevsner describes the Black Lion as “one lonely reminder of Old Plaistow”… “a concatenation of buildings with an appealingly varied facade and roofline. It was recorded in 1742 but refaced in 1875 and later altered in 1892”. What Pevsner does not comment on is the fact that this is a still a pub – an increasing rarity in this part of London. And a fairly handsome one too.

Wikipedia says The Black Lion “was frequented by West Ham United football players especially such as Bobby Moore in the 1960s and 70s”. We will hear more about West Ham United in due course.

Continue walking along the High Street. It broadens out and on the left you will see just down North Street is our next stop.

Stop 3: Plaistow Library

This Library building dates from 1902/1903 and this handsome structure is still in use.


It was funded by John Passmore Edwards, who we have come across before in Acton and Shepherds Bush.


This is one of 24 libraries he funded. There is a stone which records it was laid by H H Asquith amongst others.


At the time Asquith’s party (the Liberals) were not in Government. Prior to this he had been Home Secretary in the 1890s. When the Liberals regained power in 1905 he became Chancellor of the Exchequer. He rose to become Prime Minister in 1908, a post he held until 1916 when he was replaced by David Lloyd George.

Continue along the main road which has now become Greengate Street. Our next stop is on the right.

Stop 4: site of West Ham Bus Garage/Tram depot

The name of the street on the right gives us a clue to the previous use of this site.


This was built on where the main structure of West Ham Bus Garage stood. And this street is named after the Routemaster bus which operated at this garage from November 1959 until 1985.

But this site has a much longer transport heritage as can be seen as we walk along Greengate Street.


After the modern housing comes this building.


This was built by the County Borough of West Ham in 1906 as the headquarters of its tramway operation.

The date is on a stone up high.


Note the motto is “Deo Confidimus” which translates as “In God we Trust”. Not a great motto for a tramway operator maybe.

There is also a little stone which you just about see from the street.


Between 1903 and 1905, West Ham corporation had taken over all of the North Metropolitan Tramways company lines within the borough.

The North Metropolitan Tramways Company started off as a horse tramway from Aldgate to Leytonstone Road, via Stratford, in 1870 and had expanded its lines through the latter part of the 19th century.

After the take over, the Corporation extended and electrified the tramways and continued running them until the formation of the London Passenger Transport Board in 1933.

With the demise of the tram, West Ham Depot became a trolleybus depot, operating from June 1937 until April 1960, and then it housed motorbuses until October 1992 when the garage closed.

Of course this garage was not actually in West Ham. In fact there is today a bus garage called West Ham which is right by the Jubilee line near to West Ham station. This opened in 2008/9. It can house 350 buses making it one of the largest, if not the largest, bus garage in the UK. But sadly it is not on our route today.

One point of interest here in Plaistow is the First World War memorial sitting at the front of the building.


The building today looks abandoned which is sad given its history.

Our next stop is right across the road

Stop 5: Former YMCA building, Greengate Street

What you may ask is this strange looking edifice looming over the two storey buildings on either side of it. It looks like it does not belong here.


This was built by the YMCA in 1920/21.


It is a steel framed building clad in pale brick and glazed tiling. Pevsner describes it as “Vaguely Art Nouveau detail but with lavish ornament more American in spirit, explained by [the architect] Thomas Brammall Daniel having spent most of his early career there.”


Inside Daniel included a concert room and theatre, which had direct street access. According to the wonderful Cinema Treasures site, It opened as the Little Theatre on 3 June 1921. Soon afterwards, while the nearby Greengate Cinema was closed for enlargement, the trustees of the YMCA opened this hall as the Red Triangle Cinema.

It remained open after the Greengate Cinema had reopened. It closed in April 1931. It reverted back to its original use as the Red Triangle Theatre until around 1948.

The building became offices for an insurance company in 1956. In 1976 it was converted to become a College of Art. Today it has been rebuilt as apartments and is called Pegasus House.


Continue walking along Greengate Street. Our next stop is on the right. There are two possible entrances – one small and one large. It does not matter which you choose.



Stop 6: Plaistow Park

This is Plaistow Park


It started out life as Balaam Street Recreation Ground when it opened in 1894. It was rechristened Plaistow Park in 1999.

Walk through the park and you will come to some roses and a little fountain.


Go past that and you will then come out on Balaam Street. Turn left and walk a little way along (to just past First Avenue)

Stop 7: The Greenway

Our next stop runs across Balaam Street and is known as The Greenway.


This is a long thin strip of green with a wide path along it.


So why you might wonder build a such a green space.

The reason lies below. We are standing on top of the Northern Outfall Sewer. This is a major sewer leading to Beckton sewage treatment work. Most of it was designed by Joseph Bazalgette after an outbreak of cholera in 1853 and the “Great Stink” of 1858.

The eastern end of the Northern Outfall Sewer, running some 4.5 miles from Wick Lane, Bow to Beckton has been landscaped to form a public footpath/cycleway called The Greenway with access points along its length.

Signage was apparently made from old sewerage pipes.though they are looking the worse for wear.


Now turn left off of Balaam Street. Walk along the stretch of the Greenway to the next road, which is Barking Road where you should turn left.

Keep walking along Barking Road.

Stop 8: site of Greengate Cinema, 525-529 Barking Road

Right at the corner with Greengate Street was the Greengate pub, now a Tesco Express.


Pevsner talks about a triangle of Plaistow’s old street hereabouts “with a handful of notable buildings. The Green Gate pub, long established but rebuilt 1953/54, is not one”

But just next door to the Green Gate Public House, there used to be a cinema. This opened as the Green Gate Electric Theatre in January 1911. Cinema Treasures says “The facade of the building was decorated with plaster swags of bunches of fruit over a series of four round windows, with a central rounded pediment over the main entrance which had the theatre’s name in the stonework. The facade was off set at an angle to the main auditorium block and there was a small tower feature located on the roof of what would have been the projection box behind the entrance pediment.”

It seems it was always independently operated although it had other names. In 1921 it was the New Electric Theatre but became the Greengate Cinema in December 1930. From 1953 it was called the Rio Cinema and finally closed in March 1953.

After laying unused for several years, the building became an independent bingo club from the early 1960s. It later became a snooker club which lasted until 1994 when the building was again closed and became derelict.

Around 2003, it was taken over by the FourSquare Gospel Church.


Today the building’s facade is now totally plain so it is hard to imagine how it might have looked in its heyday years ago. But you can just make out how there might have been an auditorium behind.

Keep walking along Barking Road.

You can see a future point of interest looming up ahead, beyond that block of flats.


Our next stop is where Green Street meets Barking Road, and ahead on the corner if the Boleyn pub.

Stop 9: The Boleyn pub


This dates from around 1900 and is a splendid “gin palace” type pub, so much grander the rest of the area. It still retains some of its etched glass.


Now right behind this pub was until recently the home ground of West Ham United football club. They have played their last game here, but the Boleyn has put up a valiant effort to keep some trade from the home crowd.


So where does the name come from. Well there was a big house here called Green Street House, which was known as “Boleyn Castle” because of a supposed association with Anne Boleyn. It was reportedly one of the sites at which Henry VIII courted his second queen, though there does not seem to be any factual evidence for this.

But we cannot leave here without mentioning the very visible Footballing statue standing opposite the Boleyn.


This is called the “World Cup Sculpture” and is a bronze statue of the 1966 England World Cup Final. It depicts the famous victory scene photographed at the old Wembley Stadium, featuring Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst, Martin Peters and Ray Wilson. It was the first and only time England had won the World Cup, and England captain Moore is pictured held shoulder high, holding the Trophy aloft.

It was jointly commissioned by Newham Council and West Ham United and is here because it commemorates West Ham’s contribution to the victory. Moore, Hurst and Peters all having been West Ham players at the time of the 1966 World Cup.

It was sculpted by Philip Jackson and unveiled in 2003 by Prince Andrew, who was president of the Football Association between 2000 and 2006. Prince William now has the role.


Just before we leave this spot, I have to mention the cinema building across the road (which is technically over the border in E6). This was built by Odeon on the site of an earlier cinema. Dating from 1938, it must have looked super modern when it opened. It survived as an Odeon until 1981.

After laying unused for 14 years it was taken over by an independent operator who sub-divided the auditorium into three screens and reopened it as the Boleyn Cinema in late 1995 screening Bollywood films. It was closed in early 2014 to convert two of the three screens into a banquetting hall. The former balcony has now been converted into two screens.

Now go along Green Street.

Stop 10: former West Ham United football ground (Boleyn ground)

Look down the first side street and you will see the massive stadium lying back from the road.


Then you come to a catholic church.



The church is called “Our Lady of Compassion” which no doubt has led to all sorts of jokes when West Ham United has not been doing so well.

And so as we walk along Green Street, we get to see the full scale of the stadium.



West Ham United Football Club competes in the Premier League, England’s top tier of football and until the end of the 2015/16 season played home games at this ground known as the Boleyn Ground.

The club was founded in 1895 as Thames Ironworks FC and reformed in 1900 as West Ham United. They first played here in from 1904 but no more as they are moving to Olympic Stadium at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

The castle features on the building do look a little fanciful to say the least, making it a little disneyesque. Supposedly these reference Boleyn Castle, which was not really that kind of castle and was probably not even connected to Anne Boleyn.

Continue walking along Green Street. Our next stop is on the left.

Stop 11: Queen’s Market



This is a mixed market with some food and some general goods.


The street market originated in Green Street in the late 19th century when the area started to be developed. The traders were pushed into Queens Road in 1904 to stop them obstructing the main road and to allow for the passage of trams. The current building I believe dates from the late 1960s but has been “updated”. Pevsner does not like this saying “An unappealing tall slab of flats rises behind the dismal Queens Market and multi storey car park, the latter not improved by the borough’s garish cosmetic reclading of 1992, reminiscent of cheap bedroom furniture”

In November 2006, Newham Council proposed to redevelop the market site to include a supermarket and luxury housing above a much smaller covered market. Following the local campaign, in May 2009 Mayor of London Boris Johnson directed Newham Council to refuse planning permission to redevelop the market. Not sure what has now happened to this idea.

Our next stop is right next door.

Stop 12: Upton Park Station

And so we have reached the end of the walk at Upton Park station – the next station out from the City after Plaistow.


This station opened in 1877 somewhat later than nearby Plaistow. It was built at the behest of a local property developer called Read and originally it fronted a square (called with stunning originality – Queen’s Square) which was on the corner of Green Street and Queen’s Road. However as so often happens in suburban development, the developers liked to have the name Park in there somewhere but they omitted to provide an actual park.

The first station was swept away in 1903/04 when the line here was widened to four tracks and the original two platform station was replaced.


It is not the prettiest of station but at least it has a proper booking hall and the platforms are almost completely covered with canopies.

If you go down the westbound platform you can look over and see the disused fast line platforms. Note also the LTSR initials in the canopy brackets.


They have not however got around to changing the signing on the platform regarding West Ham United.


And there was one more curiosity on the platform – the train indicator.


This sure is a museum piece – especially as it describes the train via Liverpool Street as Metropolitan. This section of the Metropolitan line was became a separate line – the Hammersmith and City line – in 1990.

So that brings us to the end of our E13 walk. This area has some interesting buildings from around the turn of the 20th century which seem a little out of keeping with the uninspiring surroundings. We saw an unexpected use of a sewer pipe corridor and of course we saw some West Ham United connections.

We are now at Upton Park station for onward travel.


E12: It’s all too beautiful…

E12 is Manor Park whose very name seems to point to a nondescript nowhere/anywhere place. As ever we will search out some interesting stuff as we walk the street hereabouts. But we will not get to Manor Park. Although there is a Manor Park cemetery, there does not seem to be an actual park called Manor Park.

We start our walk at the Post Office at 667 Romford Road, Manor Park. Turn left out of the Post Office and then left into Station Road. Our first stop is ahead a little way on the left.

Stop 1: Manor Park Station


The station was opened in 1873 by the Great Eastern Railway on a line which had opened in 1839 between Bishopsgate and Romford.


Normally trains use platforms 1 and 2 on the slow tracks. Platforms 3 and 4, on the through lines, are usually only used during engineering works. But there is an additional unnumbered, platform face south of platform 1. This is not in operation, although the track behind it is used as a passing loop for freight traffic.

The service here will become part of Crossrail in due course. The new Crossrail trains are 200 metres long but the platforms 1 and 2 are both shorter at 168 metres and 185 metres long respectively. They cannot be physically extended to accommodate the new trains so a system called selective door operation will be used, meaning that either some of the front or rear doors will not open here.

The freight loop around platform 1 is due to be removed and replaced by a new loop line further down the line to the west of Chadwell Heath.

I think the station here was rebuilt when the line was first electrified in the late 1940s and the staircases to the platforms look like they date from then as does the bits of tiling on the platform.


If you look closely, you can see how TfL did not replace the signs when they took over running the trains in 2015. They simply covered over the old signs with their new style ones.

Now take a right out of the station into Station Road and take the first right (Manor Park Road). As we walk along here, you can see the staircase more clearly and see how it is typical of that rather dull late 1930s/1940s style.


Continue following the road round and go straight ahead past the bollards. Manor Park Road goes to the left but you should carry on. Take the second turning on the left (Albany Road). Our next stop is on the right side of the road.

Stop 2: Number 25, Albany Road


This house was the birthplace of Stanley Holloway (1890-1982), stage and film actor and singer,  He was named after Henry Morton Stanley, the journalist and explorer famous for his exploration of Africa and for his search for fellow explorer David Livingstone.


He is today best known for his role as Eliza Doolittle’s father, Alfred, in the musical My Fair Lady, which he played on Broadway, in the West End and in the movie.

But he did so much more than that. In particular he was also renowned for his comic monologues and songs which he performed and recorded throughout most of his career, which spanned some 70 years.

Continue along Albany Road, turn left at the end (Clarence Road) and then right into Carlton Road. Note the unusual planting in the roadside beds.



The plants include Gladioli,and (I think) Crocosmia. Not what you usually find in these kind of beds. The explanation is perhaps connected to our next stop – which is a notice board at the end of Carlton Road.

Stop 3: Manor Park Village


So this is Manor Park Village then. Not a village in the traditional sense but rather it is a “branding” of the Durham Road Conservation Zone. They have their own website: https://manorparkvillage.com/

This small enclave of late-Victorian terraced houses was designated a Conservation Area in 1984 to retain its original charm and character with additional planning controls introduced in 1998.

The area was originally developed in the 1880s on farmland that formed part of the Gurney estate. It was built by one builder to an overall plan, with a limited range of house styles giving the area a distinctive character and unity. The developers were the Corbett family who built several suburban estates including the adjacent Woodgrange Estate in Forest Gate.

But it a bit of a stretch to call this a “village”.

Turn right into Romford Road. Our next stop is a short way along on the other side of the road.

Stop 4: Woodgrange Park Station


So here we have another station. But this is on the orbital Gospel Oak – Barking line – we have seen some of its other stations as we journeyed through E7, E10 and E11.

The track was laid in 1854 as part of the first section of the London, Tilbury and Southend Railway from Forest Gate Junction on the Eastern Counties Railway to Barking. In 1894 the Tottenham and Forest Gate Railway opened a new railway to Tottenham beginning at a junction just north of the station site. And the station dates from this time.

As with the other stations on the Gospel Oak – Barking route, it has been denuded of its buildings, so it looks a bit forlorn.



The line here is already electrified as it is used when the Southend and Tilbury trains run to and from Liverpool Street rather than Fenchurch Street. But the trains that stop here have until recently been diesel units running between Gospel Oak and Barking. The station is closed at the moment for the upgrade of that line and so soon there will be new electric trains on this route.

There does not seem to be a Woodgrange Park. There is Woodgrange Park Cemetery but no actual Woodgrange Park as far as I can see..

Retrace your steps back along Romford Road. Our next stop is at the junction with High Street North.

Stop 5: Earl of Essex pub


This majestic building was the Earl of Essex pub. Architectural commentator Pevsner calls this “A jovial Barque composition … typical of the complex pub design of this date”. And the date is shown on some interesting stones on this building which indicate that this building harks from 1902, the time of the coronation of King Edward VII.



Sadly this pub is currently closed and has been since 2012. But it seems its fate is not to be another Tesco Metro or Sainsbury Local, because there was an application for drinks and entertainment licence earlier this year. So it may survive as a pub for a little longer at least.


Head down the side of the pub into High Street North. Our next stop is right next to the pub.

Stop 6: former Coronation Cinema, Number 501, High Street North



Now this building is not named after the 1902 coronation but the next one, that of King George V in 1911. According to the wonderful Cinema Treasures site, it was originally called the Coronation Electric Theatre. It closed in 1920 and was substantially enlarged reopening as the New Coronation Cinema in May 1921 There were full stage facilities with three dressing rooms to provide for variety performances to accompany the film programmes.

It was taken over by Associated British Cinemas (ABC) in 1929. The Coronation Cinema, as it was by then known, continued under the ownership of ABC until it was closed in November 1968. It was converted into a Mecca Bingo Club which opened in January 1969. In July 1985 it was converted into a snooker club. The snooker club only used the former stalls area and a false ceiling was suspended over from the front of the circle to the stage.

The snooker club closed in around February or March 2008, and the building was empty and unused. In December 2009, the building was reopened as the Royal Regency banquet hall. Inside the auditorium, the false ceiling and sub-division have been removed to reveal the original ceiling and decorative balcony front. In 2012, the circle was brought back into use.

It is a Grade II Listed building and having survived against the odds, seems to have found an appropriate modern day use.

Continue along High Street North for quite a way until you reach Strone Road on the right. Go down here.

Stop 7: Number 308 Strone Road


According to the site Notable Abodes this was the childhood home of musician Steve Marriott (1947 – 1991). He lived here from 1947 until 1961.

He was the frontman of two notable rock and roll bands over two decades – . Small Faces (1965–1969) and Humble Pie (1969–1975 and 1980–1981). Although he was of slight build, he had a powerful singing voice. Marriott was inducted posthumously into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012.

Maybe one day this house will get a plaque.

Retrace your steps to High Street North and turn right. Our next stop is just across the road at the next junction. 

Stop 8: Ruskin Hotel

This building dates from 1901 and is another example of an ambitious Edwardian pub building.


It is not just a pub. Its also a Hotel, as can be seen in the side street, Ruskin Avenue.


This is a modern building dating from 2012 fitted in behind the historic pub. This seems to be an independently operated business. It is fascinating that someone felt there was enough business here in E12 to justify building a new hotel. But it is a short walk to East Ham tube station and is at the budget end of the market, so maybe it has found a niche.

Go down Ruskin Avenue. Follow it right along until you get to Browning Road where you turn left. Go along Browning Road. Our next stop is almost at the end of Browning Road on the left.

Stop 9: Sri Murugan Temple

Now this is a surprising sight looming up over the dull suburban streets of E12.


This is a Hindu temple. According to Wikipedia, “A Hindu temple is a symbolic reconstruction of the universe and universal principles that make everything in it function. The temples reflect Hindu philosophy and its diverse views on cosmos and truths.”

There is a dead pub at the corner which seems to have been incorporated into the temple site.


Now here is a curious thing. The roads off of Church Road are named First Avenue, Second Avenue, Third Avenue, Fourth Avenue, Harcourt Avenue and Sixth Avenue.




What happened to Fifth Avenue, you may wonder. Well Fifth Avenue exists at the other end of these streets (Romford Road) but does not go all the way through to Church Road because of a school. So the road that should be Fifth Avenue at the Church Road end has another name.

With names like this, you think of grand American thoroughfares, but we are in Manor Park and these avenues look like this.


Our next stop is on the other side of Church Road.

Stop 10: St Mary’s Church


Pevsner describes this as a surprising survival. A tiny medieval church in an ancient churchyard which Pevsner describes as “not impressive but lovable”. The fabric of the nave dates from the 12th century with chancel being rebuilt in the early 17th century and a chapel added in he 18th century.


Pevsner devotes almost two pages to this church – but sadly it seems to be rarely open to see. And it appears to only have one service a week and that is not even on a Sunday


In its way, seeing this little old church here is just as surprising as finding a Hindu temple in the back streets of E12.

Continue walking along Church Road and at the corner of Gainsborough Avenue you will see the entrance to Little Ilford Park. Go in.

Stop 11: Little Ilford Park


It is not much to see but it has been said that this is the park that inspired the 1960s pop song Itchycoo Park written by local band the Small Faces. As we have seen the lead singer Steve Marriott lived nearby as did the other main driving force of the band, Ronnie Lane who was their bass guitarist. He was actually mostly responsible for the song Itchycoo Park.

Here is a link to a clip of the band performing the song. Given the unusual aural tricks used on this recording I somehow doubt they could have replicated this live so they must be miming. And oddly this seems to be a German recording.

Now there seems to be some doubt about whether this park is indeed Itchycoo Park because Steve Marriott also said that it was Valentine’s Park in Ilford. And there have suggestions that it might have been Wanstead Flats.

The BBC banned the song because of what they regarded as overt drug references. But according to their manager, Tony Calder “We scammed the story together, we told the BBC that Itchycoo Park was a piece of waste ground in the East End that the band had played on as kids – we put the story out at ten and by lunchtime we were told the ban was off.”

And then there is some doubt about whether the itchy bit was caused by stinging nettles, brambles or the seeds from rose hips. Who knows. Anyhow, here is a picture taken in Little Ilford Park of what might be described as itchycoos.


But I have to say looking over this rather dull park it is hard to see how anyone called describe the scene as “It’s all too beautiful” because self evidently it is not!

And so to our final stop. Return to Church Road go along the side of the Park and you will see a street called Walton Road. This is a dead end to vehicles but continues on and just past Jack Cornwell Street you will see our next stop on the right.

Stop 12: Ronnie Lane

Yes you saw right, there is actually a street called Ronnie Lane. Someone at the council obviously having a little joke. Apparently this was done in 2001.


Ronnie Lane (1946 – 1997) as we have heard was a member of the Small Faces. After Steve Marriott left, the group became the Faces, with two new members added to the line-up (from the Jeff Beck Group).

In the late 1970s he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and after suffering from the disease for 21 years, he died in 1997 aged 51.

For his work in both Small Faces and Faces, Lane was inducted posthumously into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012.

So that brings us to the end of our E12 walk. We are in the middle of a housing estate not very close to anything. If you head along Jack Cornwell Street past the shops and turn right into Dersingham Avenue you will find a bus stop for route 147 towards East Ham. Alternatively you could carry on along Wolferton Street and get the 147 the other way towards Ilford.

So E12 was not the most inspiring of areas but there was still some interest from Stanley Holloway to the Small Faces via an old pub and cinema commemorating two different coronations and a Hindu temple and ancient church.


E11: All a bit of a Blur

E11 is Leytonstone. This is a distinct and separate place from Leyton which is E10. Today most people see Leytonstone (if they see it at all) as a bit of a blur as they go along the new A12 road.

We start our walk at the Post Office at 21 Church Lane, Leytonstone, E11 1HG. Turn right out of the Post Office and walk towards the High Road. Our first stop is on the left.

Stop 1: St John the Baptist church

This church dates from 1832 and is by Edward Blore. It replaced a chapel of ease and was an indication of how Leytonstone was growing even before the arrival of the railway in the 1850s.


It was partly financed by William Cotton of Wallwood House, which used to be one of the big houses locally. And if you go into the churchyard almost the first thing you see is the family plot of the Cottons.


The church authorities have put up a number of little plaques, some of which give historical information; others about the plants and wildlife.


If you keep walking round on the far side of the churchyard you will find the family plot of another prominent local family, the Buxtons, which includes Thomas Fowell Buxton social reformer and anti-slavery campaigner, whose blue plaque we saw in E1, by the Truman brewery.


The Churchyard lost many graves in a Second World War bombing raid and one information board describes the war damage and casualties in Leytonstone.


Now go out of the churchyard, turning left into Church Lane and then left into the High Road. Our next stop is immediately to the left.

Stop 2: Site of Bearman’s Department Store


Today there is a Matalan store but once this was an independent local department store called Bearman’s, as noted on the Waltham Forest blue plaque.


This is another example of how once thriving suburban centres are now shadows of their former selves.

The store had been started in 1898 by Frank Bearman, a 27-year-old draper.  By 1906 the store had expanded into a nearby furniture shop, and in 1910 opened an arcade. It was known as “The store with the personal touch”.

Frank Bearman had died in 1956, and in 1962 the business was sold to the London Co-operative Society. The Co-operative closed the store in 1982, hardly surprising because at the time the High Road was the main road out of London to get to East Anglia, so not an attractive place to shop..

The building was demolished and replaced by this rather dull modern store.

Here is a link to a local newspaper story about Bearman’s: http://www.guardian-series.co.uk/news/localhistory/10112446.Bearman_s_department_store_remembered/?action=complain&cid=11070983

Just here was also the site of a cinema, originally called the Rink but later the Granada. As the name suggests it started life as a roller skating rink. But after a couple of years it was converted to a cinema in 1911.

According to the wonderful Cinema Treasures site, it had two entrances, one on the High Road which was adjacent to Bearman’s Department Store that was reached by a long arcade, with an entrance at the rear on Kirkdale Road. It was rebuilt and reopened in 1927 as the Rialto. Although run for most of its time by Granada, it only got renamed in 1967.

The Granada closed in 1972 and was soon demolished. The site was used as a car park for Bearman’s Department Store which was later built over.

Now keep walking along the High Road. Our next stop is on the other side of the road

Stop 3: Numbers 694a – 698a High Road

Just behind the Natwest Bank, off Aylmer Road, is an odd survival of an older Leytonstone.



This late 18th century terrace was built for wealthy merchants and businessmen. Their extensive grounds were largely developed in the 19th and early 20th century. But interestingly the original houses were far enough back from the main road for a whole row of new buildings to be inserted in between. Number 694a once the home of Benjamin Cotton, whose family plot we saw in the churchyard.


Return to the High Road and keep going. Just a little way along the High Road, at the junction with Grove Road is a curious art work called “Leaf Memory” by Stephen Duncan dating from 2001.


I do not know much more about this except to say this use of leaf is a signature feature of this sculptor. When I first saw this I thought it was a depiction of a Green Man which would be fitting here, as just up the way is (or rather was) the Green Man pub – which gave it name to a road junction and subsequently the intersection on the A12. The pub is now a branch of the Irish pub chain, O’Neill’s.

Retrace your steps along High Road and back along Church Lane. Our next stop is right ahead.

Stop 4: Leytonstone station


The original station was opened by the Eastern Counties Railway in August 1856 on the same branch line to Loughton as Leyton. Just before the Second World War, work had begun to incorporate this line into the Central Line.

As part of the works, the station here was reconstructed as a junction with a new branch heading off towards Newbury Park, mostly in tunnel under the Eastern Avenue. The level crossing at Church Lane was replaced by an underbridge.

Work stopped in May 1940 due to wartime priorities; further delays were caused by the station buildings being hit by a German bomb in January 1944.

The station was first served by the Central Line on 5 May 1947. Initially it was a temporary terminus of the line from central London, with passengers changing on to a steam shuttle onwards to Epping. With the opening of Underground services on the new branch towards Newbury Park in December 1947, it became a through station again.

This station lacks the presence of the stations that had been built in the 1920s and 1930s, an indication I guess of post war economies. But it does have nice tiled walls in the subway entrance and an interesting survival of a couple of old advertisements one of which is for Bearman’s store.


It also has a sequence of mosaic murals to commemorate local boy made good, film director, Alfred Hitchcock.


They were commissioned the London Borough of Waltham Forest apparently to honour the centenary of the birth of Alfred Hitchcock on 13 August 1899 in Leytonstone. Work was started in June 2000. The mosaics were unveiled 3 May 2001, so they were a bit late!.

This is my favourite one – Psycho


And just by the entrance to the station ticket hall is this one of Hitchcock directing.


At this point it is perhaps worth a quick peek at the station platforms.


Like the entrance buildings these are less than inspiring – not a patch on what London Transport had been building before the war.

Go under the railway. On the other side there is a bus turn round.

Here you will find another artwork. This is called Time Terminus by Lodewykin Pretor. It is made of brick and features various forms of transport.


What is not immediately apparent is that you are actually standing above the A12 road here. We saw this newish road in E10 also. This was a really controversial road scheme in the late 1990s. However I do think this was a necessary evil. The alternative is that all traffic for East Anglia would be trundling along Leytonstone High Road.

And the fact it runs for a long way along side the Central Line and is below the local ground level for much of the way makes it a lot less obtrusive that say Westway. But you do hear the traffic noise.

As a nod to what was here before, the artist apparently inserted a kitchen sink and a roll of wallpaper into his piece. They were taken from the site of one of the houses demolished in order to make way for the new road.

There is nice planting and some bollards which spell out the name Leytonstone, just here.


Cross over the road. Ahead, you will see Fairlop Road. Go down that. Our next stop is on the right just before Wallwood Road.

Stop 5: Site of Apthorp, Fairlop Road

Today there is a block of flats called Fairwood Court but once this was the site of a house called Apthorp.


This was the birthplace and childhood home of Phyllis Nan Sortain Pechey (1909 – 1994), better known as Fanny Cradock.


Note the mis-spelling of her name.

She was a restaurant critic, television cook and writer who mostly worked with her partner Johnnie Cradock. She was married four times but she was unable to marry Johnnie as her husband at the time refused a divorce as he was a catholic. So she changed her name to Cradock, but eventually she was able to marry Johnnie in 1977.

Fanny Cradock became a household name in the post-war years, trying to inspire the average housewife with an exotic approach to cooking, even if it did involve dying food with green colouring or having purple piping as a decoration. She is said to have popularised pizza in England and is also credited as the originator of the Prawn Cocktail.

She and Johnny worked together on a touring cookery show, sponsored by the Gas Council, to show how gas could be used easily in the kitchen. This show transferred to television, where she enjoyed 20 years of success.

Her television career came to a sad end in 1976 on a show called The Big Time where her put downs of a contestant caused great offence. The BBC terminated her contract and she never presented a cookery programme for them again.

Continue along Fairlop Road. At the end do a right into Hainault Road then a left into Essex Road South. Our next stop is soon on the right.

Stop 6: Number 2 Essex Road South


This was the birthplace of actor and director Sir Derek Jacobi (1938 – ). The Notable Abodes site says he spent his entire childhood here only leaving when he went to Cambridge University in 1956. He attended Leyton County School for Boys. Maybe one day this will get a plaque of some kind.

Retrace your steps to Hainault Road and do a right.

Stop 7: Meridian Marks

If you look outside number 84 Hainault Road, you will see this – a ghost of a marker, which indicates the location of the Greenwich meridian.


This is one of over 60 similar marks which were placed along the length of the borough of Waltham Forest as part of the millennium celebrations. They were in the form of compass roses which were on preformed thermoplastic sheets.

They were originally intended to remain in place for the millennium year only, but were never formally removed. Their current condition varies considerably from mark to mark. Indeed there is supposed to be one in the next street Bulwer Road, outside number 5. But that seems to have gone.

But if you carry on down Hainault Road and turn into Cavendish Drive, you will find one in better condition outside number 111.



There is a website where you can check out the locations (or in some cases former locations) of these markers.


Continue along Cavendish Drive. At the end turn left into Grove Green Road, then left into Drayton Road and then right into Fillebrook Road.

Stop 8: Number 21 Fillebrook Road


This was the childhood home of Damon Albarn (1968 – ) a musician and singer-songwriter who is frontman of the Britpop band Blur as well as co-founder of the virtual band Gorillaz. He lived here until 1977. It is marked by a Waltham Forest blue plaque.


Continue to the end of Fillebrook Road. At the end turn right and continue until the pedestrian crossing.

Stop 9: Bridge over the A12

The A12 is well hidden here behind a brick wall but you can hear it.


You will see a path and cycleway across the road which leads you to a bridge over the road and also the Central line. Go down here.


From this bridge you can see Canary Wharf towards the left.


And if you look to the right you can see the City. The view is not straight on but to the right of the road which somehow seems wrong. I guess the road is heading more south than west here.



Go down the steps at the end of the footbridge. Turn left and then go right along Vernon Road. At the end of Vernon Road you will find yourself at the High Road. turn right here. You will see the railway bridge going over the road. Go under that and take the first turning on the right.


Stop 10: Leytonstone High Road Station

Leytonstone High Road station is on the modern day Gospel Oak to Barking Line, between Leyton Midland Road and Wanstead Park. Like the other stations on this line it has lost its old buildings and has little more than a metal shelters on the platforms.


Although the railway crosses over the London Underground’s Central line almost immediately north west of the station, there is no direct interchange – Leytonstone tube station is about a 10-minute walk away. But this is another of those “out of station” interchanges recognised by the Oyster system so you are charged for a single journey even though you leave one station, walk down the street and go in another. I somehow doubt many people would make this particular change.

I should have mentioned the odd history of this line when we were in E10. The station opened on 9 July 1894 as part of the Tottenham & Forest Gate Railway and was built as joint venture between the Midland Railway and the London, Tilbury and Southend Railway.

The line was authorised at the request of Sir Courtenay Warner (1857 – 1934) who was an MP and a property developer who owned land in Walthamstow. He later became the first mayor of the Municipal Borough of Walthamstow after its incorporation in 1929.

The route crossed many existing roads and already developed areas, so the line was built on top of a long brick viaduct. Many houses were demolished to make way for it and there was considerable local opposition to the railway.

But of course the usefulness of this line was somewhat limited by the fact it was an orbital route rather than a line that went into central London. It proved more useful for freight than passengers.

Until recently it also had rickety old diesel trains that only ran every half hour. However TfL has transformed the line with new trains and increased frequency to a train every 15 minutes. And now there is more investment in the form of a long overdue electrification which is why there is a temporary closure.

Retrace your steps to the High Road and turn right. Our next stop is a little way along the High Road on the right.

 Stop 11: Former State cinema 615 High Road


Surviving as a banqueting hall, this was a cinema which started out life in June 1910 as the Premier Electric Theatre.

Noted cinema architect George Coles was employed to reconstruct in the modern Art Deco style, and it re-opened in December 1938. At some point it was renamed the State.

The State Cinema closed in July 1961 and it was converted to a bingo club. In 1979 it became a snooker club which lasted until early 2006. It was unused for time but found a new use in 2008 as a banqueting hall, now known as Imperial Venue.

Continue walking along the High Road.

Stop 12: Site of Number 517 High Road, Leytonstone

Number 517 High Road was the birthplace of film director Alfred Hitchcock (1899 – 1980). The house no longer stands but his connection to here is remembered in this Waltham Forest heritage plaque.


But just before at the corner of Lynn Road is this rather wonderful decoration on Numbers 527 – 529 High Road – a nod to his 1963 film “The Birds”.


We saw his “proper” blue plaque when we were in Cromwell Road SW5 where he lived from 1926 to 1939. And of course there are the mosaics at the tube station here in E11.

Well that brings us to the end of our E11 walk. It is a place that perhaps is somewhat better for having the long distance road traffic taken off its High Road. And we found some interesting connections from film director Alfred Hitchcock to pop star Damian Albarn via actor Derek Jacobi and cookery writer and broadcaster Fanny Cradock. Plus the site of an old Department store and a couple of old cinemas.

For onward travel you can get a bus along the High Road back to Leytonstone or on to Stratford.

But as a postscript I should just mention we are round the corner from the childhood home for footballer David Beckham (1975 – ). According to the Notable Abodes site, this was Number 155 Norman Road, E11. If you go back along the High Road and turn left down Southwell Court Road. Go to the end and turn right into Mayville Road and right into Norman Road.


David Beckham has retired from playing professional football but he has played for Manchester United, Preston North End, Real Madrid, A.C. Milan and Los Angeles Galaxy, as well as the England national team. He is of course married to former Spice Girl Victoria.

So that really does bring us to the end of E11. If you do not want to retrace your steps to the High Road, you can take a little footpath which is just along Norman Road. This takes you over the Central Line and the A12 and gets you to Grove Green Road where you can pick up local buses.




E10: Not Eton

E10 is Leyton.

It seems Leyton was mentioned in the 1086 Doomsday Book. According to a sign I came across near the station, “In the Doomsday Book Leyton is entered as Leintun at which time the population was numbered at 43.” What an odd turn of phrase to use.


Anyhow, we start out walk at Leyton Post Office which is at 244 High Road, Leyton. Turn left out of the shop and walk along the High Road. Soon on the right you will see some warehouse style out-of-town shops and then there is a bridge. This crosses the near motorway now called A12. Built as the Hackney – M11 link, originally it was going to be the southern end of the M11 (which is why the M11 starts at Junction 4!)

You can see the city skyline from here. Plus you can just see the distinctive roofline of the Aquatics Centre in the Olympic Park


Our first stop is just on the left after we have crossed the bridge over the road.

Stop 1: Leyton Underground station

Although the Underground only arrived here in the late 1940s, there has been a station here since 1856.

It was opened by the Eastern Counties Railway. Originally called “Low Leyton”, it was an intermediate station on a branch line that ran to Loughton. It was renamed Leyton in 1868 by which time it was operated by the Great Eastern Railway. The station was rebuilt in 1879 when the original level crossing replaced by a bridge.

If you walk a little over the bridge and look back, you will see a road way at the level of the railway.


There was apparently a ticket hall on the northern side which was added in 1901 but removed when the M11 link road was built in the 1990s. You can see how the buildings have been altered if you look from the bridge.

Stand to the left of the station building on the bridge and you can see the backs of the buildings on the eastbound platform or in some places the lack of buildings


The line became the eastern end of the Central line in May 1947.


It is worth popping down to see the platforms, which were designed with full size trains in mind but are now served by the smaller tube trains.




But look at the eastbound platform near the stairs and you will see windows to a building that is no longer there, the back of which we saw earlier.


And if you look along the platforms under the bridge you get a view of the link road and the Aquatic Centre.


Return to the street, turn right out of the station and head back towards where you came from.

Our next stop is ahead on the left on the corner of Ruckholt Road.

Stop 2: Leyton Library and former Town Hall

Here we have a pair of civic building which are much larger and grander than the rest of the High Road here. First comes the Library.


This was built in 1883 as offices of the Leyton Local Board, established in 1873 it was a forerunner of the Borough Council. The area became an Urban District Council on 1894.


And it was during this time it became clear this building was too small, so they built a rather grander Town Hall next door which was completed in 1896.


Architectural bible, Pevsner describes this as “Fussy but enjoyable, in an eclectic and enriched Italianate style.”

The Urban District Council  became a Municipal Borough in 1926 and lost its independence in 1965 when the area became part of London Borough of Waltham Forest.


Continue walking along the High Road and soon on the left you will see our next stop.

Stop 3: Coronation Gardens

This was laid out in 1902, and was named in commemoration of the coronation of King Edward VII.


The first thing you see from the road is a triple decker fountain. This looks old but in fact only dates back to 2000 – though it is a replica of one that was here in the 1920s.


Not looking too good either with the weed dangling off it.

Just nearby there is a sign as a reminder of the old borough.


It looks old but may be isn’t. By the way the motto of the old borough council was “Ministandi Dignitas” which translates ad “Dignity in Service”

Leyton Council clearly had ambition as it also had its own trams. This started in June 1905 when the then Urban District Council took over ownership of the Lea Bridge, Leyton and Walthamstow Tramways Company lines which were within the council’s area. Then in June the following year they took over the North Metropolitan Tramways services within the boundary of the council.

In June 1921 an arrangement was reached with the London County Council that they would work and manage the urban district council’s trams. But Leyton Council retained responsibility for overhead equipment and the trams continued to be branded Leyton.  I guess this was because Leyton was at the time in Essex and so outside the boundary of the County of London.

When Leyton became a borough in 1926, the undertaking was renamed Leyton Corporation Tramways and the borough’s coat of arms was applied to the tramcars. This lasted until 1933 when London Transport was formed and took over all the tramways in what we now think of as Greater London.

Walk into the gardens and ahead you will see a real old item – a bandstand which although renovated dates from the early years of the gardens.


Now take the exit to the right of the bandstand as you approached it. This leads you opposite Brisbane Road. Our next stop is ahead on the left, a football ground tucked away in a suburban back street.

Stop 4: Leyton Orient Football Ground


Note the sticker on the street name plate!


The ground itself cannot be seen from the street and in fact the whole thing looks like an ugly industrial shed.




The team play in League Two, the fourth tier of the English football league system, and are known to their fans as the O’s. Even though they are not in the top flight, this must get pretty busy on match days. It seems kind of crazy to have a football ground like this in a residential area.

Now here’s a funny thing. Julian Lloyd Webber, the rather less famous brother of composer, Andrew Lloyd Webber, is a fan of Leyton Orient. In the late 1970s, the two brothers had a bet on a Leyton Orient match. Andrew lost and so was forced to write a cello work for his brother. Andrew chose the theme of Paganini’s 24th caprice and added 23 variations for cello and rock band. This became the album, Variations. And the introduction is the tune that was used to open the television arts programme, the South Bank Show.

Continue down Brisbane Road, turn right into Windsor Road and left into the High Road. Our next stop is opposite the junction of Grange Park Road

Stop 5: Former Co-Op shop

Right at this corner, is an old stop dating from 1909.


Look up and you can see the date and also a relief of a beehive.


The use of the beehive has a long history in the Co-operative Movement. The symbolism of the Beehive is that one bee cannot survive alone, but a hive full of them (and co-operating) thrives. And of course the beehive is often seen as a symbol of industriousness.

Lower down, there are two panels to show this was a branch of the Stratford Co-Operative and Industrial Society.



This was formed in 1862 and so was well established by the time this shop was built.

The Stratford Society merged with the Edmonton Co-operative Society in 1920 to form the London Co-Operative Society which went on to be the dominant Co-Operative Society in London north of the river.

Although there seems to be a large number of Co-Op food stores still around today, the Co-Op used to be much more important in terms of other retailing. There even used to be department stores but none of these are left.

Now head down Grange Park Road and at the cross roads turn left. Our next stop is just a little way along on the left.

Stop 6: Number 28 Church Road

According to the Notable Abodes site, the writer and broadcaster Frank Muir (1920 – 1998) lived at Number 28 as a child.


Although he was born and spent his early years in Ramsgate Kent, he lived in Leyton as a child and went to Leyton County High School for Boys.

Despite that, he did always sound a bit posh and when he became a broadcaster, people used to assume that he had been to a public school. Muir had a great response to this. He would say: “I was educated in E10, not Eton”.

That was very much his style as a comedy writer, radio and television personality, and raconteur. He had a writing and performing partnership with Denis Norden which last most of their careers. He was also well known on television as a team captain on the long-running BBC2 series Call My Bluff. And his distinctive tones were heard in voice-overs for advertisements.

Retrace your steps and keep going along Church Road until you reach the High Road, where you will turn left. Keep walking along the High Road. Our next stop is on the left, starting at the corner of Crawley Road.

Stop 7: Leyton Sports Ground

Today Leyton Sport Ground is used by local schools and community groups.


But it was once the home of Essex County Cricket Club. The club purchased Leyton Cricket Ground in 1886 and it became their headquarters. In 1921, the ground was sold relieving the club of a £10,000 mortgage  But the headquarters remained until the expiry of their lease in 1933. They returned to play matches in 1957 and continued to play here until 1977. The rather lovely pavilion is Grade II listed.


Stop 8: site of “The Great House” (544/546 High Road)

Now about halfway along the side of the Sports Ground on the other side of the High Road, I spotted a little plaque on a terrace of houses.


Look closely and what it says it a bit unexpected.


It says:

“The site of The Great House erected by Sir Fisher Tench Bart.circa 1700. Thomas Oliver lived there 1758 – 1803. Erected by L.U.D.R.A 1909”

My research tells me that Fisher Tench was a City of London financier and also a Member of Parliament. His father Nathaniel passed property at Leyton to Fisher and his wife Elizabeth in 1697. He inherited the rest of his father’s estate in 1710, and probably soon after began to build the Great House at Leyton. According to Wikipedia (which cites “A History of the County of Essex: Volume 6 (1973)” as its source) ,

“It was a large mansion of two storeys, basement, and attics, built in the ‘Wren’ style of the period. The walls were of dark red brick with dressings of lighter brickwork and stone. The entrance front faced the high road and consisted of a central block flanked by lower and slightly recessed side wings. The main block had full-height Corinthian pilasters and a central pediment, while the wings had rusticated stone quoins. The whole façade, of thirteen bays, was surmounted by a modillion cornice, a panelled parapet, and hipped roofs with dormer-windows; six large stone vases broke the line of the parapet. The garden front was of similar size and character. The cupola from the house (demolished in 1905) is now on the tower of St. Mary’s church.”

The House had passed out of the Tench family and on to the Olivers in the mid 18th century. But why mention Thomas Oliver. Well there is a whole lot more information about the Great House in “The Survey of London Monograph 4, the Great House, Leyton. Originally published by Guild & School of Handicraft, London, 1903.” which I found on British History Online: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/survey-london/bk4/pp11-22

Thomas Oliver seems to have been a part the campaign to get the proceedings of Parliament published, if one follows the rather convoluted story from the Survey of London Monograph. I have not been able to establish who or what was L. U. D. R. A.

So here is a little reminder of Leyton before it was built over by terraces of working class housing.

Continue walking along the High Road. Ahead you will see a bridge over the road, which is by our next stop

Stop 9: Leyton Midland Road station

This station opened on 9 July 1894 as part of the Tottenham & Forest Gate Railway and was originally just called Leyton.

Fascinating fact (according to Wikipedia). On 17 August 1915, three explosive bombs from the German Zeppelin L.10 landed on or near the station, destroying the ticket office, a billiard hall in the arches under the platform and damaging several houses nearby; four people were killed.

The station got its current name on  1 May 1949. It has lost all its buildings but at least now TfL are in charge of the station, it looks bright and clean.



Today it is served by trains on the Gospel Oak – Barking line, although at present there are no trains here because the line is being upgraded and electrified.

Now go under the bridge and turn right down Midland Road and take the first left. Our next stop is a ahead on the right.

Stop 10: Number 14 Wesley Road


Number 14 was the birthplace of Harry Beck, who designed the iconic diagrammatic London Underground Map. We came across him in N2 where there is a plaque put up by The Finchley Society and mention of him at Finchley Central Station. But this one is a “proper” English Heritage plaque.


Note the type face is slightly different from the usual. That is because like the Frank Pick plaque in NW11 and the Edward Johnston one in W6, they use a Johnston type face. This of course is the distinctive typeface used by the Underground and then London Transport and its successors.

Retrace your steps to the High Road and turn right. Continue along the High Road past the bus garage. Our next stop is on the right.

Stop 11: Former ABC cinema, Number 806 High Road

So here at Number 806, High Road there is a building that looks very much like an old cinema.


And it was. It was built as the Ritz Cinema by Associated British Cinemas (ABC) and opened in July 1938. The street facade hid the fact that there was quite a large cinema auditorium behind seating over 2,400 people (1,532 in the stalls and 886 in the circle, according the wonderful Cinema Treasures site)

It seems to have had an uneventful life. It was renamed the ABC in October 1962. It was taken over by an independent operator and re-named Crown Cinema in December 1978. This lasted a year or so and then it closed completely. The auditorium was converted into a B&Q DIY store, which later became a KwikSave supermarket, using the stalls area only. The circle level was sealed off by a false ceiling.

Today a Ladbrokes betting office operates from the foyer, with the remainder of the building converted into offices, according to Cinema Treasures. One does wonder what kind of offices they might be given, there do not seem to be any obvious windows, on much of the building!


And just along the way at Number 832 – 836 High Road was another former cinema. Originally built as the King’s Hall in 1910, it was taken over by the Granada circuit in 1949. It was rebuilt and reopened as the Century Cinema in January 1952. It finally closed in July 1963 and was replaced by a Tesco supermarket. That later moved to larger premises across the street and today there is a Poundstretcher store here. It does have that rather distinctive 1960s look on the upper floors.


Continue walking along the High Road and our next stop is at the cross roads where the High Road meets Lea Bridge Road.

Stop 12: the former Bakers Arms

We are at the Bakers Arms, a local landmark.



But sadly the Bakers Arms is no longer a pub. It is a betting shop. How depressing, when you feel it could have been a welcoming focal point to the area.

But the name lives on as a destination for buses, although weirdly the buses seem to carry on past the Bakers Arms. They go along Lea Bridge Road and then round the corner  into the High Road and actually rest up by the bus garage, which is a fair distance from the corner where the Bakers Arms stands.


Almost opposite the Bakers Arms here on Lea Bridge Road you will see a former Woolworth’s building, which dates from the late 1930s. This is symbolic of how this area has declined as a shopping destination but at least this is still a working shop.


Our final stop is just along from here on Lea Bridge Road on the right. And why this area has a connection with Bakers. This is the London Master Bakers’ Benevolent Institution completed in 1866.



Pevsner describes the style as “debased rustic Italianate crammed full of quirky details”


This was housing connected to the Bakers Company, one of the City Livery Company. The Bakers claim to be one of the oldest recorded companies. The first known records of the existence of the Bakers’ Guild are contained in the great ‘Pipe Rolls’ of Henry II which listed the yearly ‘farm’ paid to the Crown. This indicates that the Bakers of London paid a Mark of gold to the King’s Exchequer for their Guild from 1155 onwards.

But the Baker connection site ended in the late 1960s when the Greater London Council purchased the site for a road widening scheme. The Bakers moved their housing provision to Epping where it continues today. But the road scheme did not happen. Eventually the site ended up in the hands of Waltham Forest Borough Council and today remains in residential use.

We are now at the end of our E10 walk. As ever an area that does look that promising on paper throws up some interesting nuggets from stations and old cinemas to indications of municipal ambition via connections with well known people.

For onward travel there are lots of buses. Closest tube is Walthamstow Central (which is up along Hoe Street – the continuation of the High Road).


E9: Would you Adam and Eve It?

E9 is Homerton and also Hackney Wick. We should really start out walk at Homerton Post Office at 226-228 Homerton High Street. But there are a couple of things I have to mention in Hackney Wick, so I am going to have a prelude there.

So let’s start the prelude at Hackney Wick Station. This is a fairly modern station dating from 1980 when the North London line was rerouted and reopened to run from Dalston to North Woolwich via Stratford. Not much of a station but some great views from the platforms and footbridge. First towards Canary Wharf:


To the Shard. (The City is over to the right but obscured by trees)


And to the Olympic Park.


But the real reason for coming to Hackney Wick is to visit a site just north of the station on the corner of Berkshire Road and Wallis Road.



This was apparently the site of the Parkesine Works, where the world’s first plastic was created by Alexander Parkes. Here is a link to a site called the History of Plastic (yes, really) http://www.historyofplastic.com/plastic-history/history-of-plastics/


This was in 1866. Would you believe it? (or rather as they might say here: would you Adam and Eve it?)

He went bust in 1868 – Parkesine cost too much to make, would easily break and was flammable. It would take a few more years before someone made a commercial success of making plastic.

Now take a 276 bus from Berkshire Road to Glyn Road.

So we start our walk proper from the Post Office at Numbers 226 -228 Homerton High Street. Our first stop is across the road.

Stop 1: Adam and Eve pub

And it is the Adam and Eve pub. Architectural guru, Pevsner says “a daring front of 1915; purple glazed tiles below cream terracotta with a large relief”


And the rather lovely relief is not surprisingly of Adam and Eve – I suppose this depiction might have been considered daring. And above the panel is the date of 1915.


But the sign on the left side of the pub was a bit of a surprise. Whilst the middle word is not unexpected these days, I am not sure I have ever seen the other two words on a pub sign before!


Wonder what the locals thought of that …

Continue walking along Homerton High Street. You will pass the modern library.


And just beyond that is a side street called Brooksby’s Walk. 

Stop 2: Former Homerton Library

Going along Brooksby’s Walk, there is a rather incongruous sight on the right.


It is a classical stone facade – a little temple in what is a rather ordinary looking street


This was built as Homerton Library and dates from 1913.


It is now the Chats Palace Arts Centre. As we saw the Library is now housed in a somewhat less grand building nearby.

Stop 3: Castle Cinema, 64 Brooksby’s Walk

Ans just a little further along the street on the same side is another out of character building.


This looks like it was a cinema and it was, as can be seen if you look down the left hand side of the building.



According to the wonderful Cinema treasures site, this was the Castle Electric Theatre which first opened its doors in September 1913. It was an independently operated cinema for most of its life. But it spent its last few years under the control of Essoldo circuit who acquired it in 1954.

The cinema closed in May 1958 and became a glass factory. In the 1970s, it was converted into an independent bingo club. That closed around 1979. It was then used as a storage warehouse until 1983, when it became a snooker club. In March 1994 the building was split by extending the balcony across the building with the former stalls becoming a bingo club and a snooker club in the newly extended balcony area upstairs.

In April 2006, the building became a snooker club on two levels. But in April 2014, the upstairs section was converted into a restaurant, while the downstairs became a Spar supermarket.

The wonderful Cinema Treasures site says: “In 2016, there are plans to convert part of the upstairs into a 60-80 seat cinema which could possibly open in June 2016.”

Today there is a catering outlet called Eat 17 on the ground floor inside the supermarket but with regard to the upstairs, their site says: “The restaurant is now closed until late summer. The plan is to re-launch with the adjacent cinema from Pillow Cinema.” So watch that space.

In the meantime go into the somewhat upmarket Spar and at the back you see this above the eggs.


Our next stop is just next door.

Stop 4: Frances House, Brooksby’s Walk


Flat 4 in this building was once home to broadcaster, writer and agony aunt, Claire Rayner (1931 – 2010). The fascinating “Notable Abodes” site indicates her autobiography “How Did I Get Here From There?” says she lived here as a child in the years between 1934 and 1937.

When she died, the BBC said she told her relatives she wanted her last words to be: “Tell David Cameron that if he screws up my beloved NHS I’ll come back and bloody haunt him”. (You can still find this quote on BBC on line)

Continue along Brooksby’s Walk and take the next left which is Clifden Road (this is actually E5 but is the most direct way to get to where we want to go)

At the end of this street turn right and then cut through the Jack Dunning Estate by taking Tresham Walk . This is the second turning on the right. At the end of Tresham Walk, you will see our next stop ahead of you in Urswick Road.

Stop 5: The Strand Building

This is a surprising sight – an Art Deco edifice.


This was built as the Hackney Electricity Demonstration Halls and Offices. It has two principal facades; the other one facing Lower Clapton Road is more classical “Palladian’ with some art deco details but that is actually in E5.


The Urswick Road side of the building is in E9 and so I felt I had to include it. Today it has been converted into flats with some shops round the corner in E5. There are some nice deco touches and of course the pastel colour scheme and type face on the entry sign in Urswick Road picks up the deco-ness.


Continue down Urswick Road (as if you had turned left) and our next stop is just as the road bends.

Stop 6: Sutton House

This is a fascinating survivor of when this area was in the country.


The core of the building dates from 1535 and was built for a man called Ralph Sadleir. He was a courtier and worked for Thomas Cromwell. As Sadleir prospered he built himself a house in Hertfordshire and sold this one in 1550.

It has had a chequered history. from being a merchant’s house, it became a girls’ school in the latter part of the 17th century. Then it was split in two. By the end of the 19th century it had become the St John’s Institute, a recreational centre for young men. They moved out in 1936 and the National Trust were given it – according to the plaque outside in memory of two brothers killed in the first world war.


The Trust leased it out to various institutions but by the 1980s it was vacant, vandalised and squatted. Finally the Trust recognised what it had and undertook a major restoration in the early 1990s. It is well worth a visit. and there is also a quirky little extra addition at the side which is called The Breakers Yard.



But interestingly the house should not really be called Sutton House. It is a case of mistaken identity. Thomas Sutton lived in an adjoining house to the west which was demolished for the building of Sutton Place, a rather lovely side street which you have just passed.

Now go down Isabella Road (which is to the left of Sutton House and at the end turn right into Mehetabel Road.


Mehetabel is one of those biblical names you do not hear very often. But I always remember hearing it at school but in relation to the stories of Archy and Mehitabel (slightly different spelling). They were two fictional characters created in 1916, by a man called Don Marquis for a column in a New York newspaper called The Evening Sun. Archy was a cockroach, and Mehitabel, an alley cat, and they appeared in lots of humorous verses and short stories.

Archy did the typing and as he was a cockroach, he could only reach one typewriter key at a time, so he was not able to use the shift key. That meant all the stories are written in lower case. Bizarrely logical, I guess.

Anyhow at the end of Mehetabel Road turn left in the church yard and go along the path which goes under the railway. You will reach Morning Lane and find yourself surrounded by outlet shops – in Hackney of all places!

Stop 7: The Outlet Shops


As you approach Morning Lane you will see a whole new row of what I guess will be more outlet shops . But when you get to Morning Lane, you will see what is there today: Nike, Pringle, Aquascutum, Anya Hindmarch, and if you go down the alley just past Aquascutum (Ram Place) Joseph.







Now somewhere around here is supposed to be a plaque for Joseph Priestley. It is a Greater London Council plaque erected in 1985 and it is supposed to be at Numbers 7 – 8 Ram Place, but none of the buildings have numbers and there is no sign of a blue plaque..

The English heritage site http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/blue-plaques/priestley-joseph-1733-1804 has a photo of the plaque which says “JOSEPH PRIESTLEY 1733-1804 Scientist, Philosopher and Theologian was Minister to the Gravel Pit Meeting here in 1793-1794”

It notes the plaque is on the northern elevation of a building, along an alley off Chatham Place and there is a picture which suggests it was on the side of what is now the Aquascutum building. The plaque seems to have disappeared.

Priestley is best known for discovering oxygen but this is just only one of his many scientific achievements and innovations, others of which include:

  • Discovery of other gases including: carbon monoxide (CO), nitric oxide (NO), nitrous oxide(NO2), ammonia (NH3), sulphur dioxide (SO2), hydrogen sulphide (H2S), silicon fluoride (SiF4) and nitrogen peroxide (N2O4)
  • The discovery of the “carbon cycle” (the conversion of carbon-dioxide to oxygen by photosynthesis in plants and the reverse process by respiration in animals)
  • The invention of the rubber pencil eraser and also first coining the word “rubber”
  • The invention of artificially carbonated water, which was later commercially produced by one Johann Jacob Schweppe.

By the by, deep below Ram Place lies the Channel Tunnel Rail Link unseen and unheard here – at least I did not hear it.

Now carry on down Chatham Place.

Stop 8: Site of Braidwood Academy for the Deaf and Dumb

A little way along Chatham Place, you will see a side street on the left called Retreat Place. At the corner, at the end of a modern block called Rowe House, there is this Hackney borough plaque.


This was notes the location of the first school in England for the education of the deaf and dumb. It was run by Thomas Braidwood (1715 – 1806) and was here from 1783 to 1799. Note it says England because Braidwood was Scottish and his first school for deaf and dumb people was in Scotland in 1760.

Continue along Chatham Place and the road swings to the left and becomes Elsdale Street. Follow this to the end and do a right left twiddle and you will be in Cassland Road.

Walk pass this rather lovely terrace on he right (with a little crescent and a garden on the left)


According to Pevsner the terrace was built around 1800 and it was organised as a building society with subscribers – so it was literally a building society as opposed to one which just lent money for mortgages to build or buy houses.

The crescent opposite dates from the 1860s.


Just past here is our next stop which is on the left.

Stop 9: Number 41 Cassland Road


We are stopping here because this was the birthplace of Maria Dickin (1870 -1951).


As it says on the plaque, Maria Dickin was a promoter of animal welfare and the founder of PDSA – that is the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals.  The PDSA was founded in 1917 by Maria Dickin to provide care for sick and injured animals of the poor. I had not appreciated it still fulfils this role, as even today they focus on helping the pets of people in receipt of benefits

Maria Dickin also instituted the Dickin Medal in 1943. This was to acknowledge outstanding acts of bravery by animals serving with the Armed Forces or Civil Defence units. It has become recognised as the animals’ Victoria Cross, and is administered by PDSA. The PDSA created a second animal bravery award, the PDSA Gold Medal, in 2002, which is now recognised as the animal equivalent of the George Cross.

Now cross over and go down the side street – Meynell Road

Stop 10: Well Street Common

Ahead you will see Well Street Common which confusingly is not actually in Well Street.


It is a very pleasant green space.


Take a right across the common and on the other side, in Church Crescent you will see our next stop

Stop 11: Monger Almshouses

Here on the right of the street going away from the Common, we have some almshouses.


They are called Mongers Almhouses, not because they relate to some trade like Fishmonger or Ironmonger but because they were originally built with a legacy from Henry Monger in the late 1660s. The buildings we see today date from the 1840s.


Go kind of straight ahead and son you will get to Well Street itself when you do a left. Our final stop is right at the end of Well Street

Stop 12 Celia Fiennes House (8 – 20 Well Street)


This is Celia Fiennes house, so named because this was the location of the home of traveller and writer Celia Fiennes (1662 – 1741) for the last years of her life


In 1691 she moved to London, where she had a married sister. She travelled around England on horseback between 1684 and the early 1700s. At this time the idea of travel for its own sake was somewhat unusual. Fiennes worked up her notes into a travel memoir in 1702, which she never published, intending it for family reading. Some extracts were published in 1812 and the first complete edition appeared in 1888 under the title Through England on a Side Saddle. A scholarly edition called The Journeys of Celia Fiennes was produced by Christopher Morris in 1947, and since then the book has been in print in a variety of editions.

Sounds a fascinating insight of a world that was fast changing.

So that brings us to the end of our E9 walk. We have gone from the world’s first plastic to an early travel writer via some interesting survivors of building a 16th century courtier’s house, an old cinema and some industrial building which have found some new uses.

We are now at the corner of Well Street and Mare Street, where there are lots of buses for onwards travel. We are also quite close to London Fields station – just follow the signs.