Author Archives: Leigh Hatts

Awaiting Meridian Water

Looking north at the Meridian Water site

Stonehill Business Park, also known as the Lea Valley Industrial Estate,  is slowly disappearing to make way for Meridian Water development.

The industrial estate is immediately south of Lea Valley Viaduct and at present this half a mile is the least attractive on the entire Walk.

Clearance is ahead on the east bank whilst the west side is at present untouched with huge redundant sheds standing silent in long grass and high bushes.

The Leaside Cafe, which used to open at 6am, stands closed and isolated.

The Meridian Water residential plan for the area covers both banks of the river with new bridges planned. One will lead direct to a new railway station due to open next year. This will be  a replacement for the now almost inaccessible Angel Road Station to the north which is hemmed in by the flyover approach.

This very noisy flyover across the north end of the site leads to the Cook’s Ferry.Roundabout  which takes its name from the original idyllic crossing here.

But still delightful is the river downstream of the Meridian Water southern boundary at Chalk Bridge.

Here there is sudden relief as the Lea Valley Walk reaches the green Tottenham Marshes at a spot once known as Wild Marsh.

Looking west towards the new station

Arriva buses still on site

Path by river on Tottenham Marshes just south of development site

Opening date for new railway station

Meridian Water notice

The official notice confirming a new station in the Lea Valley appears in The Times today.

Meridian Water Station is due to open on Sunday 19 May next year.

This will replace Angel Road which is not very handy for walkers.

The new Meridian Water Station, between Ponders End Station and Northumberland Park Station, will be about 0.75 miles from the towpath.

The link will include a new footbridge just south of the Lee Valley Viaduct.

The planned station is intended to serve the Meridian Water development replacing Stonehill Business Park which the waker passes through before the surprising tranquility of Tottenham Marshes.

River Lea fabrics at Bow

Nunnery Gallery

An exhibition called Raw Materials: Textiles takes a new look at the Lea Valley’s industrial heritage.

The venue is the Nunnery Galley which is found down an alley in Bow. The building is the former St Catherine’s Convent dating from 1866. It was a Benedictine community although confusingly its cafe is called the Carmelite Cafe.

But it is good drop-in on the Lea Valley Walk: turn off at Bow and walk past McDonald’s.

The alley, which leads to the former convent garden, is opposite ancient Bow church on an island site in Bow Road.

The exhibition is a mixture of historic displays and modern artworks.

Nearby riverside Bromley Hall, a monastic house dating from the 12th century on the tidal Lea, was the centre of calico printing from 1680 to 1820.

On show are hand-carved printing blocks made from pear wood.

Calico and silk printing also took place at Waltham Abbey and West Ham. The Littler family was in charge of the operations which later transferred to Merton on the River Wandle in south-west London to become the Liberty factory.

A giant map shows the location of more calico works at Old Ford and West Ham Abbey as well as silk crepe manufacture at Ponders End and synthetic dyes in Hackney Wick.

Raw Materials is at The Nunnery Gallery until Sunday 24 June; 10am-5pm Tuesday to Sunday; admission free.

St Mary’s Church at Bow is open summer Saturdays 11am-1pm.

Bow churchyard

An 1885 design based on the River Lea by William Morris

Calico printing block

A 2018 design based on pressed flowers from the Lea river bank by Isabella Dunne

Limehouse buildings on At Risk register

The Accumulator Tower below St Anne’s

Historic England has added two historic buildings in Limehouse as being at risk and placed then on the 2017 Heritage at Risk Register.

St Anne’s Limehouse is at the climax of the Lea Valley Walk for those who stay by the navigation channel to end the route at Limehouse Basin. The church is on the final bend into the Basin.

This is a Nicholas Hawksmoor church completed in 1730. The church, being so close to not just the River Lea but the Thames, was a navigation landmark. Its clock is the highest church clock in London.

The building was known to Charles Dickens whose godfather lived in its shadow and more recently is featured in BBC TV’s Call The Midwife.

The church sadly qualifies for the at Historic England Risk Register because of water damage to the interior.

Less well-known is the nearby Accumulator Tower by the high railway line on the north side of Limehouse Basin.

The octagonal accumulator tower and chimney stack was built in 1869 by William Armstrong, inventor of the hydraulic crane.

This is the last surviving accumulator tower of three built in the canal dock. All were connected to a pumping station which fed water under high pressure into a hydraulic main that powered coal cranes.

The structure has suffered water damage, vegetation growth and now also has graffiti.

Green Flags for Lea Valley

The Lea Valley has won several Green Flag Awards both inside and outside the regional park boundary.

There are now flags from Wardown Park near the River Lea source to Bow Creek Ecology Park.

In between Rye House, Waltham Abbey Gardens, Tottenham Marshes, Walthamstow Marsh, Hackney Marshes and Millfields are among the winners.

Also included is Cedars Park, the former Theobalds royal residence, near Waltham Cross.

The Green Flag Awards, begun twenty years ago, are administered by Keep Britain Tidy.

Princess of Wales reopening for Bank Holiday weekend

The Princess of Wales pub at Lea Bridge near Clapton is reopening on Friday 26 May at the start of Spring Bank Holiday weekend.

The riverside pub has been closed since the start of May for refurbishment.

Despite closure The Princess of Wales was still the gathering point on Rogation Sunday for Beating the Bounds of the Leyton and Walthamstow Marshes. Willows for beating the boundary markers were prepared on the outside tables.

This year’s walk, revived by the Lammas Lands Defence Committee, was organised by the Save Lea Marshes campaign.

Virginia Quay path closure

Virginia Quay’s memorial to those who sailed to Virginia in 1606

Virginia Quay is on the route from the end of Lea Valley Walk at East India Dock to East India Dock DLR Station.

However, the west end of Virginia Quay remains closed for repair work.

The best way to the station is to go behind the Virginia founders memorial, up the steps and left along Jamestown Way. This bears right. Go  left into Newport Avenue and right along Prime Meridian Walk.

Lea Valley path exhibition

Lea River Park exhibition at the Building Centre

Lea Valley Park: a new landscape for London exhibition at New London Architecture looks at the land along the last three miles of the River Lea which is being called the Lea River Park.

The new park’s main feature is a plan to improve the Lea Valley Walk’s climax from Bow to the River Thames.

The is being branded The Leaway as it is part of a local route out of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. It dovetails with the Lea Valley Walk at Three Mills.

The key link highlighted in the exhibition is between Cody Dock and Canning Town where an isolated length of riverside path exists at Electra Wharf.

The Lea River Park has been developed by London Legacy Development Corporation and the London Boroughs of Newham and Tower Hamlets

Available at the exhibition are free copies of three Odd Guides to the Leaway highlighting history and nature. The booklets can also be collected by walkers at Three Mills and other key points along the Lea Valley Walk to the south.

The New London Architecture exhibition on the Leaway is at the Building Centre, 26 Store Street (opposite the Co-op), London WC1E 7BT until Thursday 27 April; open Mon–Fri 9am-6pm; Sat 10am-5pm; admission free.

Green dots indicate the immediate path plan. Red is a longer term objective.

  • 5th Studio director Tom Holbrook, who is heading the Lea River Park design team, is leading a walk along the route  on Saturday 22 April 2pm-4.30pm.

Pocahontas 400: Virginia monument listed

Virginia monument (Historic England © Julian Walker)

The climax of the Lea Valley Walk is East India Dock opposite the O2.

The way to the DLR station is across Virginia Quay from where adventurers, including Captain John Smith, set out for America in 1606.

Captain John Smith went on to establish Jamestown. Princess Pocahontas is said to have saved his life when he was captured by Indians. She died at Gravesend four hundred years ago,

Virginia Quay’s massive Settlers Monument, dating from 1928, has been listed Grade II by Historic England as part of the Pocahontas 2017 celebrations.