Tanya Landman’s latest novel has an appropriately ‘striking’ cover by Chaaya Prabhat which may encourage an instant purchase.
Lightning Strike seeks to tell to younger readers the true story of the terrible working conditions which led to the Matchgirls Strike in 1888. This was a turning point in Bow and the development of trade unionism.
Today the rebuilt factory is an unmissable outline seen by walkers passing down the Olympic park.
However, it may be a pity if the novel ends up turning a myth into fact in the minds of young people. The matchgirls’ story is dramatic enough without need for embellishment.
The book weaves in the 20th-century myth that the landmark statue of William Gladstone in Bow was paid for by the workers having money deducted fro their wages.
There is no record of this.
The story is linked to the fact that in recent years the former prime minister’s right hand, nearest the factory, has been painted red.
Historian Richard Jones has a looked closely at this myth and explains why the statue was erected. The Gladstone government had responded to public opinion.
There is a new footbridge spanning the River Lea navigation at Tottenham Hale.
The wood and ‘wood effect’ crossing, found between Stonebridge Lock and Tottenham Lock, links new housing on Hale Wharf on the left bank with Hale Village on the right.
Hale Wharf Bridge spans the Lea, its towpath and parallel Pymmes Brook alongside the new Hale Village on the site of the Harris Lebus furniture factory.
The towpath has its own separate new bridge over Pymmes Brook to allow easy access to the village’s shops, cafe and new church. It also provides a traffic free route to Tottenham Hale Station.
The Hale Wharf 249 new home scheme, being delivered by Waterside Places, is a joint venture between the Canal & River Trust, Muse Developments, the Mayor of London and the London Borough of Haringey’s Green Link initiative.
Truman’s Brewery has just moved its main site up the Lea Valley from Fish Island opposite the Olympic Park to Walthamstow.
This may not be as handy but it’s good news that the brewery is staying in the Lea Valley.
Indeed, having left Fish Island, Truman’s has been brewing at Crate Brewery’s riverside Queen’s Yard in nearby Hackney Wick.
Truman’s was founded in 1666 when the Great Fire of London fortunately missed the East End and allowed the brewery to became famous. Especially recognisable was its ale with Ben Truman’s portrait on the label.
Sir Benjamin (1699-1780) was third generation Truman and greatly expanded the company after winning royal approval from George II and George III who knighted him. Sir Benjamin’s portrait was painted by George Romney and Sir Thomas Gainsborough.
The brewery closed in 1989 but the name was reborn on Fish Island in 2013.
Lea Valley walkers come across Sir Benjamin Truman at Hertingfordbury where he lies in the churchyard. He is said to have worshipped there for years to avoid meeting Samuel Whitbread at Essenden Church although it was nearer home.
The popular Bow Bells Citrus Pale Ale brewed on Fish Island by the new Truman’s must surely have owed something to nearby Bow and its bells as well as Cheapside’s.
Truman’s Social Club, as the new brewhouse and bar is being called, is at 1 Priestley Way E17 6AL, east of Tottenham Hale Lock and near Blackhorse Road Station.
Today Wednesday 29 May 2020 is the centenary of Welwyn Garden City. Sadly all celebrations are cancelled.
Ebenezer Howard launched Welwyn Garden City Limited on 29 April 1920 having successfully created nearby Letchworth Garden City.
The Lea Valley Walk first meets the garden city at Stanborough Park where the River Lea feeds the lakes.
Beyond Mill Green on the edge of Hatfield there is a return to Welwyn by way of Gipsy Lane, Hall Grove and Holwell Hyde.
Part of a just launched way marked circular Centenary Walk coincides with the LVW from Lemsford to Mill Green. This exciting new permanent route, which reduces road walking in the Hall Grove area, is likely to determine the line of LVW path east of Mill Green in future.
On a damp winter Monday in Luton is was a pleasure to stop off at The Moat House for lunch.
The moated and thatched Tudor building is near the start of the Lea Valley Walk and handy if you need the ‘eat as much as you like’ breakfast for £4.69 including fried bread (9-11.30am). Coffee is £1.99. It sets you up to get south to Harpenden.
Today I had arrived in Leagrave at 1.30pm so I was in need of the £9.49 roast. As at breakfast portions were generous.
Opening the Old Moat House front door I was greeted by a real log fire.
It is extraordinary that the oldest pub on the Lea Valley route is at the beginning. There is much more to Luton than many realise. Wardown House, a little further on, serves teas in its recently redecorated dining room.