Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Lee Valley: 3 Mills to Stratford

The Lee Valley stretches from Ware in Hertfordshire through Essex to the River Thames at the East India Dock basin. I am following the river upstream, enjoying the varied areas it passes through.

The Three Mills. This is the House Mill, believed to be the largest tidal mill still in existence. It was built in 1776 and is a Grade 1 listed building. The surrounding area includes the Grade II listed Clock Mill, the Custom House and the cobbled road.

In 1588 the three Mills area had two water mills, one a corn mill and the other was a gunpowder mill. It changed ownership many times and then in 1727 it changed again and became a distilling business to produce gin although the other mill still continued to produce flour which ensured its longevity.

Now the Clock Mill, Customs House and most of 3 Mills island is home to the 3 Mills Studios, London's largest film and TV studio with 14 stages and 10 rehearsal rooms. It was here that I had all my rehearsals for the Opening Ceremony of the Paralympic Games. 

Looking back at 3 Mills

Following the river beyond the Mills you walk across the transformed three Mills Green with its memorial to four men who lost their lives in 1901 to 'foul gas'
They were making a routine inspection of a well and one by one were overcome by the gas.

Looks like a sad end for this scooter.

The river goes through the residential area of Bow on to Stratford. Much has changed here with the building of the Olympic Stadium and the improvements to the road network. Many of the factories alongside the river have been converted to residential usage.

This is as far as you can go along the towpath as more work is now being carried out for the cross rail, the newest rail line to aid travel across London.

I had to travel quite a distance before I could rejoin the path but I am now within the new Olympic park.

The bridges over the river, as it skirts the Olympic Stadium, have great reflective surfaces.

 Once beyond the boundaries of the Olympic Park it's like being out in the country again.

 But then when you leave the edge of the river you emerge onto the Hackney Marshes. This area made it into the Guinness book of records as having the greatest number (881) of full sized football pitches in one place.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Lee Valley: the Thames to 3 Mills

Walking along the North side of the Thames in Limehouse, past The Grapes Inn (c1583) and the statue of a man entitled 'Another time' by the sculptor Anthony Gormley, you eventually come to where the river Lee flows into the River Thames.

I decided to follow the river and explore some of the areas it passes through. As you leave the River Thames, you enter the Limehouse Basin.

 This is the Basin with its lock. It used to be known as the Regent's Canal Dock as it was the entrance to the Regent's Canal. It was opened in 1812 and was used by barges bringing coal inland from the larger ships which had come up the Thames from Newcastle.

Quite a variety of boats moored in the Basin.

Around the Basin are the high rise apartments and office blocks, a number of them converted warehouses, a reminder of its dockland heritage.

This walk takes you through the heart of the East end of London. It is quiet walking beside the water but the sounds of heavy traffic are not too far away.

The Docklands Light Railway with its driverless trains going over the river.

I walked onto the road here just to get my bearings. Across the road from the river is the Mission. This used to be the Sailors Society Mission. With the demise of the docks it then became a hostel for the homeless. Now it has been converted to luxury apartments, and with easy access to the City of London they command high prices.

Some riverside apartments have terrific views then there are the other ones.

This section is part of the Limehouse Cut which links the River Lee to the Limehouse Basin. It is a canalised river. Its aim is to help the boats negotiate the waterway without having to deal with the tidal bends in the River Lee.

Lock keepers cottages

Bow Locks. The locks link the tidal Bow Creek to the River Lee Navigation (the part of the river which has been canalised). Built in 1850 and then rebuilt in 1930. they were modified again in 2000 to keep the tide out and reduce the silting up of the canal.

Looking back at Canary Wharf and its tall buildings.

The London to Southend rail bridge.

Not a huge clearance between the bridge and the river.

Bromley by Bow Gasworks. In 1809 this was the site of a rocket factory but in 1870 it was bought by the Imperial Gas Company who built their gasworks here. Gas is no longer stored in these containers so it will be interesting to see what happens to these giant iron structures.

As I walked along the river I didn't see any water buses. Not sure they are running at the moment as part of the river is closed up ahead due to the construction of a major new rail line.

I finished the afternoon's walk here at 3 Mills at the wonderful cafe. I will post more about this heritage site in my next post.