31 May, 2011

Dalston to Wapping (not all on foot)

Starting off at Dalston Junction station for a short trip down Dalston High Street and then up to Clapton seemed like a worthwhile walk. Passing Marie Lloyd's house too, which was surprisingly modest for a music hall star, especially one who fell foul of Mr Blushington of the London County Council on a mission to clean up the halls. "It's not what she said, it's the way that she said it!" But who can forget such classics as "She sits among the cabbages and peas" or "I always hold in having it if you fancy it". They don't make them like that any more. Arriving at Clapton I noticed a sculpture of some wires on poles next to a mosque, which looked rather like an eruv. Judge for yourself. The JC reported a rouge eruv round Clapton but this had been torn down. Nobody would say who by.
The next bit led through Springfield Park, next to Lea View House a model example of tenant participation. the Park cafe comes out well in this shot. A walk by the Lea or Lee River past where Avro aircraft were first flown on Hackney marshes led me to the abandoned Middlesex filter beds. These were filtre beds for water extracted from the river and were closed in the 1980s and left to nature.

Nature has taken over but it is managed, and there are one or two artworks in the filter beds. The whole place is rather sculptural though. After that a walk further along the River Lea or Lee to where the Lesney factory had been. This was where Matchbox toy cars were built and the developer has called the flats Matchmaker House. Matchbox House would be more apt given the size of the flats.
And speaking of matches I caught a bus to Bow and the former Bryant and May factory, with it's appropriate designs in the brickwork.
After Bow a walk down the Highway and past the Royal Foundation of St Katherine to Wapping. There in an old hydraulic power station is a work of art called 'making waves. It is a pool of water reflecting a structure which is like an illuminated ball gown. Very pretty.
After a drink in the Captain Kidd near execution dock it was time to go home.

30 May, 2011

Rainham to Purfleet London Loop Extension completed!

A long time ago I did the London Loop ending at Coldharbour point, the boundary of Greater London. That was as far as the loop went then but it has since been extended to Purfleet passing these old concrete barges that were dumped there after the war.
The loop follows the Thames at this point and includes the RSPB bird reserve which served as a convenient stopping point for coffee and scone or soup.
This building is just on the edge of Purfleet, where there is a military heritage centre and lots and lots of new flats. Come to think of it there were lots of new flats in Rainham too since I was last down that way - Messrs Chuckemup, Builders and decorators have been at it again.
The picture shows a surviving gunpowder store that hasn't been converted to flats.

29 May, 2011

A Ramble round Caterham

I've been to Caterham before but this was a chance to see some spectacular views. Well if there were no hedges in the way and I hadn't got lost in the Devil's Hole.
A steep climb out of Caterham took me along a ridge and out of the town to some rural farms, although passing the church in the valley. Walking through open countryside a slight deviation took me away from the Devil's Hole, a steeply wooded valley but I managed to regain it and end up back on the right track. After some farms and a clearing on Gravelly hill with a dog drinking fountain dedicated to Toby, I walked down through some woodlands to come to War Coppice Road with some houses that looked like they had been designed by Frank Baines for the Ministry of Works with street names like Woodland Way. After this I came to Whitehill Tower, an observation tower little more than a ruin. This was enclosed behind high walls due to be even higher but perhaps the country habit of leaving stuff unfinished will prevail.
After a few more miles of walking, past an interesting looking farm, I came to Caterham on the Hill, walking past some excellent homes for heroes and into Queens Park, with its tree planted to commemorate the relief of Mafeking, and a garden with a clock tower in it. The Old Church of St Lawrence was open and serving teas so I had a couple of pieces of cake in this 11th Century church. The church was found to be too small in the 1860s and a new church was built opposite the old one.
I went back down the hill into Caterham not on the hill and caught a train home. Not much to see on this walk but a few points of interest.

28 May, 2011

Kelvedon Hatch

A trip to the wilds of Essex to visit Kelvedon Hatch. Kelvedon Hatch has a pleasant Arts and Crafts Church of the 1890s with some memorial brasses from the previous church added to the walls. However, just outside the village lurks a secret Regional Government HQ, built into the side of a hill. The start of the bunker is an innocuous looking bungalow, a little bit reminiscent of Empire, but once inside the similarity stops. Not many bungalows have a wire cage guarding a long passage lined with bunk beds and ending in blast doors. Inside the bunker was like a government office from the 1980s with a broadcasting studio and several dummies representing Margaret Thatcher and assorted civil servants. The commentary was artfully done and kept visitors almost out of site of others, everyone coming together in the canteen. The depressing commentary was all about being killed, and I wish Id taken a childrens wand instead. All in all for the money it was not bad value, but the extras - £5 to take a photograph were too much to bear, so I didnt take any.

21 May, 2011

Dorset - in Bethnal Green

A visit to the Dorset Estate in Bethnal Green. The Dorset Estate is two Y shaped towers with some low rise blocks with a library (closed and maybe never to re-open) and social club. The estate was designed by Skinner, Bailey & Lubetkin and was the first in Bethnal Green to feature high-level blocks, with two 11 storeyed Y-shaped buildings (George Loveless and James Hammett houses) on the north, four 4-storeyed blocks (James Brine House) to the south and two more (Robert Owen and Arthur Wade houses) on the south side of Baroness Road. The estate was officially opened with 266 flats in 1958, marked a change in municipal housing, with the emphasis on height and reinforced concrete. The estate has worn well and has a plaque with the blind beggar of Bethnal Green on the roof. The houses on the Dorset Gardens Estate were named after the Tolpuddle martyrs with Robert Owen House named after the father of coöperation and Arthur Wade House named after a chartist.

16 May, 2011

Three Mills Island, Bromley by Bow

A Sunday visit to Three Mills Island on national mills weekend to see the large former tide mill
From Travels around London

I didn't know what a tide mill was but the mill works with the ebbing tide, that turns the mill wheel and thus powers the mill. The mill has been on an artificial island for more than a thousand years, but was rebuilt in the Georgian times and again after a fire in the early 19th century. Originally a flour mill it started producing spirits and was complete with a custom's house. My mate's dad used to work there when it was a bonded warehouse for alcoholic drinks and he saw them bottling wine from tanker barges.

The trust that owns the mills runs guided tours every Sunday with costumed guides telling the story of the mills, and very interesting they are too, all the millstones were stolen after an incendiary bomb dropped on the mill in 1941 and that was the end of milling. They plan to restore the mill and use the tides to generate electricity.

15 May, 2011

Cuddington and Ewell, Surrey

You might have thought the area round Worcester Park station was called Worcester Park, but you would be wrong. Raynes Park, Motspur Park, Worcester Park, Stoneleigh only escaped being a park because the Railway Company thought this was a park too far. So, north of the Worcester Park station is the Parish of Cuddington, part of the borough of Epsom and Ewell. The original church of Cuddington was demolished in the reign of Henry VIII, so he could build the Palace of Nonesuch, and only rebuilt in 1895 - a 329 year interregnum that our current Church leaders can only gaze at with envy. The current church is built with brick and knapped flint and very nice it is too.

The walk meandered round the London and Surrey borders keeping close to the Hogsmill River where Millais painted the Death of Ophelia. There are two packhorse bridges over the Hogsmill in Ewell including this one
although neither are medieval both convey history underfoot.

We have met Ewell before on the London Loop and it is a pleasant and interesting town with a 1960s library, Bourne Hall, with a museum. This is where the Hogsmill River rises from springs in the ground forming into ponds. There is a detached church tower and a castle. there is also a remnant of an old justice system in the lock up.

We walked further on to Cheam, (I've been before) and then on to the station and a weary return home.

02 May, 2011

Heronsgate, Hertfordshire, Land of Liberty, Peace and Plenty?

A pleasant walk in the Hertfordshire countryside, taking in the Grand Union Canal, gravel pits and a charter land colony.
Beginning at Rickmansworth with a coffee in the Wetherspoons then a walk down the Grand Union Canal for a few miles (76 miles from Braunston)
From Travels around London

From Travels around London
until we reached the gravel pit that is now flooded and called Stocker's lake. Walking round Stocker's lake and having a rest on a lovely sunny landing stage with Canada Geese and Coots turned a pleasant day into a heavenly one. Walking back into Rickmansworth (Mill End) and past some particularly good homes for heroes we got slightly lost sand had to back track, but eventually we passed under the M25 and headed off through fields to Heronsgate.

Heronsgate was partially laid out as an estate by the Chartist Coöperative Land Company. The intention was to enfranchise working people by allowing them to buy freehold land. The chartists obtained 2-4 acres of land with a luxuriously equipped cottage on roads named after the industrial towns they were drawn from. Stockport Road, Nottingham Road, Bradford Road being examples used there. The Estate was named O'Connorville after Feargus O'Connor MP who led the company. Of course like many other back to the land movements it failed, not least because the people attracted to the scheme were industrial workers, rather than farmers, and that 2 acres is not really enough to support a family. Somebody living in Rickmansworth in the 1840s could hardly take a job in London to support themselves.
From Travels around London

The estate is now an exclusive development of housing for the wealthy but one or two charterville cottages remain. There was a plaque on one cottage celebrating the Estate's 150th anniversary of 1997, and a plaque on the village hall of 1884 that reads: 'In proud memory of O'Connorville founded here in 1847 by Feargus O'Connor MP Chartist, Idealist and Social Reformer'. The church's foundation stone was laid in 1886.
The local pub, which is not on the Estate, bears the name 'The land of liberty, peace and plenty', which I thought was a fitting tribute to those pioneers who came from the industrial north with high hopes of freedom.