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History walk

Lunch time tour

Sugar House Island and its surrounding areas have an incredibly rich and interesting heritage, and we asked Rose, Legal Counsel at Vastint UK, to take us on a lunch-time history tour of some of the area's local landmarks. 

Starting from The Print House, I crossed over Stratford High Street and headed east towards Stratford centre. After a short distance, I turned down Blaker Road on my left.

 

HOWARD’S HOUSE

Just a few steps down Blaker Road there is a cluster of three buildings sitting on an island in the City Mill River, with a restored lockkeeper’s cottage in the middle. Immediately to its left is “Howard’s House”, a re-creation of the former home of Luke Howard, the pre-eminent meteorologist and chemist who gave the clouds their names (cumulus, nimbus…). His work was highly influential, and is said to have inspired Constable’s paintings and the poet Goethe among others! Goethe wrote in his poem Howards Ehrengedächtnis (In Howard’s Honour):

“As clouds ascend, are folded, scatter, fall
Let the world think of thee who taught it all.”

Howard also had a successful chemical and pharmaceutical factory in nearby Plaistow in the early 19th century which produced a range of products including quinine and aspirin.

I returned to Stratford High Street and continued east, crossing back over the road at the second set of lights. I continued straight on after the crossing into the Greenway, a pedestrian and cycle route which stretches through East London from Victoria Park to Beckton.

ABBEY MILLS PUMPING STATION

A short distance along the Greenway, on the right, is an elaborate Italian Gothic building, built in 1868. It seems to me more reminiscent of a grammar school than a pumping station, with its curious collection of fine outbuildings and neatly manicured lawns. It had a significant part to play in London’s Victorian water infrastructure, being described by Historic England as “the northern cornerstone of Sir Joseph Bazalgette's enormous and heroic programme of works”, which had the purpose of giving London mains drainage in the 1860s. The structure is topped with an octagonal domed lantern with elaborate wrought iron cresting, in a striking red colour which is clearly visible across the rooftops from Sugar House Island.

Continuing on past Abbey Mills, I turned right off the Greenway through a large metal gate. From here you can walk down to the Channelsea river, where a lovely wooded path skirts around the grounds of a modern pumping station. I was here at low tide, when the exposed mud banks are a great place to spot water birds. The path leads round over a lock to reach Three Mills Green. After walking through the park, I turned left at the river.

HOUSE MILL AND CLOCK MILL

No tour of this area’s heritage would be complete without a visit to these two fine water mills, part of the original “Three Mills” after which this part of town is called. The attractive cluster of buildings, closely set around a cobblestone courtyard and surrounded by unexpectedly tranquil water, make this a lovely place to linger for a quiet moment or two. Mills on this site are recorded in the Domesday Book but the current buildings were built in 1776 (the Grade I listed House Mill) and 1817 (Clock Mill) respectively. Over the years the mills at this location are thought to have been used in the production of flour for bread, then gunpowder, and when the “Gin Craze” hit London, to grind grain for the purpose of distilling alcohol. The House Mill is the largest surviving tidal mill in the world.

After the Clock Mill I turned left to follow the willow tree-lined path between two channels in the River Lea. I passed under a railway bridge, and then a road bridge. Immediately after the road bridge I took a ramp on the left up to the bridge. I turned right at the top of the ramp, crossing the road where it bends to the right towards Prologis Park to continue straight on down a minor road.

GASHOLDERS AND MEMORIAL PARK

On the left there is a group of seven circular cast iron gasholders, another local landmark which is visible from far and wide. These imposing structures were built in 1872 by engineers Clark and Kirkham and are Grade II listed. Their construction is described by Historic England as being of either two or three superimposed storeys of Doric and simplified Ionic columns, with entablature blocks linked by filigree cast iron bands.

On the right, through a wooden gate, there is a small and delightful wooded park containing memorials to the employees of the Imperial Gas Light & Coke Company who were killed in both world wars. The most evocative of these is a tall column topped with a gas lamp, containing an 'eternal flame'. This peaceful, shady spot is a really unexpected find, and well worth a detour to visit.

From here I retraced my steps and returned to Three Mills, following the cobblestone road round between the mills and then carrying straight on down the riverside path ahead. From here there is a great view of the Sugar House and the Print House (next to Dane’s Yard tower) on Sugar House Island, both refurbished brick warehouses which are evocative of the area’s industrial heritage. From here it is a short hop back to Stratford High Street.

Next time

There’s more! Here’s a selection of other local historic points of interest Rose plans to visit on her next walks around the area:

  • Bow Quarter
  • Catholic Church of Our Lady and St Catherine of Siena, Bow
  • St Leonard’s Priory
  • Minnie Lansbury Memorial Clock
  • Kingsley Hall
  • Bromley Hall
  • Drapers Almshouses 

Enjoy history? You can read more about Sugar House Island's rich industrial past here

Please share your photos and comments with us on social media!

 

Heritage Buildings map

BackHeritage buildings

  • The Miller’s House.
    Three Mill Ln, Bromley By Bow, E3 3DU
    Visit website
  • 140 Abbey Ln, E15 2RW
    020 8311 3711
  • 1 Almshouses Way, Rainhill, E3 3ES
  • 230 Bow Rd, E3 3AH
    020 8981 7916 | Visit website

The Local Area Map

Everything you need in walking distance.

BackAmenities

    • AThe View Tube
      The Greenway, Marshgate Ln, E15 2PJ
      07957 346279 | Visit website
      BThe Pie Crust
      273 High St, E15 2TF
      020 8534 2873
      CCarmelite Café
      181 Bow Rd, E3 2SJ
      020 8980 7774
      DStratford Cafè Espresso
      Ground Floor, The Lock Building, 72 High St, Stratford, E15 2QF
      EChinese Overseas Restaurant
      & Take Away
      411 High St, E15 4QZ
      FThe Last Drop
      Arcelor Mittal Orbit Restaurant
      Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
      5 Thornton St, E20 2AD
      Visit website
      GStour Space
      7 Roach Rd, E3 2PA
      020 8985 7827 | Visit website
      HCrate Brewery & Pizzeria
      Crate Brewery & Pizzeria 7 The White Building, Queen's Yard, E9 5EN
      020 8533 3331 | Visit website
      IWhite Post Café and Bar
      Schwartz Wharf (Building 4), 92 White Post Ln, E9 5EN
      07779 142388 | Visit website
      JWestfield’s 65 restaurants
      Olympic Park, Montfichet Rd, E20 1EJ
      020 8221 7300 | Visit website
    • AThe Bow Bells
      116 Bow Rd, E3 3AA
      Visit website
      BCoborn Arms
      8 Coborn Rd, Bow, E3 2DA
      020 8980 3793 | Visit website
      CThe Morgan Arms
      43 Morgan St, E3 5AA
      020 8980 6389 | Visit website
      DThe Lord Tredegar
      50 Lichfield Rd, E3 5AL
      020 8983 0130 | Visit website
      EThe Green Goose
      112 Anglo Rd, E3 5HD
      020 3058 3728 | Visit website
      FGalvanisers Union
      2 Devas St, E3 3LL
      020 7537 1158 | Visit website
      GRusty Bike Pub Mile End
      588 Mile End Rd, E3 4PH
      020 8981 4100 | Visit website
      HWestfield’s 10 bars
      Olympic Park, Montfichet Rd, E20 1EJ
      020 8221 7300 | Visit website
      IHowling Hops Brewery and Tank Bar
      Unit 9A Queen's Yard, White Post Ln, E9 5EN
      020 3583 8262 | Visit website
    • ATesco Superstore
      Hancock Rd, Bow, E3 3DA
      0345 677 9085 | Visit website
      BThe Co-operative
      127-131 Bow Rd, E3 2AN
      020 8981 4314 | Visit website
      CTesco Express
      150 High St, E15 2NE
      0345 671 9595 | Visit website
      DTesco Express
      1-5 Bow Rd, E3 4LU
      0345 675 7155 | Visit website
      EFine Food Store
      61 Bow Rd, E3 2AD
    • AWestfield Stratford
      Over 250 stores
      Olympic Park
      Montfichet Rd, E20 1EJ
      020 8221 7300 | Visit website
      BRoman Road Market
      Tuesdays, Thursdays 10am-4pm,
      Saturdays 10am-5pm
      568 Roman Rd, E3 5ES
      0843 886 8462 | Visit website
    • ABromley-by-Bow Health Centre
      St Leonard's St, E3 3BT
      020 3728 0980 | Visit website
      BSt Andrew’s Health Centre
      2 Hannaford Walk, E3 3FF
      020 8980 1888 | Visit website
      CRuston Street Clinic
      Ruston St, E3 2LR
      020 8980 1652 | Visit website
      DThe Tredegar Practice
      35 St Stephen's Rd, E3 5JD
      020 8980 1822 | Visit website
      EHarley Grove Medical Centre
      15 Harley Grove, E3 2AT
      020 8983 7479 | Visit website
      FStroudley Walk Health Centre
      38 Stroudley Walk, E3 3EW
      020 8981 4742 | Visit website
      GLantern Health CIC – Carpenters Practice
      236-252 High St, E15 2JA
      020 8534 8057 | Visit website
      HSt Stephen’s Health Centre
      Bow Community Hall, William Pl, E3 5ED
      020 8980 1760
      IMerchant Street Surgery
      5 Merchant St, E3 4LJ
      020 8980 3676 | Visit website
    • ABow Pharmacy
      38 Stroudley Walk, E3 3EW
      020 8980 2178 | Visit website
      BTesco Superstore Pharmacy
      Hancock Rd, Bow, E3 3DA
      0345 677 9085 | Visit website
      CGreen Light Pharmacy
      Hannaford Walk, Devons Rd, E3 3FF
      020 3069 7858 | Visit website
      DBoots, Westfield Stratford
      Olympic Park, Montfichet Rd, E20 1EJ
      020 8221 7300 | Visit website
    • ANisa Local Post Office
      161A Bow Rd, E3 2SG
      0345 611 2970 | Visit website
      BStratford Post Office
      26-28 The Broadway, E15 4QS
      0345 611 2970 | Visit website
      CAmazon Delivery Locker
      The Mall Stratford, E15 1NG
      0800 496 2459 | Visit website
    • ABarclays Bank
      92 Bow Rd, E3 3AA
      0345 734 5345 | Visit website
      BNatwest ATM
      161 Bow Rd, E3 2SG
      Visit website
      CThe Co-operative ATM
      131 Bow Rd, E3 2AN
      Visit website
      DTesco Superstore ATM
      Hancock Rd, Bow, E3 3DA
      0345 677 9085 | Visit website
    • AStratford Dry Cleaners, Laundry, Key Cutting
      269 High St, E15 2TF
      07808 703978 | Visit website
      BSmart Dry Cleaners
      Unit 4 Auzura point, 44 Warton Rd, Stratford, E15 2JD
      020 7485 3839
      CBow Dry Cleaner
      22 Bromley High St, E3 3EP
      020 8980 8089 | Visit website
    • ALondon Stadium
      Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, E20 2ST
      020 8522 6000 | Visit website
      BLondon Aquatics Centre
      Swimming and Diving Pools
      Olympic Park, E20 2ZQ
      020 8536 3150 | Visit website
      CLondon Aquatics Centre Gym
      Olympic Park, E20 2ZQ
      020 8536 3150 | Visit website
      DAnytime Fitness Gym
      188 High St, Stratford, E15 2FF
      020 3475 1347 | Visit website
      EGymbox
      6 Chestnut Pl, Stratford, E20 1GL
      020 3819 8548 | Visit website
      FCopper Box Arena
      Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, E20 3HB
      020 8221 4900 | Visit website
    • ACinema Westfield Stratford
      3,000 seats across 17 screens in this Vue Cinema with all the latest movies, food and drinks available.
      Olympic Park, Montfichet Rd, E20 1EJ
      020 8221 7300 | Visit website
      BBowling Westfield Stratford
      All Star Lanes provides a fun party environment with 14 lanes and available for parties and private events.
      Olympic Park, Montfichet Rd, E20 1EJ
      020 8221 7300 | Visit website
      CTheatre Royal Stratford East
      A culturally diverse area in Stratford well-known for the talented productions and lively bars and cafés.
      Gerry Raffles Square, E15 1BN
      020 8534 0310 | Visit website
      DNunnery Gallery
      Showcase for works by East London artists within a former religious building, with a café.
      Open Tuesday – Friday 10am – 5pm
      181 Bow Rd, E3 2SJ
      020 8980 7774 | Visit website
      EArcelorMittal Orbit
      Fun for all the family and a great view from the top on a sunny day. Café next door with a wide range of tasty treats.
      Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, 5 Thornton St, E20 2AD
      0333 800 8099 | Visit website
    • APudding Mill Lane DLR Station
      0.2 miles | DLR Service
      View on Google Maps
      BStratford High Street DLR Station
      0.4 miles | DLR Service
      View on Google Maps
      CBromley-By-Bow Tube Station
      0.5 miles | District & Hammersmith & City Services
      View on Google Maps
      DAbbey Road DLR Station
      0.6 miles | DLR Services
      View on Google Maps
      EBow Church DLR
      0.6 miles | DLR Services
      View on Google Maps
      FStratford Station
      0.7 miles | TFL Rail, Central, Jubilee, DLR, Overground Services
      View on Google Maps
      GWest Ham Station
      0.7 miles | District, Hammersmith & City, DLR and Jubilee Services
      View on Google Maps
      HBow Road Tube Station
      0.8 miles | District, Hammersmith & City Services
      View on Google Maps
      IStratford International Station
      1.2 miles | DLR & National Rail Services
      View on Google Maps
      JMaryland Station
      1.3 miles | TFL Rail Service
      View on Google Maps
      KMile End Station
      1.5 miles | Central, District, Hammersmith & City Services
      View on Google Maps
      LHackney Wick
      1.6 miles | Overground Service
      View on Google Maps
    • ASantander bikes
      Bow Church Station
      118 Bow Rd, London E3 3AH
      Visit website
      BSantander bikes
      Bromley High St, Bow, E3 33B
      0343 222 6666 | Visit website
      CSantander bikes
      Devon’s Rd, Bow, E3 3QX
      0343 222 6666 | Visit website
      DSantander bikes
      Bow Rd Station, Bow, E3 3AH
      0343 222 6666 | Visit website
      ESantander bikes
      Podium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, E20 2ST
      0343 222 6666 | Visit website
      FSantander bikes
      Aquatics Centre, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, E20 2ST
      0343 222 6666 | Visit website
      GSantander bikes
      Stratford Station, Stratford, E15 1AZ
      Visit website
      HSantander bikes
      Monier Rd, Hackney Wick, E3 2PR
      0343 222 6666 | Visit website
      IView Tube Cycle Hire - Nigel’s bikes
      The Greenway, Marshgate Ln, E15 2PJ
      07957 346279 | Visit website
  • AThree Mills Green and Three Mills Island
    World’s oldest tidal mill, with café and Wild Kingdom play space with fallen trees, nets and ropes.
    E3 3DU
    Visit website
    BCanal and riverside walk
    Connecting into the Lee Valley Walk’s 26 miles of walks.
    Visit website
    CQueen Elizabeth Olympic Park
    Bridges, wild land and play parks weave a latticework around London's 2012 Olympic venues.
    E20 2ST
    0800 072 2110 | Visit website
    DAbbey Lane Open Space
    Small area of green space ideal for playing sports, working out and spending time with family and friends.
    14 Abbey Ln, E15 2SD
    0844 414 2728 | Visit website
    ETower Hamlets Cemetery Park
    Restored Victorian cemetery and local nature reserve with urban woodland, bats and butterflies.
    Southern Grove, E3 4PX
    020 8983 1277 | Visit website
    FVictoria Park
    Grove Rd, E3 5TB
    020 8985 5699 | Visit website
    • AHouse Mill
      The Miller’s House.
      Three Mill Ln, Bromley By Bow, E3 3DU
      Visit website
      BAbbey Mills Pumping Station
      140 Abbey Ln, E15 2RW
      020 8311 3711
      CDrapers Almshouses
      1 Almshouses Way, Rainhill, E3 3ES
      DSt Mary’s Bow Church
      230 Bow Rd, E3 3AH
      020 8981 7916 | Visit website