23 May, 2019
We asked Athena Mogdam to talk about the Three Mills History Walk which will be coming soon to the area.
My background is as a cultural artist and I believe that every place has a story to tell. I thought it would be interesting to create a short history trail to enable local people to connect with the area’s heritage. At Three Mills, I was lucky enough to be able to use the research of two historians (Malcolm Barres-Baker and Rosamund Hoggard).
For the next six months, walkers will be able to spend an hour wandering through a thousand years of London’s history. The route, which starts and ends at Pudding Mill Lane, is marked with maps and signs as well as being accessible online.
The thing that’s surprising about the Three Mills area is just how rich and interesting the local history is. The River Lea is tidal here and from the earliest days, tidal mills were used to grind grain. They were mentioned in the Domesday Book and later, in the 1800s, they powered London’s gin craze. It’s lovely that the Nicholson gin distillery is still going strong (even if no longer at this site) because it makes a wonderful connection between this history and the modern day.
Three Mills also has royal connections, with Queen Matilda, the wife of William the Conqueror’s son, bequeathing money for the construction of a bridge because of an accident she and retinue had crossing the River Lea. The bridge that was built had curved arches in the French style, like an archer’s bow, and that’s how the area of Bow got its name.
We’ve also got history from soap making, ink innovation and clouds, to gas works, rockets and Bazalgette the Victorian unsung hero.
Today, the water and green spaces make it an amazing place to spend time. You can see Canary Wharf over the trees, but the bustle of the city seems miles away. It’s well connected so it’s the best of both worlds. The tow paths are flat so walking around here is easy and it’s nice to see runners and cyclists enjoying the riverside too.
What I wanted to add to this amazing place was a connection to the remaining relics and long forgotten ghosts.
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