Sculptures in Old Ford.
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Old Ford is an area in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets that is named after the natural ford which provided a crossing of the River Lea.
Historically, Old Ford was a cluster of houses and a mill, around the ford. It formed a part of the Ancient Parish of Stepney. Together with the rest of Bow, it separated from Stepney to become a (late formed) Ancient Parish of Bow in 1719.Ancient Parishes were, until the 19th century responsible for both civil and ecclesiastical local administration, after that there were divergent civil and ecclesiastical parish areas.
It expanded rapidly in the Victorian era and was designated an independent Anglican parish in the mid-Victorian period, although civil administration has always been associated with Bow.
Victorian OS maps show an illustrative location of the, by then, former ford, which was just to the south of the Northern Outfall Sewer and immediately south of the confluence of the Lea and the Hackney Brook. The confluence is likely to have caused the Lea to eddy and slow, causing much alluvial material from both watercourses to be dropped at this point, which may have been the reason that fording the river was possible here. This may have been reinforced by the factor that the Lea's tidal head was in the vicinity.
Excavations have shown that in the Roman period, the ford lay a very short distance to the north of this point, immediately north of the Northern Outfall Sewer. The Romans dumped materials to improve the ford and at one time appear to have had a bridge over the Lea.
Evidence has been found of a late Roman settlement at Old Ford dating from the 4th and 5th centuries. Excavations in 2002–3 discovered a substantial 'ribbon' development along the line of the road, surrounded by fields. Near the river there was evidence for a cluster of wooden buildings dominated by a large open-ended barn. Large amounts of cattle bone were also discovered, suggesting butchery to supply the London market. The Lea was thought to be used to supply Roman London with agricultural products and pottery from Hertsfordhire and the north. Old Ford was where the goods were transferred to continue their journey into London by wagon.
Old Ford, as the name suggests, was the ancient most downstream crossing point of the then unchannelised River Lea. At this time the Lea was a wide fast-flowing river and the tidal estuary stretched as far as Hackney Wick.
Two routes may have used the ford, both continuing through Essex and including Colchester amongst their destinations. Colchesterwas where the Romans set up their initial capital for their occupation, and the road was upgraded to run from the area of London Bridge as one of the first paved Roman roads in Britain.
The routes using the ford were:
In 1110, Matilda, wife of Henry I, reputedly took a tumble at the ford on her way to Barking Abbey and ordered a distinctively bow-shaped three-arched bridge to be built over the River Lea. The building of the bridge at Bow did not leave Old Ford as a backwater and the ford continued to be well used, but it was in an isolated and rural area and the local population centre moved to Bow in the middle ages. Old Ford was the site of one of the many watermills in the area that supplied flour to the bakers of Stratforde-atte-Bow, and hence bread to the City. Due to their isolation, residents were given dispensation to worship in the chapel of ease at Stratforde-atte-Bow, later Bow Church, to save the often difficult journey to the parish church of St Dunstan's at Stepney.
A lock and weir now exist on the Lee Navigation near where the ford used to be. This lies at the end of 'Hackney Cut', an 18th-century artificial channel, and the natural channel (known as the Waterworks River) rejoins the channel below the lock.
Farming and market gardening prevailed in the settlement until the 19th century when Old Ford became a part of the seamless London conurbation as a district, with large estates of relatively poor houses and much poverty. These were built to serve the new factories on the Lea and Lee Navigation and to serve the new railways.
In 1865, a 30-acre plot was purchased to be used as a gasworks, but the Gas Light and Coke Company established what would become known as Fish Island, giving it its distinctive road names, and building a mixed residential and industrial development instead.
The North London Railway had a line through the area with a station at Old Ford railway station. The line was badly damaged during World War II and never reopened. The station buildings were demolished in the early 1960s.
As part of the post-war rebuilding, the Lakeview Estate was built and designed by Berthold Lubetkin, on a site damaged by bombing in World War II, on Grove Road between Old Ford Road and the Hertford Union Canal.The estate opened in 1958.
Fish Island also saw significant bombing during the war, with damaged housing demolished post-war to make way for factories and warehouses.
St Barnabas's, Bethnal Green was also badly damaged by bombing during the Second World War;the steeple was removed and the church rebuilt, retaining the tower and north and south walls. The remodelling was carried out by J Anthony Lewis of architects Michael Tapper & Lewis, who commissioned the sculptor Don Potter to create The Four Evangelists on the outside of the building.
Victoria Park became known for its open air music festivals, often linked with a political cause in the 1970/80s. In 1978, Rock Against Racism organised a protest event against growth of far-right organisations such as the National Front. The concert was played by The Clash, Steel Pulse, X-Ray Spex, The Ruts, Sham 69, Generation X, and the Tom Robinson Band.
In 1975, the Baroness Burdett Coutts Drinking Fountain was given Grade II* listed status by Historic England.
In 1986 the Greater London Council transferred responsibility for the park to the London borough of Tower Hamlets and the London Borough of Hackney, through a joint management board. Since 1994 Tower Hamlets has run the park alone.
In 1991, St Paul's, Old Ford was closed due to maintenance and safety concerns. The Parochial Church Council and local people were determined to see that the church remained open and, in fact, was improved. The "A New Heart for Bow" project was born. More than £3,000,000 was raised from more than a dozen sources and philanthropies. Matthew Lloyd Architects was appointed to refurbish the building and enable it to serve the wider community as well as the church. Work began in March 2003 and ended over a year later, in May 2004.
St Barnabas Community Fete, also known as Bowstock, was[ citation needed ] an annual fête and music festival held on Wennington Green in Mile End Park.
Fish Island has a long history as a home to artists and art spaces,having one of the highest densities of fine artists, designers and artisans in Europe according to a 2009 study which found around 600 artists' studios. The Percy Dalton Peanut Factory was at Fish Island, occupying Britannia Works and gatehouse along Dace Road, and another building on Smeed Road. Britannia Works has been run as an artists studio building by SPACE since 2000. Channel 4’s The Big Breakfast was broadcast live from a former lockkeeper's cottages on Fish Island, from 28 September 1992 until 29 March 2002.
The Palm Tree, which was Grade II listed in 2015 by Historic England.
The Bow Wharf is the point where the Regent's Canal meets the Hertford Union Canal at the Hertford Union Junction between Mile End Lock and Old Ford Lock on the Regent's Canal.
Local council facilities are grouped around Roman Road market. The local library, now called an Idea Store , is situated in Gladstone Place. A community and tenants' hall is nearby. Access to council services is dealt with by the Bow and North Poplar One Stop Shop in Ewart Place.
The Percy Dalton Peanut Factory was at Fish Island, occupying Britannia Works and gatehouse along Dace Road, and another building on Smeed Road. Britannia Works has been run as an artists studio building by SPACE since 2000, who led a set of community programs.
The oldest model boat club in the world, the Victoria Model Steam Boat Club, founded in the Park on 15 July 1904, is still active today and holds up to 17 of their Sunday regattas a year. The VMSB Club runs straight-running boats just as they did 100 years ago but have also progressed to radio controlled boats and hydroplanes. The first Regatta is traditionally held on Easter Sunday and the Steam Regatta is always held on the first Sunday in July.
Old Ford is served by bus route 8 to Tottenham Court Road station and Bow Church as well as a number of local bus routes 277, 276, 339, 425 and 488 and D6. It is also linked to the London Night Bus network by the N8 and N277.
Old Ford has no access to the London Underground network, but was formerly connected to the British rail network at Old Ford railway station on the North London Railwayand at Coborn Road on the Great Eastern Main Line.
Old Ford is connected to the National Road Network via Parnell Road and Tredegar Road to the A12 (East Cross Route) running north/north east-south.
Access to the Hertford Union Canal is via the tow-path (which the National Cycle Route 1 also passes along) from Wick Road at St Marks Gate (Victoria Park). East leads to the Lee Navigation where proceeding north leads to Hackney Marshes. Turning south along the Lea leads through Bow Locks, into Bow Creek and thence to the River Thames, but the tow-path can often be blocked. West from Wick Road leads to the Hertford Union junction where the canal joins the Regent's Canal, near Mile End. There is a footbridge over the East Cross Route linking Fish Island.
Bethnal Green is an area in the East End of London 3 miles (4.8 km) northeast of Charing Cross. The area emerged from the small settlement which developed around the Green, much of which survives today as Bethnal Green Gardens, beside Cambridge Heath Road. By the 16th century the term applied to a wider rural area, the Hamlet of Bethnal Green, which subsequently became a Parish, then a Metropolitan Borough before merging with neighbouring areas to become the north-western part of the new London Borough of Tower Hamlets.
Stepney is a district in the East End of London in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. The district is no longer officially defined, and is usually used to refer to a relatively small area. However, for much of its history the place name applied to a much larger manor and parish. Stepney Green is a remnant of a larger area of Common Land formerly known as Mile End Green.
The London Borough of Tower Hamlets is a London borough covering much of the traditional East End. It was formed in 1965 from the merger of the former metropolitan boroughs of Stepney, Poplar, and Bethnal Green. 'Tower Hamlets' was originally an alternative name for the historic Tower Division; the area of south-east Middlesex, focused on the area of the modern borough, which owed military service to the Tower of London.
The River Lea is in South East England. It originates in Bedfordshire, in the Chiltern Hills, and flows southeast through Hertfordshire, along the Essex border and into Greater London, to meet the River Thames at Bow Creek. It is one of the largest rivers in London and the easternmost major tributary of the Thames.
Victoria Park is a park in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets in East London, England.
The Hertford Union Canal or Duckett's Cut, just over 1 mile (1.6 km) long, connects the Regent's Canal to the Lee Navigation in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets in East London. It was opened in 1830 but quickly proved to be a commercial failure. It was acquired by the Regents Canal Company in 1857, and became part of the Grand Union Canal in 1927.
The Lee Navigation is a canalised river incorporating the River Lea. It flows from Hertford Castle Weir to the River Thames at Bow Creek; its first lock is Hertford Lock and its last Bow Locks.
Mile End is a district of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets in the East End of London, England, 3.6 miles (5.8 km) east-northeast of Charing Cross. Situated on the London-to-Colchester road, it was one of the earliest suburbs of London. It became part of the metropolitan area in 1855, and is connected to the London Underground.
Bow is an area of East London within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. It is primarily a built-up and mostly residential area and is 4.6 miles (7.4 km) east of Charing Cross.
Bow Back Rivers or Stratford Back Rivers is a complex of waterways between Bow and Stratford in east London, England, which connect the River Lea to the River Thames. Starting in the twelfth century, works were carried out to drain Stratford Marshes and several of the waterways were constructed to power watermills. Bow Creek provided the final outfall to the Thames, and the other channels were called Abbey Creek, Channelsea River, City Mill River, Prescott Channel, Pudding Mill River, Saint Thomas Creek, Three Mills Back River, Three Mills Wall River and Waterworks River.
Hackney Wick is a neighbourhood in east London, England. The area forms the south-eastern part of the district of Hackney, and also of the wider London Borough of Hackney. Adjacent areas of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets are sometimes also described as being part of Hackney Wick. The area lies 4.2 miles (6.8 km) northeast of Charing Cross.
Cambridge Heath is an urban area of Bethnal Green in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, approximately 5.7 km (3.5 mi) north east of Charing Cross. It is named after a former heath in the East End of London. The northern boundary is formed by the Regent's Canal and the area includes Vyner Street, best known for its street art and galleries.
The London Borough of Tower Hamlets, in spite of being close to the centre of London and perhaps retaining the idea of it being the docklands area, has over 100 areas of parks and open spaces within its boundaries. These range from the huge to small gardens and squares. In common with all the London boroughs, these green spaces provide "lungs" for the leisure pursuits of the inhabitants.
The Lea Valley Walk is a 50-mile (80 km) long-distance path located between Leagrave, the source of the River Lea near Luton, and the Thames, at Limehouse Basin, Limehouse, east London. From its source much of the walk is rural. At Hertford the path follows the towpath of the River Lee Navigation, and it becomes increasingly urbanised as it approaches London. The walk was opened in 1993 and is waymarked throughout using a swan logo.
Old Ford Lock is a paired lock and weir on the River Lee Navigation, in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, England. It is at Fish Island in Old Ford and takes its name from the natural ford which used to cross the River Lea.
Fish Island is the name given to an area in east London, England in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.
Roman Road, is a road in East London, England, in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets entirely on the B119 on the B roads network, and lies on the old Roman road in the Roman Empire called the Pye Road running from the capital of the Iceni at Venta Icenorum to Londinium and today hosts a street market. Beginning in Old Ford at its eastern end, it passes into Globe Town and then enters into Bethnal Green to its western end.
Hackney is a district in East London, England, forming around two-thirds of the area of the modern London Borough of Hackney, to which it gives its name. It is 4 miles (6.4 km) northeast of Charing Cross and includes part of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Historically it was within the county of Middlesex.