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Race Day – The London Marathon 2014 on the Isle of Dogs


Well, all the preparations have been completed, the barriers have been erected and the day of the race arrives.

From early morning , various supporters begin to stake their claim to a section of the course and wait in anticipation.


It is not often that the Isle of Dogs is the centre of a global event that is shown on television in more that 150 countries around the world.

Marcel Hug pipped GB’s David Weir to win in men’s wheelchair race.


The Elite Women with including winner Edna Kiplagat, Florence Kiplagat second, Tirunesh Dibaba 3rd


Richard Whitehead


Elite Men with Wilson Kipsang who wins men’s London Marathon in new course record of 2:04.27.

Stanley Biwott, who finished second, while Tsegaye Kebede , last year’s winner, who comes out on top to cross the line third.


Lots of support for Olympic Champion Mo Farah who finished eighth in his first Marathon


Once the elite races are finished the streets are taken over by the vast amount of the runners who have their own challenges.








A Guide to the London Marathon 2014 on the Isle of Dogs


It is safe to say that although Canary Wharf is often in the news, the rest of the Isle of Dogs is seldom the focus of national and international interest. However this always changes on the day of the London Marathon when the normally quiet streets are filled by thousands of runners and thousands of spectators.

This year there is even greater interest with Britain’s Mo Farah making his marathon debut and one of the greatest runners of all time Haile Gebrselassie  acting as pacemaker.

Also running will be the world record holder Wilson Kipsang, the reigning London Marathon champion Tsegaye Kebede, the world and Olympic marathon champion Stephen Kiprotich,  Priscah Jeptoo, the reigning women’s champion is back  and  David Weir  Britain’s greatest ever wheelchair racers, is going for a record seventh win.

Due to the fact that many people may be unfamiliar with the Isle of Dogs I thought I would do a mini guide to the Isle of Dogs.

The race enters the Island at Mile 15 when it comes onto Westferry Road , this is a long road down the side of the west side of the Island. Lots of shops and a few pubs here and most of the spectators will be locals .

farm (2)

Docklands Sailing and Watersports Centre

Just before Mile 16 you will pass the Docklands Sailing and Watersports Centre  which leads into the Millwall Docks and  is often filled with small yachts overlooked by the old cranes standing next to the dock.


Island Gardens

The sweep around the bottom of the Island takes you near Island Gardens which has wonderful views of Greenwich and the river. Here is also the entrance and exit of the Greenwich foot tunnel.

Going up the East Ferry Road to  mile 17 you will see the greenery of Millwall Park on the right and the Mudchute DLR on the left.

farm (1)

Mudchute Farm

Just past Mudchute you will see the entrance to Mudchute Farm and Park ,one of the  biggest inner city farms in Europe.

A little further on you have Asda on the right and Crossharbour DLR on the left, then the route takes you further up to Limeharbour adjacent to Millwall Dock  and then onto Marsh Wall .


Kaskelot in South Dock

A short run down along Marsh Wall to South Quay DLR, (if you go into the South Dock you will find the tall ship Kaskelot) is followed by a run past the International Hotel to mile 18, there is a quick switchback into the Canary Wharf estate for Mile 19.


Canary Wharf

Canary Wharf has become a popular watching base for many spectators due to its proximity to the transport system and the over 200 shop, bars  and restaurants.

The race then goes out to Poplar to begin the long stretch home.

Some of the benefits of watching the Marathon n the Isle of Dogs is that you can actually watch in comfort rather than being part of the massive crowds in Greenwich and Tower Bridge. You also have easy access to the Transport system and access to many pubs and bars, restaurants.

To make sure you are in the right place at the right time here is rough time guide .

Start time 

The wheelchair race starts at 8.55am

The elite women’s field: 9.15am

Elite men and mass start: 10am

At Mile 17 (Mudchute )

Approximate times when pass Mudchute

Wheelchairs 9:53 (men), 10:06 (women);

Elite women from 10:45

Elite men from 11:21

The masses  from 12:16.

The Monks of Cubitt Town


Aelred  Carlyle

The history of the Isle of Dogs often produces strange and unusual stories, however very few people would expect the Island to be the site of first Anglican Benedictine community of monks at the end of the 19th century.

The charismatic leader behind the “Monks of Cubitt Town” was a young Anglican medical student named Benjamin Fearnley Carlyle whose interest in monastic life was part of a wider movement which looked to return to the simple life as an antidote to the problems of the industrialised modern world. Carlyle or Brother Aelred as he called himself believed you could lead a contemplative life but also provide service, helping the poor.


The Priory (many thanks to Mick at islandhistory.wordpress.com for sending photo)

In 1896 he was invited to come and live with some of his followers  at a large house at 45 Glengall Road which became known as the Priory. Within a few months the house was fitted out with a chapel, library and club room. Over the next two years Brother Aelred and his followers began to live according to Benedictine rules with help and support from the local clergy especially Reverend D. G. Cowan of St John’s on the Isle of Dogs. Although there is little evidence to exactly what the Brothers did, the Booth Poverty survey noted that not everyone welcomed their presence, apparently there was an article in The Cubitt Town Protestant Banner, a parish magazine April 1897 which includes an article criticising the work of the Cubitt Town monks.

Although they were living the lives of monks, they were not officially sanctioned as such by church. At the end of 1897, Brother Aelred went to see the local vicar, Rev Cowans and told him that he thought his pastoral work was preventing him from living a Benedictine life and he wanted a quieter life in the country. He also wanted official recognition for the Anglican Benedictine monks. Rev Cowan wrote to the Archbishop of Canterbury to ask him to see Brother Aelred which he did in 1898, the outcome of the meeting was the Archbishop sanctioned for him to live according to Benedictine Rule.

This move was not without its controversy, although it was recognised that the revival of Brotherhoods and Sisterhoods in the 19th century may be good for the church, there was considerable concern that the new communities would be outside the authority of the church itself.

Nevertheless in 1898 Brother Aelred went back to the Priory and began to find a new home for his now official monks of the Anglican church. caldeyis

Caldey Abbey

Over the next few years the community went from place to place until they found a more permanent home in Cadley Island in Wales in 1906. In 1913 the uneasy alliance between the community and the Anglican authorities come to open rebellion when almost the entire community converted to Catholicism.

Father Aelred was ordained as Benedictine Abbot of Caldey in 1914, where he stayed before resigning in 1921 and moving to Canada to undertake missionary work in Canada for the next 30 years. The other monks in 1928 went to Prinknash Park where they still have a community.

In 1951, Aelred returned to England, and in 1953 he was allowed to renew his  monastic vows at Prinknash Abbey.

When Aelred died in 1955, he was once again a full member of the community he had founded on the Isle of Dogs sixty years earlier.

In the late 19th century, the Isle of Dogs was often visited by a number of religious organisations who often set up  missions to work with the poor.  Although the Isle of Dogs had its poor areas it did not have the extreme social conditions of some of the other parts of the East End. Therefore it was not a surprise that the Monks of Cubitt Town was not welcomed with open arms by the local population.

The history of Brother Aelred perhaps suggests he was more interested in the romantic image of a religious community rather than reality of inner city communities, however the Monks of Cubitt Town did create their own piece of religious history on the Island by founding the first Anglican Benedictine community of monks.



The Launch of the SS Great Eastern 1858


 photograph by Robert Howlett

In the 19th century, the Thames foreshore from Blackwall around the Isle of Dogs  to Limehouse were dotted  with shipyards.

However the building of the Great Eastern between 1854 and 1859 at the Millwall Iron works was on a scale never seen before. It was undertaken by the Victorian dream team of Isambard Kingdom Brunel the most famous engineer of his day and John Scott Russell  the famous Naval architect.

Although the ship would be four times bigger than any ship built before weighing 21,000 tons, 692ft long with a beam of 83ft, there was great confidence that the ship would even eclipse the Crystal Palace as the greatest example of Victorian engineering.


Photo National Maritime Museum

Brunel’s reason for building the ship  this big was simple, it was expected that ship would undertake the lucrative routes to India and Australia and a ship this size could take enough coal to make the journey without refuelling.

scott russell 1854

(Inside Russell’s shipyard casting a large cylinder for  the ship 1856)

He also selected the site on the Isle of Dogs  due to the available skilled workforce and shipbuilding machinery available.

One major problem was how to launch the ship,  due to the fact that  no dock was big enough, Brunel’s solution was to launch the ship sideways using cables and chains. Nothing had been attempted on this scale before, but Brunel was confident that his calculations were correct to allow the launch to go ahead.

In 1850s the  widespread interest in the ship’ s launch meant that a large number of small ships and steamers gave sightseeing tours of the “Monster Steamship” as it was known.

Because Brunel knew the launch would be fraught with difficulty he was keen to keep the whole thing low-key, however the ship company sold thousands of tickets for the launch and every available vantage point was taken on land as well as on the river.


 photograph by Robert Howlett

A newspaper report records what happened next :

We now proceed to give the history of the proceedings on the 3rd of November. Precisely at half-past 11 o’clock the ceremony of christening the ship was gracefully and spiritedly performed by Miss Hope, the daughter of the chairman of the company— the ‘Leviathan’ being the name selected. As soon as this form had been gone through, Mr  Brunel gave the signal for knocking away the few last remaining ‘shores ‘ and ‘stays,’ and now the mighty machine stood supported solely on her cradles, awaiting the relaxation of the checking cables), which up to this moment had been kept perfectly taut. . The first step necessary was to relax the checking cables; and this part of the process was begun shortly after mid-day. The operation had proceeded so far us was necessary to permit the application of the tractive and motive power, when almost before the latter had been brought to bear the vessel suddenly acquired motion, and more quickly than was expected moved towards the water. One consequence of this unforeseen rapidity in her change of position was a violent revolution of the brakes attached to the sternmost checking cable, the handles of which, suddenly flying round, unhappily struck several workmen nearest to them, causing severe fractures, and other serious injuries. Great alarm was naturally caused by this misadventure, but Mr  Brunel preserved an admirable presence of mind, and by his example, encouraging the assistants, the checking machinery was reapplied, and the motion of the vessel stayed.

The injured men were removed to the Poplar Hospital, and as soon as the excitement had subsided Mr Brunel again applied himself to carry out the object of the day. In his mind the one great point of vessel’s motion had been achieved. But the facility which had taken place suggested danger of a precipitate descent to the water, and consequent jeopardy to the lighters to which the tractive tackle was attached. He immediately determined to preclude this possible risk by removing the lighters referred to, and dispensing with the tractive chains communicating with them, The delay thus occasion made it 2 o’clock before another signal for the checking cables could be given. No doubt, however, was entertained that the vessel would not be afloat in the course of the afternoon. The cables having been again relaxed, the entire power of the hydraulic pumps and the stationary engine to the vessel’s stem were set in motion ; and expectancy was again strained to its utmost pitch.  The pumps and the steam winch continued to work without producing any effect, till a startling sound as of the snapping of metal was heard. This was found to arise from the fracture of several teeth in the cog wheel of the steam winch in connection with the engine, which produced such an overwhelming pressure on the cable at the stern of the ship that one of the links gave way. This additional loss of tractive power put an end to the possibility of launching the ship on that day. There was no time to effect the necessary repairs before the highest flow of the next day’s tide; would therefore it, became inevitable to defer the entire operation until the December spring tides— an announcement which Mr Brunel himself made with entire confidence of success at the period specified.

It was surprise to many that the ship was named the Leviathan as she had been known as the Great Eastern  when she was being built.

The failure to launch made Brunel and Scott Russell a laughing stock and financially bankrupted the Eastern Steam Navigation Company and  John Scott Russell. The stress bought about a period of ill health for Brunel who worked tirelessly to find a way to launch the ship.


After the launch (National Maritime Museum)

Over the next few months  the ship was slowly edged down the slipway inches at a time until when the actually launch came about in February it was a bit of a anti climax, once again a newspaper report of the day takes up the story.

LAUNCH OF THE LEVIATHAN. On Sunday afternoon, February 1st, the long protracted process of launching this vessel was happily brought to a successful termination, and the Leviathan was floated of her ways and towed to her moorings in the river. The whole affair was effected with such perfect regularity, and with so much the appearance of its being quite a matter of course and every day occurrence, that it is almost difficult to discover any incident to distinguish it from other events of the same kind which take place along the river’s bank at each full tide. It had been resolved to launch her on the Friday, but this intention was frustrated for two days by a sudden change of wind, which it is said would have rendered it madness to have attempted to float her. The monster vessel moved easily, and with such a low rate of pressure that a short time gave an advance of a few inches, which showed that more than half the cradles were quite pushed off the ways and rested on the river bottom. At half past one the men in the row boats stationed alongside observed that she no longer rested on the cradles—that she was, in fact, afloat, but, of course, the transition was so gradual that few were aware of it until the tugs began steaming ahead, and showed that at last she was fairly under way. Then the cheers which arose spread the great news far and wide, and thus, under the most favourable circumstances the Leviathan commenced her first voyage on the Thames. Two powerful tug boats were at her bows and two were fastened astern. Other steamers also were in attendance and rendered their aid, but the efforts of the four who have mentioned were mainly instrumental in managing her. During the progress’ of the vessel an extraordinary scene took place. When her stern cradle had been relieved from the. great, weight which had reposed upon it, the immense timbers parted and darted above the surface of the water, point upwards, like shoals of springing porpoises. Another incident attracted considerable attention, and at first caused some amount of unnecessary alarm. The immense chains which had held the vessel on land were one by one released, and as they glided through the hawse-holes they created a sound like heavy peals of thunder, which, until the cause was ascertained, induced people to believe that some accident had occurred or some part of the tackle given way. During the afternoon the various river steamers came down crowded to excess; the numerous occupants of which joined in the congratulations which everywhere awaited Mr  Brunel. Every point of land, too, where a view of the proceedings of the ship could be obtained was densely crowded ; and a feeling of the liveliest satisfaction seemed to be expressed in the countenances of all present. Thousands of persons continued to flock down to Millwall and Deptford. up to an advanced hour, and the church bells of the latter place rung out a merry peal in honour of the occasion. It will be very gratifying to those who take an interest in the success of Mr Scott Russell’s noble ship to know that she has not sustained the slightest blemish, and that her ” shear” is as free from defect as before the launch was attempted. The vessel will remain in her present position, opposite Deptford, until she has been fitted—a process which will occupy from four to five months.

Although afloat there was not the money to fit the ship out to the standard promised , therefore it did not attract the numbers of passengers expected. A series of technical problems also contributed to the idea that the ship was dogged by bad luck.

The death of Brunel a few days after its maiden journey did not help matters and although it did a few transatlantic journeys, its days as a passenger liner were numbered.

To pay off some of its debts , the company leased the ship to a company to enable them to lay a transatlantic cable, eventually even this type of undertaking ended and the ship ended up as a public attraction in Liverpool and finally in 1886 was broken up on a beach near Liverpool.

The ship may have come to a sad end, but if you go to the site near Burrells Wharf , you will come across some of the wooden part of the launch infrastructure which has been preserved .


There are also remains of the site  at low tide, the slip way is visible near the Clipper pontoon.


If you walk down to the Burrell’s Wharf development , you will find the plate house which was part of the ship yard and  the place where the large pieces of metal were handled.


If you walk onto Westferry Road the name of  J Scott Russell still remains over the old offices.

scott rusell

And there is a blue plaque to mark the spot where the great ship was built.



Eric Pemberton’s Postcards – Bow

bowroad pr

Many thanks again to Eric Pemberton for providing the following postcards, this series are of particular interest because these generally early 20th century postcards do illustrate a bygone world.

This was an area that suffered greatly from bombing in the Second World War and many of the lost churches and other large buildings were never replaced.

Bow Road was one of the main thoroughfares of East London and formed  junction in between Mile End Road and  Bow Bridge. It used to contain a number of large  buildings , places of worship, shops and entertainments.

bow rd2

It was also a well known meeting place, illustrated by this postcard where Elsie and Vic arranging to meet on Bow Road( in the same place as before).


Bow Church is the parish church of St Mary and Holy Trinity, Stratford, Bow. It is one of the oldest churches in East London,there has been a church on the same site for approximately 700 years. Although the church was bombed in the Second World War,  the bell tower was rebuilt just after the war.

bowch and glad

In front of the church is a statue by Albert Bruce Joy of the Liberal Prime Minister, William Ewart Gladstone, which was paid for by the wealthy match manufacturer, Theodore H Bryant of Bryant and May in 1882.


This could be a postcard for the dining room for Coborn School and a menu for 1935


The amusing menu

brom by bow ch

Bromley by Bow was badly damaged in the war and by the building of the Blackwall Tunnel

st stevens bow

 Destroyed by bombing in the Second World war and demolished.

st stephens bow


bow andpoposick

The Poplar and Stepney Sick Asylum was built in 1869-71 at Devon’s Road in Bow, it was the centre of a scandal in 1908, when six members of the Board of Guardians were found guilty of conspiracy to defraud the ratepayers.

In 1920, the site was renamed St Andrew’s Hospital and carried on in its different guises until 2008 when all the buildings were demolished.

Other Posts you may find interesting

Eric Pemberton’s Postcards – The Battle of Stepney

Eric Pemberton’s Postcards – Victoria Park

Eric Pemberton’s Postcards – Seamens Missions

Eric Pemberton’s Postcards – The London Hospital

Eric Pemberton’s Postcards Poplar and East India Dock Road

Eric Pemberton’s Postcards – Isle of Dogs 2

Eric Pemberton’s Postcards – Isle of Dogs

Eric Pemberton’s Postcards – Limehouse