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Memories of Bow Creek between the Wars


Orchard Place – 1924 (Photo W Whiffin)

For the last few weeks I have featured the memories of Lorraine Harrington about life in the 1930s on the Island. Her memories bought home the realisation that the thirties were hard for many people with economic decline, unemployment and the prospect of war.

Last week, another set of memories were bought to my attention which clearly illustrate some of these problems.

The memories have been published in a blog dedicated to the life of Lucy Matilda Taylor and called   ‘ Down the Wall – An East End Childhood between the Wars by Samantha French’.

Samantha French is Lucy’s daughter and did something most of us wish we had done but often never get around to, she decided to write about her mother’s life. Samantha had  moved to Australia around 40 years ago, however on one of her visits home 20 years later decided to collect the memories of her mother. For many evenings they would sit down, have a couple of drinks and Samantha would turn on the tape recorder and Lucy would chat away.


Samantha French with Mum (Lucy) and Doreen  hopping at Yalding in Kent in later years.

Eventually Samantha produced a hard copy of her mother’s memories and gave them to Lucy’s other children and to Lucy herself.

AG Linney 1933

Bow Creek – AG Linney 1933 (Photo Museum of London)

Regular readers will know that I have written many articles about Orchard Place and Bow Creek and especially about the small community that lived there up to the 1930s. The Bow Creek community were a mystery even to people  who lived in nearby Poplar.

Very little was written about the community, therefore  the memories of Lucy are fascinating on many levels. Although the community shared many of the problems and pastimes of other East End folk, there were aspects of the community that were unique.

aglinney 1934

Bow Creek – AG Linney 1934 (Photo Museum of London)

For example they often made a living from the river either by collecting some of flotsam and jetsam or fishing. A number of the community who no doubt had for years watched the boats going by, succumbed to the lure of the  sea and joined the Merchant Navy.

flood damage

Bow Creek Flood Damage 1928

The community may have benefitted from the river at times, but it was also a source of destruction. High tides often flooded the small houses and the Great Thames Flood of 1928 caused considerable damage which the community never really recovered from.

If you would like to read Lucy’s memories, you will find a link to the site here.

Down the Wall – An East End Childhood between the Wars by Samantha French

Many thanks to a member of the family , Michael Bennett who developed the blog and provided further information.




  1. Diane says:

    What a fascinating read! It’s amazing how these smaller communities took on identities of their own. I don’t think it happens as much these days, but I suppose people didn’t move very far during the course of every day in those days. I must put Bow Creek on my visit list for next time.

    • Hi Diane,

      You will not be disappointed, if you go to Trinity Buoy Wharf you can visit London’s Lighthouse and an original American Diner.
      One of the most unusual places in London.

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