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Telling the Story of Bow Creek

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Many thanks to Buzz Bullock who sent the following article from the Tower Hamlets News which was written in 1969. Entitled Bow Creek, it tells the story of the community and the area with a number of photographs. It is particularly interesting that even in the late 1960s, the story of the small community fascinated local historians.

Orchard Place 1867

I have over the last few years written a number of articles about Orchard Place which is a little known part of Poplar. It lies in an unusual location and is surrounded by Bow Creek, the area itself is two peninsulas with an odd configuration which looks like a finger and a thumb.

Orchard Place has a long industrial history and for over centuries was popular with a large number of firms with its access to the Thames and the River Lea. Despite its industrial nature a small contained community lived here from the 19th century up to the 1930s.

Despite being part of a large East London, the community in Orchard Place was known as   ‘London’s “Lost” Village’, with no public transport links with the rest of Poplar, and a long walk down Leamouth Road was needed to connect with the rest of Docklands.  

Very little was written about the community, although the community shared many of the problems and pastimes of other East End folk, there were aspects of the community that were unique. They often made a living from the river either by collecting some of flotsam and jetsam or fishing.

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.

Recently one of the peninsula in Orchard Place is being turned into a mixed residential City Island nicknamed ‘Mini Manhattan’. Standing on Canning Town station you can get quite a good view of this rather unusual development.

As I have mentioned before, there are not many areas that have changed from ‘London’s “Lost” Village’ to ‘Mini Manhattan’ in a few decades.

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