Home » Posts tagged 'Millwall Docks'

Tag Archives: Millwall Docks

A Spring Stroll to Mudchute Park and Farm

It is that time of the year when the spring flowers are blooming, the blossom is filling the trees and the birdsong is at its loudest. Although I enjoy the urban life, I do yearn occasionally for a walk through a woodland and the sound and smell of rural life.

To get my rural fix, I do not have to travel to far because we have Mudchute Park and Farm on our doorstep.

Like most things on the Isle of Dogs, Mudchute Park and Farm has a fascinating history, the large open space where the Mudchute Farm and Park now stands was for centuries grazing land. However during the building of the Millwall Docks in 1865 much of this land was used for storing the bricks that were used to build the dock walls and buildings. During construction of the Millwall Docks in 1865–7 the land remained a brickfield, However after the docks opened in 1868 the land was once again used for grazing.

This changed in 1875 when The Dock company developed an innovative system of dredging its docks designed by the company’s engineer, Frederic E. Duckham. This involved the pneumatic transmission of mud, out of the dock into a pipe which ran under East Ferry Road to be deposited on the grazing land creating a mudfield. Over time the mud accumulated to create small hills and bumps, however towards the end of the 19th Century there was concerns when the mudfield was considered a health hazard and steps were taken to close the pipe which was discontinued in 1910.

Gradually the hardened mudfield became known as the Mudchute and was later used for allotments . At the beginning of the war the land was used for gun placements. Many people may be surprised when they come across a large Ack Ack Gun in the farm but this is a reminder of its former use.

After the war various schemes were put forward for the use of the land , however it was not until 1973 that the site was transferred to the GLC to be used for housing. However there then began a campaign by local residents and supporters called the Association of Island Communities who wished the land to be used as public open space, the success of this campaign led to the creation of an urban farm in 1977.

In 1977, the Mudchute Association was formed to preserve and develop the area which they have done by adding to the existing fauna and flora to provide a diverse environment that attracts all forms of wild life. It was somewhat ironic that the mud that had caused dismay to many people was full of nutrients that provided good growing conditions for many plants.

Farm animals have been introduced over the years to give visitors a variety of experience, there has always been an educational aspect to the Associations work and close ties have been developed with local companies, local schools and other community groups.

Spring is a wonderful time to visit the farm with spring lambs running around the field. The outer parts of the park is woodland with lots of wildlife and paths that take you all over the park.

The sheep were not the only attractions, there Alpaca were enjoying the sunshine as were the various horses, cows, donkeys, chickens, turkey, pigs and much more. Mudchute Park & Farm is one of the largest inner City Farms in Europe with a wonderful collection of British rare breeds and currently home to over 100 animals and fowl. Set in 32 acres of countryside in the heart of East London, Mudchute is a community charity which runs a number of events throughout the year.

If you suffer from some the strains of urban life, why not take a wander to Mudchute and enjoy the wonderful rural surroundings of the park and farm.

Walking the Island Board Walk Trail (Part Three)

island board walk

The next part of our walk brings us to the middle of the Island and Millwall Docks, and the boards provide information into yet another interesting and historic part of the Docks system. The creation of the Millwall Docks in the 1860s was against the background of economic depression and when they opened in 1868, there was little indication that they would be a success. However by 1869 the warehouses were nearly full with a variety of goods.

DSCF1183

Unlike the West India Dock, goods were stored in transit sheds rather than warehouses and wholesale building around the dock never really took place. Millwall Docks became the main destination of grain and timber into the docks system and in the 1870s, innovative methods of handling grain were developed.

The dock company built granaries and extended its warehousing in the 1880s and Millwall Docks were considered as the centre of the European grain trade. By 1900 about a third of London’s grain imports and 10 per cent of its timber trade came through the Millwall Docks. From 1909 to 1980, the PLA administered the Millwall Docks with the East and West India Docks and The West India and Millwall Docks were connected by the formation of the Millwall Passage in 1926–8 .

DSCF1180

In the Second World War, Millwall Docks were damaged but not as badly as the West India Docks, however the entrance lock suffered a direct hit and never reopened. After the war, the PLA developed Millwall Docks especially in the 1950s and 60s with the creation of the Fred Olsen Terminal. Various huge single-storey sheds were erected with large doorways for fork-lift trucks and mobile cranes. This redevelopment led to the belief that the berths at the Millwall Docks were among the most efficient in the world, unfortunately this did not prevent their closure in 1980s.

DSCF1185

Nearly the entire dockside around Millwall Docks has been developed with a large number of apartments and development is still continuing with the Baltimore Tower complex.  Walking over the Glengall Bridge and down to the old dry graving dock is  slightly less developed and is quite picturesque with the houseboats and occasionally the yachts from the Docklands Sailing and Watersports Centre.

DSCF1186

Walking away from the dock we cross the East Ferry Road and move from an urban to a rural setting when we walk through the gates into Mudchute Park and Farm.

DSCN4281

The large open space where the Mudchute Park and Farm now stands was once grazing land. However during the building of the Millwall Docks in 1860s much of this land was used for storing the bricks that were used to build the dock walls and buildings. This changed in 1875 when The Dock company developed  an innovative system of dredging its docks designed by the company’s engineer, Frederic E. Duckham. This involved the pneumatic transmission of mud, out of the dock into a pipe which ran under East Ferry Road to be deposited on the grazing land creating a mudfield. Gradually the hardened mudfield became known as the Mudchute and was later used for allotments.

DSCN4282

After the war various schemes were put forward for the use of the land , however it was not until 1973 that the site was transferred to the GLC to be used for housing. However, there then began a campaign by local residents and supporters called the Association of Island Communities who wished the land to be used as public open space , the success of this campaign led to the creation of an urban farm in 1977.

DSCN4283

It was somewhat ironic that the mud from Millwall Dock which was considered a health hazard and made the land unsuitable for development turned out to be blessing in disguise as the concentration of mud was full of nutrients that provided good growing conditions for many plants and ideal for farm animals. Since its creation Mudchute Farm and Park has developed into one of the largest City Farm in Europe covering 32 acres and is maintained largely by local volunteers.

Arif_Wahid99

The Boards are a great introduction to the Island and this project provides plenty of interest, the new audio tour has been devised to coincide with the launch of the walk and will be available to download as a podcast from the website: www.islandboardwalk.com/audio-trail It is derived from exclusive interviews with those who live and work on the island and provides real insights into the past, present and future of the Island.

‘Free’ Leaflet/Trail Maps which are available to download online and to collect from The Ship pub, The George pub, HubBub cafe bar and restaurant, Cubitt Town Library and the Great Eastern pub by the School Day’s board at start of the trail.

For downloads and more information visit:

www.islandboardwalk.com

Walking the Island Board Walk Trail (Part Two)

island board walk

Part two of the Island Board Walk trail takes us along the west of the Island to the attractive Sir John McDougall Gardens which is a welcome piece of greenery, the park was named after John McDougall who was one the famous McDougall Brothers who owned a large flour mill in Millwall Docks. The park is on the site of former wharves and was opened in 1968.

DSCN5320

Although today, Marsh Wall is a road at the top end of the Island.  In the 17th Century, Marsh Wall was the embankment built up on the west edge of the Island. These embankments had been built and maintained since medieval times mostly by landowners who had drained the marshes and used it as pasture for their animals.

Although the Isle of Dogs was largely uninhabited until the early 19th Century, there  was in the late 17th Century a number of windmills that were built on the Marsh Wall embankment  that took advantage of the strong winds that would blow over the unprotected Island. Although it is widely thought that there was only seven mills,  there is evidence that there could have been as many as 13. However most of the mills were small concerns and from the early nineteenth century were in decline and one by one the mills were abandoned and demolished.

However although the windmills disappeared, from the 18th Century the  area become generally  known as Millwall and when the Island became industrialised it gained a reputation not as an idyllic rural scene but rather for the industries that prospered here and the thousands of workers who came to live in the area.

DSCN5322

From some of these workers at the Morton’s factory , Millwall Football Club was born and the team played on the Island until 1910 when they moved to South London. The rivalry between Millwall and nearby West Ham United has its origins in the days when supporters worked in the docks and shipyards. The board (5) gives more details of the Island’s interesting football past.

DSCN5316

The next board (6) is located near the Limehouse Lock entrance which is situated just below Westferry Circus and indicates the lock’s historical importance and how its creation was inextricably linked to the ill-fated City Canal in the 19th Century.

The idea of building a canal across the top of the Isle of Dogs had been often raised but it was not until the plans for the West India Docks were finalised that plans for building the canal were discussed seriously. The scheme was funded by the Corporation of London who were confident that the short cut would be popular with ship owners, the Canal was finally open for business in 1806 it was 3,711ft long between the lock gates, 176ft wide at the surface of the water and 23ft deep at its centre.

DSCN5318

It quickly become clear that the small savings in time for ships using the canal was not enough to attract a large amount of business, ultimately the decision was made to sell the canal to the West India Dock Company in 1829 who renamed the City Canal, The South Dock and stopped all transit passages and connected the dock to other parts of the West India Dock system.

Limehouse  Lock  entrance  or South Dock West Entrance (Impounding) Lock has it became known were designed as the west City Canal entrance locks.  Of all the docks entrances  built-in the 19th century, The South Dock west entrance lock is the only survivor with some of its original features.

DSCN5301

The next board (7) takes up the story of the City Canal and the New South dock which became famous in the days of sail when large fleet of clippers moored along the north side of the New South Dock.The New South Dock was used especially as a loading dock for wool clippers to Australia and New Zealand.

The walk then takes us to Westferry Circus with its wonderful views of the City of London skyscrapers and into the old West India Docks, the next board (8) is located on the North quay of the Docks complex near to the statue of Robert Milligan and in front of the Museum of Docklands.

DSCN5305

Robert Milligan  was the man considered largely responsible for the construction of the West India Docks. He was a wealthy West Indies merchant and shipowner who was upset at the losses due to theft and delays along London’s riverside wharves.

Milligan with a  group of powerful and influential businessmen including George Hibbert created the wet dock circled by a high wall for added security. The creation of the large complex of docks in the next couple of  years amazed visitors and West India docks were considered one of the most magnificent docks in the world.

DSCN5310

The docks were in use for 178 years until they closed in 1980, in that time thousands of ships came in and out of the dock picking up and discharging cargo and the complex  provided work for thousands of  workers.

Arif_Wahid99

The Boards are a great introduction to the Island and this project provides plenty of interest, the new audio tour has been devised to coincide with the launch of the walk and will be available to download as a podcast from the website: www.islandboardwalk.com/audio-trail It is derived from exclusive interviews with those who live and work on the island and provides real insights into the past, present and future of the Island.

‘Free’ Leaflet/Trail Maps which are available to download online and to collect from The Ship pub, The George pub, HubBub cafe bar and restaurant, Cubitt Town Library and the Great Eastern pub by the School Day’s board at start of the trail.

For downloads and more information visit:

www.islandboardwalk.com

The Steamship Service between Millwall Docks and St Petersburg 1904

eric postcard 1

Regular readers will know that Eric Pemberton often sends  interesting local postcards to the website to share with our readers. Now and again, Eric sends a postcard that is unusual and gives us some indications of the lesser known history of the Isle of Dogs. Last week, Eric sent one such postcard that informs us that there was once a regular steamboat service between Millwall Docks and St Petersburg in Russia.

The service was run by Bailey & Leetham, a company that was started in 1854 by two ship captains, William Bailey and William Leetham. The  partnership began to  operate cargo and passenger services from Hull to Baltic ports. In 1864 services were expanded to Lisbon, Capetown and Portuguese African colonies  delivering mail services for the Portuguese Government until . By 1871 ships were operating from London and Newcastle as well as Hull concentrating on the Mediterranean and Baltic ports. From 1870 the fleet had fluctuated between 20 and 30 ships, towards the late 19th century many of these ships bought Jewish emigrants from Russia and the Baltic states to London.

The funnel marking of Bailey & Leetham ships was unusual, consisting of a black funnel with a broad vertical white stripe rounded at the top, which gave rise to the nickname of the “Tombstone Line”.

b&l Bailey and Leetham funnel markings (The Tombstone line)

In the early 1900s the line became known for a particular innovation, a newspaper report of 1903 gives us the details.

Talking about sea travel, reminds one that a novel departure has been made on the Bailey and Leetham steamers running ‘between Millwall and’ St. Petersburg. Only stewardesses wait at the table. There is but one male in the purser’s department, and ‘he is the cabin steward. The experiment is said to have proved most successful and the gentlemen passengers are said to appreciate the novelty of being waited up on by a staff of trim-capped, white aproned, smiling girls. The lady passengers are not so enthusiastic, and the wives, who are left at home when the husbands go on business to Russia, are dead against the innovation.

It may be possible that Miss Griffin was one of these stewardesses and Walter a member of the crew.

eric postcard2

However, although the postcard shows Bailey and Leetham clearly marked at the top and with their address , in fact the company’s fleet of 23 vessels had been sold to the Wilson Line in 1903.

In some ways it may have fortunate to sell at this time due to the increasing problems in Russia, protests against the Tsar and the Russian/Japanese war made sailing  in the Baltic and Mediterranean waters a dangerous experience. In wartime, the Russian merchant navy became a volunteer navy carrying out military functions. A newspaper report from 1904 shows that this was not always welcomed.

BRITISH STEAMERS OVERHAULED.
London. August 15. 1904

Some Russian cruisers are still doing police duty in the Mediterranean. One of them stopped and overhauled near Gibraltar the British steamer Ronda, 1941 tons, belonging to Bailey and Leetham Limited, Hull, and the steamer Goorkba, 6287 tons, of the Union Castle line. Nothing contraband was found on them, and they were allowed to proceed.
The Times referring to the panic which the action of the volunteer cruisers created amongst shipping companies trading to the Far East, says that there is a growing feeling that the British steamers were withdrawn prematurely. They ought to compete with the vessels of other countries, and then if they were unfairly treated the Government could act on a clear issue. It is significant that insurers in Germany are asking less than half the premium which is demanded in Great Britain for vessels going out to the Far East.

The ship that Miss Griffin and Walter were travelling on to St Petersburg was the ss Zara one of the ships that was transferred to the Wilson Line, sadly in 1917 it was torpedoed near Norway by a German U Boat and sunk with a  loss of 27 lives.

The postcard also shows that passengers could travel from London (Fenchurch Street) down to Millwall Docks train station.

1908

This 1908 maps shows that the station was very near the present day Crossharbour station. The Millwall Docks station was between South Dock and North Greenwich stations on the Millwall Extension Railway branch of the London and Blackwall Railway .  It opened in December 1871  serving the Millwall Docks, however passenger use of the station was limited and eventually closed to passenger services in 1926, , though goods services continued until the 1970s.

It really is remarkable how one postcard can provide us with so much information about a long forgotten aspect of the Millwall Docks.  It also illustrates that what at the time would have been of little importance and mundane can provide lots of interest for the following generations.

Once again many thanks  to Eric Pemberton for sharing the postcard.

 

The (Old) Isle of Dogs from A to Z by Mick Lemmerman

cover (2)

Photo Cover, (Peter Wright)

Regular readers to the blog will know that I often refer to another Isle of Dogs blog called Isle of Dogs Past Life, Past Lives run by Mick Lemmerman,  Mick (who was born in Whitechapel, but moved to the Island when he was eight) with colleagues Con Maloney and Peter Wright have been responsible for collecting photographs and documents about the Island and making them widely available on a number of websites. Mick has recently started to collate all this information and now has produced a book that gives a comprehensive view of the people, firms, schools, churches, buildings, streets and landmarks on the Isle of Dogs.

As well as concise descriptions and interesting nuggets of information, there are a large number of historical photographs of people and places.  For example many Islanders remember the Glass Bridge, the book gives the following history.

24 glass bridge

Photo Glass Bridge, Jackie Wade (nee Jordan)

Glass Bridge   When the dock company stated at the end of the 1950s its intention to close the Glengall Rd. bridge over Millwall Docks, protests and support from the council lead to the construction of a high-level footbridge across the docks, very quickly referred to as the Glass Bridge due to its glass enclosure.
The bridge became a target for vandals and pedestrians were so intimidated that few used it. Severe damage to the glass and the lifts in 1975–6 caused the bridge to be closed and it was demolished by the London Docklands Development Corporation in 1983.

One aspect of the Isle of Dogs is that it is always changing and the book lists many of the streets, buildings and landmarks that have disappeared over time. The ever changing nature of the Island  is especially noticeable when considering  the Island pubs, many now a distant memory but fondly remembered by many. One of my favourite illustrations is the ill fated actress Jayne Mansfield serving a pint in the George, which is still with us but pubs like the Anchor and Hope are in a sorry state awaiting demolition.

03 Anchor and Hope

Photo Anchor & Hope, (Peter Wright)

The book also offers some original photographs  of  well known Isle Of Dogs landmarks such as Mudchute.

39 mudchute

Photo Mudchute, (Mick Lemmerman)

Mudchute (aka Muddy)   The name derives from it being the former dumping ground for mud dredged from the Millwall Docks which had to be regularly dredged to prevent silting up. A novel, pneumatic device was employed which pumped the liquefied mud through a pipe over East Ferry Rd. (close to the George pub), dumping it on the other side.

However looking through the book  it is noticeable that many of the streets on the Island have changed almost beyond recognition. Cuba Street being a prime example.

14 Cuba St

Photo Cuba St, (Peter Wright)

Cuba St.   Name changed from Robert St. (after Robert Batson) in 1875. As with other streets in the area, it was named after places in the West Indies (a major source of sugar imports into the West India Docks).

This book would appeal to people who have lived in the area all their life and to the new residents who want to find out more about one of the most interesting parts of East London. It will also appeal to anyone with an interest in the area and the people and would like to  find out more. Even those of us who think we know a bit about the Island will find in the book a number of genuine surprises.

Mick has provided a valuable resource to the many people and amateur historians interested in the Island. This together with the Island Trust books are invaluable for understanding the amazing history of the Island.

If you would know more  about the book or would like to buy a copy in either print or eBook , visit the Amazon store here

 

The First Day of the Blitz on the Isle of Dogs – 7th September 1940

bombing docks

A few days ago was the 74th anniversary of the First Day of the Blitz, for the people who were not alive at the time it is difficult to envisage the shock and horror people had to endure.

To give some idea of the scale and scope of the first day , I am posting an eyewitness report by an Islander, Doris Lilian Bennett and the reports of bomb damage undertaken mostly by the Fire Brigade service.

On September 7, 1940, London was completely unaware of the threat massing on the other  side of the channel, however the relative peace was shattered at around 5.30pm when some 348 German bombers escorted by 617 fighters pounded London until 6.00pm. Using the many burning fires as targets, a second group attacked with more incendiary bombs two hours later.

According to the London Fire Brigade reports the first incident in the Isle of Dogs  was logged  at 5.52 when an oil stores was damaged on West Ferry Road. The attack continued for the next couple of hours causing widespread damage and a number of casualties.

images[3]

One of the Ack Ack Guns now at Mudchute Farm

Other than the Royal Air Force, the Island defences consisted of  four Ack Ack Anti-aircraft guns located at the Mudchute. Although the guns were fired by remote control using Radar, the station was manned by 154 Battery of the 52 Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery .  It was a dangerous occupation, the day after the first night of the Blitz the Guardroom, canteen and stores was destroyed by landmines. Luckily there were no casualties.

Unfortunately that was not the case elsewhere, although we have no figures for the first night on the Island, but over the period of the Blitz an estimated 430 people were killed on the Isle of Dogs .

In all of London  on the first night of the Blitz, 430 civilians were killed and 1600 seriously wounded. Worse was to come, between 7 September 1940 and 21 May 1941 there were 71 major aerial raids  on London which caused one million London houses to be destroyed or damaged and over 20,000 civilians were killed.

On that fateful first day , Doris Lilian Bennett of the Auxiliary Fire Service was stationed at the bottom end of the Isle of Dogs and later wrote about what happened.

It began on Saturday 7th September 1940 at around tea-time, there had been one or two night time warnings during the previous week, but of short duration and no consequence. That Saturday was a warm, sunny Autumn day. In the late afternoon we of the Auxiliary Fire Service, stationed at the at the bottom end of the Isle of Dogs were standing in the Station yard watching the vapour trails of aircraft high in the sky when it was suggested we might get a better view from an upstairs window. Watching from the window towards Greenwich, across the Thames, we suddenly saw aircraft approaching, quite low, their shapes black against the bright sky. We watched, mesmerised, until someone said, uneasily, “I think we’d better go downstairs, these blokes look like they mean business” They did. We closed the window and were walking, unhurriedly down the stairs when suddenly came loud rushing noises and huge explosions. Bombs! we were being bombed! We huddled together in a corner of the stairwell until the noises ceased, then pulled ourselves together and made our way down the rest of the stairs.

Downstairs all was in darkness. Big, burly L.F.B. Sub-Officer Smith was marching about bellowing “First bomb lights went out, lights went out first bomb.” This simple fact seemed to please him enormously. The Emergency Lighting System —candles- had been put into operation and by their flickering light we made our way to our Control Room and took our places in front of the telephones. The first call came very quickly, from V Sub-station, my telephone. They had been called out to attend a fire at a wharf on their ground. I noted the time of the call, wrote the message on the pad, and handed it to Sub-Officer Frost, our Mobilising Officer who put the Mobilising Board into use for the first time For Real. During the previous months, whilst awaiting Enemy Action, we had many exercises to get us accustomed to what would happen if and when air raids began and we all knew what we had to do, but this was the first time it was happening for real. From that first call, calls came in thick and fast, Discs were shuffled about on the Mobilising Board and coloured-headed pins denoting fires and appliances attending there at were put into a map of the Island on the wall next to the Board. Appliances were ordered out and any who reported back after fires they had been attending were brought under control were swiftly ordered out again. It was organised chaos.

The Island was a prime target. Around the edges close to the river were timber yards, paint works, boiler making and engineering factories, and other factories producing jams, pickles and confectionery. Across the top of the Island were the three large West India Docks, down the middle were the Millwall Docks, the docksides lined with shipping from all over the world, their warehouses stuffed with the cargoes those ships had carried. At the bottom end of the Millwall Docks were MacDougalls flour mills,
their tall silos an outstanding landmark, all close together, the whole of the Island highly inflammable. Jerry was well aware of this.

The air-raid continued, unabated, as well as the noise of the bombers and their bombs was the noise of the Ack-ack guns, four of them, on the Mud-chute, pounding away, the noise of their shells going up competing with the noise of Jerry’s little offerings coming down. We in the Control Room carried on with what we had to do, taking and relaying messages. At some time during the evening our W.A.F.S. Sub-officer, a good and efficient lady, organised some tea for us in the W.A.F.S quarters across the Yard. We went, two or three at a time, wearing our tin hats (our battle bowlers), when my turn came I found I had no appetite, but gratefully drank two cups of tea, then we went back to carry on taking and relaying messages until one by one, the telephones were put out of order as wires were cut. We then relied on the young Messengers and our two Despatch riders ,on their motor-bikes to fetch and take.

It must have been around midnight when the Guv’nor called us together and said the way things were there was no point in all the girls staying on duty, we were to divide ourselves into two groups. This we did, he pointed to one group and said “You stay”, to the other group he said “You go”, to the shelter in the Yard. I was one of the Go lot. We collected tunics and tin hats and went to the back door to make our way across the Yard. It was after midnight, I had expected to walk out into the blackout we had grown accustomed to but the night was as bright as day from the light of the fires all around us flickering on the walls of houses and tall buildings. I had known, from the map of the Island in the Control Room that there were fires all around but it still came. as a shock to see it. For a moment I stood, watching, thinking that if the bridges were hit, as they quite well might be, we would be isolated in this ring of fire, but then I saw the other girls, strolling across the Yard as though on a Sunday walk in the Park, they didn’t seem at all worried, so I thought, “Oh well, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em”, and I did. The shelter was made of four or five corrugated iron Andersons bolted together, making one very long shelter, half buried in the soil of what had been the Station garden, the soil that had been dug out to receive it had been spread on and around it as reinforcement. The floor had been boarded, and kapok quilts, intended to cover engines and keep them as warm as possible in very cold weather, were spread upon the floor. We arranged them, and ourselves, not very comfortably, and tried to get some sleep. I suddenly thought of all the things I had been afraid of before this night, they were all so trivial compared to this that they were just not worth worrying about…..

The days that followed took the same pattern, sirens every night at about the same time, the raid lasting until the early morning Houses, shops, factories all received bomb damage, some irreparable. People moved away from the Island, as my family did once our home had been made uninhabitable. The London Blitz continued until mid-may 1941, ending with a spectacular fire-bombing. I was at home that night, sitting quietly with the others until Dad went outside and called us all to come out. The sky over London was scarlet from the light of the fires Jerry had started. The following day on my way back to the Station the bus from Ilford stopped somewhere just before Stratford, the road from them on being impassable. I walked, along could hardly believe the damage that had been done. Whole streets of houses beyond repair. Back at the Station, I was now back at V Sub-station, the girls were tired out after a hectic night. There was no water, but they had managed to get a bucketful from a standpipe and they were all attempting to wash in the tepid water, and not feeling too happy about it.

However that was the end of that particular time, it will never be forgotten by those who experienced it.

‘WW2 People’s War is an online archive of wartime memories contributed by members of the public and gathered by the BBC.

This archive can be found at bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar’

kids

Kids clearing bomb site on the Isle of Dogs

The  following records of the London Fire Brigade are found on the Bomb Sight website

175  .17:52.  West Ferry Road, Millwall, E14, London, UK  EB &IB  Thames Oil Wharf, Ltd. 1000, 45 gallonmineral oil drums and three oil tanks (40 tons each) and two, 2 foor buildings, contents and machinery all damaged.

176  .17:52.  West Ferry Road, Millwall, E14, London, UK  EB &IB  Timber storage. 2 Tarpaulins burned and a 20x 10 stack or timberand an iron shed all damaged

208  .17:59.  West Ferry Road, Millwall, E14, London, UK  EB  20 ft of railway track and a building of one floor80x40 damaged
29  .18:00.  39 Saundersness Road, Cubitt Town, E14., London, UK  EB  20 houses damaged
230  .18:00.  Nos. 81-8 Yarrow House, Glengall Grove, Millwall, E14, London, UK  Eb  Three 4-floor buildings, and contents damaged
231  .18:00.  8 Maudesley House, Glengall Grove, Millwall, E14, London, UK  EB  Rest of street of 48 houses damaged by breakage
232  .18:00.  8 Hibbert House, Glengall Grove, Millwall, E1, London, UK  EB  Rest of street of 48 houses damaged by breakage
233  .18:00.  332 Hibbert House, Glengall Grove, Millwall, E1, London, UK  EB  Rest of street of 48 houses damaged by breakage
244  .18:01.  Westferry Road, Millwall, E14, London, UK  EB  Lead and Zinc Manufacturers. 40 x20 of wharfside and a 60×40 building, office and machine room, damaged
256  .18:02.  Manchester Road, Cubitt Town, E14, London, UK  EB  40x 30 roadway damage. And Three houses each of 8 rooms and contents damaged
257  .18:02.  Manchester Road, Cubitt Town, E14, London, UK  EB  40x 30 roadway damage. And Three houses each of 8 rooms and contents damaged
266  .18:03.  Dudgeons Wharf, Manchester Road, Cubitt town, E14, London, UK  EB  40×10 brickworkand damaged
267  .18:03.  Transporter Yard, East Ferry Road, Millwall, E14, London, UK  IB  20 Timber shed buildings each 10 x 6 ad 1 acre of undergrowth burned
280  .18:04.  Glengall Grove, Millwall, E14, London, UK  IB & EB  Lancashire Freight Services Ltd. 1,2 and 3 floor buildings covering 500×500 used as warehouses. Severely damaged

293  .18:06.  97 Stebondal Street Cubitt Town E14, London, UK  IB  Shop on ground floor and contents severely damaged
294  .18:06.  48 Stebondale Street, Cubitt Town E14, London, UK  IB  Front room on first floor and contents severely damaged
295  .18:06.  75, Stebondale Street Cubitt Town E14, London, UK  IB  Front room on first floor and contents damaged
308  .18:07.  86, Manchester Road, Cubitt Town E14, London, UK  EB  Caterer-A building of 3 floors about 40x 20 ft used as refreshment bar, swelling and store, upper part and contents damaged.
330  .18:10.  113-149 Stebondale Street. Cubitt Town E14, London, UK  EB  39 houses each of 6 rooms including 4 shops and contents severely damaged
331  .18:10.  156-194 Stebondale Street Cubitt Town E14, London, UK  EB  39 houses each of 6 rooms including 4 shops and contents severely damaged
332  .18:10.  101-111 Stebondale Street, Cubitt Town E14, London, UK  EB  6 houses each of 6 rooms and contents damaged
341  .18:11.  A Yard, Millwall Dock E14, London, UK  IB  A warehouse of 1 floor about 150x 150 feet and contents severely damaged. Basement used as messrooms, dormitories, offices and store, and contents damaged
342  .18:11.  84a, West Ferry Road, Millwall E14, London, UK  EB and IB  Timber Importers-A range of brick and corrugated iron shed buildings of one floor covering an area of 400x 200ft. About 1/2 of contents severely damaged
358  .18:14.  Carlton Works, Glengall Grove, Millwall, E14, London, UK  IB & EB  Walter Voss and Co Manufacturing Chemists. 200×200 used as laboratories, store and contents severely damaged
359  .18:14.  Carlton Works, Glengall Grove, Millwall, E14, London, UK  IB & EB  Speedy Metal Castings Ltd. 200×60 Machine Room, workshop and contents damaged
366  .18:15.  Methodist Church, Stebondale Street, Cubitt Town E14. 151-163 Stebondale Street Cubitt Town E14. 100-124 Stebondale Street Cubitt Town E14, London, UK  EB  Church and 20 private houses each of 6 rooms, including three shops and contents severely damaged
367  .18:15.  North Side, Import Dock, West India Docks E14, London, UK  IB  “C” shed- about 60×60 ft or roof damaged
368  .18:15:00.  Lying at North Side Import Dock, West India Docks E14, London, UK  IB  Part of London Authority-A vessel of 3,000 tons gross, laden with general cargo, poop and contents damaged
375  .18:16:00.  West Ferry Road, Millwall E14, London, UK  eb  About 30×30 feet of paving damaged and 4″ gas main fractured by explosion in yard
377  .18:17.  Samudas Wharf, Manchester Road, Cubitt Town, E14, London, UK  EB and IB  Transport Contractors -A range of buildings of 2 floors covering an area about 800x300f (used as machine rooms, workshops, offices and store) and contents and some stock in yard including a number of motor lorries severely damaged.
378  .18:17.  Samudas Wharf, Manchester Road, Cubitt Town, E14, London, UK  EB and IB  Engineers-A range of buildings of 2 floors covering an area about 800x300f (used as machine rooms, workshops, offices and store) and contents and some stock in yard including a number of motor lorries severely damaged.
379  .18:17.  Samudas Wharf, Manchester Road, Cubitt Town, E14, London, UK  EB and IB  Stone Merchants-A range of buildings of 2 floors covering an area about 800x300f (used as machine rooms, workshops, offices and store) and contents and some stock in yard including a number of motor lorries severely damaged.
392  .18:19.  Tooke Street, Millwall E14, London, UK  EB  30x 30 roadway damaged. 11 Private houses and one shop damaged
393  .18:19.  11 Tooke Street, Millwall E14, London, UK  EB  30x 30 roadway damaged. 11 Private houses and one shop damaged
395  .18:20.  Import Dock, East India Docks, Poplar E14, London, UK  IB  Part of London Authority- A builing of 2 floors about 100 x 50 ft and contents including hydraulic crane and electric meter cupboard severely damaged. Building used as a hydraulic pressure house slightly damaged. Doors and window glass by breakage. Building of one floor 40 x 30ft about 4/5 severely damaged. Most part of roof damaged.
403  .18:24.  24, Maria Street, Millwall E14, London, UK  EB  8 Houses, 6 rooms each, severely damaged
404  .18:24.  52 Malabar Street, Millwall, E14, London, UK  EB  Remaining houses are also damaged
418  .18:27.  poplar Docks, Preston Road, Poplar, E14, London, UK  EB  60×60 railway track damaged.15 acre 4 floor builing including vehicles in yard and machinery all damaged.
445  .18:30.  91 Stebondale Street, Cubbitt Town, E14, London, UK  IB  house and shop and contents
474  .18:40.  Millwall Recreation Ground, E14, London, UK  EB  30×30 asphalt pavement damage
475  .18:40.  Globe Rope Works, East Ferry Road, , Millwall E14, London, UK  EB  200×30 building with machiner room and contents damaged
476  .18:40.  A Yard Millwall Docks, E14, London, UK  EB & IB  Port of London Authority. No, 4, 4a and 5 warehouses, each of two floors and 400×60 damaged with contents
498  .18:50.  30 East Ferry Road, Cubitt Town, E14, London, UK  IB  Shop and house of 6 rooms, and contents damaged
502  .18:52.  63 Stebondale Street, Cubitt Town, E14, London, UK  IB  Front room on 1st floor and contents damaged.
503  .18:52.  Glengall Grove, E14, London, UK  EB  60×60 of roadway damaged
504  .18:52.  174 Glengall grove, Cubitt Town, E14, London, UK  EB  Off licence. Building of 3 floord 60×20 , used as dwelling and store, contents severly damaged.
505  .18:52.  172 Glengall Grove Cubitt Town, E14, London, UK  EB  Tobacconist, Shop and house of 6 rooms, damaged.
509  .18:57.  176, Glengall Grove, Cubitt Town, E14, London, UK  EB  6 houses, 6 rooms each damaged.
510  .18:57.  171 Stebondale Street, Cubitt Town, E14, London, UK  EB  8 houses 6 rooms each and contents damaged
511  .18:57.  124 Stebondale Street, Cubitt Town, E14, London, UK  EB  11 houses of 6 rooms ad contents damaged
527  .19:07.  55, Glengarnock Avenue, Cubitt town E14, London, UK  IB  A house of 6 rooms, upper part and contents severely damaged
528  .19:07.  45, Glengarnock Avenue, Cubitt town E14, London, UK  IB  A house of 6 rooms, upper part and contents severely damaged
529  .19:07.  34, Glengarnock Avenue, Cubbit town E14, London, UK  IB  A timber shed building about 12x 10 feet used as store and contents severely damaged
531  .19:08.  Manchester Road, Cubitt Town E14, London, UK  IB  Builders and Contractors- Some stock in yard and motor lorry damaged
543  .19:17.  Folly House Barge Roads, Blackwall Reach, E, London, UK  IB  Seven dumb barges and contents severely damaged
550  .19:25.  102 West Ferry Road, Millwall E14, London, UK  IB and EB  Wharfingers-A range of buildings of 1, 2 and 3 floors covering an area of about 650x 450 feet used as machine rooms, workshops, sorting rooms, offices dwelling and store. About 2/3 and contents, some stock in yard, including 3 motor lorries severely damaged.
551  .19:25.  102 West Ferry Road, Millwall E14, London, UK  IB and EB  General Merchants-A range of buildings of 1, 2 and 3 floors covering an area of about 650x 450 feet used as machine rooms, workshops, sorting rooms, offices dwelling and store. About 2/3 and contents, some stock in yard, including 3 motor lorries severely damaged.
552  .19:25.  104 West Ferry Road, Millwall E14, London, UK  IB and EB  Millwall Ingot Metals Ltd-A range of buildings of 1, 2 and 3 floors covering an area of about 650x 450 feet used as machine rooms, workshops, sorting rooms, offices dwelling and store. About 2/3 and contents, some stock in yard, including 3 motor lorries severely damaged.
553  .19:25.  Glengall Wharf, Millwall E14, London, UK  IB and EB  Thames Oil Wharf-A range of buildings of 1, 2 and 3 floors covering an area of about 650x 450 feet used as machine rooms, workshops, sorting rooms, offices dwelling and store. About 2/3 and contents, some stock in yard, including 3 motor lorries severely damaged.
554  .19:25.  Union Road, Millwall E14, London, UK  IB and EB  Beer Retailer-A range of buildings of 1, 2 and 3 floors covering an area of about 650x 450 feet used as machine rooms, workshops, sorting rooms, offices dwelling and store. About 2/3 and contents, some stock in yard, including 3 motor lorries severely damaged.
556  .19:30.  Hutchings Wharf, Hutchings street, West Ferry Road, Millwall E14, London, UK  IB  Walkers Wharfage and Haulage Co.-A building of one floor about 60x 40 ft used as store and contents and come stock in yard slightly damaged
578  .20:38.  Folly House Buoy, Blackwall Reach, E, London, UK
746  .22:47.  Trinity Wharf Buoy, Limehouse Reach. E., London, UK  IB  2 dumb barges, unladen, damaged
819  .23:45.  Westferry Road, Docklands, London E14, London, UK  COB  Preserving manufacturers- building of two floors, 10 x 40 ft, used as workshops and stores. Top floor and contents damaged

 

Boris Akunin,The Winter Queen and the Isle of Dogs

fandorin

Over the past year or so, I have tried to show that the Isle of Dogs although widely considered a bit of  literary wasteland  has featured in a number of works by  authors. Carol Rivers tends to base most of her novels on the Island and she is in a long line of writers who have featured this small piece of London in their writing.

However I have recently come across a book that surprisingly features the Island, why surprisingly ? because it was written by a Russian author Boris Akunin which is the pen name for Grigory Chkartishvili, a Russian writer, academic and translator.

The book is called the Winter Queen (although originally called Azazel in Russia) and features a young police detective called Erast Fandorin, the book first published in 1998 is incredibly popular in Russia where it has sold 15 million copies.

The Winter Queen is the first novel of the Erast Fandorin series of historical detective novels and is based in Moscow in the 1870s.  The story begins with the apparent suicide of  a wealthy university student,  he leaves his large fortune to the newly opened Moscow orphanage of Astair House, an international network of schools for orphan boys founded by an English noblewoman, Lady Astair.

The  open-and-shut suicide case is given to the  inexperienced 20-year-old detective Erast Fandorin who begins to suspect that things are not quite what they seem.

Fandorin begins to suspect that a glamorous femme fatale Amalia is involved and follows her to the Winter Queen Hotel in London. When he confronts her there is a struggle and his gun goes off and Amalia lies on the floor apparently dead.

Fandorin panics and runs away and finally ends up on the Isle of Dogs.

On the Isle of Dogs, in the maze of narrow streets behind Millwall Docks , night falls rapidly. Before you can so much as glance over your shoulder the twilight has thickened from grey to brown and one in every two or three of the sparse street lamps are already glowing . It is dirty and dismal , the Thames ladens the air with damp, the rubbish tips adding the scent of putrid decay. The streets are deserted , with the only life , both disreputable and dangerous, teeming around the shady pubs and cheap furnished lodgings.

It is safe to say that his first impressions were not great and the guesthouse he selects is not much better.

The rooms in the “Ferry Road” guesthouse are home to decommissioned sailors ,petty swindlers and ageing port trollops.

The landlord is known as Fat Hugh who is always on his guard because ” The clientele here is a mixed bunch and you never know what they might be getting up to.”

DSC05623

Ferry House Pub

Obviously the Ferry Road guesthouse is likely to based on the Ferry House pub, the oldest pub on the Island and already over a hundred years old even in 1876 when the story is based.

Fandorin lies low and consider what to do next , but things begin to move quickly, he is kidnapped and tied up in a sack and  dropped from a pier into the Thames. The ever resourceful Fandorin escapes and leaves the Isle of Dogs to return to Moscow.

millwlldk

Millwall Docks

Although there are mention of Millwall Docks and Ferry Road there are no other clues to other locations on the Island but that has not stopped fans of the book from making a pilgrimage to the Island to follow the footsteps of their fictional hero.

The book is an exciting adventure mystery and Fandorin a bit of a cross between Sherlock Holmes and Indiana Jones with a Russian twist, but the real mystery is why a Russian based author with no obvious connections to London would set part of his novel in a not widely known part of East London.

 

 

The Great River Race 2013

DSC03866

Often people complain about the Thames being quiet and under used, the recent events like the Tall ships at Woolwich and Greenwich and the start of the Clipper round the World race have challenged those assumptions. Today we have yet another event that will see the Thames full of boats of many different shapes and sizes.

DSC03854

Many people will be familiar with the role that the isle of Dogs plays in the London Marathon, however many may not be aware that it is the starting point for the “River Marathon” better known as  The Great River Race.

DSC03858

The Great River Race  is a 21 mile spectacular boat race up the River Thames that attracts over 300 crews from all over the globe and thousands of spectators. The race starts at Millwall Dock slipway and finishes in Ham in Surrey, what adds to the enjoyment is the varied types of boats taking part  which have included  in the past an Hawaiian outrigger war canoe, Viking longboat, Norwegian scow, Canadian C-8 canoe, Chinese dragon boats, magnificent replica 54′ bronze age Greek galley and numerous Cornish pilot and other gigs, skiffs and cutters.

DSC03871

Because the race is run on a handicap system all types of boats and crew can take part and have equal chance to win. When the race was first run in 1988 there were 72 boats, this has now grown to 300 boats representing most parts of the UK and other crews from around the world.

DSC03857

To acknowledge its status as the biggest event of its kind in Europe it has been included in The Mayor’s Thames Festival, which offers 10 days of Thames themed  entertainments.

DSC03865

DSC03841

DSC03840