Riverside east of the Tower. North bank. Silvertown
Riverside industrial strip now under development pressure. 19th century industries included an important tar works and a major cable and rubber products factory. The north end of the Thames Barrier.
This posting covers only the north bank of the river on this square. The south side is Charlton Riverside
Post to the west Silvertown
Barrier Point Road
This housing complex and the park are on the site of Prince Regent Wharf.
Barrier Point is an 18 storey block of flats built in 2001 designed by the Goddard Manton Partnership
Minoco Wharf. The site is currently owned by the developers Ballymore and is being promoted as “Royal Wharf”.
Silvertown Lubricants. In 1896 the Mineral Oils Corporation was formed by Charles Hunting to distill and refine lubricants from Russian crude oil imported by the Northern Petroleum Tank Steamship Co. of Newcastle upon Tyne. They built a jetty, wharf, and works here. In 1901–2 Minoco became Silvertown Lubricants Ltd., and in 1929 were acquired by the Gulf Oil Corporation. In the 1930s they made Lubricants, processed with Hi-Duti concentrate, cutting oils, quenching oils, transformer and switch oils, Penetrol and Speedolene. It was taken over by Shell UK in 1997 and in spite of a £5m refit it was decided to decommission the plant at Minoco Wharf and sell for development.
Prince Regent Wharf
Burt, Boulton & Hayward. This site made coal tar products and timber products here from 1870. The firm of Burt Boulton and Hayward was started in 1848 by Henry Potter Burt. He was joined in 1850 by Samuel Boulton and in 1854 by a nephew Thomas Burt Haywood. They used Bethel's patent process of 1858 using tar oils. Initially they had works at Rotherhithe and then Millwall. Works at Rotherhithe from 1849 later at Millwall and then Silvertown where they introduced the use of the vacuum in tar distilling. They used tar from local gas works as a preservative for timber mainly for railway use – sleepers, telegraph poles and so on. In the 1980s the site was described as ‘the most polluted in Europe’. They became Printar Industries and Silvertown Tar macadam.
Many of these riverside sites had rail lines and sidings, coming from the Silvertown Tramway and from sidings west of Silvertown Station, Great Eastern Railway.
Thames Barrier Park
Thames Barrier Park. This park is on the site of the Prince Regent Wharf tar works. It was planned to create a link between West Silvertown Urban Village and the Thames. It claimed to be Britain's first postmodern park, the result of an international competition in 1995. The landscape architects were Groupe Signes, the architects Patel & Taylor who had worked on a similar riverside industrial site in Paris. The strongest image is the 'Green Dock', a strip of planting hollowed out of the central plateau – said to be a reminder of the site's dockland heritage. It provides a sheltered microclimate for a 'rainbow garden' - strips of coloured plants. A Pavilion of Remembrance near the River commemorates local people who died in the Second World War.
Thames Barrier. There was a decision to build in 1953 after the floods of that year to provide a barrier in the Thames to protect London. It is the largest moveable flood barrier in the world designed for the Greater London Council by Rendel, Palmer & Tritton. It was completed in 1982. It is a third of a mile long going across four main shipping lanes and made up of 10 separate moveable steel gates of 3,000 tons which lie on the river bed. Between each gate are concrete piers housing electro- hydraulic equipment sheltered beneath elegantly shaped stainless steel forms. There are shell-like hoods of stainless steel - seven large ones each facing a smaller one. Ships can pass through the four wide gaps between the central piers - note the navigation lights. It is increasingly raised not just to stop surge tides coming up the Thames but to hold flood water from the upper Thames back until it can flow out with the outgoing tide. Service areas and the control rooms are on the south bank
Tay Wharf – now part of the industrial estate – was a jam and marmalade factory for James Keiller who came here from Scotland in 1880. In 1920 they were taken over by Crosse and Blackwell and later Nestle.
Thames Road Industrial Estate
The estate is on the site of Silver’s India Rubber, Gutta Percha and Telegraph Works.
Silver’s India Rubber, Gutta Percha and Telegraph Works. Silver is said to have opened a factory in Greenwich (although this has never been identified0 and in 1852 moved to what is now Silvertown, and named after him. They were closely involved with the Hancock brothers who had identified both rubber and gutta percha and Silver took over Charles Hancock’s works. Initially they made submarine cables but then other electrical products. They moved into the manufacture of bicycle and motor vehicles – as well as items like rubber balls and other goods from conversion to ebonite. . They expanded with other works in Britain and abroad. They were taken over in the 1950s by what was then the British Tyre and Rubber Co. and the works was closed down and became the industrial estate. As cable manufacturers they laid some important cables including the French Atlantic Cable from Brest to Cape Cod.
Wards Wharf Approach
Thomas Ward Ltd. They had machinery showrooms here and dealt in iron & steel scrap, tanks, boilers, engineers, shipbreakers, contractors plant, machinery erectors & dismantlers. They dated from before 1921.
More flats and yet another riverside tower.
British History Online. West Ham.
Crouch. Silvertown and Neighbourhood.
Emporis. Web site
Field. London Place Names,
Carr. Docklands History Survey
Grace’s Guide. Web site
Port of London Magazine
Royal Docks Trust. Web site
West Ham. Centenary volume.