River Lea - Lea Bridge

River Lea and Aqueduct
The River Lea, and the Aqueduct continue to flow southwards

The Great Eastern Railway from Liverpool Street to Chingford
The rail line running north from Clapton Station continues to run north westwards

Post to the north Walthamstow Marshes
Post to the east Hackney Marshes
Post to the west Upper Clapton

Casimir Road
Millfields Park. 'Millfields' as a name can be traced back to the 15th and in the 16th as ‘north’ and ‘south’. The two fields are separated by Lea Bridge Road. The fields were made up of strips held by tenants until at least the mid 18th. They are the remains of what was originally Saxon common land available to local residents for grazing cattle and sheep from 'Lammas day', 1st August, until 'Lady day' ,25th March, when they was closed for growing a hay crop. Sport began to take over - bull baiting in 1791 then football.  There was gradual pressure from mission halls and others providing sports for young men who needed pitches. They were saved from development following a petition to preserve 180 acres of common land in Hackney for public use and work by the Commons Preservation Society in 1872. The Millfields Recreation Grounds were laid out in 1884 by the London County Council.,
North Millfield was a brick field. In the 19th four fossil woolly rhino and elephant bones were found here.
Site of the Battle of Hackney between Octa, King of Kent and Erchewin, Founder of Essex in 527. Erchewin had revolted from the King of Kent and Octa wished to bring this under control. A meeting in Rochester failed and Octa went to Hackney intending to march south onto the rebels in London. But the Londoners came out to meet them and won in the ensuing battle.

Chatsworth Road
South Millfields – Millfields Park (south). There are LCC boundary markers along the backs of buildings in the north areas of the park
Leagrave Works. John Dowell and Sons. In the 1920s made plain and stoppered bottles for chemical, medical, and perfumery use and also babies' feeding bottles and ink wells

Essex Wharf
The Wharf seems to have been developed from the late 19th with warehousing and ancillary structures. One warehouse remained but has since been demolished and the site developed for housing.
A small dock lay parallel and alongside the road

Hillstowe Street
Park Keepers Lodge 

The Lea split into two here. In the 9th channels were dug under King Alfred for defence – they drained the water which also meant that adjacent meadows could be used for hay.
Hackney Cut was built for flood relief and for navigation - to allow boats to get round mill sites following rows with the owners of Hackney Water works. . It was built by Smeaton in the 1760s.  It turned the Lea Bridge area into an island
Lea Navigation. The enabling Act dates from 1739 and John Smeaton was employed by the Trustees to build it.  It starts at Hertford and ends up at the Thames 26 miles away.  The idea was to provide a route to bring grain into London.
Weir. Immediately below the road bridge is a weir which marks the limit of the tidal section of the river.

Lea Bridge Road
47 Clapton Federation Synagogue. Built in 1931 by M Glass.  This was demolished in 2006 and there are now flats on the site.
146 Princess of Wales.  This is said to be on a Roman site.  This was a popular riverside pub in the 19th and was at one time called the Prince of Wales and contained many pictures of the Royal Family. It was rebuilt in 1920 with wood-panelled bars.
Leabridge Dock. This was probably built before 1830 and called Paradise Dock. It is also marked on some 19th maps as Ashpital’s Dock.  It was still in use pre-Second World War. It was filled in before the 1960s but has now been reinstated as a shallow water feature for new housing. There was a boatyard associated with post Second Wold War.
OTV Building. This 1960s concrete framed building was built on stilts over the filled in Lea Bridge Dock and has now been demolished.  OTV sold reconditioned video machines and black and white TVs
Ferry Inn. This stood alongside the bridge on the Clapton site and was described as ‘ancient’ in 1757. It was later called the Horse and Groom and was demolished by the East London Water Co. around 1850
142 Carbonic Acid Gas Co. factory. Behind a three-storey office is an engine house with a pediment roof and terracotta detailing. There is also a red-brick chimney and a yard paved with granite sets with traces of inset iron rails for trolleys. It was used by the Carbonic Acid Gas Company who made mineral waters or equipment associated with it. They attended the 1894 Brewer’s Exhibition with ‘equipment for aerated waters’, but had however been in liquidation in 1893.  The company was run by a Rudolf Stokvis, with input from Dutch interests.
S.Shaven, Furniture factory.  At the back of the carbonic acid gas factory complex is a group of industrial buildings from 1935 used as a furniture works.
Boat builders with associated dressing rooms and club rooms 1902
Lea Bridge Rubber Works. They made balloons, rubber toys and sports goods as well as sheeting and moulded products
144 Ship Aground Public House, late 19th public house. It is stucco fronted with its roof hidden behind a parapet. This pub is now closed.
Lea Bridge.  This is the tidal limit of the Lea and the point at which the Lea Navigation and the river Lea part.  The crossing was known as Lockbridge in 1486 and continued into the 16th,-7, when the river was still tidal at Leyton, as it apparently was until at least the 16th. By 1551 it was broken but appears to have been repaired and was eventually replaced by a ferry known as Hackney or Jeremy’s Ferry which belonged to the lord of the manor of Hackney. The first bridge after appears to have been wooden and built in 1755 when Lea Bridge was laid out with a carriage bridge and toll for the turnpike road built across the marsh to link Clapton to Eagle Pond. The bridge did not have enough clearance for high barges and it was replaced by an iron bridge in 1820. The present bridge was built in the early 20th on the 19th structure.
Lee Valley Ice Centre.  Built in 1982 by the Building Design Partnership. It has a curved, lightweight steel roof. It provides for recreational skating, ice hockey free skating and precision team skating.
Porter's Field Meadow.  Green recreational area
Porters Field Riding School. Built by J.M.V. Bishop and M.G. Quintin of the Lea Valley Regional Park Authority in 1982.  This consists of a walled enclosure with brick-and-flint stables and an indoor riding school,
Pipe Bridge
Bridge over the Aqueduct

Lea Bridge Water Works
Hackney Water Works. In the 1690s Francis Tyssen installed a waterwheel on the site of a fishery weir at Jeremy’s Ferry. The water raised was piped to a reservoir at Clapton and from there to local properties. These works fell into disrepair but in 1760 Tyssen's grandson leased land to men who set up the 'Hackney Water Works Company'. They used the existing watermills to pump water from the Lea.  In 1821 the lease for Hackney Waterworks was due to expire. Although in a dilapidated state and W.G.D. Tyssen granted the lease to John Killick, the miller at Lea Bridge who began to expand the enterprise.  After extensive negotiations the works was sold to the East London Waterworks Company in the late 1820s. They expanded it during the 1830s.
Chevaliers Ferry house. This was slightly down river of the bridge and on the Essex Bank.  Here another lot of ‘adventurers and undertakers’, started a works to supply the town of Hackney with water.  They built a cut from the river with mills were over it and a tower on its west bank to provide pressure to drive the water to the Clapton reservoir. Locks were also built in the main river and a major row with bargemen ensued. In the late 1760s following a report by John Smeaton, the Hackney Cut was built to the west from below the lock and mills.
Mills and Pin factory. The mills were an integral part of the waterworks enterprise. In 1788 they were devastated by floods and in 1796 burnt down along with an adjoining pin and needles factory. By April 1798 the works were rebuilt and back in operation and apparently let to the London Bread and Flour Company.   The Mills were demolished by the East London Waterworks Company who eventually dug a two acre reservoir on the site which later was used for the Middlesex Filter beds.
Lea Bridge Water Works. The East London Waterworks Company had been established in 1807 with a works at Old Ford.  The 1828 Royal Commission into water quality was concerned about their intake there and they were then required to only take water from above Lea Bridge. The Company therefore bought the Hackney Waterworks. They also bought Lammas Land on the Essex side of the river and following a legal battle, paid compensation for the loss of commoners' rights and their new works was built there with Lea Bridge Road to the north and Hackney Cut to the west. The works covered 25 acres with 25 filter beds and it became their main works with the main pumping machines. Following a cholera outbreak in east London in 1849 the Metropolitan Water Act allowed them to build more filter beds at the Lea Bridge site – the Middlesex and Essex filter beds – plus reservoirs and a Cornish steam engine. From 1861 they compulsorily purchased more land along Lea Bridge Road and built more filter beds. For this two steam engines were bought from Harvey and Co., named Prince and Princess. In 1854 the company had previously purchased from Harvey one of the largest Cornish engines ever built for London which was called Victoria plus eight Cornish boilers and this too was at Lea Bridge. In the succeeding years the works expanded greatly and in 1902 was taken over by the Metropolitan Water Board. The East London Waterworks Company was the largest of the companies thus taken over and Lea Bridge the second largest works – it has a total capacity of 103m gallons a day.  It was soon found necessary to expand and a triple expansion engine was bought from Hathorn Davey in 1921 to pump to Woodford –named after Christopher Musgrove, Chair of the Board. It was decided to expand. In 1942 despite the war, they installed electric pumps in place of three triple expansion steam engines, plus Prince Consort, and Victoria - the oldest engine there and in 1943 ‘Connaught’ was replaced. Cornish engines Prince and Princess continued to pump to Finsbury Park and Duke and Duchess to Woodford. Plans then began to be made to build a new works at Coppermills.  There were however problems in 1944 with bombing. in 1947 the works was flooded - the gauge at Feilds Weir was recording 1,263m gallons a day before it broke down... floodwater entered  the aqueduct and all work had to stop. Filter beds were isolated and the aqueduct blocked but the works was out of action for nine days. In 1969 Coppermills Water Treatment Works began work and In 1974 Lea Bridge Works became part of Thames Water. The site is still operational although much of the land is now in other use. Buildings on site included a sluice house of 1885, the Engineers Office of 1890-2 by G.E. Dolman in red brick with tile hanging and timberwork, the Musgrave engine and boiler house, 1922-4. Nothing on the site is listed.
Middlesex Filter Beds.  The filter beds were built under the 1852 East London Co. Act on the site of the Hackney Water Works reservoir. Six filter beds were arranged around a central covered area.  The went out of use in 1969 and taken over by the Lee Valley Regional Park in 1988 who opened it as a nature reserve.  Two local artists were commissioned in 1990 to install sculptures on the site, with the participation of local schools and community groups. Paula Haughney used five granite blocks retrieved from the foundations of the 'Victoria' Engine House to make a gigantic seat surrounded by a circle of other foundation stones from the site. Kate Malone created enormous ceramic fishes, emerging from the open waters of one of the filter beds.
Essex Filter Beds. To the east in the east bank of the River further 19 filter beds were built, known as the Essex Filter Beds.
Aqueduct from Copper Mills, to Lea Bridge Works built in 1852.

Middlesex Wharf
JollyAnglers.    Formerly the Anglers Tavern. This pub was present by 1800 and was demolished in the 1930s when the whole area was cleared on health grounds because of the frequent flooding experienced here
44 King’s Head pub. This was a one bar 19th pub, with stuffed animals & interesting pictures and Surrounded by timber yards. It had been rebuilt in the 1920s at a time when all the older buildings in the area were removed on health grounds because of frequent flooding, but it closed and was demolished in 2000

Millfields Road
Previously called Pond Lane and renamed in 1887 as terraced housing began to be built.
204 Millfields Court. This is the old Chippendale Arms pub
Pond Farm housing estate built in the 1950s.
Millfields estate low rise and replaced Clapton stadium in1980.
Millfields Road football ground. Leyton Orient Football club played here 1900–1930. They had been asked move to from Whittles Athletic ground by the borough council to an adjacent field. By 1905 the stadium capacity was 20,000. Banking – formed by waste slag from the power station - ran along the south side of the ground known as ‘Spion Kop’ after a hill in South where a Battle had been fought in the Boer War. In 1923 a new stand which was built on the north side of the ground, and flower beds were laid out at the edge of the pitch. The stand was eventually sold to Wimbledon Football Club and was demolished in 2001. The club could not afford to buy the ground and had to leave in 1930.
Clapton Stadium was designed by Owen Williams and was London's fourth greyhound track, with the first meeting in 1928. It was also used for boxing, and baseball. The track was sold by the Greyhound Racing Association in 1969 and closed in 1974.
Whittles Athletic Ground. This had been used for whippet racing, and by Leyton Orient Football Club.
Hackney power station and refuse destructor.  The 'A' station opened in 1901 and was built by the Borough of Hackney.  It was the largest such local authority station when it was built with twelve cells. There was a lay-by for barges on the Lea and a six cart tipping platform. It passed to the London Electricity Board in 1947 on nationalisation.  A 'B' station was built, from 1954 and closed in 1976. A sub-station remains with some of the original buildings.
Millfields Waste Depot. Built on the site of the power station and opened in 2012. This has a waste transfer station; a two-bay vehicle workshop; new fuelling system, vehicle wash; and parking space for waste vehicles.
Disinfecting Station.  This disinfection station was built in 1900 by Hackney Borough Council. It was used to cleanse belongings of people removed from unsanitary housing or recovering from infectious diseases. The steam-cleaning operation was powered by the Borough Electricity Station next door and facilities also included a cyanide chamber. Built by Gunton & Gunton for the Borough's Public Health Committee with Arts and Crafts detail.  Shelter for those whose property was steam cleaned in the adjacent Cleansing Building.
Caretakers Lodge to Disinfecting Stall
Cow Bridge

Mount Pleasant Hill
The hill ran from the railway bridge to the riverside through an industrial area consisting largely of cardboard box factories and timber yards. The area is now entirely new housing with some office space
Latham’s timber yards – with a geometric construction of wooden roof beams. Now gone and housing on the site
Lea Dock was at the bottom of the hill.

Waterworks Lane
Prince of Wales Terrace of houses once stood in the area now the pub car park.
Bridge with stones set in slopes to assist towing horses.
Premises of Testi and Sons Millwrights. 19th Tudor style building of coursed rubble, with freestone dressings, in Tudor style. Probably originally a school. Now unused and semi derelict
Plaque saying “H & M.D. Grissell” on the Bridge over what was the entrance to Lea Bridge dock. This is the makers mark
Water-turbine house of 1885 by WB. Bryan. With ornamental cast-iron bridges.

Wattisfield Road
Almshouses for Disabled Soldiers and Sailors 1922. By Gunton & Gunton, a row of six cottages with a semi-detached house at each end. Recessed sitting areas beside the front doors, and Arts and Crafts details
Housing developed on the Alderson estate from the 1860s by the London Suburban Land and Building Company.

CAMRA. City and East London Beer Guide
Cinema Theatre Association newsletter
Clarke. Glimpses of Ancient Hackney and Stoke,
East London. Old and New
East London Record (Keith Fairclough’s wonderful Hackney Water Works article)
Fairclough. Lecture to Docklands History Group
Field. London Place Names
Grace’s Guide. Web site
Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society. Newsletter
Greyhound racing web site
Hillman and Trench. London Under London
Leyton Orient web site
London Encyclopaedia
London Gardens web site
Make the Most of the Lea Valley. Leaflet
Metropolitan Water Board. London’s water supply,
Middlesex Filter Beds. Leaflet
Pevsner and Cherry.  London North
Real Beer in London
Road to Jeremy’s Ferry. Web site
Sexby. London parks
Smyth. City Wildspace
Thames Basin Archaeology Group. A Survey of Industrial Monuments of Greater London
Victoria County History. Essex
Walthamstow Marshes. Leaflet,
Walford. Highgate to the Lea,
Walford. Village London.


Clive Radley said…
The boat builders referred to was the first Radley boat builders site and started in the mid 1850s by Paradise dock. The second site was north of Middlesex wharf.
Anonymous said…
Re: 44 Middles Sex Wharf - The Kings Head - This building was originally built as a silk/calico printer's workshop in the 1830's when my ancestor, John Hammond, leased the land from the Tyssen estate (Lord Amhurst) for a period of about 75 years (until 1907 - documents at Hackney Archives). It became a public house around his retirement. His son was a publican after that -

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