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In Old Bow

April 12, 2019
by the gentle author

Mid-ninenteenth century Gothic Cottages in Wellington Way

Taking advantage of the spring sunshine, Antiquarian Philip Mernick led me on a stroll around the parishes of Bromley and Bow so that I might photograph just a few of the hidden wonders alongside the more obvious sights.

Edward II granted land to build the chapel in the middle of the road at Bow in 1320 but the nearby Priory of St Leonard’s in Bromley was founded three centuries earlier. These ecclesiastical institutions were the defining landmarks of the villages of Bromley and Bow until both were absorbed into the expanding East End, and the precise locations of these lost territories became a subject of unending debate for residents. More recently, this was the location of the Bryant & May factory where the Match Girls won landmark victories for workers’ rights in manufacturing industry and where many important Suffragette battles were literally fought on the streets, outside Bow Rd Police Station and in Tomlin’s Grove.

Yet none of this history is immediately apparent when you arrive at the handsome tiled Bow Rd Station and walk out to confront the traffic flying by. In the nineteenth century, Bow was laced with an elaborate web of railway lines which thread the streets to this day and wove the ancient villages of Bromley and Bow inextricably into the modern metropolis.

Bow Rd Station opened in 1902

Bow Rd Station with Wellington Buildings towering over

Wellington Buildings 1900, Wellington Way

Wellington Buildings

Suffragette Minnie Lansbury was imprisoned in Holloway and died at the age of thirty-two

Eighteen-twenties terrace in Bow Rd

Bow Rd

Bow Rd

Bow Rd Police Station 1902

Under the railway arches in Arnold Rd

The former Great Eastern Railway Station and Little Driver pub, both 1879

This house in Campbell Rd was built one room thick to fit between the railway and the road

Arnold Rd once extended beyond the railway line

Arnold Rd

Former Poplar Electricity Generating Station

Railway Bridge leading to the ‘Bow Triangle’

In the ‘Bow Triangle,’ an area surrounded on three sides by railway lines

Handsome nineteenth century villas for City workers in Mornington Grove

Former coach house in Mornington Grove

Bollard of Limehouse Poor Commission 1836 in Kitcat Terrace

Last fragment of Bow North London Railway Station in the Enterprise Rental car park

Edward II gave the land for this chapel of ease in 1320

In the former Bromley Town Hall, 1880

Former Bow Co-operative Society in Bow Rd, 1919

The site of St Leonard’s Priory founded in the eleventh century and believed to have been the origin of Chaucer’s Prioress in the ‘Canterbury Tales’ – now ‘St Leonard’s Adventurous Playground’

Kingsley Hall where Mahatma Ghandi stayed when he visited the East End in 1931

Arch by William Kent (c. 1750) removed from Northumberland House on the Embankment in 1900

Draper’s Almshouses built in 1706 to deliver twelve residences for the poor

The refurbished Crossways Estate, scene of recent alleged election skullduggery

You may also like to take a look at

At St Mary Stratford Atte Bow

The East End Suffragette Map

11 Responses leave one →
  1. April 12, 2019

    How excellent that the Draper’s Almshouses was built to provide good quality homes for the poor.. you would normally expect the poor, sick and unemployed to be living in squalour.

  2. April 12, 2019

    Good to see so many landmarks have remained as I remember from way back when, and it all looks in good repair. Valerie

  3. VANDA HUMAN permalink
    April 12, 2019

    My heart lies in the country of the forefathers and not in my birth country. Such beautiful homes, buildings and everything is so clean until you see the graffiti painted on the buildings/ bridges and some untidy gardens.

  4. April 12, 2019

    Mahatma Gandhi insisted on staying at Kingsley Hall among the common people and the poor when he came to London to negotiate partition with Winston Churchill in 1931. He daily walked to Whitehall clad only in his meagre robes. He also met Charlie Chaplin at this time. In KH he set up his spinning wheel in a cell on the top of the building where he slept.
    Kingsley Hall is the first purpose built community centre in the world, established by the Lester sisters in 1928 with the support of H.G.Wells amongst others.

    ‘Our greatest Englishman’ Winston Churchill said of Gandhi:-
    It is alarming and nauseating to see Mr Gandhi, a seditious Middle Temple lawyer, now posing as a fakir of a type well known in the east, striding half naked up the steps of the viceregal palace, while he is still organising and conducting a campaign of civil disobedience, to parlay on equal terms with the representative of the Emperor-King.
    Commenting on Gandhi’s meeting with the Viceroy of India, 1931

  5. Jill Wilson permalink
    April 12, 2019

    What a nasty shock the last photo was after all the beautifully detailed nineteenth century architecture!

    I wonder if we will ever get back to creating well proportioned, well considered buildings?

  6. Mark Byfield permalink
    April 12, 2019

    Great photographs… you have an eye for a good photo.


  7. Paul Lunn permalink
    April 12, 2019

    Kingsland hall saw not only Gandhi , but some of the Jarrow marchers stay overnight

  8. Helen Breen permalink
    April 12, 2019

    Greetings from Boston,

    GA, I enjoyed your tour through Bromley and Bow parishes with their Victorian (and other) style of architecture through spring blossoms. Great pics. Just hope that these sturdy structures and not subject to “urban renewal” of some sort…

  9. Catherine permalink
    April 12, 2019

    Kitcat Terrace–what a wonderful name! Any idea where it comes from? As always, beautiful and evocative photos.

  10. felix permalink
    April 15, 2019

    The Bow Road Co-op was probably erected by the Stratford society, one of its last developments before it was amalgamated into the LCS in 1920, along with the Edmonton, Hendon and West London Societies.

  11. Tony permalink
    May 15, 2019

    In the 1970’s there were only two of those houses standing on Wellington Way. One of them was a dentist. The rest have been built since, but in the same style.

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