London Footprints East End Parks Walk

Princelet Street

A Corner of Princelet Street Dining Room

Last week I spent a few days in London sharing again the lovely Georgian Landmark in Spitalfields: 13 Princelet Street. Over years of visits to London my sister and I have enjoyed walks in selected areas or on particular themes; getting to know the places a little more intimately and enjoying the exercise too. At first, many years ago, we would join London Walks and with them have enjoyed discovering places like Little Venice, Bloomsbury, The National Gallery, Hampstead, Highgate and St Pauls/Smithfield. More recently we’ve taken itineraries from internet websites and/or adapted self-guided walks from the many walks guide books for ourselves.

Lately, and last week in particular, our walks have come from the website London Footprints.

For last Thursday Kathy selected and adapted the London Footprints An East End Parks Walk which “provides the opportunity to explore 3 East End Parks – the splendid (and large!) Victoria Park, the linear Mile End Park with new landscaping & features and Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park, now a nature reserve with a numbered trail.”

As we were based in the East End we decided we’d like to see more as we share an interest in Angela Burdett-Coutts and other women philanthropists of the 19th century and have a friend in Norwich who spent her early childhood in the Tower Hamlets Cemetery Lodge.

There is no precise route through the parks, especially Victoria Park, which you can explore as you wish.
The walk includes sections of the Regents Canal and a visit to the Ragged School Museum is recommended but this is only open Wednesdays & Thursdays 10 – 5 and the first Sunday of the month 2 – 5. There is a small cafe in this museum and in St Paul’s Church (weekdays only) also a lakeside cafe in Victoria Park. Pubs, shops and cafes will be found on the main roads. Details of buses/trains are given within the text.

Canal sign

Sign outside Limehouse Station

From Limehouse Station (rail or DLR) go east along the southern side of Commercial Road. After the bridge at Limehouse Basin go down the steps to the canal (signposted Regent’s Canal Towpath) and walk to the right.

Regents CanalFrom the Bridge at Limehouse Basin

The path goes past Salmon Lane Lock and the site of Stepney Gasworks (on the left). The free-standing brick ‘chimney’ on the right is a sewer vent shaft. The Ragged School Museum is sited by the canal.

Lock

Salmon Lane Lock

lodge

At Least a Manager’s House at Salmon Lock

RSM

The Ragged School Museum (in pouring rain)

The entrance from the towpath may be open if not go up the steps and around to the front.
The museum has a recreated classroom and other displays. There is a small shop and cafe. There is no admission charge but donations are appreciated.

remembering

Remembering the Good Old School Days!

and the old money

… and the Good Old Money

classroom descripn

On leaving the museum cross the road into Mile End Park. This was originally a smaller park known as King George’s Fields. A church stood on the site now occupied by the stadium car park. Continue ahead through the park: a new water garden has been created. At the main road with a prominent church use the ‘green bridge’ to cross. This bridge designed by Piers Gough links sections of the park. 

approaching bridge

Approaching the Green Bridge

green bridge

The Green Bridge

Continue ahead through the park. Follow the canal towpath which goes under Roman Road. Ahead take the slope up from the towpath. The Hertford Union Canal joins the Regents Canal on the right. [All of this was closed off to us]

Due to adverse weather conditions we missed most of the Victoria Park. We just made a bee-line to Gunmaker’s Gate and Victoria Fountain. The granite and marble drinking fountain was designed by H A Darbishire and presented by Angela Burdett-Coutts in 1862.

ABC fountain

Angela Burdett-Coutts’ Victoria Fountain

It was believed to have cost £6,000 (more than half a million pounds in today’s money). Water poured from the cherubs’ vases and chained silver-plated cups allowed the poor East Londoners sanitary drinking water. This was a first for many East Londoners who had often drunk from filthy bathing lakes nearby. Built of marble and granite it was originally called The Victoria Fountain and this name can still be seen engraved into the granite.

victoria fountain

19th c pic

19th Century Colour Print

Cross Regent’s Canal again and go along Gunmakers Lane. Cross Old Ford Road and continue along St Stephens Road opposite. Finally, after lunch in the park, the rain had stopped.

regent canal

Regent’s Canal on Leaving Victoria Park

The Victorian church of St Pauls by Newman & Billing was saved from demolition with the vision and fund-raising of Rev Phillipa Boardman. While retaining the body of the church as a place of worship architects Matthew Lloyd provided other community facilities including a gallery, gym and cafe. Further along on the left is the Roman Road Market.

st paul church

St Paul’s Church

At the end go right along Tredegar Road and left at Coborn Road. The site of the former Coburn Road Station is marked with a plaque on the railway bridge. Take the second right at Morgan Street into Tredegar Square. This was laid out in 1828. The north side was intended to imitate Nash’s Regent’s Park development.

tredegar square

Grand North Terrace Tredegar Square

Tredegar Square was completed in the 1840s in the Stepney Estate of Sir Charles  Morgan, baronet, of Tredegar on Monmouthshire. The gardens in the square are fully open to the public.

public square

Exit by the opposite corner and cross Mile End Road with care into Southern Grove opposite. The entrance to Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park is further along on the left. We called at the park office to collect a map but didn’t follow the numbered posts. We made our own circuit of the park. The Cemetery was built as one of the “Magnificent Seven” new cemeteries and opened in 1841. Burials took place until 1966. It’s also known as Bow Cemetery. It’s now owned as a community space by Tower Hamlets Council but is managed by The Friends of Tower Hamlets Cemetery. The 31 acre site is the most urban woodland in London and a designated Local Nature Reserve. It contains several English Heritage Grade 2 listed monuments and the remains of many significant local residents, offering a fascinating insight into the rich social history of the Borough. Here are a few pictures.

cemetery 1

cemetery2

P1010029

memorial sign

memorial

will crooks

cemetery lodge032

The Lodge is now for sale

On exiting go along Hamlets Way opposite and right at Eric Street. Mile End tube station is on the right or buses run along Mile End Road and Grove Road/Burdett Road to the left.

Phew! Quite a walk especially as we were dogged by rain during the first half. We enjoyed the excellent food and tea in the Park Cafe just steps from the Victoria Park Fountain and as we emerged the sun came out and the rain finally stopped. This walk was an excellent choice as it was quite adaptable to exploring as much or as little as we liked and most of it was on traffic-free paths away from busy roads and traffic.

2 comments on “London Footprints East End Parks Walk

  1. Fran says:

    Quite an expedition, but worth it for all these less known parks and places.

  2. […] of course, yesterday I wrote about the Victoria Fountain in Victoria Park which we saw in the pouring rain after […]

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