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The Insiders’ Guide to Bow 2014
People • Places • Life • Cafes • Pubs • Shops • Community • Culture • Heritage
Welcome to the Insiders’ Guide to Bow
People – meet some Bow pe
Who better to write about life in Bow than a group of local insiders? In summer 2014, we brought together a group of Bow residents for an eightweek community journalism project. Through a series of practical workshops at Bow Idea Store we learnt about the basics of journalism: how to research ideas, carry out interviews, structure and write articles, and use photographs.
Places – go behind the scen
And we also spent plenty of time out and about, meeting local people, finding out about community projects, discovering local heritage, and reviewing shops and cafes. We hope you enjoy reading the stories we uncovered. We’d love to hear your feedback – please get in touch at: graham@ walkeast.org
Life – take a glimpse into th
Graham Barker and Liz Baume Project coordinators Published by Walk East, 2014. We’ve tried our level best to ensure the content of this Insiders’ Guide is accurate and up-to-date; we apologise for any bloomers, blips or oversights.
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eople doing extraordinary things
nes and get the inside track on local hotspots
he cultural life of Bow
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Flash, Bang, Wallop Out in the streets, we asked people to describe Bow in three words: “Friendly, Vibrant and Beautiful” just about sums it up.
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– What a Picture!
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The inside track: we find some tasty treats and budget-friendly bargains around the Roman
Dennington’s Florist A family business that’s been on Roman Road for 60 years, the smart green exterior belies the friendly and informal atmosphere inside. Run by a brother and sister team, flowers are bought from New Covent Garden and go out again as wedding bouquets, funeral wreaths, and arrangements for local businesses, including the pubs. Pop in for a bunch starting from £8. 494 Roman Road, E3 5LU
The Shu-Boyz Friendly staff, huge sale signs and racks of colourful bargains welcome you to this selfproclaimed specialist in ladies’ and children’s footwear. There’s an impressive range of styles for all ages including funky flats, platform heels, festival wellies, granny slippers and sporty kids’ shoes. Two for one offers and (most) prices between £10 and £20 won’t break the bank either. 529 Roman Road, E3 5EL
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George’s Plaice Run by a man who loves to talk and reminisce, this is the place for first class shellfish and fish, especially on Sundays when other fish shops are shut. You know the tourist books that say “Go where the locals go”? This is where the locals go, with good reason. 486 Roman Road, E3 5LU
places: ROMAN ROAD
BonnieBoo Baby Shop Tucked away on the Roman Road, this outlet is more than just a clothes shop for babies. There are hand-crafted hampers for baby showers and new-borns, as well as gift ideas such as personalised embroidered blankets. The shop stocks a good range of adorable clothing for babies and young children, and the friendly staff will put you at your ease. 543 Roman Road, E3 5EL
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G kelly’s Pie and Mash Do you want to experience East End nosh? Pie and mash, Cumberland sausage and traditional jellied eels are all offered here. At £2 a pie, with the options of takeaway and bulk buying for your freezer, this café offers a glimpse of East End life as it used to be. Open 10am3pm and late on Fridays. 526 Roman Road, E3 5ES
1st Choice Cakes As you walk in your eyes will light up at the colourful variety of cakes, baked fresh on the premises and displayed in pristine glass cabinets. Choose from traditional birthday cakes and wedding cakes or the more unusual, such as a red velvet cake. A wide selection of smaller cakes starts from £1.75. 577 Roman Road, E3 5ES
Muxima Café Don’t let the absence of a sign above the door put you off: this is probably the friendliest and quirkiest café in Bow. The menu starts with the café basic of toast and jam but quickly encompasses more interesting fare such as Wild Eggs Benedict, Aunty’s Shakshuka, and Welsh Rarebit. Great coffee and music too. 618 Roman Road, E3 2RW
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It’s Playtime! Tahmina Begum explores the playful spaces around Mile End with Penny Wilson from PATH You may have chanced upon the grazing cow on Eric Street. Or stumbled across a ‘Cardboard City’ along the Yellow Brick Road off Southern Grove. Maybe even seen people playing on a mile-long hopscotch during the summer. But who is behind these creative play ideas in Mile End? Penny Wilson, and other free spirits like her, work for Play Association Tower Hamlets (PATH) whose aim it is to provide playful spaces for residents young and old. It’s more than just a venture to turn unused spaces into playgrounds; their aspiration is for the whole community to benefit from having shared spaces to call their own. “Play is the key to well-being, building friendships and understanding the world around you,” Penny explains as she places some abandoned flowers on the cow sculpture – an act of ‘natural graffiti’, as she calls it. 8 | EAST3 2014
She believes that creating a communal space that residents can take ownership of is vital for that community’s quality of life. The charming Cow Garden on Eric Street is a case in point. Rather than opting for off-the-shelf playground equipment and a flat kick-about area, natural play equipment has been designed for children to adapt for themselves. The buried tree can be used for climbing, turning into a den or can even be modified with scaffolding materials and rope to use as a swing. There are mounds and slopes for tumbling and rolling, and growing beds for residents to try their hand at gardening. Nature and play go hand-in-hand according to Penny and a lot of PATH’s work reflects this. She’s an advocate for ‘natural surveillance’. The concept is creative yet remarkably simple make provisions for residents to keep their curtains open at night to deter
people: PENNY WILSON unsavoury activities outside. Stringing pretty little fairy lights in the Cow Garden’s plum tree, sticking ping-pong ball ‘eyes’ on street bollards, and other creative approaches can discourage anti-social behaviour in the evening as well as make children feel safe at play in the daytime. Penny hopes that the positive impact the garden has had on the estate can be recreated in neighbouring areas and that soon all estates can have a living, breathing shared space that brings people together through nature and creative play.
A close-knit community Where? Southern Grove Community Centre When? Monday and Wednesday, drop-in session from 10am onwards Who? Everyone welcome, all ages, all backgrounds
“Creativity isn’t just about art,” she muses, “it’s about playfulness and just being alive!”
This friendly circle of creative enthusiasts meets twice a week for socialising, sweet treats and, oh yes, a bit of knitting thrown in as well. The group’s knitters work at their own pace and follow patterns to suit their ability and style. One member, Surma Choudhury, says you don’t have to follow a pattern at all, just as long as your item ends up looking as it’s supposed to... “It’s about having fun,” she says as she knits herself a pair of new socks, “you can be a beginner like me and still end up making something to be proud of. I couldn’t even sew on a button when I started. Now I’ve made a jumper for my daughter, a bag for my niece... I won’t have to buy any Eid presents for people soon!” EAST3 2014 | 9
people: THE GEEZERS
Young at Heart Audrey Hoyemsvoll meets two inspirational Geezers The Geezers are a group of older men who meet every Tuesday afternoon at Appian Court, Parnell Road. I ﬁnd out more from founder member Ray Gipson and his fellow Geezer, Tony Basra. Why did you start the club? Ray: In 2006, the late Win Jones was investigating reasons why older men were not participating in 50+ clubs. She asked me to find out from local men what activities would improve attendances. As a result, I helped set up The Old Geezers Club, offering menfriendly activities, originally based at St Paul’s Old Ford.
The dictionary deﬁnes ‘geezer’ as an old eccentric man. Why that name? Ray: At first we called it The Old Geezers… but we dropped the ‘Old’ bit after realising that we’re now feeling younger, thanks to the club! The Geezers feels like a friendly name, a bit tonguein-cheek, which sums us up. What are your current projects? Tony: With help from community film director Andy Porter, we’ve set up the Our Bow website (www.ourbow.com) to share local news. Ray: We’re currently helping two housing associations to set up similar, user-led groups for older men.
We started with three friends, and grew from there – visiting football grounds, talking about local history, and playing short mat bowls. In 2008 with support from Age UK, Link Age and Gateway Housing, the club moved to Appian Court. Soon after, the ladies’ Bow Belles group was launched. And how did you get involved, Tony?
Top tips for keeping active?
Tony: I’ve been a member for about two years. For me, it’s about companionship, jokes and fun. We try new things – we recently made an award-winning film called ‘Now and Then’ with Bow Boys School, and in 2013 we launched our active energy tidal waterwheel project on a boat opposite the House of Commons.
Ray: You’ve got to get out and about every day.
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Tony: Be yourself, while being open to new experiences. Congratulations to Ray – Geezer, retired local councillor and former Age Concern trustee – on being awarded the British Empire Medal for community service in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list 2014.
people: PAULA HAUGHNEY
StoneZone Scuptor Paula Haughney welcomes Jayne Whiteside into her studio “I get very excited when I see stones; I love the different colours. The permanency is something you don’t get with wood.” I’m meeting Paula Haughney in her studio, nestled within the Bromley by Bow Centre. It’s crammed with interesting artefacts, from strange fingers and carved heads to translucent stone feathers. Some of her tools wouldn’t look out of place in a dentist’s surgery. Paula’s interest in stone carving was kick-started by a Bow evening class in 1987. Two years later she got her first commission for Homerton Hospital. Other commissions followed – at St Katherine’s Dock, Lea Valley Park, Spitalfields and the Bromley by Bow Centre – with large-scale animal thrones being a typical signature piece of hers.
Transporting the larger stones will be a logistical challenge. “A large sewer under the Greenway means I’m limited to 6 tonnes. A 10-tonne lorry is too heavy, so a local gym club are going to help drag the stones down the 1km track towards the View Tube”. ‘Times gone by’ have provided inspiration for Paula and she is currently researching cholera bugs and ‘the Great Stink of 1858’ as a potential piece for the Greenway. Whatever she decides to create, it’s sure to have an impact.
She’s currently working on a sculpture for the Greenway, overlooking the Olympic Park. “It’s going to be a mini retrospective of the things I’ve done but will also be site related.” Large oak leaves and big white rabbits made from Portland stone are currently being carved at the studio. “Portland rock is lovely to work with and can give great shadows. As a sedimentary rock it’s made up from creatures at a time when Britain was more like the Bahamas.” EAST3 2014 | 11
Darne Fine Salmon Jayne Whiteside and Liz Baume meet Lance Forman, the fish man of Fish Island There can’t be many businesses that have succeeded by standing still. But H Forman & Son are the last remaining smokehouse in the East End because of their refusal to compromise traditional skills. They’re probably the world’s oldest salmon smoker – the only thing that’s really changed is their premises.
The business: “We’re not against modernity but the skills of our staff are very traditional. We’ve got people, rather than machines.” The job of preparing salmon is the same as it ever was. “The salmon arrives within 48 hours of coming out of the water. You dry cure it, lightly smoke it and air dry it. The pin bones are taken out by tweezers and then it’s hand sliced.” In this case a lot of hands do make light work Forman’s employ a staff of 90.
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But it’s no longer just about the salmon: the business is diversifying. “We have a wholesale gourmet food business, Forman & Field: 50% of the non-fish products are produced by us. And we have a restaurant which is about the best British foods and English wines”. They are planning to open a deli in the near future. And – not a lot of people know this – they also provide Chop’d with 2,500 roasted and hand-stripped chickens a week. “We’ll make anything our customers want but it’s always done in the traditional artisanal way.” Unsurprisingly, in a location with a high density of artist studios, there is also a gallery at Forman’s. “Most of the art we show is by local artists but occasionally we’ll introduce a national artist to add a different flavour. As artisans, there is a common link between us and artists, both producing things with our hands.”
The history: “After a trip to Billingsgate, my ancestors realised salmon could be found in Scotland.” “My great grandfather Harry came from Odessa and settled, like other immigrants, in the East End. He had a
people: LANCE FORMAN
little cafe in the beginning and founded the smokehouse in 1905 because his son asked one day why didn’t they smoke salmon like other smokehouses in the area.” At first, Forman’s imported salmon from the Baltic, pickled in barrels of salt water. But then came a trip to Billingsgate Fish Market. “When they saw Scottish salmon they realised it would be easier and tastier to use the native fish.” With the advent of the Olympic Park, Forman’s had to relocate from Marshgate Lane; they leapt across the Lea to settle on Fish Island. Now they have a canal-side building, designed by architect Phil Hudson to resemble a pink darne of salmon.
The fish: “Smoked salmon is all about the salmon, not the smoke.” “Salmon is a gourmet food because it is the king of fish and people like to enjoy its taste all year round. If it was just about the smoke, kippers and haddock would also be gourmet!
“Thirty years ago people had a palate for smoked salmon. They knew if they preferred salty or fatty parts of the fish. Today, consumers don’t know that a slice from the belly tastes different from the upper part of the fish.” As you might expect, Lance’s favourite dish is wild smoked salmon, with a glass of sparkling English wine. And serving lemon with smoked salmon is a definite no no.
The man: “Whatever you do in life, provided you gain experience from it, it will be useful.” There’s more to Lance than fish. He started out as President of the Cambridge Union, qualified as a chartered accountant and worked as a Government Special Adviser, before joining the family business in 1994. Whatever his next move, Lance is sure to generate ripples of excitement in Fish Island for years to come.
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Tom Thumb’s Arch is a pedestrian tunnel under the mainline railway. It’s said that Sylvia Pankhurst’s suffragettes struck up rousing songs as they marched through on their way to Roman Road Market where they ran political stalls.
The inside track:
Ruth Wright uncovers the hidden heritage around Bow Road
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The Gurdwara Sikh Sangat was established in 1979. The building, recently restored following a major fire, was originally a Congregational Chapel, then a Synagogue. Local residents are regularly invited to join celebration events.
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Poplar Town Hall was built in the ‘modernist’ style in 1938. Outside, David Evans’ panels commemorate the trades involved in constructing the building and mosaics depict a schematic map of the Thames. As Bow Business Centre it now houses business enterprises and the Mayor’s Parlour Café.
A memorial clock commemorates Minnie Lansbury – suffragette, Alderman on Poplar Council and daughter-inlaw of George Lansbury, Labour Party leader. In 1921, all of the Poplar Councillors were jailed for refusing to levy full rates. Whilst in prison Minnie developed pneumonia and died shortly after her release, aged 32.
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The 1882 statue of Gladstone was donated by Theodore Bryant. The Bryant & May workers suspected that the statue had been funded through docking their paltry wages and spattered the plinth with blood. The statue’s hands are still regularly daubed with red paint.
places: BOW ROAD HERITAGE
Grove Hall Park is set in the gardens of the former Grove Hall Private Lunatic Asylum, established around 1820 for exservicemen. It opened as a public park in 1909 and later extended to include St Catherine’s Convent garden, creating a peaceful space which houses the Bryant & May war memorial.
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In 1915 Muriel and Doris Lester bought a disused chapel with money left by their brother Kingsley for educational and social purposes. The current kingsley Hall – designed by Voysey and opened in 1928 – has a rich history of social action and remains “a community settlement for social pioneers and visionaries”.
A memorial gateway – dedicated to George How, Dean of Stepney (1840-93) – forms an entrance to what was St Leonard’s Priory, founded in the 11th century and home to Benedictine nuns. The Prioress may have inspired the character in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. Only a wild ‘adventure space’ remains. EAST3 2014 | 15
Get Thee to a Nunnery Maris Ozols meets gallery director, Rosamond Murdoch years ago she moved to direct the Nunnery’s operations; it’s a wholly different set up, closely involved with supporting artists across the East End landscape. We start outside in the front yard. This narrow passage – running between Bow Church and Grove Hall Park – is impressive at night when the colourful tubes of light that hang on high act as beacons, directing visitors to the gallery. As its name suggests, the gallery occupies a space that once housed nuns. It’s actually part of a much larger organisation – Bow Arts Trust – that manages studio spaces, mostly in the East End but with some as far afield as Bermondsey. Rosamond points skywards and explains that 120 artists work in the rooms above us, all at affordable rents.
Every student of Shakespeare will be familiar with the line ‘Get Thee to a Nunnery’. And that’s exactly what I did when I wound up at the Nunnery Gallery to meet its director, Rosamond Murdoch. Rosamond has myriad talents. Previously, she managed the View Tube – a community venue cum classroom overlooking the Olympic Park. Three
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After setting the scene, she guides me inside to take a look around the current exhibition. ‘The East London Group of Artists: from Bow to Biennale’ features inter-war paintings by John Cooper, Walter Sickert, Albert Turpin, and Harold and Walter Steggles. Many visitors have recalled the East London portrayed in the paintings, and Rosamond is especially pleased that the exhibition got a mention on the BBC. Bow Arts Trust was founded by artist Marcel Baettig nearly twenty years ago. The gallery followed a few years later, aiming to provide a project space for the artists to experiment and exhibit. “There would be a big opening night
places: THE NUNNERY GALLERY
but then nobody came back to see the exhibitions,” Rosamond explains, so she was brought in to turn around the gallery’s fortunes. One step in that direction was setting up the Carmelite Café to offer visitors coffee, cakes and light snacks, in a cosy setting. “It opens six days a week, more than the Whitechapel Gallery,” says Rosamond proudly.
Bow Ties The Nunnery Gallery often draws upon local East End heritage. In summer 2013 the gallery hosted ‘Made in Bow’, an exhibition inspired by Bow’s 18th century porcelain works. And this year, the local emphasis has continued with the East London Group of Artists and paintings by Noel Gibson. Later in 2014, the gallery will showcase Nathan Eastwood, winner of the first ever East London Painting Prize. “‘Madness and the woman’ will be one of our themes next year,” explains Rosamond, including an exhibition of work by Mary Barnes, a patient of psychiatrist R D Laing at his groundbreaking Kingsley Hall residential treatment centre. With these local credentials, the Nunnery Gallery is firmly on the East End art map.
“Getting people to come into the gallery was a big challenge,” she says, recalling her first year or so here, but as the current exhibition shows, the task is now well in hand. The gallery has finally found its feet under Rosamond’s tutelage and it’s set to go from strength to strength. EAST3 2014 | 17
Give it a Shuffle Kate MacTiernan tells Ray Gipson about the Shuffle Festival, past, present and future What were the origins of the Shuffle Festival? Shuffle came about through focusing on what makes London more interesting than other cities: its diversity and culture, which is linked to the affordability of housing. We felt we should start with the people who are in Mile End. It just so happens there’s a ton of film makers and a ton of great artists doing really interesting projects here. Housing is really important but so are the cultural aspects.
So why a festival? St Clement’s is a derelict site that has layers of memories and history. So we thought we’d add another layer with a new vision. We took the best local film maker we could think of, Danny Boyle, on to the site on a cold January day and found this little old 1950s building in the grounds. It was an old theatre and social club; patients used to read and write poetry there, have performances, and at Christmas the local community would come in and see them perform.
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Danny Boyle walked into this musty old building and found a post-it sticker that had been there for years with just one word on it – ‘Hope’ – in amongst the scattered books. And so we decided to do a film festival.
What are you working on at the moment? Recovering from, and reflecting on, the second Shuffle Festival which took place in late July and early August. We widened the range of the festival and had a free community feast, a mile long hopscotch route around Mile End, as well as two films every night.
What’s your hope for the future? We’d love Shuffle to run the front building of St Clement’s permanently, with it being the heart of Mile End. We don’t want to be a pop-up festival; we want permanence. But we’ll need lots of community support. We want to link up with other groups. We also have some great graffiti on site: Paul Insect, Banksy’s friend, has been doing street art on the site for over a year. There’s a big flying Goofy, a snake charmer and a rainbow drinking beer. We’d love to offer art tours – there are bugs and spiders everywhere.
places: St CLEMENT’S
Home Help Ruth Wright reports on permanently affordable homes at St Clement’s The derelict St Clement’s Hospital site – a Bow Road landmark – is undergoing a transformation. Originally opened as the City of London Union Workhouse in 1849, it later became the Bow Infirmary and a psychiatric unit, before closing in 2005. Now, in the hands of the UK’s first urban Community Land Trust, it will be reshaped to create new housing; around a third of the homes are available through affordable rents (Peabody) or purchase at permanently affordable prices through the East London Community Land Trust (ELCLT). ELCLT is a not-for-profit community organisation – owned, run and governed by its members. Its Housing Director, Andy Schofield, is passionate about combining sustainability and business edge with social benefit: “This is about community housing for the community, owned by the community”. Unusually, the ELCT homes will be sold outright, not on a shared ownership basis. The purchase price – and any later re-sale – will be based on local household incomes. Andy explains: “This ensures that the homes remain permanently affordable so that people are not priced out of the neighbourhood”. The redevelopment plans respect the architectural heritage, whilst meeting modern day needs – affordable housing, mixed-use, private and public spaces, and energy efficient design. Find out more at www.eastlondonclt.co.uk EAST3 2014 | 19
INTO THE WOODS Charlotte Nicholls and Tony Basra explore London’s most urban woodland “We offer something that no other park in Tower Hamlets can offer,” explains Cemetery Park Manager, Ken Greenway. “Just five minutes from Mile End Station, it’s a place where you can lose the city…hear the wind…hear the birds.” He’s worked here for 12 years and still radiates enthusiasm.
“We want people to know we’re here” It’s a sunny morning and Ken is overseeing a group of volunteers as they wheel barrowfuls of weeds to compost. Every year over 3000 people undertake conservation work in this designated local nature reserve, managed for the past 10 years by the Friends of Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park. New volunteers, committee members and trustees are always welcome, but mostly Ken wants visitors. “This place needs to be used,” he says, “just come in”.
“It’s a celebration of life” Ken enthuses about the abundance of plants and wildlife, including over 28
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recorded butterfly species. We’re shown a woolly thistle in its most urban UK location. Other plants, such as Dog’s Mercury, signify ancient woodland – remnants of the countryside that existed long before the cemetery was established.
“This park is an outdoor classroom to learn about wildlife” Park events include guided walks, the monthly Bow Beasties kids’ nature club, bat nights, wild food foraging, science and environmental workshops. There are future plans to hire two new staff and refurbish the old lodge at the Southern Grove entrance to provide “a new, exciting central point” in 2015. Forest Schools is another project Ken is keen to promote. Originating from the Netherlands, this initiative teaches outdoor nature and wildlife skills, especially to children at local schools and nurseries. One Stepney nursery has converted its outdoor space and now runs a fulltime Forest School program. THCP is an amazing park here on our doorstep – check out their website at www.fothcp.org “and don’t forget to ‘like’ us on Facebook,” adds Ken with a smile.
places: TOWER HAMLETS CEMETERY PARk
Grave matters “It’s almost like an encyclopedia of the East End from the middle of the nineteenth century,” says Stella Morris, a trustee of the Friends of Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park, as she guides us amongst the monuments. The cemetery opened in 1841, one of the socalled ‘Magnificent Seven’ – a ring of private cemeteries created in response to London’s burial crisis. “Previously this area had been market gardens and meadows, with a ropemaking works nearby,” Stella explains. “Rather like Highgate and Brompton, the idea was for people to buy expensive family plots here. But that was not to be; about 80% of burials were in common graves and it became known as the working class cemetery”. Nevertheless there are plenty of local celebrities. In their newsletter – Stone Stories – the Friends share tales of Charlie Brown the publican, educationalist Clara Grant, Labour movement leaders Will Crookes and Harry Orbell, music hall artists, German sugar bakers, as well as many with maritime connections. We pause by an imposing monument – like a Gothic spire – to shipbuilder Joseph Westwood, whose firm also built the famous Lansdowne Bridge in Pakistan. “Seven monuments are currently listed, with others going forward for consideration,” Stella explains. The two cemetery chapels – one for Anglicans, one for dissenters – were Blitzed, but we’re surrounded by crosses, obelisks and urns, highlighting the Victorian preoccupation with death and the after-life.
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Park Life Jayne Whiteside discovers creative and captivating spaces in Mile End Park. Mile End Park is becoming one of the heavyweight parks in London. “It’s a bit like one of those Chinese puzzles,” explains head ranger Rayne Passmore, “we pack a lot into a relatively small space.” This linear park links Limehouse to Victoria Park and incorporates ecology, arts and adrenaline zones. I start my walk with Rayne and his fellow ranger Sean Thomas-Stewart on top of the Green Bridge. “Officially opened in 2000, it’s more than just a continuity to the park,” Rayne explains. “The rents from the businesses below the bridge give us some element of self governance.” We look to the adrenaline zone near Mile End Leisure Centre. A hive of activity includes skate boarding, a graffiti zone, go-karting and a BMX track. In 1988, when the fate of the stadium was being decided, it was nearly going to be a greyhound track. Wandering towards the arts park, I ask Sean about the orange and yellow sculptures. “Fried eggs or giant slugs, everyone has their own perspective. Initially donated by Leona Matusczak for 6 months, they’ve been with us ever since.” Sean guides me towards the iron sculptures at Meath Bridge and introduces me to Ledley King, Sylvia Pankhurst and a great big barge horse.
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places: MILE END PARK We disappear down a hidden entrance and along myriad paths. A new installation has popped up close to the football pitch. “We call this a guerrilla swing.” I look around imagining a monkey trapeze but see a beautiful rope swing. “Local residents put this up. We don’t usually encourage it, but it works well and adds a nice dimension.” While there are no monkeys, there are plenty of herons, woodpeckers, jays and a kingfisher to spot in the ecology park. “We also have our very own batman.” Ken Greenway from the Cemetery Park leads guided bat walks. “There’s no match for his senses and sonar equipment!” Mile End Park nearly had its very own bottled water. An aquifer provides water for the lakes and is accessed from Bow Common Lane. One initial idea was to license and sell it as boutique water, aptly named Eau de Bow!
Schools and community groups visit this outdoor classroom for pond dipping and bug hunting. The grass is kept long to encourage habitats for insects; sweeping it with nets is the best way to bug hunt, Rayne tells me. One school group that visited recently “really knew their insects, but were most interested in cage fighting spiders!” Rayne summarises what makes the ecology park special: “It’s a mini English garden, with grassland, woodland and wetland all in one small captivating space.”
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Welcome to the Gate of Heaven… Eve Rozmus finds out what makes St Paul’s Bow Common, voted the UK’s Best Modern Church, so iconic. “They say you should never judge a book by its cover and that’s certainly true for this church,” says recently retired Father Duncan Ross. A passionate advocate of St Paul’s Bow Common, he is right about the church’s external appearance. The building appears closed but inside it is “a building of light” which is Grade II listed. The original church was bombed in 1941 and – for nearly 20 years – services were held in the ruins, open to the elements. The new building was designed by two architects in their twenties, Robert Maguire and Keith Murray. They merged classic design, such as the Hagia Sofia in Istanbul, with modern ideas. They also listened to the congregation. One woman told 24 | EAST3 2014
them that “we do like our processions, I mean think of the bride coming into church”. This comment led to the church interior being designed with a white path around the inside. The Charles Lutyens’ mosaic murals in St Paul’s are the largest in Britain – 800 square feet – and took five years to complete. Fast forward 50 years and Lutyens (now in his 70s) has another artwork on display, a 15-foot wooden crucifixion ‘symbolising strength in a dying figure’.
places: ST PAUL’S BOW COMMON The first church on the site was built in 1858 and was founded by William Cotton, Governor of the Bank of England. Before that, Bow Common was common land, “full of rhubarb fields with sheep grazing”. Father Duncan’s description is hard to imagine now, as is Cotton’s vision in building a church when there were no houses nearby. Burdett Road was just being laid out and it would take 20-30 years for houses, and a congregation, to appear. A church is more than its history and architecture, and St Paul’s carries on the tradition of helping local people. Every Tuesday, for example, there is a giant jumble sale where people on moderate incomes can buy second hand clothes and goods. Father Duncan’s warmth and generosity is reflected in the way he describes the church he left last November. “This is the House of God, every one of God’s children is welcome. Me casa es su casa: my house is your house.” And this is certainly shown in practice. St Paul’s is used for Eid celebrations, child development conferences, the Jewish Passover, and mendhi parties. In 2009 Father Duncan welcomed 70 Vietnamese Catholic pilgrims to stay in the church. It is obvious that the church includes every community, creed and background, “not just Christians”. Like most Grade II listed buildings, St Paul’s has structural problems. A piece of the roof recently fell into the central part of the church, which is now cordoned off. £500,000 is needed for the roof and other repairs, including work on the organ built by Manders of Bethnal Green. St Paul’s is generally kept locked but if you’d like to visit, call 07599 946 154. EAST3 2014 | 25
Lock, Stocks and Banana Trees Tahmina Begum meets community gardening expert Caroline Walker at Growing Concerns For many, the longer days and fine weather have meant that they can finally get out there and get gardening. But what if you don’t have the first clue about what grows where or can’t tell a pansy from a peony? Or maybe, like me, you don’t have a garden at all? Help is at hand from Growing Concerns, a social enterprise that originally started as a residents’ gardening club and has since developed into a large garden centre. It’s tucked into the corner of Victoria Park, flanked one side by the canal towpath and lock gates. As well as selling shrubs and seedlings, pots and planters, they run workshops for plant enthusiasts.
“Once people get involved with the workshops, they come again and again,” says Caroline, “whether they need plants or not”. This is very much in keeping with Growing Concerns’ philosophy: as a social enterprise, their aim is to serve the needs of Bow residents through their gardening work. In fact, they still continue to maintain the outdoor spaces of three local housing associations and recently ran a community gardening event in Hackney. “People will come and they’ll only have a windowsill,” says Caroline. “But they end up growing herbs and salad leaves to have with their meals, which shows that anyone can get into gardening – you don’t need a huge garden.”
With the recent interest in ‘grow your own’ and the hype around celebrity “Anyone can get ‘micro-diets’, Caroline has into gardening seen a rise in people in you don’t need a their 20s and 30s getting into the gardening spirit. huge garden” “People like to know where their food is coming from and, yes, the celebrity endorsements of “We call them workshops, but they’re ‘grow your own’ do help!” really quite informal,” says Caroline Walker, Growing Concerns’ manager. “Some people come because they don’t have a garden of their own and need a place to grow things; some want to see what we do and maybe have a go; others just come for a cup of coffee and a friendly chat.”
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The modest site stocks an array of seasonal and perennial favourites, as well as some more unusual oneoffs such as banana trees. Located on Wick Lane, and with a side entrance off the Hertford Union Canal, Growing Concerns really is a hidden gem to be discovered.
places: GROWING CONCERNS
Say It With Flowers Over recent years, a series of giant flowers have sprouted up amongst the streets of Bow. These remarkable artworks – commissioned by Circle Housing as part of their public landscaping works – were designed by artist Helena Roden and crafted by metalworker Gideon Petersen. But do you know where they are? • Giant red anemones shoot out from Lefevre Park, a few steps east of Parnell Road. • A graceful iris stands amongst the white-washed houses of Donnybrook Quarter, off Old Ford Road. • Two huge daisies stand centre stage in St Stephen’s Green, surrounded by child-friendly dragonflies, crickets and mushrooms. Take a moment to enjoy them – they add a splash of colour, all year round, to the local streetscape.
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Put Through The Mill Eve Rozmus goes behind the scenes at the House Mill with trustee, Beverley Charters Could you tell me more about the history of the House Mill? This building was built for gin production. But mills on this site date as far back as the Domesday Book: the earlier mills produced flour.
How did the milling process work? The mill has five floors. The grains would have come by boat from Hertfordshire and Essex. After offloading, the sacks were tied on a rope and some poor chap would pull on a rope constantly. These would be hoisted right up to the top floor, through a lift shaft to end up in grain bins. Then the grains were ground – using power from the water wheels – put back into bags and taken to the distillery.
What restoration work is planned? We have plans to restore the House Mill’s original water wheels to work alongside external turbines to produce hydro-electricity. It’s a way to demonstrate 18th and 21st century technologies working together, with any surplus hydro-electricity sold to the National Grid.
Once the mill has been restored, will you be milling again? One wheel will show the milling 28 | EAST3 2014
process, but as the House Mill is an old building – Grade I listed – we certainly wouldn’t meet food hygiene standards. The grains will be used simply for demonstration and we’ll focus on telling the stories of the building.
Can the public visit the mill? Yes: it’s open every Sunday for public tours. Pre-booked tours are also available any time of the week, and the mill can be hired for all manner of things. We are licensed for weddings, for instance, and gin tasting.
places: THE House mill
Did you know? • The Abbey of St Mary’s, a Cistercian monastery, lay on this site in 1135; for a time, the abbey became the court of Henry III. • The House Mill was built by Daniel Bisson in 1776; look out for the stone plaque on the façade that bears his initials and family coat of arms.
• Outside the mill there are ‘tramways’ of large granite slabs – inlaid amongst the cobbles – to ensure a smooth run for the grain carts as they wheeled from barge to mill.
How would you like the mill to be used in the future? I’d like it to be a part of the community. At the moment we’re sitting on an island, a little isolated. But there are new buildings to the back and side of us; a new community is coming, alongside the people who already live near us. So we’d like to be used by the community – maybe for weddings, parties or displaying art. If people have ideas on how to use it, we’d love to hear from them. To get in touch, visit www.housemill.org.uk
• The House Mill is believed to be the largest tidal water mill in the world. It stands on a man-made island on 10 feet stilts. • The mill was home to a successful gin distilling business. By 1735, with the prohibition of brandy from France, gin had taken the place of beer as the staple drink of the thirsty working classes.
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places: STRAND EAST
STRANDED Charlotte Nicholls glimpses a vision of Bow 2022 Originally intended as a temporary structure, the 40-metre timber Strand East sculpture – towering over the busy A118, just beyond Bow flyover – is now a permanent landmark. It stands in Dane’s Yard at the edge of a 26-acre site owned by the Inter IKEA Group, who have big plans to redevelop the whole area by 2022. Currently they’re demolishing and cleaning up the huge brownfield site and not saying much about what’s to come. The website gives a few clues about the new Strand East development. Visiting the company’s offices, we saw a small-scale model and artist’s impressions of their ambitious plans to incorporate residential, commercial and creative spaces between the existing River Lea waterways. It all looks potentially exciting for East London. This is very much the early stages of a long-term project, but be sure to watch this (very large) space…
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places: PDSA CLINIC
Vital Vets Alison Case tells Charlotte Nicholls how the PDSA in Bow is “helping pets live happy, healthy lives” In 1917 Maria Dickens founded the first People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals clinic in a Whitechapel cellar. The sign read ‘Bring your sick animals – do not let them suffer – all animals treated – all treatment free.’ On the first day only a cat, two dogs and a donkey were brought in, but within a week a retired policeman had to manage the queues. Today, as the closest branch to the original site, Bow “really is the heart of the PDSA hospitals,” says Alison Case. As the senior vet, she oversees around 40 staff in the Bow and Ilford clinics. The Bow branch serves a wide catchment area – E1 to E20, from Whitechapel to Westfield. In addition, homeless people’s pets are treated here through the Hope Project. The charity treats over 250,000 animals annually across the UK; treatment is free for eligible owners in need. “We get to make a difference every day. It gives us great job satisfaction,” says Alison.
Another campaign encourages people to “consider what pet is right for you” before buying it. Alison is excited that the Bow hospital is a Petwise Scheme pilot site; a specialist nurse advises pet owners on the ‘Five Welfare Needs’ (environment, diet, companionship, healthcare, behaviour). They’re already seeing results: “With the appropriate diet and exercise, an older dog is really active again and back to its puppyish ways.” The hospital has an open day every summer. And volunteers are always needed to fundraise and work in their Leyton and Ilford charity shops. See www.pdsa.org.uk for more information.
But the PDSA is more than just a place for the medical treatment of pets. This year it launched the PDSA Order of Merit Award, presented to ten police horses and one police dog (representing all police dogs) for their work in the 2011 London riots. EAST3 2014 | 31
E OV R OA
Maris Ozols gets a taste of Mile End
The inside track:
RO D N
ET TRE CS ERI
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OA D ETT R
Baghdad Café Not long open, the Baghdad Café provides a large selection of traditional Iraqi food, such as lamb and aubergine stew, kebabs and tasty shorba soups, Lebanese bread and wraps containing different fillings are also available, all at very reasonable prices. 75 Burdett Road, E3 4TN
OHO Parduotove Parduotove – which means ‘shop’ in Lithuanian – has a wide variety of Lithuanian meat and dairy products, as well as foods from neighbours such as Latvia. Look out for the well-stocked meat counter, bottles of Lithuanian artisan beer, and an entire wall filled with jars of what appeared to be pickled cabbage! 61 Burdett Road, E3 4TN
The Coffee Room Think all the romantic thoughts you ever had about France. This former barbershop, with its bare floorboards and coffee aromas, will surely deliver a close match. It’s filled with French delicacies from simple croissants to délicieux cakes, all sourced locally. A plethora of coffee varieties is on offer and a cosy patio provides additional seating, presided over by a large garden gnome. 5a Grove Road, E3 5AX
places: AROUND MILE END
Greedy Cow Camel and kangaroo rub shoulders with wild boar; the Greedy Cow has a reputation for the most exotic offerings when it comes to burgers and steaks. The surroundings are a little austere with bare brick walls and tiled floor but the food is definitely not. All in all, resounding value for money. 2 Grove Road, E3 5AX
Wentworth Arms One of only two pubs in the immediate area, the Wentworth Arms is well-looked after, both inside and out. Though not extending to any real ales on handpump, it offers Charles Wells Bombardier on draught, as well as regular lagers and spirits. Itâ€™s a highly regarded pub, renowned for its friendliness. 127 Eric Street, E3 4SR
Lazdan As hidden corners of Bow and Mile End continue to undergo gentrification, so builders and DIY fans will be calling out for secondhand London stock bricks. Lazdan have no shortage of these, all dutifully cleaned and stacked. Their stocks extend to genuine (though pricey) York stone paving. A cage of white doves overlooks the yard. 218 Bow Common Lane, E3 4HH
2nd Time Around This bric-a-brac shop is stacked from floor to ceiling, mainly with used furniture although virtually anything seems to pass muster. I spotted an extremely old sit-upand-beg bicycle over the entrance door, and something resembling a throne perched on high. Prices are bargain basement. 218 Bow Common Lane, E3 4HH
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A HELPING HAND Tahmina Begum discovers a rounded approach to health at the Bromley by Bow Centre It’s all too easy in this health-obsessed society to judge others as ‘fat’, ‘unhealthy’ or ‘lazy’. But more often than not there are unresolved issues and barriers that stop them getting involved in physical activities. This is where people like Eartha Eloi come to the rescue. Eartha heads up a group of Health Trainers based at the Bromley by Bow Centre. They advise people who are finding it difficult to motivate themselves back into a healthy lifestyle, whether it’s due to lack of confidence, a mental health issue, housing problems or financial issues. “We take a very holistic approach,” says Eartha. “We look at each person as an individual with individual needs and goals and support them accordingly.”
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That holistic approach can be seen in the way that Health Trainers don’t just offer healthy eating classes or programmes to help quit smoking. They can also provide support when it comes to welfare benefits or applying for housing. The ultimate aim is to enrol people onto a regular activity run by the Health Trainers. These include weekly walking groups, cycling sessions, martial arts classes and zumba sessions. Any adult who lives, works or studies in Tower Hamlets can take part, with many sessions being free or charged at a token fee of 50p or £1. “But it’s not compulsory for our clients to join these activities,” explains Eartha. “If we’ve helped someone to regain their confidence, we feel we’ve done our job.”
life: HEALTHY LIVING Eartha is proud that the support her team offers often transforms peoples’ lives; not only do people speak of losing weight or finding a hidden talent, some find the confidence to fulfil other ambitions such as becoming a parent governor in their child’s school or setting up healthy activities for their local community. “In fact,” says Eartha, “we also run schemes where people who have
FOOD FOR THOUGHT Georgine Anthony shares a taste of the local Food Bank Food is central to the Bromley by Bow Centre: there’s the Pie in the Sky café; there’s an allotment full of tomatoes, potatoes and onions; and there’s the Food Bank. Unusual in being independent, the Food Bank is run jointly with Bow Church. “We welcome everyone, whether they’re in short or long term difficulty,” explains management committee member, Georgine Anthony. “They can pick up to 12 items at a time.”
benefited from our support get training so that they can go out and run programmes of their own.” It’s holistic healthcare at its best.
team will take an interest in them and their welfare.” The Food Bank runs at Bow Church on Mondays, 10am – 2pm. Volunteers are welcome, as are donations of food – nonperishable items, such as tea, coffee, tinned fruit and pulses, packet and tinned soup – which can be dropped off at the Centre. As Georgine concludes, “Food is essential to a family, it’s the core of a community. At the Food Bank we don’t judge, but we do offer support and compassion where needed. It’s very close to my heart.”
The Food Bank offers a short-term solution; the Bromley by Bow Centre offers longer-term solutions. “Food Bank visitors are also advised to see us at the Centre – we can make sure they’re receiving all the benefits they’re entitled to, and our
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“The first thing people say about Mile End Climbing Wall is that it’s friendly,” explains CEO, Andrew Reid. “We’re one of the top London climbing walls and we’re staying that way.” A climber since he was twelve, Andrew quickly realised he had “an aptitude for it,” describing his attitude as “How hard can it be? Let’s go and find out.” Andrew first came to Mile End in 1986, when it was a tiny canal-side canoeing centre, soon set to close when Shadwell Basin opened. He suggested an indoor climbing wall to Tower Hamlets Council. Naysayers warned “Nobody will use it; there aren’t enough climbers,” but Andrew wasn’t daunted. He started building, adding on rooms, bit by bit. Within a year, they had more visitors every week than originally expected in 12 months. Nowadays around 300 people visit every day. 36 | EAST3 2014
“Climbing walls have had a huge influence on the sport,” says Andrew, changing it from being “very male dominated”, with the perception “you had to go somewhere, like the Peak district” to something that people increasingly view as a fun and challenging alternative to the gym. Currently, about 30% of wall visitors never climb outdoors and 40% of clients are women. They also work closely with local schools, running kids’ courses. Andrew is upfront that it “is a risk sport and those risks are serious injury or death,” but believes almost anyone can be taught to climb. Mile End has beginners in their sixties. “It’s one of those sports you do at your own level. We’d prefer to have somebody weak as a novice, because we can teach technique.” His enthusiasm is infectious and I leave determined to do a beginners’ course. After all, as he says: “Give it a go, you’ll be surprised.”
Dance, Then, Wherever You May Be… Ruth Wright meets Laura Sweeney of Chisenhale Dance Space Laura Sweeney’s enthusiasm and dedication shine through as she describes the work of Chisenhale Dance Space, established 30 years ago by British experimental ‘New Dance’ pioneers, the X6 Collective. Laura, the Dance Space lead producer, has worked on large-scale international performances as well as with less well-funded artists. “At Chisenhale we support artists who are trying to push the boundaries, and we partly do that by offering affordable dance spaces. We also run children’s creative dance classes, arts development and community engagement programmes”. Laura believes that more people now appreciate the importance of dance but that it’s still crucial to lobby at a national level to ensure the widest possible access. Dance Space does not have an artistic director. Instead, Laura explains, administrative staff and facilitators
life: GETTING ACTIVE
“set up structures that artists can feed into” – for example, members can hire space and equipment for their classes and contribute to projects. When funding permits, Dance Space commissions the creation of new work: “We give an artist money, producer support, marketing advice and studio space – so they get a package which means they can take a risk within their practice in a safe space”. Dance Space is home to over 100 members but also works off-site, including running two festivals a year and going into schools with the Dance Boosters project. The current Dance Space fundraiser to renovate the studios and replace equipment – ‘30k for 30 years’ – runs until October 2014, but support is always welcome. Visit www. chisenhaledancespace.co.uk for details. EAST3 2014 | 37
The Eagle Has Landed Maris Ozols finds out what’s brewing on Fish Island New breweries have sprung up in the East End like mushrooms after the rain. However, a long dead brewery rising from the ashes is a rare phenomenon. I met up with Jack Hibberd, General Manager of the re-born Truman’s, at their headquarters on Fish Island. He soon launches into a potted history of the newly revived brewery. Shortly before the original company’s demise in 1989, Jack explains, Truman’s had been subject to a couple of takeovers and nobody was sure who owned the rights to the name. It gradually emerged that Scottish & Newcastle were the legal owners of the brand. James Morgan, the founder of the new Truman’s company, was able to persuade them to bequeath the rights. Next, the original yeasts were traced to the National Collection of Yeast Cultures in Norwich. “The yeasts are
held in very low temperatures and can survive anything,” Jack tells me. After a period brewing out of house, ‘The Eyrie’ – as the new brewery is known – was set up on Stour Road in 2013. Truman’s has rapidly expanded production, supplying a large number of East End pubs, including the onetime hangout of the Kray Twins, the Carpenter’s Arms on Cheshire Street. A brewery tap has also popped up at The Cygnet, on the banks of the Lee Navigation nearby. The brewery, besides brewing for profit, also supports good works that enhance life in the East End. Free Truman’s beer, for example, has been a staple at public meetings of the East End Preservation Society. Jack is clearly a busy soul so I let him dash back to the serious business of quenching the thirsts of parched East Enders.
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life: THE life:WORLD SKILLSOF FOR WORK LIFE
Full Circle Eve Rozmus discovers more than housing at Circle Housing Old Ford Walk around Bow and you can’t miss Circle Housing Old Ford; with a stock of 4,500 flats and houses, mostly in E3, their signs are everywhere. What might be less obvious is the extensive work they do in the community. “We’re trying to offer an holistic approach,” explains Rosie Hewson, Circle’s training and employment manager. I meet Rosie at Eastside Youth and Community Centre on Parnell Road, one of seven local centres funded by Circle. “In the evening this is a youth centre. But during the day we offer courses – not only for Old Ford tenants but also local residents more generally.” They’re well set up to offer drop-in IT sessions, with a bank of 18 computers. “We help people save money – showing them how to use energy saving websites, and shop online”. “Virtually every job now needs IT skills, so we want our users to develop those IT skills that will help them into employment. Or if they’re retired, they can use computers to communicate with relatives. Our support is geared to all ages and abilities.”
“We got 60 people into work last year” Rosie also runs Old Ford’s construction training centre, working with young people who are at danger of being excluded from school. Over a year, youngsters “learn a range of skills, and they might go onto an apprenticeship with one of our contractors.” Much of the training is geared towards day-to-day skills. Circle works with Bow Haven mental health users and young people with special educational needs. “At Eastside we run ESOL courses for men, and functional skills training in English and maths.” Also on offer are plumbing courses, DIY for women, and an online course in food hygiene. In these austere times, financial awareness is a priority; users can access a debt advice service, affordable warmth project, and money mentor scheme run with Toynbee Hall. All in all, it makes for a busy programme. But it produces results. “We got 60 people into work last year,” says Rosie, an achievement of which she and her team can feel justifiably proud. EAST3 2014 | 39
The inside track: Bow on a Budget Charlotte Nicholls and Jayne Whiteside suss out some budget-friendly activities in the neighbourhood Under Fives Fun Little Bunnies Three rooms of toys and craft activities, including a safe baby area. There’s tea and coffee for parents, drink and biscuits for kids. 50p per child. Mondays 10-11:30am. ELT Baptist Church, Burdett Road E3 4TU The Toyhouse Centre Local parents can drop-in on Thursdays (9.30-11.30am) with their under-5s. There’s an active session based around stories and rhymes on Fridays (10-11.30am), an afterschool games club for under 8s, and you can even learn the art of baby massage. 92 St Paul’s Way, E3 4AL
Victoria Park Stay and Play A lovely fresh-air kind of place, in the heart of the park. Kids can play in the pirate ship and wood cabin, wander through the willow walk, and use dumper trucks to shift sand in the sandpit. Free. Weekdays 1.30-3.30pm. Victoria Park east, near the tennis courts
Older kids’ Adventures Roman Road Adventure Playground A friendly and welcoming open-access adventure playground for 6-15 year olds. Clamber on the wooden structures, hang about in the swings, or nip inside for some arty activities, all under the watchful eye of the expert playworkers. Open after school, and 12-5pm during the holidays. 48 Hewlett Road, E3 5NA Urban Adventure Base Nestling in Mile End Park, the Base offers BMX biking, skateboarding, canoeing, climbing, art and media projects, cookery, Wii games, fitness gym and other fun stuff. And you can progress to the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award too. Details at amp. uk.net/get-active/urban-adventure-base Located in Mile End Park, near the BMX track off Burdett Road
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life: WATCHING THE PENNIES
A Dash of Culture Bow Idea Store Discuss novels at the monthly book group, immerse yourself in a drama at the play-reading group, get advice from a local architect, or chat over coffee at Golden Time. There’s always something going on here, and most of it’s free. www.ideastore.co.uk 1 Gladstone Place, Roman Road, E3 5ES Ragged School Museum You’ll discover a recreated Victorian classroom and kitchen, and a local history display, in this former Dr Barnardo’s ragged school. Children can dress up in caps and bonnets, and you can relive your childhood with toys from the shop. Free holiday activities for kids help them learn about old-time schooling in the East End. www.raggedschoolmuseum.org.uk 46-50 Copperfield Road, E3 4RR
Art and Crafts 504 Gallery Room Presenting a curious and ever-changing mix of ‘art, fashion, tea’, this café hosts free exhibitions. www.504galleryroom.co.uk 504 Roman Road, E3 5LU
Victoria Park Take your pick from early morning bird walks, bandstand music, over 50s tea dances, kids’ skating sessions, and plenty more besides. Try out the self-guided tree walks – you can pick up leaflets at the Hub – or head out on a historical reminiscences tour by downloading the Memoryscape walk onto your MP3 player. www.victoriaparkfriendsgroup.co.uk
Chisenhale Gallery This former factory space hosts exhibitions, talks and screenings of contemporary visual art as well as occasional free family art classes. www.chisenhale.org.uk 64 Chisenhale Road, E3 5QZ Matt’s Gallery Expect to find risk-taking projects in this contemporary art space facing Mile End Park. Open late on First Thursdays. www.mattsgallery.org 42-44 Copperfield Road, E3 4RR
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coffee and soul Ruth Wright and Tony Basra seek out cafes with a mission, focused on the community Carmelite Café
Community spirit: Part of Bow Arts Trust, delivering regeneration through the arts. Café vibe: A peaceful enclave in a former nunnery. Chat with Michael as he prepares your tip top espresso, with a lemon tart or chocolate brownie on the side. For lunch, you might find fish pie, macaroni cheese or panini. If it’s sunny sit out in the alleyway. And nip to the adjacent art gallery whilst you’re there. Bow Arts, 183 Bow Road, E3 2SJ
bacon focaccia, eggs benedict, a Big Breakfast or one of their homemade pies, whilst enjoying the view over to the Olympic Park. 7 Roach Road, E3 2PA
Paper & Cup Community spirit: A Spitalfields Crypt Trust project, supporting those who are recovering from addiction.
Green Light Coffeehouse Community spirit: Part of the Green Light Youth Centre, helping youngsters with education, employment and self-development.
Counter Cafe at Stour Space Community spirit: A socially minded organisation offering exhibition, performance and studio space for creative enterprises. Café vibe: Sit in the old cinema seats, slump into a sofa or grab a seat on the canalside terrace. Tuck into
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a few library books. Soups and salads, beigels and baguettes, often with a Malaysian influence. Bow Idea Store, 1 Gladstone Place, E3 5ES
Café vibe: With a world-away Dickensian tearoom ambience, it’s a café by day and youth club by night. Serving breakfast, lunch, sandwiches, and snacks. Try their jerk chicken, a regular favourite. 223 Bow Road, E3 2SJ
Lemon Tree Community spirit: Run by a social enterprise, Azi’s Kitchen, and based in the Idea Store. Café vibe: Value-for-money drinks and snacks, whilst you catch up with today’s newspapers or browse through
Café vibe: A funky space with mix-n-match furniture and second-hand books. You’ll get a decent flat white here, made by their friendly baristas. For lunch, you might find lemon chicken with harissa roasted vegetables, as well as a selection of tasty salads. St Paul’s Way Centre, 83 St Paul’s Way, E3 4AJ
life: COMMUNITY CAFES Park Café
St Paul’s Church Café
Community spirit: Housed in the Hub, home to the Victoria Park rangers, and handy for the water-play and wheel park areas too.
Community spirit: A community hub cum church, created as ‘A New Heart for Bow’ amidst impressive architecture.
Café vibe: An airy space with far-reaching park views and plenty of outside terrace space for fine days. Croissants and coffee, breakfasts, kid’s meals and daytime snacks are supplemented by Indian specialities inspired by television chef Cyrus Todiwala; you might find Goan tiger prawn curry, spiced fava beans and masala chai. The Hub, Victoria Park East
Café vibe: Escape the hubbub of Roman Road market and pause for a break at this friendly café. Try a slice of Chris’s homemade cakes – lemon drizzle, carrot, or apple perhaps – and browse through second-hand books or the interactive ‘history box’ whilst you’re there. St Stephen’s Road, E3 5JL
Three Bees Cafe
Zealand Road Coffee Shop Sit outside to watch the world go by, as you sip your latte and savour a slice of Victoria sponge. A friendly, intimate, neighbourhood café. 391 Roman Road, E3 5QS
Community spirit: Kingsley Hall was set up as “a community settlement for social pioneers and visionaries” by the Lester sisters.
Pie in the Sky Community spirit: Run by the food waste charity FoodCycle, where volunteers use surplus supermarket food to create nutritious meals. Café vibe: Light and bright, this café nestles at the heart of the Bromley by Bow Centre. Menus change to utilise the food that has been donated – for example, you might find black bean soup, caramelised onion frittata, or courgette, sweet potato and red lentil curry. Bromley by Bow Centre, St Leonard’s Street, E3 3BT
Café vibe: This veggie café pops up on Tuesdays, 4-7pm. Check their latest menu on Facebook – flavoursome soups such as pea and mint or butternut squash, mains such as cheese and spinach quiche or mushroom and haloumi burger, followed by apple cake or banoffee pie. With pocketfriendly prices, you can eat well for under a fiver. Kingsley Hall, Powis Road, E3 3HJ And two other favourites in brief:
Bean About Town Stop at this pop-up cart on your way to the tube. Handpulled two-expresso-shot coffees, whatever the weather, plus pastries and biscotti. Outside Bow Road tube station
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wet your whistle
The Palm Tree Once set amongst Victorian terraced streets, the Palm Tree now stands as an oasis beside Mile End ecology park. Val and Alf Bennett – 38 years as landlords – “chose the Palm Tree because it offered us a home with a proper front door. That’s important when you have a young family.” With its deep red velvet curtains, flock wallpaper and mellow jazz in the background, the Palm Tree offers an intimate place for a drink. On Friday and Saturday nights the place is buzzing with “old style crooners”. The evening is hosted by engaging comperes and supported by a talented band. There’s also open mic. “It’s not karaoke, we have great singers here, a lot of professionals and some who have not yet been discovered. Maybe we should invite Simon Cowell over because there’s lots of talent around.” It already has celebrity status as a video shoot hotspot for David Grey, JLS, Olly Muirs and Paolo Nutini. Mile End Park, off Haverfield Road, E3 5BH 44 | EAST3 2014
life: PUBS AND BARS Bow Bells You can’t miss this bright orange Victorian boozer. It’s a down-to-earth, friendly kind of place, run by Aaron and the team – with a pool table, juke box, fish finger sarnies and other bar snacks. Look out for the new pearly queens mural on the side wall. And beware the ‘phantom flusher’ ghost in the ladies. 116 Bow Road, E3 3AA
And three shorts, for good measure… Little Driver: Join the locals at the traditional Victorian bar counter, or keep things cosy by heading out to the back garden to sit and chat in one of the drinking shelters. 125 Bow Road, E3 2AN
Eleanor Arms There’s a warm welcome and pint of Shepherd Neame’s real ale awaiting you at this awardwinning community pub. On Friday and Saturday evenings genial host Frankie livens up the proceedings with his ‘Minestrone of Sound’, chosen from his extensive record collection. There’s a monthly quiz, Sunday night jazz jams, and banter with the regulars at the bar. 460 Old Ford Road, E3 5JP
East London Liquor Company Based in a former glue factory, this new distillery is causing quite a stir. All manner of cocktails are available, based on their artisanal gins, vodka, rum and whisky. Their London Gin – infused with coriander or cardamom – is distilled onsite in two giant copper stills. Cured meats and cheeses are on hand for the peckish. Bow Wharf, 221 Grove Road, E3 5SN
Lord Tredegar Recently re-modelled into a gastro-pub, the Lord T now attracts a following from local young professionals. Beyond the bar area – with open fireplaces and a cosy clubroom – there’s a dining area, open-plan kitchen and a large patio garden. Burgers, fish-n-chips, and other pub classics are done well, and there are fancier options such as monkfish. Sunday roasts are especially popular. 50 Lichfield Road, E3 5AL
Morgan Arms: A pub for foodies: the changing menu might include chargrilled seabass, Keralan vegetable curry, or a special steakn-chips deal on ‘Onglet Mondays’. 43 Morgan Street, E3 5AA
Widow’s Son: A no-frills, no nonsense kind of place, with a colourful history; each year a fresh hot cross bun is added to the net over the bar in memory of the widow’s missing sailor son. 75 Devons Road, E3 3PJ
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Capturing the Inside Stories of Bow In summer 2014, a group of Bow residents came together to try their hand at community journalism. Some of us were first-time reporters, others more experienced. What united us was our fascination with Bow. Together, we ventured out each week, intent on finding out more about our neighbourhood. We met park rangers and playworkers, interviewed sculptors and curators, explored behind the scenes with heritage experts, and chatted with stallholders and shopkeepers. Each had their story to tell, a reflection of life in Bow. This Insidersâ€™ Guide brings together a selection of our discoveries. Weâ€™d like to thank all of those who gave up their time to be interviewed. Thanks also to the Bow Idea Store team, Paul Lindt at Academy Design, and Action for Bow for their funding and support. Graham Barker and Liz Baume Project coordinators
MEET OUR ROVING REPORTERS Top row: Ruth Wright, Charlotte Nicholls, Audrey Hoyemsvoll Middle row: Maris Ozols, Tahmina Begum, Jayne Whiteside Bottom row: Tony Basra, Eve Rosmus, Ray Gipson
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our project photographers
From the top: Natalie Clarke, Matthew Shelley and Haleema Sherkhan.
Photo credits Natalie Clarke (pages 2-3, 4-5, 8-9, 13, 18-19, 20-21, 22, 2829, 30-31, 37, 38, back cover), Matthew Shelley (front cover, pages 2-3, 4-5, 10, 11, 22-23, 27, 32-33, 34, 39) and Haleema Sherkhan (pages 2-3, 4-5, 9, 14-15, 16-17, 21, 24-25, 26-27, 36, 44). Thanks also to Formanâ€™s (page 12 portrait), Kate McTiernan (page 19 festival photos), Mike Askew, Roy Chandler, Aiying Law and Val Nobbs (page 22 park photos), Hameeda Begum (page 34 hands) and Trumanâ€™s (page 38 beer pump). Other photos by Liz Baume and Graham Barker.
EAST3 2014 | 47
During an eight-week community journalism project, we worked with a group of local residents to create The Insiders’ Guide to Bow. Our repor...
Published on Sep 12, 2014
During an eight-week community journalism project, we worked with a group of local residents to create The Insiders’ Guide to Bow. Our repor...