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Mile End and Mile End Park

Mile End and the green project, Mile End Park

Because I have never lived, or spent a great deal of time, in Mile End I am unable to give personal details of what life was and is like in the borough. I have given a brief history below, and will include any personal experiences I do happen to have but these will be limited. I would gladly consider publishing here original articles or memories from any of the visitors to these pages. Please contact me if you would like to take me up on this. Old and original photos are especially welcome.

An extremely brief history of Mile End

Mile End is part of the Borough of Tower Hamlets in East London. It was one of the earliest suburbs of the City. Many people believe that the name originated from the plagues of the thirteenth century. Apparently the bodies of plague victims had to be buried a mile away from the City of London. This is entirely unfounded. Plague victims remains have been found near and inside the city. It was written as La Mile Ende 1288 and the name came from the fact that it was a mile away from the city gate at Aldgate. It could have also taken its name from a milestone marking the point one mile east of the city boundary. The stone's position was nearer Stepney Green than Mile End but the village that evolved about half a mile from it could have taken the name of the stone.
In 1691 it was referred to as Mile End Old Town because a new settlement near Spitalfields had for some reason decided to call itself Mile End New Town. The parish of Mile End Old Town became part of the metropolitan London in 1855.

The Peasants Revolt

The first Doodlebug

In 1381, an uprising against the tax collectors of Brentwood quickly spread. First to the surrounding villages, then throughout the Southeast of England but it was the rebels of Essex led by a priest named Jack Straw, and the men of Kent led by Wat Tyler who marched on London. On the 12th. June, the Essex rebels, 60,000 men, camped at Mile End and on the following day the men of Kent arrived at Blackheath. On the 14th. June, the young king Richard II rode to Mile End where he met the rebels and signed their charter. Unfortunately, their subsequent behaviour caused the king to have the leaders and many rebels executed.

Mile End, along with the rest of London’s East End, suffered severe damage and casualties from German bombers during World War Two during the blitz. The first ever rocket propelled bomb, the V-1 flying bomb (or Doodlebug), hit London. On 13 June 1944, exploding in Mile End. It struck close to the railway bridge in Grove Road. There is a blue plaque on the wall of the bridge commemorating the fact.

The 21st Century Green Project - Mile End Park

Another bridge in Mile End is named the "Green Bridge" even though it's yellow. It was designed by CZWG Architects in 2000 and allows Mile End Park to continue across the heavy traffic in Mile End Road without interruption, hence the name. It contains garden and water features and some shops and restaurant space built in below. Mile End Park is an eco-park that stretches out from the bank of the Regents Canal. The park is an ongoing eco project with solar panels powering certain aspects of it. A pleasant green space in the centre of the city.

The Green Bridge

Planned in the nineties and completed in the early years of the new millennium, this piece of countryside in London's East end consists of many separate sections: The Play Arena, Ecology Park, Arts park, Terrace Garden, Adventure Park, Sports Park and Children's Park. It also contains a stretch of the Regents Canal and one of the most unusual road bridges in the country, the Green Bridge. This bridge, completed in 2000, allows Mile End Park to cross over the road and makes an interesting contrast with the more usual approach of building bridges for cars.

The waterside canopy

There was uproar concerning the canopy on the other side of the canal. The developers wanted to pull it down to make way for blocks of luxury flats. There was a protest and a petition in 2006 but it did no good and the canopy was demolished.What was so special about this canopy? There were only two of these overhanging canal side warehouses left in Britain at the time but what does history mean when compared to the revenue of 800 flats!Hundreds of residents objected, claiming the development will ruin views and block the natural light into their own properties and onto the canal's ecosystems.One of the strongest objections came from the Inland Waterways Association. In its submission to the council, it says: "These remnants from the heyday of the canal system in London allowed perishable cargoes to be loaded and unloaded in all weathers". I returned in February 2010 and the canopy was gone and the building work was in progress. I went back in March 2018 and the buildings were towering above the canal where the old canopy had been. Mile End Park album here >>

The Palm Tree

The Dog Show

This old fashioned pub is situated close to the canal path in the Mile End Park. A very popular pub with the local population and canal walkers, especially in the summer months.
Early in 2018 it closed it’s doors and was up for sale on the Rightmove website for 4.8 million pounds! Whether or not it remains a pub after the sale is not known yet. I can only hope it is not sold to a property developer to turn another piece of East End history into more canal side apartments for the wealthy! Update: The agent has taken the ad down.

The annual dog show was in progress when I visited the park back in 2006 and I believe it still goes on today. It seemed like a fun thing with different classes of breed and age. It's not too serious but a considerable number of people attended. There was quite a good turnout of dogs and owners too.
Mine was only a passing visit and I didn’t explore the whole park. I came back in 2018 but mainly to see what had taken the place of the canopy. Maybe I’ll get back there later in the year.

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