The 21st. Century green project. 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 runs side by side along a stretch of the Regents Canal and one of the most unusual road bridges in the country (the Green Bridge).It’s a very large park with lots to explore. Wooded areas surround wide open grassy spaces and there is even a custom made dog exercise area.On one part of the Regents Canal that is connected to the park you will come across three steel sculptures depicting a Tow-path Horse, Emily Pankhurst and Ledley King, a local boy who went on to play soccer for Tottenham and England.I can find no information on the sculptor apart from the fact they were supplied by an organization called Sustrans.The dog show was in progress when I visited the park back in 2006, it's an annual event. It seemed like a fun thing with different classes of breed and age. It's not too serious but a considerable number of people attend. Quite a good turnout of dogs and owners. Unfortunately it was cancelled this year (2020) due to the Covid-19 pandemic.More photos here >>
The Green Bridge
A footbridge crosses Mile End Road. It's a very different type of bridge. 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 below. When you are up in the park it's hard to tell that you are actually crossing a very busy thoroughfare below. Boris Johnson had the same idea for a garden bridge crossing the Thames when he was London Mayor. Needless to say, it never materialised!
A Extremely Brief
Mile End is part of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets in East London. It was one of the earliest suburbs of the City. Many people have the false belief 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 in documents as La Mile Ende in 1288 and the name actually comes from the fact that it was a mile away from the City gate of Aldgate. There was also 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
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 in number, camped at Mile End and on the following day the men of Kent arrived at Blackheath. On the 14th. June the young King Richard met the rebels at Mile End and acceded to most of their demands, including the abolition of serfdom. Meanwhile other rebels entered the Tower of London and killed the Lord Chancellor and the Lord High Treasurer. Unfortunately, their behaviour caused the King to have the leaders and many rebels executed. Wat Tyler was killed and beheaded at Smithfield, near St. Bartholomew’s Hospital.
The First Doodlebug
Mile End, along with the rest of London’s East End, suffered severe damage and casualties from the bombings taking place during the second World War 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 Waterside Canopy
There was uproar concerning the historic 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 progress in 2006 when I visited but it did no good and the canopy was demolished and replaced with new flats. I only wish I had taken more photos at the time but alas, I did not.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 luxury apartments? 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 The Inland Waterways Association. They objected to the demolition of one of only two surviving canal side warehouses with the roof overhanging the water:"These remnants from the heyday of the canal system in London allowed perishable cargoes to be loaded and unloaded in all weathers".The protests did no good and the canopy was eventually replaced with modern apartments.Full planning application >>In 2020 I received some more information from Carolyn Clark of Regents Canal Heritage >>“The space started off as chemical works in the earliest days, then a timber yard (North Eastern Timbers) before beingtaken on by a company who organised exhibitions/displays.After they moved out, there was briefly a popular car boot sale there around 2000which allowed you to see inside. Sadly, I didn't take a photo either.One of my favourite discoveries is shown in the last photo. You can see kayakers around the building. There was a project in the early 70’s to train people to get into and out of buildings when/if the Thames flooded.The project was based in the old engineering works, now the Mile End Climbing Centre and I'm told by one of their trainees that they used the wharf as part of the training”.