Since it’s the last day of my holiday (and the first of September), I thought I would go on a walk to explore the territory which I left out of my book. Beyond the River Lea. It’s a set of towns which I scarcely know at all because the River Lea acts as a psychological, as well as physical barrier, as it did in the eighteenth century, although I’m intrigued to find that Defoe described Plaistow as ‘a town in which there had been much new building as well as repairs to existing building since the Revolution’.
I started at West Ham Station in order to join the track which runs along the top of the Northern Outfall Sewer. It’s a long, straight path with occasional glimpses to tower blocks and playing fields on either side:-
Across the railway tracks:-
Past the cemetery:-
Eventually, one gets to Beckton – a landscape of empty parks and 1980s housing. Through the Docklands campus of East London University, one reaches the Thames, an area of wide expanses of water and extreme desolation, once an area of gasworks admired by Ian Nairn, now an area of new housing:-