Friday, February 19

Come on you Ironworks!

Spent a very interesting day at Trinity Buoy Wharf near East India Dock DLR, where the original offices of the Thames Ironworks were once situated. Across the mouth of the River Lea is the site of the old Italianate Ironworks, where 3000 men once worked and owner Arnold Hills formed a football team in 1895, later to become West Ham United, to improve the moral wellbeing of his workforce. 

There's a noticeboard about the Ironworks on the wharf. Today the stretch of land on which the Ironworks once stood is home to, among others, the warehouses of ASD Metal Services. So maybe there still is some connection with iron on the site. In 2012 the remains of the old factory floors were found during the Crossrail excavations (and maybe West Ham's trophy cabinet?)

The Ironworks was the site of a massive disaster. In 1898, three years after the football club was formed, the launch of the battleship HMS Albion created a huge wave that overwhelmed a pontoon and swept 37 people to their deaths. On YouTube there’s some grainy footage of the massive ship entering the water surrounded by boats of onlookers and massive crowds on the quays and some very moving pictures of the confused aftermath of the disaster. There's a memorial to the victims, including many children, in the East London Cemetery at Plaistow.

Trinity Buoy wharf was once used for making river buoys. These days it's full of hipsters, with a colony of artists working from converted containers and the offices of the English National Opera. There's a fascinating old test lighthouse playing a never-ending piece of music called Longplayer, performed with Tibetan singing bowls, as you do. 

For refreshments we found a Fat Boy's Diner and the Bow Creek Cafe, which serves a fine breakfast and has a bit of a San Francisco feel to it. Even bumped into a couple from Stoke Newington there. Plus lots of designer graffiti on the warehouse walls, a giant fish and a taxi with a tree growing through the middle of it. Not sure what the old ironworkers would make of it all, but it's well worth a visit for a slice of London and football history.


matt said...

Longplayer is by Jem Finer out of the Pogues. Quite a way from Repeal Of The Licensing Laws, one of the best protest songs of all time, and probably the only that's an instrumental.

Pete May said...

Never knew that! Thousands Are Sailing might have been better choice. Do you think Tibetan singing bowls will catch on at the OS?