Tuesday 13 September 2011

Sampling Salubrious Stratford [1]

 Celebrating the opening of Westfield Stratford City 
         shopping centre : TODAY 13th Seprtember        

"The town has little that, in itself, is attractive."
In his "Handbook to The Environs of London" in 1876, James Thorne wrote:-

Much of the land is low and marshy, and being well provided with railway facilities, and the navigable Lea on one side of it affording ready access to the Thames and docks, it has become the home of many factories which find difficulty in obtaining sites so near to London.

Besides the old-established cornmills, distilleries, breweries, chemical and dye-works by the Lea, there are now extensive engineering establishments, printworks, jute spinning mills, manufactories of vestas and matches, printing ink, aniline colour, varnish, soap and candle factories, oil, grease, creosote, bone-boiling, paraffin, coprolite, nitro-phosphate, guano, and other artificial manure and gas and tar works, and a variety more of an equally unfragrant character.

But at the northern end of the town, from the Broadway, where the roads diverge, there are still green spaces, roads lined with trees, and good private residences.

The town itself has little that is attractive, beyond the churches, the Town Hall ...
... and the factories for those who feel an interest in them. Of old, Stratford was regarded as a part of West Ham, but it has long outgrown the mother parish, which lies on one side in quiet obscurity.
Stratford Langthorne Abbey, for monks of the Cistercian order, was founded in 1135 by William de Montfichet, and endowed with the manor of West Ham and other estates in the county. The abbey stood in the marshes, on a branch of the Lea known as the Abbey Creek, or Sea river Channel, about ½ mile south of Stratford Broadway.

Sadly, no building or part thereof remains of the Abbey iutself but it is remembered ferro-equinologically in the newly-opened Docklands Railway station, named Abbey Road. 
From a bus-watchers point of view, Stratford's fame, of old, lay in its role as a major hub for one of London's trolleybus networks, here at Stratford Broadway.
Typically, routes (mainly numbered in the 600s) stretched in all directions as in this 1958 route map extract ...
... and as here near the now-closed station at Silvertown.
Before that, the Broadway was terminus for the tram route to West Ham etc. ...
... celebrated in the road name Tramway Avenue just off the Broadway in the centre of the town.
But it is as a train "hub" that Stratford has gained recent fame, so we need to chuff cheerfully through railway developments in tomorrow's blog.

There are several other Stratfords in GB, the most famous of which is Stratford-Upon-Avon, home of Bardic Bill Shakespeare, ...
... Stony Stratford, now part of Milton Keynes [MK] and, in times past, HQ of a famous steam tram line ...
... and Fenny Stratford also in MK but a bit further south on the A5. It was the home of Herbert Akroyd Stuart ...
... who, arguably, invented the diesel engine before Rudolph Diesel even thought about it.

As they say on TV, "Other Stratfords are available". So, there's Stratford Castle and Stratford Tony in Wiltshire, Stratford St Andrew and Stratford St Mary in Suffolk and just plain Stratford in Bedfordshire and Worcestershire.

But tomorrow we are back in London's Stratford, soon to become world famous as the 2012 Olympic venue.

Next blog : Wednesday September 14th

1 comment:

  1. Hope you do a trip through the terrorist tent, that every bus is being forced to go through before entering the bus station (or certainly are on the newly extended 97 route).

    Here's what happens ... every bus has to pull up inside an enormous tent. Passengers panic, and start to try to get off. Rent-a-cop security guards board the bus, order everyone to sit down. They then hilariously (not) order everyone to get their credit cards for inspection and are then surprised when some thicko's actually do it. Quite what they're doing other than walking up and down both decks annoying us and making us think we're second class scum I don't know.

    While this is going on, passengers are walking out of the railway and underground station unchallenged, pedestrians are streaming from old Stratford over the new bridge, cars are arriving (with the odd one being singled out for search). And every single one of those people being as equal a terrorist threat as us poor buggers on the 97 bus.

    Welcome to modern Britain. It's only going to get worse with the Olympics.