Tidal Mills on the River Lea were recorded in the Domesday Book. Stratford Langthorne Abbey acquired the Three Mills by the 13th century. During the 16th century the mills were reduced to two (the House Mill and the Clock Mill). One of the mills is reported to have produced gunpowder during this period. The mills were first used to grind flour, however in the 17th century the mills were used to grind grain for the London gin trade.
The current House Mill was built in 1776 by Daniel Bison. The Clock Mill was rebuilt by Philip Metcalfe 1817 incorporating the old clock, and an older bell. The House Mill had 4 water wheels and the Clock Mill 3 water wheels. The House Mill continued to operate until 1940 and the Clock Mill until 1952.
The River Lea Tidal Mill Trust owns the House Mill and the Miller's House. The House Mill remains the largest tidal mill in the world, although the water wheels are not in operation. It is open to visitors on Sunday afternoons during the summer.
The Prescott Channel, a former flood relief channel, to the east, creates Three Mills Island, and the mills share this with the 3 Mills Studios, a 10 acre film and TV studio, which makes a large number of major films and television programmes.
The River Lea Act 1766 authorised the construction of the Limehouse Cut, a straight section linking the Lee Navigation at Bromley-by-Bow to the Thames at Limehouse. It saved sailing barges coming down the Lee to London from having to wait for the tide before navigating the long southward loop of the Thames around the Isle of Dogs.
The exit lock from the Cut to the Thames was replaced in 1968 by a short length of new canal linking the Limehouse Cut with the Regent's Canal Dock (now called Limehouse Basin). The onstruction of a floating towpath (a legacy of the Olympics) has transformed the Cut and it is now well used by cyclists and walkers
In Roman and Medieval times, ships tended to dock at small quays in what is now the Pool of London. The main dockland areas were originally low-lying marshes, mostly u nsuitable for agriculture and sparsely populated. The Howland Great Dock in Rotherhithe (later part of Surrey Commercial Docks) was built in 1696 which had space for 120 vessels. The great expansion of docklands occurred during Georgian and Victorian times namely West India (1802), London (1805), East India (1805), Surrey (1807), St Katherine (1828), West India South (1829), Royal Victoria (1855), Millwall (1868), Royal Albert (1880), King George V (1921).
The docks were originally built and managed by a number of competing private companies. From 1909, they were managed by the Port of London Authority (PLA).German bombing during the Second World War caused massive damage to the docks. Following post-war rebuilding they experienced a resurgence of prosperity in the 1950s.
Between1960 and 1970 the shipping industry adopted containerization which involved larger ships which London Docks were unable to cope with. The shipping industry moved to deep-water ports such as Tilbury and Felixstowe and between 1960 and 1980, all of London's docks were closed leaving most of the area derelict.
In 1981 the Environment Secretary Michael Heseltine, formed the London Docklands Development Corporation (LDDC) to redevelop the area. The London Docklands was also made an enterprise zone. This exempted businesses from property taxes and introduced simplified planning and capital allowances. The massive development programme managed by the LDDC during the 1980s and 1990s saw a huge area of the Docklands converted into a mixture of residential, commercial and light industrial space. The Canary Wharf project that constructed Britain's tallest building and established a second major financial centre in London.
The Docklands historically had poor transport connections. This was addressed by the LDDC with the construction of the hugely successful Docklands Light Railway (DLR), which connected the Docklands with the City. LDDC also built the Limehouse Link tunnel and the London City Airport. The LDDC was wound up in 1998 when control of the Docklands area was handed back to the respective local authorities.
Mudchute Park and Farm
The Millwall Dock Company acquired a large area of land in the Isle of Dogs because of plans to extend the docks to meet the Thames in the east. It was initially used for pasture. From the 1860s part of the land was used as a dumping ground for mud dredged from the Millwall Docks hence the name “Mudchute”. The mud stank, and was extremely unpopular with the local community. In 1890 local pub landlord William Clark leased some land and built an athletics and football stadium. In 1901 the dock company wanted its land back and the stadium was re-located to what is now Millwall Park.
During WWII the area contained four Ack-Ack Anti-aircraft guns. The Blitz started on 7 September 1940. During the Blitz 430 people were killed on the Isle of Dogs.
When, in the early 1970s, the Port of London Authority decided to close the Millwall Docks, they negotiated to transfer the land at Mudchute with the Greater London Council for housing purposes. The Association of Island Communities successfully campaigned for the land to be a public, open space. The Mudchute Association together with ASDA leased the land from Tower Hamlets Borough Council, and a farm and garden was established in 1977.
The park now covers 32 acres and the farm is claimed to be the largest urban farm in Europe.
Greenwich Foot Tunnel
The tunnel was designed by Sir Alexander Binnie for London County Council. The tunnel took 3 years to build and was opened on 4 August 1902. The tunnel replaced a ferry service. The tunnel crosses beneath the River Thames linking Greenwich (Cutty Sark) to the Isle of Dogs (Island Gardens).
The entrance shafts at both ends lie beneath glazed domes, with lifts (installed in 1904, upgraded in 1992 and again in 2012) and helical staircases allowing pedestrians to reach the sloping, tile-lined tunnel at the bottom. The cast-iron tunnel itself is 1,215 feet long and 50 feet deep and has an internal diameter of about 9 feet. Its cast-iron rings are lined with concrete which has been surfaced with some 200,000 white glazed tiles. The tunnel is classed as a public highway and therefore by law is kept open 24 hours a day.
When Emperor Claudius invaded Britain in 43AD he defeated the Catuvellauni tribe and based himself in their capital of Colchester. However the River Colne was inadequate for the Roman army’s requirements and the River Thames was preferred for the site of their new capital.
The Roman’s discovered that the 3 hills of modern London (Cornhill, Ludgate Hill and Tower Hill) would be the ideal place to build their new walled city of Londidium. The south side of the Thames was mainly marshland but there was firm ground in Southwark which enabled the first wooden bridge to be built over the Thames. The Romans also built a road from the port of Dover via Canterbury and Rochester to cross London Bridge. Just before reaching London they built a temple at Greenwich so that travellers could give thanks before arriving at their destination.
The Romans left, the Saxons arrived. Aethelflaed the daughter of Alfred the Great gave the land now occupied by Greenwich Park to the Abbey of St. Peter at Ghent. The land was leased and mainly used for hawking.
Henry V decided to abolish 142 alien priories and thus acquired a huge quantity of land. This land included the Manor of Greenwich (largely waste land) which he gave to the Carthusian Monastry which he had founded in the Manor of Sheen (later renamed Richmond).
After Henry V's death his younger brother Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester became regent to Henry V's baby son Henry VI. England was still at war with France and Duke Humphrey was afraid of a sudden attack by France. He decided that this threat would come about as a result of either a sea attack from the Thames or a land attack from French soldiers landing at Dover.
Duke Humphrey acquired part of the Manor of Greenwich back from the monks at Sheen and built a house Bella Court to safeguard the Thames and a watchtower called Duke Humphrey's Tower to guard against an attack along the Dover Road which passed through Blackheath. Greenwich Park was enclosed for the first time.
Duke Humphrey fell out with the grown up Henry VI’s wife Margaret of Anjou. She managed first to get Duke Humphrey’s wife convicted of witchcraft and then had Duke Humphrey convicted of treason. Margaret of Anjou converted Bella Court into the Palace of Placentia.
Henry VII rebuilt the Palace of Placentia and named it Greenwich Palace. This palace was very important in Tudor times. Henry VIII was born here as were Mary I and Elizabeth I. Henry VIII first introduced deer for hunting into the park. During this period. Duke Humphrey’s tower was converted into Greenwich Castle.
James I enclosed the park with a brick wall, twelve feet high and two miles long. He also had the Queen’s House designed by Indigo Jones to be built for his wife Anne. This was completed for Charles I to give to his wife Henrietta Maria and excluding the civil war years was used by royal family members until 1805.
During the civil war and commonwealth years under Cromwell Greenwich Castle became a ruin. Some of its stones being removed for building materials. Greenwich Castle was used a biscuit factory and a POW camp.
On coming to power Charles II decided to demolish Greenwich Palace and to build a new palace in its place. Only one block of the proposed palace was built and never occupied. Charles II chose the site of Greenwich Castle as the location of the Royal Observatory.
Queen Mary instructed Sir Christopher Wren to convert the site of the old palace into the Royal Hospital for Seaman (retirement home for old sailors). This was inspired by Charles II’s decision to create Chelsea Hospital (retirement home for old soldiers). Queen Mary also insisted that the Queen’s House to the river shouldn’t be blocked (it was by the old palace), and instructed Wren to build the seaman’s hospital in 2 symmetrical parts giving the building its present iconic look. Sadly Mary died before building on the hospital commenced. In the 18th century Greenwich Park was opened to the public.
The Royal Hospital for Seaman later Greenwich Hospital remained open from 1705 to 1869. The buildings were then used for the Royal Naval College which had moved from Portsmouth. The naval college was used from 1873 to 1998. Since then the buildings have been used as a campus for both Greenwich University (former Woolwich Polytechnic) and the Trinity School of Music. The Chapel and the Painted Hall have been preserved and are open to the public.
In 1805 the Queens House was converted into the Royal Naval Asylum (initially a school for orphans of seaman killed in the battle of Trafalgar). A matching pair of wings were added to the Queen’s House connected by colonnades and the school expanded and in 1825 it merged with the existing Royal Hospital Greenwich School (founded 1712) to become it’s lower school. The Royal Hospital School remained at Greenwich until 1933 when it moved to Holbrook near Ipswich. In 1937 the Queen’s House and its wings opened as the National Maritime Museum.
During the London 2012 Summer Olympics, Greenwich Park was the venue for the Olympic and Paralympic equestrian events and for the riding and running parts of the modern pentathlon events. The park also provides the 'red start' for the London Marathon.
The Olympic equestrian cross country course can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mpMD0t-vqCk
Today Greenwich Park covers 180 acres and is part of the Greenwich World Heritage Site. The park is open from 6 am all year round and closes at dusk.
Cutty Sark is a British clipper ship. Built on the Clyde in 1869. She was one of the last and the fastest tea clippers to be built. The maximum logged speed for Cutty Sark was 17.5 knots (20.1mph).
Cutty Sark only spent a few years in the tea trade before the opening of the Suez Canal (1869) meant that tea clippers became uncompetitive with steam ships on the route to China. Cutty Sark then took part in the wool trade route from Australia where she held the record time to Britain for ten years. Eventually steamships took over that route as well.
The ship was sold to a Portuguese company in 1895, and renamed Ferreira. She continued as a cargo ship until purchased by retired sea captain Wilfred Dowman in 1922, who used her as a training ship operating from Falmouth, Cornwall. After his death, Cutty Sark was transferred to the Thames Nautical Training College, Greenhithe in 1938 where she became an auxiliary cadet training ship alongside HMS Worcester. By 1954 she had ceased to be useful as a cadet ship and was transferred to permanent dry dock at Greenwich, London on public display.
The ship was badly damaged by fire in 2007 while undergoing conservation. Arson was initially suspected but the cause was later determined to be an industrial vacuum cleaner which wasn't switched off. Fortunately 50% of the timbers had been removed as part of the conservation. She has since been restored at a cost of £48 million of which £20 million came from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Cutty Sark was reopened to the public in 2012 and is once again a much loved tourist attraction.
Stratford has an abundance of restaurants and cafes including those in the Westfield Centre
The Viewtube cafe is a nice place to relax http://www.theviewtube.co.uk/cafe/
There are numerous pubs and cafes in Canary Wharf
There is a cafe in the Mudchute City Farm http://www.mudchute.org/mudchute-kitchen
There are ample refreshments in Greenwich Park https://www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/greenwich-park/food-and-drink
In Greenwich there is the famous Trafalgar Tavern pub. http://www.trafalgartavern.co.uk/
There is also a Wetherspoons pub "The Gate Clock" next to Cutty Sark DLR station.
Attractions and Other Links
The Museum of London Docklands. http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/docklands/
Royal Museums Greenwich (National Maritime Museum, Royal Observatory, Queens House, Cutty Sark). http://www.rmg.co.uk/
Discover Greenwich. https://www.visitgreenwich.org.uk/business/discover-greenwich/