The Lea Navigation starts at Bow Locks and continues north to Hertford. The Limehouse cut carried barges on to the Thames at Limehouse, or they could go through the locks and into the tidal Bow Creek which is the lower reaches of the River Lea.

Stratford Marsh, between Stratford High Street and Hackney Wick, includes a number of streamsof the River Lea, known together as the Bow Back Rivers, as well as the Lea Navigation.

Most of these streams were once used to power mills, and some for water supply. There were various alterations to them including the building of several locks in the 1930s, partly for flood relief but also as a project to provide employment. The City Mill River was widened, embanked and made navigable, although there is little evidence that there was serious commercial traffic. Until they were closed for the Olympics they were occasionally used by leisure craft.

Much of the area was covered by small businesses with a few larger companies. There was a large area of railway sidings between the City Mill and Waterworks River and a few larger industrial buildings.

The rivers and their edges were rich with wildlife, often rather overgrown. There were areas of nature reserve near Old Ford Lock.

Running through the centre of the area is the elevated Northern Outfall Sewer, with a foot path along its top. Around 1990 this was improved and rebranded as the Greeway. Around the same time many of the other footpaths in the area were also cleared and large amounts of hardcore put down, along with new signposts, and volunteers spent a lot of time clearing the various waterways.

Pictures of the frontages of properties on Carpenters Road are shown in the Hackney Wick section of the site, while their backs on the Waterworks River are included here.

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Picture sections

1980-92 Black & White index

1980s:  colour

2000 on: colour


All photographs on this site are
© 1980-2010 Peter Marshall.

Pictures are available for commercial use - please email me, for terms.

Permission is normally granted for suitable non-commercial use without cost - please email the above address. I also welcome comments and questions about the work.

86-9113Panorama: City Mill Lock and City Mill River

90-9g54: City Mill River and Northern Outfall Sewer

33x-46: City Mill River, Northern Outfall and Eastern Region BR bridge
36m13: City Mill River, Northern Outfall and Eastern Region BR bridge

36m52: City Mill River

36m52: City Mill River

90-9h63: Pudding Mill Lane

90-9h66: Pudding Mill River

32w34: Pudding Mill River (and Old River Lea)


32w44 Marshgate Lane, Pudding Mill Lane and Northern Outfall Sewer

32w53: Marshgate Lane

 32w54: Marshgate Lane

 32w56: Marshgate Lane

 32w65: Marshgate Lane

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Stratford Marsh


Home    All pictures © 1970-2005, Peter Marshall. Contact me for permission for use, high res files and fees.

The River Lea

London's Second River

The River Lea (or Lee) from source to mouth