Download GPX file: Newham Ride.gpx
You can import the GPX file into a GPS application such as Komoot (See our guide on options for following a route).
You may also want to download a printable information sheet for this ride.
The Ride is a circuit of approximately 16 miles, mostly in Newham with a hint of Tower Hamlets . It is predominantly off road on hard pathways (with a couple of very minor exceptions), shared footpaths and towpaths. On a couple of occasions it will be necessary to dismount and push the bicycle.
There will be many stops (depending on progress), including the chance for refreshment at the View Tube (beginning and end), Cody Dock, Trinity Buoy Wharf and the Thames Barrier Park.
The ride will take in the following, in order:
THE VIEW TUBE AND THE GREENWAY.
The View Tube is a social enterprise built to view the emergence of the Olympic Park. Has a Cafe, Art space & exhibitions. Cycle hire available from View tube Bikes
The Greenway is a footpath created in the 1980s on top of the Northern Outfall Sewer (1860-4) running from Old Ford to Beckton sewage works, which is part of Joseph Balgazette’s famous London Ring Main. This was one of the projects developed to avoid a repetition of the Great Stink of the summer of 1858 which was (wrongly) associated with cholera, caused by the increased use of flushing toilets which overloaded cesspits and other means of disposal. During that summer curtains were hung in the newly completed House of Commons drenched in chloride of lime as a countermeasure.
QUEEN ELIZABETH OLYMPIC PARK
The Park covers an area of 2.5sq kms. Some prehistoric settlements have been unearthed, including 4 iron age skeletons. Temple Mills, at the north east corner of the Park, is named after the knights templar who owned two water mills in the 12 century. Early industry included gunpowder, leather printing and dye. Latterly, the site of even more noxious industries, such as printing works and chemical manufacture, as it was just outside London boundaries where such industries moved after an 1844 Act banning them from London.
In creating the Park, 2m tons of soil was cleaned, 5kms of riverbank were cleaned, power cables buried underground and an EU fridge mountain (“one of Europe’s most iconic eyesores”) removed. 250 ha (500 acres) of parkland were created. The north part of the Park will be more like traditional parkland. The southern section will be more “urban” and can be used for events.
Iconic buildings include:
The Stadium: Designed by HOK Sport (now Populous) Architects, designers of Wembly Stadium. The Olympic stadium was completed to time and within budget (reputedly). 80,000 seats were available for the Olympics. The Stadium was described by the Times as “tragically underwhelming” but was still nominated for the 2012 Sterling Prize for architecture. Post Olympics the stadium is being converted into a 54,000 seat football stadium and leased by a the owners (an LLDC and Newham Council joint venture) to West Ham. The conversion involves a new and bigger roof and retractable seating.
The ArcelorMittal Orbit: A 376 feet tall sculpture come observation tower, designed by Turner prize winning sculptor Sir Anish Kapoor and engineer Cecil Balmond . It is said to be inspired by the Tower of Babel. As a late addition to the Olympic Park, it was mostly paid for by Lakshmi Mittal. Its legacy is to be a restaurant and observation tower.
The Aquatic Centre: Designed by Zaha Hadid Architects. Zaha Hadid is a Bagdad born and London trained architect of world repute, but who has completed few UK buildings. Another is the recent extension to the Serpentine Gallery. The Aquatic Centre uses her trademark curves, and is said to be inspired by water in motion. Whatever its inspiration the roof presented an engineering challenge. The building was in fact designed before the Olympic bid was successful and therefore had to have extra seating wings added for the Games. Reputedly the Centre cost 50m more than the original budget of Â£249. It has been funded to be run for the next decade by Greenwich Leisure.
The Copper Box: The Handball Arena during the Olympic Games, this venue was designed by MAKE architects and uses recycled copper for its cladding. Now a leisure centre, run, like the Aquatic Centre by Greenwich Leisure. It has seating for up to 7,000 and is the new home of the London Lions Basketball Team. It also hosts a Grand Prix Badminton tournament.
The Velodrome: A hyperbolic paraboloid-shaped steel framed structure sits on a 360 degree glazed concourse, the whole being clad in timber to allow natural ventilation. Designed by Hopkins architects it was the first completed venue for the Olympics. it had seating for 6000 during the Games. Now the centrepiece of cycling facilities including outside road, BMX and mountain bike courses and has been taken over by the Lea Valley Regional Park Authority.
The Energy Centres: Providing heating and cooling for the games and district heating as a legacy, plus providing power to the national grid. They utilises Combined Cooling Heat and Power systems with biomass boilers. Designed by John McAslan and Partners they utilise a rusty facade.
Stratford Box Pumping Station: Lyall Bills & Youngâ€™s Stratford Box Pumping Station in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is said to be at once sculptural, enduring and integrated into the landscape. It was built to relieve groundwater build-up caused by changes in the water table, avoiding flooding of the Eurostar and HS1 lines.
Other Artists Works
The Line: This is a proposal for a Sculpture walk from Stratford to Greenwich via the Cable Car. It will provide a showcase for existing modern and contemporary sculpture. Details of the project are found at https://the-line.org/ and crowdfunding for the Â£150,000 approx needed is taking place via www.spacehive.com/theline
History Trees: A series of 10 trees marking the major entrances to the park from which steel rings are hung, 9 engraved with text capturing historical information from the area and the 10th with memories of residents. There is an exhibition explaining more and identifying the sites in the View Tube. Created by Heather Ackroyd and Dan Harvey.
Originally the ancient crossing on the River Lea to Colchester and Essex, used by the Roman road. It has been inhabited since at least the 4th and 5th centuries CE.
The area was mostly marshland as the River Lea was tidal up to Hackney Wick.
The First Bow Bridge and causeway to Stratford was build in the early 12th century on the orders of Matilda, wife of Henry I, and the focus of population moved to Stratford thereafter.
Although milling was established along the banks of the Bow Creek in medieval times to provide grain for Stratford Langthorne Abbey, the tidal mills were established by the Huguenots in the early 18th century. This mill was erected on a man-made island and was first used to distil gin, which continued until after World War II. It is now the largest tidal mill in the world (according to diamondgeezer.blogspot.co.uk)
House Mill (so named because it stood between the manager’s and the miller’s houses) was constructed in 1776 and restored in 1989 by the River Lea Tidal Mill Trust. Although not in operation it is the largest tidal mill in the world. One of only 4 Grade I listed buildings in Newham, and now has a visitor centre. It has an early 19 century custom house next door.
Clock Mill has a clock tower first erected in 1753. It is now used by a Free School.
In 1887 there were seven waterwheels milling on average 125 tons of grain per week.
Three Mills Studios was the site for producing and rehearsing the Olympic opening and closing ceremonies. Films made there include, Lock Stock, Made in Dagenham. TV includes London’s Burning and the Million Pound Drop.
This garden includes the memorial to Sir Corbet Woodall, the Governor of the Gas Light and Coke Company from 1906 to 1916. From Liverpool he followed his father into the coal gas industry working at Woolwich, Stockton-on-Tees and Vauxhall before becoming a consultant gas engineer. When he became a director of the Gas Light and Coke Company it was the largest gas company in the world. It had been founded by Royal Charter in 1812 and was the first company to supply coal gas in London, operated the first gas works in the United Kingdom and was the world’s first public gas works. Its first works were located at the Royal Mint and it took over many other gas companies in the course of the 19th century.
Sir Corbett Woodall was famed for fostering good relations with his staff and was honorary colonel of the 12th Battalion of the London Regiment. He retired to the south of France in 1914 and died 2 years later.
The statute is by George Arthur Walker. They are accompanied by war memorials and a lit gas light.
Originally a dock bringing coal to the Bow Gasworks, it was developed by the Imperial Gas and Light Coke Co (later taken over by the Gas Light and Coke Company). After falling into disuse and being used as an informal dump, it was acquired by the Gasworks Dock Partnership as a Social Enterprise with a vision to provide employment, educational and cultural facilities – particularly the creative arts. Its first open day was July 2012.
The name “Cody” for the dock and the nearby road derives from the fact that “Buffalo Bill” Cody pitched his camp in the area when he was giving shows in London.
It is a key site for opening up the Lower Lea Valley to walkers and cyclists.
The nearby Limehouse Cut was opened 1770
BOW CREEK ECOLOGY PARK
Site of a former iron works, shipyard and coastal wharf. Slightly further upstream to the site of the famous Thames Ironworks, once the largest shipbuilder on the Thames, which gave birth to ships such as HMS Warrior (1860) and HMS Minotaur (1863). That company gave birth to West Ham FC (formed 1900 from Thames Ironworks FC).
The Ecology Park was created as a 6.4 acre nature reserve in 1994 it is run by the Lea Valley Regional Park Authority. It has reedbeds, ponds and meadows “filled with” butterfies, dragonflies and kingfishers.” Noted also for the rare hairy buttercup, Walthamstow cress, and unreel’s wormwood.
EAST INDIA DOCK
This Dock was opened by the East India Company in 1806 based on the earlier Brunswick Dock nearer the Thames. This was a site traditionally used by the Company. it originally comprised over 30 acres of water and with a warehouse capacity equivalent to 28,000 tons. It was designed by the engineer Ralph Walker, and built at a cost of over Â£300,00, with a smaller “export dock” nearer the river and the larger “import dockâ€ further inland, it once traded over Â£30m of tea per year.
Taken over in 1909 by the Port of London Authority it was unable to cope with ever larger ships in comparison with the Royal Docks. The entrance basin lock was built in 1897. The Dock was used in World War II to build the Mulberry Harbour. Latterly it was the site of the now demolished Brunswick Power Station. The Dock was closed in 1967 and most has been filled in, only a part of the Export Dock remaining. The irregular west side reflects the two vanished docks. The “austere” (Pevsner) Salome Gates were designed by Sir Anthony Caro 1996. Street names of recent developments reflect the goods traded.
Billed by the BBC as one of London’s most important bird sanctuaries, the Dock is home to kingfishers and grey herons. The reeds are home to butterflies and grasshoppers.
TRINITY BUOY WHARF
The Corporation of Trinity House was granted a Charter in 1514 with the authority to provide lighthouses etc to aid navigation around England. Its headquarters is at Trinity House near the Tower of London.
It established its Thameside workshops at Trinity Buoy Wharf in 1803. One of the earliest buildings, the Electrician’s Building was erected in 1836 by the chief engineer, James Walker. The experimental lighthouse was constructed in 1864. Faraday was the adviser on the use of electricity for lighting. Now the Lighthouse houses “Longplayer” which uses the sound of Tibetan “singing bowls”.
The Wharf is now used mostly as housing and studio space and is run by Urban Space Holdings for “cultural enterprises”.
Container City was built as low cost workspace from shipping containers in 2002, designed by Nicholas Lacey and Partners.
Attractions include the “Time and Tide Bell” (on the river wall opposite the Lighthouse) which marks high tide and was conceived by sculpture Marcus Vergette and Dr Neil McLauchlan; and “Slugmarines” (by the Cafe and Lightship) using defunct military equipment to satirise a defunct military culture.
Fatboy Diner is a typical American chrome diner, built in 1941 in Elizabeth, New Jersey, and brought to this site in 2002.
This Anthony Gormley statue is visible from Trinity Buoy Wharf. At 30m it is his tallest statue to date. It was designed using steel sections arranged using a computer algorithm starting from points on the surface of an enlarged figure based on Gormley’s body. The figure of a man may just be seen at the centre of the matrix of steel. The idea was influenced by quantum physicist Basil Hiley’s thoughts on pre-space as a mathematical structure underlying space-time and matter.
THE EXCEL CENTRE
Built 1999-2000 to the design of Moxley Architects. Described by Pesvner as “gargantuan and dazzling white” and “functionally impressive but another waste of a peerless waterside setting.” It is 90,0000sq m in size over 3 floors. The interior space of 87m is the largest single-span roof in the UK.
THE ROYAL DOCKS
Collectively the largest enclosed docks in the world occupying a space the equivalent to the whole of central London from Hyde park to Tower Hill.
Victoria Dock was built 1850-5 by the Victoria Dock Co. An advance on earlier docks by virtue of its size, its own railway system and the extensive use of finger jetties to increase capacity. It was renamed as the Victoria Dock with the building of the Albert Dock 1875-80, which has 85 acres of water.
The Pontoon Dock was built towards the end of the construction of the Victoria Dock and include and included a revolutionary ship lift, which lifted each ship out of the water on pontoons that were raised by hydraulic jacks. Drained of ballast water the ship could then be floated to a finger dock for repair. By 1896 the size of ships became too great for this manoeuvre.
The Royals were taken over by the Port of London Authority in 1909.
The George V Dock was one of two planned for the north and south of the Albert Dock by an1901 Act of Parliament. It was built 1912-21, and has 64 acres of water.
During the General Strike the generators of 2 Royal Navy submarines were connected to the to the warehouses to save 750,000 frozen carcasses.
The Royal Docks were finally closed in 1981 after steady decline from the 1960s.
These Docks are now part of the Riverside Opportunity Development Area where green industry will be encouraged. More immediately the land between building 1000 and the UEL campus will be developed as an IT hub by Chinese investment.
Billed as the worlds largest exhibition focused on urban sustainablility. Open Tuesday-Friday 10am to 5pm, entrance free. The building reflects the theme of sustainability, using solar power and ground source electricity for all its power needs. Designed by Wilkinson Eyre and built 2010 -2012, “The crystalline geometry of the architecture derives its inspiration from nature. The building responds to its location, visually contrasting the curve of the O2 centre beyond”
The world’s oldest complete steamship, this ship was build in 1890 at the Thames Ironworks. She was used mostly for British coastal trade to 1900, then was sold to Spain and used for Atlantic trade until 1974.
She was bought by the Maritime Trust in 1974 and will become a “innovative and immersive environment as well as a performing stage, with dedicated learning spaces and interactive displays sharing the stories of dockers, stevedores and seafarers who worked across oceans and ships such as this and celebrating the risks takers and entrepreneurs that made, and continue to make, London great.”
This Grade II listed remnant (D Silo) of a derelict turn of the 20th century flour mill has become iconic from use in films and television e.g. Ashes to Ashes and Derek Jarman’s The Last of England; and by John Michel Jarre for projection of his 1988 show Destination Docklands. It was originally designed and built by millers Vernon & Sons in 1905. Its capacity of 100 sacks of flour per hour of Millenium Flour was instrumental in the popularity of white bread sandwiches. The mill was partially destroyed in 1917 by the Silvertown explosion of a nearby munitions factory and taken over by Spillars in 1920. It was rebuilt as a Art Deco building in 1930. Presently, it seems, the site is in limbo.
THAMES BARRIER PARK
This Park was built 1997-2000 to the design of landscape architects Groupe Signe, whose Alain Prevost was consultant in the design of the Park Citroen in Paris – a similar riverside park. The pavilion near the river was designed as a memorial to civilians killed in the Blitz. It gives a view onto the Thames Barrier, built in 1974 -82, now used much more than the originally anticipated twice per year. The D shaped gates normally lie on the river bed.
BRICK LANE MUSIC HALL
Formerly St Mark’s church built 1860-2 to the design of Samuel Sanders Teulon – a noted gothic revival architect, and meticulously restored 1984-9 by Julian Harrap. The Grade II exterior remains largely unaltered. The music hall was the brainchild of Vincent Hayes, who opened his first music hall venue in 1992 in the canteen of the derelict Truman Brewery in Brick Lane. It moved to larger premises in Curtain Rd, Shoreditch (a former button factory) and then here, its present home.
Beckton was named after a GLCC chairman, Sir Adams Beck, and came into being as the site of Europe’s largest gasworks which operated from 1897 to 1970. The Beckton Alp is the highest point in East London – a former toxic spoil heap from the gasworks. It was landscaped to become a ski slope but has since become derelict. It is a Grade II site of Borough importance for nature conservation.
ST MARY’S CHURCH AND NATURE RESERVE
The church was built c.1130 at the medieval site of East Ham. It is the oldest Norman Church in London. Domesday records the village being owned by Leofric and Edwin and comprising 38 villagers, 30 small holdings and 3 slaves with 17 ploughs, 15 cattle, 180 sheep, 44 pigs with woodland for 700, 59 acres of meadow, and 3 beehives. The Grade I listed Church retains its original Norman roof over the apse.
The 9.5 acre churchyard, which includes a memorial for two crew of the Titanic, was closed for burials in 1974 and it opened as a nature reserve in 1977. It was formally opened by the Queen in 1981.
ABBEY MILLS PUMPING STATION
Designed by Joseph Bazalgette with architect Charles Driver in a cruciform Byzantine style, “the cathedral to sewage” was built in1868. It is a Grade II listed building. From here sewage was pumped between two low level sewers and the Northern Outfall Sewer. it contains electric pumps now to back up the modern facility. It is open for tours by special arrangement or during Open House weekend but it is necessary to book in advance.
The modern pumping station was designed by Allies and Morrison.