Thursday, 12 April 2018


Easter weather has been a bit of a uninviting one for my type of photography. Luckily we had a spell of sunshine on Friday 6th so I took my chance to complete my investigation along the river Roding. I started where I left it in Barking by the Highbridge Road (smallest bridge in the area) Since my last visit it seems that the East bank of the river has been visited by the contractors and work is under way. Most of my walk will take place on the West bank of the river. You start the walk by going through the Tesco car park. What first strikes me is the pollution. People dump trolley, plastics and so forth - sad. You cross the A124 and the walk becomes pleasant. Mix of 60's building on the right and industrial warehouses on the left. An actual path takes you along the bending stream. Glorious vegetation, strolling swans and gentle breeze put you in a good mood, until you reach the "official" end of the path. You then have to venture in the unknown going under the low train track.

There another world unveils. One of wild bushes where the path is hard to find. An uninspiring landscape filled with rubbish, stuck between a grim and poisonous Northern Circular and an unaccessible river punctuated by fly-tippings. You constantly have to watch out where you are walking to avoid nasty surprises. Some homeless people have built shelters in what you can only describe as slum. And this goes on until you reach Ilford and Romford Road. Quite depressing really. But I keep on walking despite the misery and try to find a way to follow the river. The actual banks are closed to the public and toxic anyway so I try my luck (silly me!) by walking along the NC on the other side of the junction hoping to find some kind of hidden path that would take me to the Aldersbrook part but I walk there in vain. There is no access whatsoever and I have to come back to the Ilford junction.

If you wish to do that walk bare in mind that this section requires a detour. You have to walk on Romford Road Westbound for about 5 min and take a path just before the Bell Pharmacy to enter a small residential estate and reach Aldersbrook Lane. You will find a couple of signs Roding Valley Way (see pic below) Turn right down in an underpass filled with graffitis. Then again, you enter a different world. One which is green, calm and poetic. You have to walk a bit more until to merge with the river. On your left sits the City of London Cemetery which is vast and beautiful. On your right   allotments and behind it the stream and the Ilford golf course.

There is a hidden path that takes you to the river by the golf course. There you understand that the only way to walk by the river from the Ilford junction is actually to be a golf member. Once again the Roding has become a private property. Anyway, at the intersection mentioned above you can follow the river by taking a trail. You then enter the further South/East tip of the Epping forest designated area. The landscape becomes open, lush and healthy. The flow of the water is very pronounced especially at this time of the year. You keep walking North and take a small hidden sheltered path. Everything is peaceful there. You then reach a small pedestrian bridge, walk over it and follow the East side of Wanstead Park.

The section described before and this new one are familiar territories to me. As a runner I enjoy the beauty and peace of those trails. Nothing really occurs there until you reach another fence with no further access by the end of Royston gardens. You have to make you way to the Redbridge Roundabout. To conclude this journey turn left towards Wanstead on the A12 and there on your left you will meet for the last time the Roding river. This area is again private. The left side belongs to Thames Water and the right hand side belongs to the Wanstead Gold Club.

Epilogue: The Roding carries on towards Chigwell and offers many tranquil and beautiful vistas. Even if most of this later part is still connected to Northern Circular and later M11 you can actually detach yourself from the constant buzz. That said your walk will end by the Ashton Playing Fields as the trail is then blocked by a dense bushy area. The Roding source is to be found all the way up by Stanted Airport.

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

ES 27/3/18

Found those two articles yesterday in the Evening Standard about two East End proposals. The one in blue is about what I just said in my previous post about Barking and the River Roding. In the other Tower Hamlet expresses the wish to invest for the homeless, which sounds a bit demagogic. Anyway, let's see how it goes...The East-End is always full of surprises - not.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018


Day 1 of my trip along the Roving River. I was a bit worried of not getting access to the mouth of the river but after having a good read of the Google map I noticed a road access along the Beckton Sewage treatment Works. Left Barking train station towards the Northern Circular and realised there was a pathway starting at the junction with Jenkins Lane. So I hurried my way first to the Thames and decided to start photographing on my way back. As soon as you pass Frankie & Beany's and the Cinemas you are in a new territory. An endless road access goes between the river and the fence of the  Sewage Plant. After a bend you have the option to take an alternative route through the Creekside Trail Natural reserve (which doesn't appear on the Google map) There I met a born and bred Cockney gent who was taking care of the site. We had a lovely chat about the East End and its visceral appeal despite its constant transformation.

I started taking pictures as soon as I arrived at the Barking Creek Barrier. The weather was grey, the birds enjoying the industrial wastes and I was making my way back to Barking. I decided to return into the Creekside Trail and realised there were quite a few alternative dead-end paths to explore. This was a good move as the terrain was slightly elevated and I had now a better view of the surrounding areas. The sun shone through the clouds, the dense vegetations turned gold, the rabbits ran free, what beautiful time to be there. To be there and to be alone! I didn't see any soul on my hike apart from the caretaker - what a bliss! Soon my happiness melted down as I realised that my camera had the wrong settings and therefore the results weren't sharp enough. I got this second hand Fuji X100S mirrorless camera few weeks ago and am planning to use it for the Phase 2 of my project. But for some reasons the focusing system of my digital rangefinder which I love was not set properly. I can't believe it happens to me after 30 years of experience and of constant sharp results! Anyway, took it on my chin, changed the settings and moved on praying for some decent images of my first leg. There was not way I would go back to the mouth of the river, didn't have time. And I couldn't have replaced the joy I experienced then, it would have been a draw back mentally.

Left the trail and approached the A13. Weather grew darker but only few drops. Whereas my side of the river was only occupied by the Sewage Systems it is not turning and industrial Estate sort of area, similar to the opposite East side of the river. Got closer to Barking and entered a revamped area of the banks despite some relics of boats buried in the mud. The path is now made of tarmac, it's clean and modern. Walk over the Lock and I contemplate a familiar view, typical of the new East-End. Cheap, versatile, colourful new buildings glued together. A new shiny Industrial estate sits between the Northern Circular and the river Roding on the West banks. New Wharfs, Quays and so forth are burgeoning on the East side. Either side no access to the river - it's all private (in Barking, can you believe it) In the middle - barges, typical. And there is a lot more to be built!

I eventually managed to enter a Court and access the river. Opposite me is a waste empty terrain under demolition, waiting to rise up. Again sitting between the river and the Northern Circular. A bit further there is a small bridge and I photograph another vast empty zone on the East side. I knew my move further East was a good one but I wasn't expecting such a rapid continuation in Barking of what I have witnessed happening in the East End in the last few years. Next leg and probably final one of my Roding River Special between Barking and Wanstead.

Thursday, 8 March 2018


map 1882, original East-End

The East-End has its origins but it is also a notion in constant motion. Its blurry geography remains determined by poverty, migration, politics, affordability and access to central London.

The East End is historically located east of the Roman and medieval walls of the City and North of the River Thames. It does not have universally accepted boundaries, though the various channels of the River Lea are often considered to be the eastern boundary. It comprises of areas of Central London, East London and the DocklandsThe area had a strong pull on the rural poor from other parts of England and attracted waves of migration from further afield: notably Huguenots refugees in the 17th century, Irish weavers, Ashkenazi Jews and, in the 20th century, Sylheti Bangadleshis (Wikipedia)

A later map redefine the area of the East-end by the end of the second World War. It comprises the borough of Hackney and Tower Hamlets. Not only then the Docklands were on the verge of decline but also the impact Nazi Germany had on the area redefined the "zone". The land had been badly hit and in such a bad state that it had to be re-built quickly.

Today, with an ever growing population and a regeneration program sparked by the 2012 Olympics we can re-think the East-End with the inclusion of the wider Newham borough. We can observe that the then small East-End from the late 19th Century has grown consistently and exponentially.

When I started the project in December 2009 I personally focused my work on the transience of the East-End in relation the 2012 Olympic games with its major building sites and architectural alterations burgeoning between Hackney and the new Stratford. The purple area represents my photographic investigations. North Greenwich peninsula, which I photographed last year, was an exception being South of the River (I will take it as a pivotal moment with my future work) That said I personally see it as an extension of the East-End phenomena after being a deprived, or an oddity within the landscape not so long ago. The Jubilee line, the cable cars and and the River boat make it easy for commuters and there is this feeling that it is following a pattern similarly experienced North of the River. In that sense we could also consider Bermondsey as being "East-End" but I prefer not to engage my research further South as it could become an ever increasing territory to cover.

Instead I envisage to start a new phase by concentrating my efforts between the River Lea and River Roding all the way up to Wanstead by the Redbridge Roundabout (see above) I will occasionally return to older areas previously visited to record the changes.

Friday, 9 February 2018


Great attendance and busy evening for Chris Dorley-Brown. Original show with lots of prints, memorabilia and slideshow in a dark tent. Go there asap it's great, and so is the book.

Friday, 2 February 2018


(Taken from Facebook page)

Launch: David Granick: The East End in Colour 1960-1980

8th February from 6-8pm
Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives
277 Bancroft Road E1 4DQ
0207 364 1290

Exhibition from Saturday 3 February – Saturday 5 May
Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives

We are delighted to announce a new exhibition of previously unseen photographs by David Granick which depict Stepney, Mile End, Whitechapel, Spitalfields, Limehouse and the Thames riverside in the warm hues of Kodachrome film. In the decades following the end of the Second World War, the East End was a place usually captured in black and white, so these photographs present a rare chance to see views of these neighbourhoods in the 1960s and 1970s - some still familiar, many since vanished - in colour for the first time.

David Granick was born in 1912 and lived his whole life in Stepney. A Jew, a keen photographer and a long-serving member of the East London History Society, he gave lectures on various local history themes illustrated with colour slides taken by himself or his fellow members of the Stepney Camera Club. Bequeathed to Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives after his death in 1980, where they have been preserved ever since, these photographs show the East End on the cusp of social change.

The exhibition coincides with a beautiful hardback book of photographs from the Granick collection, to be published by Hoxton Mini Press. Discounted copies will be on sale here during the run.

Talk from Chris Dorley-Brown, curator, at 7pm. 

Saturday, 20 January 2018


Looking forward to flipping through this new book in 2018. Hoxton Mini Press has produced a new volume about the East-End but this time it goes back in time for 2 decades between the 60's and 80's. Why would I suggest this book which I haven't read yet? For the simple reason that this treasure trouvé has only come to light through the genius of Chris Dorley-Brown. I have had the opportunity to meet Chris recently and he told me how he has lived like an hermit for almost a year. The reason being that the Tower Hamlet Archives asked him early 2017 to dig through their untouched private donations. After careful considerations Chris decided to investigate closely some suitcases, or boxes, of slide films left aside. After weeks of scanning it appeared that a certain man called David Granick had been photographing methodically the East-end for its architectures and aura. He gave away his entire collection to the Council not having any children to pass them on.

After seeing some of his images on screen it is clear to me that the work of this man has to be diffused and shared today. Not only his rigorous discipline is baffling for its methodical mise-en-scene but also his interest in the most benign details. His eye is alert, analytic but sensitive too in the way the urban landscape baths. His compositions are sharp. His use of colour is subtle.

But the strangest thing of all is that the man who unearths such a treasure is a man who has been doing the same for more years maybe and who didn't know anything about Granick's. Even stranger is the fact that we could actually take the work of Granick for being Chris Dorley-Brown's!

Spooky! in a nice way...

Let's leave it here for now and grab a copy