Point A – St Anne’s Church
St Anne's Church is where you'll find the first work of art. The building was designed by Sir Nicholas Hawksmoor, who worked alongside Sir Christopher Wren on St. Paul's Cathedral and other notable buildings. It was completed in 1727. The building is Grade I listed and one of the 310 Major Parish Churches in England. St Anne’s has long had rare permission to fly the naval White Ensign. The northern part of the churchyard was almost lost to the planned widening of Commercial Road in the 1980's.
Our community came together to protest the loss of green space and instead suggested and promoted the Limehouse Link tunnel, allowing better access to the Docklands from the City. St Anne's describes itself today as ‘a genuinely mixed East End church with a passion for straightforward Bible teaching.' The thriving church family runs activities for all ages and cares for the wider community with ministries such as a homeless night shelter.
Looking south on Three Colt Street, you can see Puddle Jumpers Nursery, which now occupies the arches of the former Limehouse Station of the London and Blackwall Railway. The railway was rope-powered, and opened on 6th July 1840. Passenger platforms were built of timber, extended from the sides of the viaduct, The station was closed on the 4th of May 1926, the platforms being removed in 1929, and the line continued to be used for freight and occasional tours until 5th November 1962. The rail line was disused until our growing community required the opening of the Docklands Light Railway on 31st August 1987
Gill Street is the home to our local doctors' surgery, "The Limehouse Practice". All of our community suffered greatly from night bombings during WWII, Roche House built in 1939, wasn't rebuilt until 1950.
Continuing south to Limehouse Causeway takes you to the Limehouse Youth Hub, which is where you’ll find Point
Point B - Limehouse Youth Hub
At the Limehouse Youth Hub you'll find the second work of art. You're on Limehouse Causeway, London's original "Chinatown". Starting in 1890 ,Chinese seamen from the Blue Funnel Shipping Line started to settle here. The causeway became known for opium and gambling dens, frequent visitors were authors Conan Doyle, Oscar Wilde and Sax Rohmer who based his "supervillain" Fu Manchu here. The three planters outside the building demonstrate a high level of community engagement. The planters were built by the LIMEgreen gardening club at the Yurt Café with the help of the Limehouse Basin Berth Holders Association, then transported by Dockside Fitness to Cyril Jackson School, where the pupils painted them. The planters are maintained by the young people who attend the Youth Hub. The building site just next to Westferry DLR station will soon become additional housing and a 32 story hotel. While our community supported the construction of a local hotel as it brings jobs, activity and investment without putting strains on our infrastructure of schools and healthcare, we strongly objected to the size of the development, fearing it will become a gateway for further tower blocks. Limehouse Causeway becomes Narrow Street at the junction with Three Colt Street. Note to the south is the River Thames and access to the Thames Path. Here once stood the Taylor Walker Brewery when Narrow Street was called Fore Street.
As we move along the path through the Barley Mow Estate, imagine the tall stacks of freshly cut barley, called “barley mows” waiting to be turned into beer. The estate is in the middle of a difficult time, as the blocks were covered in the same type of cladding used at Grenfell, which has been removed by the Local Authority. Unfortunately this revealed some controversial structural defects in the buildings, which may cost the leaseholders significant sums to make good.
You can enter Ropemaker Fields and pass the community tennis courts which are free to use while you make your way to Point C.
Point C – Ropemakers Fields
At the south entrance to Ropemakers Fields we can see a further tribute to our past in the shape of the park. Shipping and the support businesses of sail and ropemaking were important to the local docks (as was the making of lime from limestone – hence our name!). In order to make rope a very long, narrow area, just like our local park, is needed as the fibres are spun into yarns, which are then twisted into strands. At each twist the direction is reversed which gives the rope strength. The shape of the park is due to the “cut and cover” technique which was used to build the Limehouse Link tunnel which runs directly beneath you. We do know that Mr George Maretts owned a ropemaking business here and a visit from Samuel Pepys in September 1664, so impressed Mr Pepys that Limehouse became the principle supplier of rope to the Royal Naval Dockyard at Deptford.
Because of community action, our park is protected by a Public Space Protection Order allowing for greater enforcement of local byelaws within it. This PSPO is currently up for renewal. Do you think it should be extended or strengthened? Walking down the central park path will take you past an overgrown area on you right near the children’s play area. This plot will have significant work done to it in the coming months by the local gardening club LIMEgreen. Ahead of you is the Limehouse Cut, a canal that connects us to the River Lee and which goes to the Olympic Stadium. David Beckham came down this waterway to bring the torch to open the 2012 Games. The side path will take you to the walkway along the canal which joins up with the Limehouse Basin and towards Point D
Point D – Cruising Association
Alongside of the Limehouse Basin, you’ll find the Cruising Association Headquarters (built 1994) , which demonstrates that our basin remains a working marina. While tall sailing ships no longer are being loaded and unloaded here, recreational sailing happens daily. Our basin is the best way for boaters to enter into the vast canal system as we connect the River Thames not only to the River Lee (and Hertford Union Canal) but also the Regent's Canal, via the lock on Narrow Street. The CA is a private national organisation for boaters and this HQ provides rooms for overnight stays, as well as meeting spaces.
The LCF holds election husting events here. Looking out over the basin you can see the floating residents of our Ward, as most of the berths are residential. As we cross the footbridge over the lock, we can see The Narrow to the south and the octagon shaped Dockmasters house to the North. Now a gastropub, The Narrow was the original Dockmasters House, shared with HM Customs and Excise to collect tax and duty from shipping. While we walk along the south edge of the basin we can view the north side. Wildlife is drawn to the water and there are local projects looking at turning 'the island' (in fact a peninsula, part of the old basin wall) into a nature haven for bees, and at better use of the north side railway arches into a community space or weekend market. The two locks on the north end are the original 1820 brickwork. You can also see a tall tower. This is a Hydraulic Accumulator Tower, which is a rather complicated way of saying a big heavy tub of gravel that sits on top of a column of water, building pressure up to 700 psi, enough energy to power the many cranes, capstans, gates and bridges around the basin. Which means Limehouse had green energy in 1870! This tower is usually open to the public on Open House day.
Leaving the basin behind we start to see the green area at Branch and Horseferry Roads. This site has been the source of local controversy and the LCF achieved an Asset of Community Value designation for the land (due to end this year) and held some community events there. It is owned by the GLA who still hope to develop on it, despite enormous environmental factors. The GLA has fenced it off to prevent its use by the community, in order to negate the asset designation. The land covers the Rotherhithe Tunnel and the Limehouse Link portals, and the Thames Tideway tunnel, and with pre-Covid19 local air quality here the worst in the borough, the LCF cannot support housing at this location.
Point E - The Royal Foundation of St Katharine
As you exit St James' Gardens to the north, you can just start to see the Royal Foundation of St Katharine. As you make your way to the congestion of Butchers Row, more of this local gem and the Masters Georgian House comes into view. Founded in 1147, by Queen Matilda, the religious organisation has survived the Reformation and World Wars. Its history is as colourful as it is long.
During the recent viral outbreak and lockdown this community-focused organisation has reinforced and reinvented its purpose, bringing the community together and supplying basic groceries as well as a pop-up food bank at the Covid-secure Yurt Café.
Why not stop and have a cup of tea or a snack, read up on the groups that meet here, and admire the work and inventiveness of the local gardeners. When you’re ready, make you way past the extended Limehouse DLR station towards Point F.
Point F – Limehouse Basin Arches
The North side of the Limehouse Basin provides a wonderful view of the marina. A clear open space, with perhaps more hard landscaping then desired, calls out for community activity. When the basin opened in 1820, it was a financial failure, not helped by the fact that the disease of cholera first entered the UK right here in 1832, causing 800 deaths. Before the basin there was the Limehouse Wharf, once used by famous explorers.
Walking past the “island” and crossing the footbridge will take you along Basin Approach, to the hidden green space, Rectory Gardens, renewed and painted by LCF volunteers last summer. Continuing back to Point A takes you to Newell Street, where Charles Dickens lived in 1865, writing the book “Our Mutual Friend” (which features The Grapes pub.) The street and the approach to St Anne’s church is also a mainstay of the film and TV industry, used in “Call The Midwife”, “Legend”and many others.
We are indeed lucky to live in such a historic and important place made all the better by our diverse and active residents. Our community has a wonderful living history, being added to by the things we each do. We hope you've enjoyed the Kids’ Art Walk and that our short historic notes added to your understanding of how working together and celebrating our cultures, can bring about change and make our community a better, safer and healthier place for our children.
Congratulations! You’ve just walked about 2 ½ kilometres and viewed six banners showing works of art, made by our local children at Cyril Jackson School. They all show characters from children's books, reimagined in our community, and we hope you enjoyed them and will take the time to vote online. The students taking part will receive book vouchers.
Please vote online at www.limehouse.info/art-walk for your favourite artwork and feed back to us your feelings on the walk. We hope we’ve stirred some interest in our community; if you would like to help / take part in community events or activities, please let us know.
Each year Limehouse Community Forum (LCF) runs a drawing project with Cyril Jackson School, responding to different themes about Limehouse. Usually the pupil’s artworks are displayed at LIMEfest, our annual community summer festival. This year we are doing something a little different. The pupils of Cyril Jackson have been invited to create artwork around the theme “My favourite book character in Limehouse”. Pupils were asked to draw their chosen character and how they might experience Limehouse: Where were they? What might they be doing? Who were they with? What would they wear? How might they feel? A shortlist of entries be have selected and are displayed on a route around the local area and online. Residents are encouraged to follow the trail of our local history and vote online for their favourite artwork, with book vouchers available for the public’s favourite images.
Terms & Condition:
Submit your photos (and a short narrative, should you wish) to firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday 15th August, 2020
This competition is open to all Limehouse residents who are Members of the LCF
Register Now www.limehouse.info/registration
All photo submission must have been taken in Limehouse
Judges decision is final
Results will be announced on Friday 14th August, 2020 via email and on this web page