Hidden London

Mill Meads

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Newham

A nature reserve and historic industrial district situated among the creeks and channels of the River Lea, south of Stratford. A ‘mead’ was a meadow and the mills were mainly of the tidal variety, taking advantage of the twice-daily swell on the river, where it becomes Bow Creek. Products milled here from the sixteenth century included corn, gunpowder and later grain for gin distilling. To the south of the Channelsea River lay Sir William Congreve’s rocket works, which made artillery that was used in the Napoleonic Wars and the Anglo-American War of 1812. The ‘red glare’ of these rockets at the Battle of Fort McHenry is referred to in the American national anthem. The northern part of Mill Meads is now primarily commercial, with units tending to operate in media-related fields such as design and display, and there are TV studios at Three Mills. Other areas are still marshy wilderness, home to some rare aquatic flora and fauna. Among the architectural treasures of Mill Meads are the Abbey Mills pumping station and two surviving mills and a miller’s house at Three Mills. Mill Meads are crossed by public footpaths that form a section of the Greenway route, some parts of which have recently been improved while others are in a disgraceful state.

click for area map (opens in a new window)
Parts of Mill Meads are still a marshy wilderness, like this area near the Prescott Channel

Postal district: E15

Brewer's London Phrase & Fable

 
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