Development and Decay: Photos of Commercial Road in Stepney and Limehouse

The Troxy, an Art Deco triumphThe Brewery TapLavender HouseThe warrior guardianEast End terraceCash for scrap
Boarded upThe lost fishmongersTextures and coloursBlisteredTony & Sue'sCallegari's Restaurant
Callegari's close-upYorkshire RoadDepartureLowell Street flatsOur LadyClosed: The Limehouse Library
Apartments by the canalLimehouse Cut looking towards Limehouse BasinLimehouse Cut looking towards Bromley-by-BowLimehouse Town Hall"Crap your not Banksey!"Olympics missiles

Development and Decay: Commercial Road in Stepney and Limehouse, a set on Flickr.

As part of my ongoing project to photograph the whole of London by bike, this is the 59th photo set I have posted, and the last of three photo sets recording a journey I made along Commercial Road, in the East End, one hot and sunny day in July (see here and here). It was something of a revelation to me, as, although I know parts of the East End, I was largely unfamiliar with this area, and cycling the whole of the road from Aldgate to the junction near Canary Wharf, as well as making diversions into the back streets, helped bring to life this vibrant and historically fascinating part of town that I have since revisited on several occasions.

This whole part of the city — rather frayed around the edges, and with an uneasy mix of wealth and poverty, featuring the white working class and Asian immigrants on the one hand, and bankers on the other — is primarily subject to drastic changes because of its proximity to the City and Canary Wharf, and is, in a very real sense, up against the full force of international money, with developers intent on exploiting any land they can get their hands on to build new housing aimed at foreign investors — a bubble of exploitation, with investors charged too much for properties that they, in turn, sell or rent for too much to London residents. Read the rest of this entry »

Photos of Shadwell: School, Street Art, Studios and Railway Bridges

Space age hospitalWindmills not yuppiesWatney MarketBishop Challoner Catholic Collegiate SchoolFoxgloves at schoolWatching over us
Under the bridgeThe gentrification of Johnson StreetShadwell ladySlightly menacing pandaAn arc of lightGhostly family
Damp clownSelf-portrait in ShadwellNumber 6The exotic garden at Bishop Challoner SchoolConvent of MercyCable Street Studios
Pallets in Pitsea PlaceBrutalism on Stepney CausewayBlue bridge 1: Stepney CausewayAt the back of Cable Street StudiosBlue bridge 2: Pitsea StreetCable Street Studios' wonderful windows

Shadwell: School, Street Art, Studios and Railway Bridges, a set on Flickr.

As part of my ongoing project to photograph the whole of London by bike, I’m currently posting five sets of photos of a journey I made on a hot, sunny day in July, when I travelled from my home in Brockley, south east London, through New Cross and Bermondsey to the River Thames, and then across Tower Bridge and up to Commercial Road, one of the great arteries of east London, built to service London’s docks two hundred years ago.

Located in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, Commercial Road, which runs for two miles, passes through four areas within Tower Hamlets — Whitechapel, Shadwell, Limehouse and Stepney — where poverty is still prevalent, despite the encroaching gentrification, and these contrasts are reflected in the architecture — some old and decaying, some old and restored, and some with the gleaming new arrogance of London’s currently unfettered developers. Read the rest of this entry »

Photos of Commercial Road: The 21st Century Rag Trade

The old brick towerThe dark tunnelArch 46England car washGoodman's Fields building siteWines and spirits and gentrification
Harry Gosling Primary SchoolCommercial Road, looking eastDreamweaverDresses, and Marilyn MonroeCharlie's Shopfitting Co.Euro Miss
The house on the cornerStreet sceneFood & WineWorn-out horses and jockeysFeelingsEternity
Dressed to impressBoxesFast food and the lotteryReally cheap mannequinsI'm really cheapShoe Candy

Commercial Road: The 21st Century Rag Trade, a set on Flickr.

As part of my ongoing project to photograph the whole of London by bike, this is the second of five photo sets that I’m belatedly publishing, many months after they were taken, which capture a journey that I took, on a particularly hot and sunny Tuesday in July, just before the Olympics madness took off.

The first set focused on the start of my journey, through New Cross and Bermondsey, south of the River Thames, and after crossing Tower Bridge, this second set features my journey to Commercial Road, and then east along that great artery of east London. Read the rest of this entry »

Photos of Limehouse, Shadwell and Wapping: Art, History and the Summer Sun

Canary Wharf from Narrow StreetImitation cottagesCanary Wharf from ShadwellSunbathing in ShadwellShadwell BasinGlamis Road Bridge
The Prospect of WhitbyThe Wapping ProjectThe best windowSummer gardenRound the backCybermen?
The front door of the Wapping ProjectSt. Patrick's, WappingIconic WappingNew Crane WharfCanary Wharf: Silent SundayThe Space, Isle of Dogs
Inside The Space

Limehouse, Shadwell and Wapping: Art, History and the Summer Sun, a set on Flickr.

This is the 44th set of photos in my ongoing project to photograph the whole of London by bike, and is the second set recording a journey I made, one sunny Sunday in July, with my wife and son from our home in south east London, through the Greenwich Foot Tunnel, up the western shore of the Isle of Dogs, which is infested with high-rise housing developments, and on to Limehouse, Shadwell and Wapping. Here the great wharves that dealt with the imports of Britain’s global trade during the heyday of Empire, and of the London docks, were converted into apartments during the Docklands development programme in the 1980s and 1990s. The first set of photos is here.

Money doesn’t scream, the way it does in Canary Wharf, in the narrow strips of former wharves in Limehouse, Shadwell and Wapping, although obviously most of the wharf living is aimed squarely at the rich, and elements of this are obvious — the matt grey Aston Martin that, for instance, almost ran me over at one point, driven by some young idiot who obviously believed the words of Formula 1 driver Sebastian Vettel: “Matte cars are cool, they come across as a bit aggressive.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, filmmaker, photographer and Guantanamo expert
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