The Garden Guide

Book: London and Its Environs, 1927
Chapter: 34 The East End and the Docks

Stepney 2

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The region between Commercial Road and the docks on the river is traversed by two roughly parallel streets, running east and west: Cable Street, prolonging Royal Mint St., and St. George Street, the continuation of East Smithfield which skirts the south side of the Royal Mint. St. George St., continued by Shadwell High St., was once notorious as Ratcliff Highway, a lawless region abounding in drinking-dens for sailors. In Cannon Street Road (arm to the right) is St. George-in-the-East, another fine church by Hawskmoor. At 26 Wellclose Square, to the north of this street, Thomas Day, author of 'Sandford and Merton,' was born in 1748. A recreation ground in the adjacent Princes Square occupies the site of the old Swedish church, in which the body of Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) rested until it was removed to Sweden in 1908. King Edward Memorial Park, opened in 1922 on the site of the old Shadwell fish market, lies on the river in full view of the shipping and contains a memorial to Sir Hugh Willoughby (died 1554), Martin Frobisher (1535 ?-94), and other 16th century navigators. In Horseferry Branch Road, just to the east of Stepney station, begins the north approach to Rotherhithe Tunnel, a passage for vehicles and foot-passengers, which passes beneath the Thames near the memorial park and debouches in Neptune St. in Rotherhithe. Including the approaches, the tunnel is 1+ miles 1ong, but only 510 yards are beneath the river. To the east of Horseferry Branch Road is the Regent's Canal Dock, or Limehouse Basin, the starting-point of the REGENT'S CANAL (8+ miles long), constructed by Nash in 1812-20, which describes a wide curve through the north of London, passing through two tunnels, and at Paddington joins the Paddington branch of the Grand Junction Canal, which places it in connection with a wide net of inland navigation. At the Limehouse end of Commercial Road East, on the right, stands the church of St. Anne, with its tall tower, built by Hawksmoor in 1730. A little farther on is the Sailors' Palace, a benevolent institution and hostelfor sailors (1903), with the Edward VII. Nautical School. From this point East India Dock Road continues the main thoroughfare to the east, through POPLAR, to the East India Docks, while Burdett Road (tramway and omnibuses) diverges to the north, for Mile End Road and Victoria Park, and West India Dock Road to the south-east, for the West India Docks and the railway station of that name. Limehouse Causeway and Penny Fields, leading to the west and east off West India Dock Road, form the Chinese and Oriental quarter of London. In Poplar are included also Blackwall and the Isle of Dogs to the south. On June 13th, 1917, a bomb fell on the London County Council School in Upper North Street, Poplar, killing 16 children and wounding 31. A monument has been erected in the recreation ground in front of St. Matthias's, long known as 'Poplar Chapel,' a church built in 1650-54, with teak pillars fabled to be relics of the Armada. Farther to the east in East India Dock Road is the Poplar Hospital for Accidents, founded in 1855, with over 100 beds. Between 30,000 and 40,000 casualties are treated here annually. Close by begins the north approach to Blackwall Tunnel, opened in 1897, a passage for carriages and pedestrians, passing below the Thames to Blackwall Lane in East Greenwich. Thence a tramway (No. 62) runs to the Embankment. Omnibus No. 108 runs through the tunnel to Blackheath, etc. The tunnel proper is 1490 yards long (of which 407 yards are beneath the river) but, including the approaches, the total length of the passage is 2070 yards Sir Walter Raleigh's house was demolished during its construction.