Having been north, south and west, I thought it only fitting that the penultimate day of my blog week should see me in the east. The eastern parts of London are quite remarkable in terms of the changes that have taken place in recent years. C onsequently, some postcodes offer a real photographer’s urban paradise of colour, shape and form, but sadly very little in the way of original, industrial, urban grit, which has all been swept away in the name of regeneration.
E6 is one of the larger postcodes, but there has not been much evidence of it in the Bleeding London portfolio, so Beckton was chosen as the starting point for today’s adventure.
I decided to begin with Eisenhower Drive as I had found some information on line that indicated the houses in this street were still prefabs. After last year’s visit to the Prefab Museum in Catford, I’m rather taken with them and was looking forward to seeing some more. On arrival, however, it was evident that this information was out of date as Eisenhower himself, with the “Drive” just being another estate road of modernish dwellings, although the disappointment was partially negated by a fabulous feral furniture find.
After a couple of hours snapping, the plan was to visit The Reach for a spot of lunch. This is the original manor house of the Galyon family, who once owned the surrounding riverside land. The grade II listed house has been restored and sits oddly in contrast with the new developments. Unfortunately it is “Closed until further notice”, which does not bode well, and despite the number of residential buildings, there didn’t seem to be anywhere else in the area for a refreshment stop.
I know that we need new housing and it’s laudable that so much of London is being redeveloped, but I do find the lack of facilities in some of these developments slightly worrying. You can walk for miles before finding a shop, let alone a café or pub. I was surprised that there was not an array of riverside watering holes, as can be found around St Katherine’s Dock – or maybe they are there, but local knowledge is needed to find them. As with so many other parts of London, Beckton now favours the retail park, but the absence of a local alternative tends to leave the estates feeling rather soulless.
However, what E6 lacks in personality, it makes up for in its transport links – not only is travelling around easy, but it’s great fun as well. The journey to E6 was so simple – the super-fast Jubilee Line and then the DLR, which is like a Disney ride and if you can get the front seats, there are some great photos to be had. The return journey from Beckton was even more fun – a short trip on the DLR and then the cable car from Royal Victoria to North Greenwich.
It’s the first time I’ve been on the cable car and it’s not recommended if you suffer from vertigo (especially when it wobbles at the top) but it does offer some spectacular views – particularly of the Dome and (my personal favourite) the scrapyard.
If you don’t fancy the cable car or the DLR, there’s always the boat. The light was so miserable today, that I didn’t fancy the journey, but on a sunny day – and if you’re not in a rush – it’s definitely the best way to see London. And if none of those appeal, then the area’s pretty handy for the airport – for some of the new dwellings, though, it’s rather too handy for my liking!