Mudchute Park

Park in/near Southwark, existing between 1977 and now

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2018

Mudchute Park and Farm is a large urban park and farm just south of Canary Wharf on the Isle of Dogs.

It is a Local Nature Reserve and a Site of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation. The name of the site is a testament to the engineering overspill when Millwall Dock was being constructed in the 1860s. Spoil from the excavation of the Dock, and silt from its channels and waterways were dumped on nearby land, using a conveyor system.

The park now covers 13 hectares, and the local authority describes the farm as the largest urban farm in Europe.

The Millwall Dock Company owned a huge swathe of land across the Isle of Dogs as it intended to extend the docks to meet the Thames in the east one day, when there was enough business to justify it. Until then, the company kept the land undeveloped, mostly leasing it out for pasture. This was also the case of the later Mudchute (or ’Mud Shoot’ as it was originally spelled in official documents).

The name "Mudchute" derives from it being the former dumping ground for mud dredged from the Millwall Docks, which had to be regularly dredged to prevent silting up. A novel, pneumatic device was employed which pumped the liquefied mud through a pipe over East Ferry Rd (close to the George pub), dumping it on the other side. This system was designed by dock engineer Frederic Eliot Duckham (father of Alexander Duckham who later founded his eponymous lubricating oil company in Millwall).

The mud stank terribly, and Poplar Borough Council continually complained to the dock company that it was causing disease (including diphtheria) among locals, attempting unsuccessfully to have the mud dumping stopped.

By 1890, the Millwall Dock Company had not yet dumped mud on the northern edge of its land east of East Ferry Rd, which meant the ground was flat and solid. Landlord of the nearby George pub, William Clark, leased a 400 ft by 420 ft plot on the flat land, planning to develop an athletics stadium for football, cricket and tennis, with running and cycling tracks. The stadium was opened in June 1890 and became the home of Millwall Athletic football team.

In 1901, the dock company decided that it wanted its land back, in order to use it for timber storage. It had plans to install a large timber transporter, which would carry off-loaded timber from the docks to warehouses on the ground where the stadium was located, which would become known as the Transporter Yard. Millwall Athletic football club was forced to find its fourth ground on the Island.

During World War II the Transporter Yard served as an RAF embarkation point, and a section of the higher land was the site for four Ack Ack Anti-aircraft guns. The 154 Battery of the 52 Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery was stationed at the Mudchute until 26 March 1941. Then the 119 Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment manned the site until 1945. The guns were fired by remote control using Radar to track the enemy aeroplanes. The Blitz started on 7 September 1940, and on 8 September the Guardroom, canteen and stores was destroyed by landmines, but there were no casualties. During the Blitz 430 people were killed on the Isle of Dogs.

After the war, the Mudchute remained owned by the Port of London Authority (PLA), and was patrolled by PLA Police, but it was used for diverse purposes: a PLA Sports Club football pitch near the Pier St entrance, a huge commercial cattle shed on the site of the later farm buildings, allotments and a large playground for all the children of the Isle communities.

When, in the early 1970s, the PLA realized the Millwall Docks would close in the foreseeable future, they negotiated with the GLC (Greater London Council) to transfer the Mudchute land to them for housing purposes. However, the Association of Island Communities launched a successful campaign to make sure the land became a public, open space. A newly formed Mudchute Association leased the land (all except that land which was leased to an ASDA supermarket) from Tower Hamlets Borough Council, and a farm and garden was established in 1977.


Main source: Wikipedia
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Southwark

Southwark is the area immediately south of London Bridge, opposite the City of London.

Southwark is on a previously marshy area south of the River Thames. Recent excavation has revealed prehistoric activity including evidence of early ploughing, burial mounds and ritual activity. The area was originally a series of islands in the River Thames. This formed the best place to bridge the Thames and the area became an important part of Londinium owing its importance to its position as the endpoint of the Roman London Bridge. Two Roman roads, Stane Street and Watling Street, met at Southwark in what is now Borough High Street.

At some point the Bridge fell or was pulled down. Southwark and the city seem to have become largely deserted during the Early Middle Ages. Archaeologically, evidence of settlement is replaced by a largely featureless soil called the Dark Earth which probably (although this is contested) represents an urban area abandoned.

Southwark appears to recover only during the time of King Alfred and his successors. Sometime in and around 886 AD the Bridge was rebuilt and the City and Southwark restored. Southwark was called ’Suddringa Geworc’ which means the ’defensive works of the men of Surrey’. It was probably fortified to defend the bridge and hence the re-emerging City of London to the north. This defensive role is highlighted by the use of the Bridge as a defense against King Swein, his son King Cnut and in 1066, against King William the Conqueror. He failed to force the Bridge during the Norman conquest of England, but Southwark was devastated.

Much of Southwark was originally owned by the church - the greatest reminder of monastic London is Southwark Cathedral, originally the priory of St Mary Overy.

During the Middle Ages, Southwark remained outside of the control of the City and was a haven for criminals and free traders, who would sell goods and conduct trades outside the regulation of the City Livery Companies. An important market - later to become known as the Borough Market - was established there some time in the 13th century. The area was renowned for its inns, especially The Tabard, from which Chaucer’s pilgrims set off on their journey in The Canterbury Tales.

After many decades’ petitioning, in 1550, Southwark was incorporated into the City of London as ’The Ward of Bridge Without’. It became the entertainment district for London, and it was also the red-light area. In 1599, William Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre was built on the South Bank in Southwark, though it burned down in 1613. A modern replica, also called the Globe, has been built near the original site. Southwark was also a favorite area for entertainment like bull and bear-baiting. There was also a famous fair in Southwark which took place near the Church of St. George the Martyr. William Hogarth depicted this fair in his engraving of Southwark Fair (1733).

In 1844 the railway reached Southwark with the opening of London Bridge station.

In 1861 the Great Fire of Southwark destroyed a large number of buildings between Tooley Street and the Thames, including those around Hays Wharf, where Hays Galleria was later built, and blocks to the west almost as far as St Olave’s Church.

In 1899 Southwark was incorporated along with Newington and Walworth into the Metropolitan Borough of Southwark, and in 1965 this was incorporated with the Metropolitan Borough of Camberwell and Metropolitan Borough of Bermondsey into the London Borough of Southwark.

Southwark tube station was opened on 20 November 1999 as part of the Jubilee Line Extension.

The original plan for the Extension did not include a station between those at Waterloo and London Bridge; Southwark station was added after lobbying by the local council. Although it is close to Waterloo, not near the Bankside attractions it was intended to serve, and its only rail interchange is to London Waterloo East mainline station; the passenger usage matches those of other minor central stations. It does however get over double the traffic of nearby Borough station and around triple Lambeth North.
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