August 20, 2015

Bromley-by-Bow: From Brambles to a Bright Future

The word ‘Bromley’ comes from the Saxon words for ‘bramble’ and ‘field’, but nowadays you won’t find many of either in Bromley-by-Bow, now an intriguing urban area that has transformed itself from priory to mill town to quirky, modern community hub.

The district was once home to the grand priory referenced in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Stratford Langthorne Abbey, which was founded in 1135 and was one of the largest Cistercian abbeys in England.


Sadly, most of what remains of the once great abbey is a small churchyard, but there are plenty of historical sites in Bromley to admire, not least the Georgian terraces and the gin distilleries of the 1960s.


The churchyard itself is dutifully maintained by the local community as a park area – just one of the enviable community projects that give Bromley-by-Bow its family-friendly, sociable reputation.


Bromley-by-Bow the mill town


The area of Three Mills has been a trading site for over 900 years and was once the largest tidal mill complex in England. Housing the manufacture of everything from gunpowder to corn, the complex was last used in 1941 to make flour.


The House Mill, built in 1776, has since been restored into a beautiful museum and exhibition centre.


On the Bow Back Rivers, which served the Three Mills running between Bow and Stratford, you’re more likely to see holiday barges and pleasure boats these days than the industrial cargo that formerly frequented the waterways.


Other unusual points of interest in Bromley-by-Bow include the now redundant Abbey Mills Pumping Station (nicknamed the ‘Cathedral of Sewerage’) and the snail-like pumping station machinery that it left behind.


The Cathedral of Sewerage is, in fact, a stunning piece of Victorian architecture and engineering that was constructed to manage the Great Stink of 1858 when the once-open sewer of the Thames became overwhelmed by effluent.


And for a charming fusion of old and new, the medieval church of St Mary & Holy Trinity Church, flanked by busy traffic on both sides of Bow Road, is an island like no other. But for all its quirky architecture, what really puts Bromley on the map is its proactive community of local residents.



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Bromley-by-Bow the community hub


Bromley has become known for housing a very proud, thriving and active community. The empowered residents of Bromley are a force to be reckoned with, as they strive to ensure that the area of Bromley not only remains looking its best, but also that all members of its community are catered for (like creating a community hub for local children to grow vegetables).


The Bromley by Bow Community Organisation frequently organises football tournaments, youth groups and community services for the elderly.


That’s not to mention the great community centres of Kingsley Hall (famous for hosting Mahatma Ghandi in 1931) and the Bromley by Bow Centre, a pioneering voluntary organisation providing health care, nursery care, skills courses and community services.


Bromley-by-Bow on the up


Like many areas in East London, Bromley-by-Bow is in the midst of regeneration. The district is ripe with redevelopment, particularly in the Lower Lee Valley area, which has been earmarked for a huge regeneration funding project.


So if you’re looking to make Bromley-by-Bow your home, get in touch with our Bow office today.

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