Discover more about the Lea Valley

Dr Jim Lewis

Jim has written a series of fascinating books about different aspects of the history of the Lea Valley, published by Libri Publishing.

Lee Valley Regional Park Authority

The Lee Valley Regional Park has been providing great days out for millions of visitors since 1967. With award winning open spaces and world-class sports venues stretching along the path of the River Lea, it knits together many of the area’s industrial and natural heritage sites. 2017 marks the Authority’s 50th anniversary and there are now a host of different ways for you to enjoy the park, including bush craft, an expedition-style campsite and its biggest ever series of guided walks. Find out more at:

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

The River Lea runs through the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in several channels, known as the Bow Back Rivers. These once formed the arteries of some of the Valley’s most intense and notorious industrial activity. The Olympic Park has restored the river channels and created a variety of imaginative new settings for the river. Carpenter’s Lock, the only double radial lock gate in the country, has been restored and was reopened in Summer 2017. The Park is an excellent entry point to begin an exploration of the valley, to both north and south. Extensive views of the valley can be had from viewing gallery at the top of the ArcelorMittal Orbit sculpture. Find out more at:

The Royal Gunpowder Mills

The Royal Gunpowder Mills in Waltham Abbey is an important heritage site with a remarkable story. The charity that runs the attraction is committed to conserving and sharing the fascinating 300-year history with future generations. Gunpowder is a mixture of the natural products saltpetre, sulphur and charcoal. Its beginnings are obscure, but it most probably originated in China after saltpetre was discovered. Initially saltpetre was used as a common salt in food. It was then used in alchemy and its fire effects were used for religious purposes to ward off malevolent spirits. Gradually, by the 9th century AD, it became linked to the other two ingredients to produce incendiary materials for warfare. Later, the explosive potential of the combination was discovered and the rest, as they say, is history.
The Royal Gunpowder Mills
Beaulieu Drive Waltham Abbey
Essex EN9 1JY
[email protected]

Creativity and Art

Mill Meads, near Abbey Mills Pumping Station, was the location chosen in the 1960s by Cedric Price in the 1960s for his seminal ‘Fun Palace’ project. This was never built, but over the last decade or more a new creative community has been drawn to this part of the Valley. The riverside is now peppered with studios and galleries, including Trinity Buoy Wharf and the Nunnery Gallery at Bromley by Bow. Hackney Wick and Fish Island are once again one of the most distinctive and creative parts of London, with a range of galleries, waterside bars and restaurants. ‘The Line’ sculpture trail, which contains works by several significant contemporary artists, follows the Lea River path from the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to the mouth of the Lea at Trinity Buoy Wharf. Near Custom House is the Emirates Cable Car, which provides stupendous views of the Lea valley (and much more) on its journey across the Thames to North Greenwich.

Other Great Places

Museum of London Docklands (on the Isle of Dogs – Contact: [email protected]), local history museums contain a wealth of information:

Vestry House Museum, Vestry Rd, Walthamstow, E17 9NH
Contact: [email protected]

William Morris Gallery, Lloyd Park House, 531 Forest Rd, Walthamstow E17 4PP
Contact: [email protected]

Bruce Castle Museum and Haringey Archive and Local History, Lordship Lane, Tottenham N17 8NU
Contact: [email protected]

Hackney Museum, 1 Reading Lane, Hackney, E8 1GQ
Contact: [email protected]

Newham Archive and Local Studies Library, Stratford Library, 3 The Grove, E15 1EL
Contact: [email protected]

Enfield Local Studies and Archive, Thomas Hardy House (1st floor), 39 London Road, Enfield, EN2 6DS
Contact: [email protected]