A Virtual Beating of the Bounds: Stop no.2

Here is the clue for stop no.2:

🏀 I am bridge, a royal part, whose name
Is from a former pub. And just beside
In twenty-twelve Olympic mayhem came.
Alas, we failed to stop it – but we tried!

If you follow the map from Stop no.1 (Princess of Wales), you will find yourself travelling upstream of the River Lea, along the towpath adjacent to North Millfields Park. From there you will cross the river over the Kings Head Bridge.

A Beating the Bounds procession crossing the Kings Head Bridge, 2017

In the 19th century, the Kings Head Pub occupied the spot which is now home to flats named ‘Dockside Court’, at what was then Middlesex Wharf, and Lea Dock, an inlet from the River Lea, ran behind the pub. The building had a sign on the roof which was visible from the river so that bargemen could spot the pub from a distance as they were passing. This pub was rebuilt in the 1920s at a time when all the older buildings in the area were removed on health grounds because of frequent flooding. The dock was filled in at the same that the pub was rebuilt.

Kings Head, 44 Middlesex Wharf, Clapton – circa 1886, image from Vincent O’Loughlin

The Kings Head pub closed and was demolished in around 2000 but it still gives its name to the bridge that crosses to Leyton Marsh.

🏀 Leyton Marsh, east end of Kings Head Bridge

Save Leyton Marsh (SLM) was a campaign group established by the local community to oppose the construction of a temporary basketball venue for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Local people took direct action against the destruction of Leyton Marsh at this spot. We organised early morning games of boules on Sandy Lane, preventing lorries from accessing the site.

In March 2012, we were joined by a group from Occupy London who established a Community Protection Camp next to the construction site.

Community Protection Camp on Leyton Marsh 2012

Like Hackney Marshes, Leyton Marsh had been used as a landfill site for WW2 rubble, which is why the ground lies considerably higher than Walthamstow Marshes. Excavation for the 11m high basketball training facility resulted in tonnes of contaminated rubble being uncovered, which was left exposed on site for weeks.

Uncovered toxic rubble, Leyton Marsh

Injunctions against the occupation and the protest were heard at High Court of Justice. Ironically the court order was made by one ‘Master M. Marsh’!

A civil injunction was lodged by the Olympic Delivery Authority against various protesters who blocked construction vehicles at Leyton Marsh.

Protesters under a lorry on Leyton Marsh

Three protesters were jailed and a local resident was heavily fined after breaking the injunction.

Eviction of the camp, April 2012

After the eviction, the Community Protection Camp moved to the Lea Bridge Road, in front of the current Lee Valley Ice Centre. However the temporary basketball facility was erected, taking up most of Leyton Marsh. During the Games, it was hardly used.

Temporary Basketball Court, viewed from Riverside Close
The late Jane Bednall with the banner she created for the campaign, now at the Museum of London, and Baroness Jenny Jones

The site was finally restored to public use, well after the promised date, and the land still bears the scars of misuse.

Leyton Marsh from above, the footprint of the temporary facility can still be seen,a plastic membrane having been placed in the ground during ‘restoration’ works

Save Leyton Marsh changed its name to Save Lea Marshes and continues to campaign against inappropriate use and development of the marshes to this day, most recently the construction of a new double-size ice centre complex on Leyton Marsh.

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1 Response to A Virtual Beating of the Bounds: Stop no.2

  1. Pingback: A Virtual Beating of the Bounds: Stop 3 | Save Lea Marshes

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