A 2 mile walk between Bethnal Green and Cambridge Heath (National Rail) Stations through green spaces including a city farm and along a section of the Regent's Canal. It can be extended to take in the Museum of Childhood (extra ¼ mile). The walk is particularly suitable for families.
station and go left along Dunbridge Street.
Bethnal Green Station was opened by the Great Eastern Railway in 1872.
Weavers Fields and take the nature trail to the right (see
This park was created in the 1970s by the clearance of an area of early 19th century weavers' cottages.
At the end
of the wooded section go left to the large sculpture (Weaving
Identities by Peter Dunn).
A plaque on the north side explains this feature.
path running west so the school is on your left hand side.
The Weavers Field School was designed in 1883 by ER Robson.
Vallance Road and go right. Cross Bethnal Green Road into
Squirries Street. Go diagonally across the green to the prominent
This is the former Queen Adelaide Dispensary, founded in 1849 after a cholera epidemic. It was rebuilt on this site by Lee & Long in 1865-6 in a Renaissance style. It was converted and extended for housing in 1990 when the clock tower was restored. There is a bust of the queen on the main front. Almost opposite is the Working Men's Club, built in the 1890s as the Bethnal Green Radical & Liberal Club.
to the end of Pollard Row and go left along Gosset Street. Cross
and go right along Durant Street to the left of the small green.
Walk through Ion Square Gardens at the end of the street.
The park is on the site of Ion Square, built around 1845. There were 38 terraced cottages on three sides of the square facing a central garden, with a brick wall to the south. In 1886 the Kyrle Society approached the Vestry of St Matthew's with a view to open Ion Square's garden to the public. Nothing resulted from this although some improvements were made to the garden. In 1894 the MPGA secured a 40 year lease on the garden for a peppercorn rent. The brick wall was replaced by an iron railing with an entrance from Durant Street. In 1928 responsibility for the garden passed to Bethnal Green Borough Council. In 1940-1 the square suffered severe bomb damage and by 1945 only 5 houses were left standing so the site was cleared and 20 pre-fabs erected, although the central garden remained. In 1953 it was agreed that the land surrounding the square should form an extension to the garden. In 1962-3 the pre-fabs and other properties were demolished and the area was cleared, levelled and laid to grass. Play equipment was later added to the wider park but the original Ion Square Garden has remained enclosed.
Hackney Road and take the cycle path to the right to Hackney City
In the early 1800s the site was occupied by farmers and market gardeners supplying fresh produce to the City of London. Later as the area became built up, a brewery occupied the site and beer was brewed from late 1880 until the 1930s. The water used in the brewing process was supplied by a well, still present today in the front garden. Over the next ten years, various businesses were based at the site ranging from furniture makers to button manufacturers. From 1940 onwards the site was occupied by the Jeakins Family who ran a road haulage company. In 1982 local people formed the farm and two years later Hackney City Farm took over its present site and was given 100 years lease by Hackney Council. The farm has evolved into a thriving popular community resource with a wide range of farm animals as well as a rich cottage garden. The older outbuildings have all been renovated into animal housing and much of the main building has undergone refurbishment.
Opposite are buildings of the former Queen Elizabeth Hospital for Sick Children, founded by Quakers. It was built in 1867 and extended (Hackney Road frontage) in 1902-4. It was further altered and extended in the 1930s and laboratory buildings were constructed in 1969-72. The hospital closed in 1997 and the site will be redeveloped for housing with only the facade retained.
Haggerston Park further along Goldsmith's Row. Walk ahead with
the farm on your left then walk to the right around the sports
In 1823 the Imperial Gas Company was established on Haggerston Basin, a spur off the Regent's Canal, and in 1887 the company amalgamated to form the Gas Light and Coke Co. This was bombed and destroyed in World War II and on its site the oldest part of Haggerston Park was laid out in 1956 by the London County Council with the high relict C19th brick walls still visible on three sides.
the gap near the toilets and continue ahead.
The LCC park layout included fine ornamental gardens, a raised bowling green, and a birch grove on the infilled basin site plus a Tea Terrace, and a sundial and elliptical bed at the Edith Street entrance. In 1966 a Park Keeper's Lodge and One O'clock Club were built, and in the 1980s the park was extended to the south to include a city farm, children's playground and playing fields. The pond in the park, which is of value for nature conservation, was repaired in 2010/11. A Community Orchard and Food Growing Garden is being created, for which the ground has been cleared and prepared.
to exit the park
Dating from the 1950s is a long pergola walk on the north side of the park.
along Whiston Road, crossing Queensbridge Road.
The Haggerston Baths were built in 1903-4 and a featured a swimming bath, slipper baths and a laundry. The building has a loggia with Ionic columns, pediments with recling figures and a domed cupola with a gilded ship weathervane.
the crossroads, cross and go left along Queensbridge Road. Go
down to the canal towpath and follows this eastwards.
The Regent's Canal was built between 1812-20 to connect the Paddington Branch of the Grand Junction Canal to the river Thames at Limehouse. There is a lock further along. Beyond the road bridge on the right are gasholders dating to 1865-6 and 1888-9.
beyond the railway over the canal, go up to the road. Go right
along Cambridge Heath Road. Cambridge Heath Station is just
beyond the next road junction. Conitinue along Cambridge Heath
Road to access the Musueum of Childhood.
This is housed in a building of 1868-72 by James Wild, incorporating the iron structure of the first temporary museum, erected in South Kensington in 1855-6 with the proceeds af the Great Exhibition. The site and adjoining green space was purchased for the people by Sir Antonio Brady and others. It became the Museum of Childhood (now part of the V&A) in 1974.
Bethnal Green tube station is a short walk south from the museum or return northwards to Cambridge Heath Station (same distance).
© london-footprints.co.uk 2014
Buildings of England: London 4 North - Cherry & Pevsner
Buildings of England: London 5 East - Cherry, O'Brien & Pevsner
Photos of the QE Hospital [webpage]
Hackney City Farm [website]
Museum of Childhood [website]