Crunching across time at Tilbury

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A return to Tilbry with Dr Kate Spencer and joined by the London Waterkeeper Theo Thomas, to inspect the bizarre landscape formed by the broken cap of a historic landfill site on the Thames foreshore.

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The path ‪from Tilbury Fort hugs the exterior wall of the mothballed Tilbury Powerstation, a ghost site, inert, occupied by slumbering security guards snoozing in front of flickering CCTV monitors. Well that’s the image in my mind with Homer Simpson whizzing round on a skateboard.

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Walking over the early 20th Century landfill where it has broken through whatever soil/clay cap was holding it in is a surreal experience – stepping across a carpet of scattered broken crockery, paste jars, poison bottles, ceramic jugs, old lotions and forgotten condiments. The soil is a contaminated cocktail of chemicals and depleted metals washed through by coastal erosion and rains.

This map posted by Guy Shrubsole on Twitter shows that Tilbury is far from unique. Theo says, “There are thousands of pollution time bombs close to our rivers and estuaries, tucked away, but silently threatening their and our health.”

Guy and Kate have found further maps detailing both the landfill site at Tilbury and elsewhere around the country

Here’s the podcast of my previous trip to Tilbury with Kate Spencer, Nick Papadimitriou, and Andy Ramsay for Ventures and Adventures in Topography.

 

Fieldpath walk from Theydon Bois to Epping

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The other weekend I needed to head into the forest in these glorious last days of summer.

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I’d walked from Theydon Bois to Epping via Amesbury Banks through the forest earlier in the year but the sight of the fields as the tube pulled into Theydon Bois station were too tempting to resist.

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We walked over cracked earth towards the distant uplands.

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We picnicked at the crest of the hill in this field facing the early evening sun – the rustic delights of the countryside so close to the rumbling tarmac of East London

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As much as I love wandering the city streets there is a sense of freedom and abandonment that only comes from walking over open fields.

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Through the long tunnel beneath the M25.

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The path on the other side of the M25 broke off in various directions – this Hollow Way looked as though no-one had passed beneath its boughs for a while

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Epping rises of the far slopes

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A last taste of freedom before heading up the steep hill to Epping tube station

 

The Wonders of Barkingside

That loop in the Central Line has got to be there for a reason beyond making Essex commuters change at Leytonstone and wait for a tube going via Hainault.

The reason it seems is protect the architectural gems of Barkingside from the herds of tourists that would surely stampede this way if it was slightly easier to reach.

Barkingside Magistrates Court

You’re welcomed by the brutalist beauty of the Magistrate’s Court radiating greyness like a beached battleship.

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Then there is this modernist delight on the High Street – the sort of building that makes me dream of a parallel life living in one of these flats above the shops.

Fullwell Cross Library Barkingside

But the jewel in the crown must surely be Fullwell Cross Library – a Grade II listed civic alhambra designed by Frederick Gibberd completed in 1968.

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Gibberd started his career as a architect of ‘modern flats’, making his name with Pullman Court in Streatham.

But he was just warming up for building Fullwell Cross Library – the ceiling alone worth trundling around the Hainault branch for.