Sweet East London Walk – Forest Gate, Upton Park, Plaistow

Trebor Walk through Forest Gate and Upton Park to Plaistow

When one walk begets another something magical happens. Stopping to admire a fine industrial building on Woodford Avenue on a Sunday afternoon drift to Chigwell, I mussed to my camera that I had no idea what it had been, but it always caught my eye. Several people in the YouTube comments informed me that this had once been the Headquarters of Trebor, the iconic confectionary company. A quick search online revealed that the company had actually started life in nearby Forest Gate, and that their 1930s HQ was still intact despite being struck by a bomb during the Second World War. It became an irrestitable focus for an East London quest.

The route I devised for the video above would loop together a number of resonant locations in the area:

Tylney RoadThe Tylneys were incredibly wealthy and owned lots of estates including Wanstead House. The road aligns with Wanstead Park on the far side of the Flats.

Manor Park Cemetery – the grave of Jack Cornwell who was postumously awarded the VC at the age of 16 for bravery at the Battle of Jutland in 1916. Serving on HMS Chester, the ship came under attack and the gun crew were killed or mortally wounded. Cornwell was shredded with shrapnel but continued to man the last gun stood alone on deck where he was found full of shrapnel still looking down the sights waiting for further orders.

Trebor Building, Katherine Road – Trebor got their sugar from Tate at Canning Town – there was a Trebor Terrace in Katherine Road near where they built their factory.  Other sweets produced at the time included Mixed Fruit Drops, Rock Allsorts, Pineapple Drops and Pear Drops. This Art Deco factory was built in the 1930s on the site of the original factory. The warehouse was hit by a bomb in 1944 and had to be protected from sugar looters. The Green and white of the building matches the colours of extra strong mints. Trebor moved their HQ to Woodford Avenue in the 1950s. Read more here

Green Street and Queen’s Market – the Eastern Boundary of the old Borough of West Ham. In 1086 West Ham had a population of 130

Upton Park ‘Boleyn Ground’ – merger with Boleyn Castle FC in 1904 produced West Ham United. Ann Boylen stayed at Green Street House.

Barking Road – the West Ham Statue, the Tun Marsh – the Barking Road killed off the marsh men of the Plaistow Levels – great grazing land.

Greengate Street – Hook End which was at the end of Greengate St jct with Barking Road.

Plaistow – mentioned in 1414 probably means settlement around a place of play or village green – a village on the marshes. Plaistow Levels – Thomas Burke speaks of Plastovians in The Outer Circle – once a place of city merchants.

Plaistow Park – Part of Plaistow Park is on the grounds of the former Essex House, which dated back to Tudor times, demolished in 1836. West Ham Council acquired the land to create the public park, which opened as Balaam Street Recreation Ground in June 1894.

Doric columns from Wanstead House – bought by local Quakers and used in the portico of North Street Schools (off end of Greengate Street).

 

4 Comments

  1. Graham Larkbey   •  

    Hi John – an excellent and fascinating walk! Next time you’re over that way, suggest you head down Upton Lane where you’ll find the Old Spotted Dog pub (originally built as a hunting lodge for Henry VIII and sadly boarded up these last 12+ years) and the historic football ground behind it, currently being refurbished by Clapton Community FC whose home it will be next season. In a nearby side street is an enormous, rambling Catholic social club, which we were told used to be a factory whose products included Trade Union banners. All the best, Merry Christmas and let’s hope for a better 2021!

    • JohnR   •     Author

      Thanks Graham – I used to live near the Spotted Dog 30 years ago, swung past that was in this video from 2016
      – sad to see the state of the pub but great that Clapton CFC have returned home and are fixing up the ground

  2. Tony Bubb   •  

    Hi John
    Seasons greetings. I found this walk very interesting, particularly as my grandparents lived there whilst raising my mother for her first eighteen years. Grandfather was the last police survivor of the Sidney Street Siege. Now here is a challenge for you. Can you walk the area and match the locations in the siege pictures with the present day? In those pictures grandfather is always right behind Churchill but I did once see a bit of film that showed him.
    Keep up the good work
    Tony Bubb
    Dersingham

    • JohnR   •     Author

      Thanks Tony – funnily enough I walked down Sidney Street back in February with the writer Iain Sinclair and we had great difficulty matching the scene. What a brilliant bit of family history

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