Back to Beckton

What drew me back to Beckton the other weekend? Lured me out to the windswept marshy Thames level at Gallions Reach. When I think of the places I explored for my book This Other London – there were a few that cast a strange enchantment over my psyche that I still haven’t been able to escape. Beckton was one of those locations. From remote marshland where Neolithic people laid down a trackway across its waterlogged ground, to the enormous gas works that became the location for Stanley Kubrick’s Vietnam epic Full Metal Jacket. And there was the Alp – Beckton Alps that I still hadn’t climbed.

“Ah, but there was a fondly remembered mountain down here, the Beckton Alp, with a fully functional ski lift and a log cabin coffee shop – until, when they were considering, in advance of the Olympics, an iconic Antony Gormley piece to dress the A13 corridor, they discovered that the conical manmade hillock was largely composed of arsenic from the demolished Beckton Gas Works.” Iain Sinclair, London Review of Books