Recent outings and activities...

Cody Dock Summer Event

EFOG members have visited Cody Dock a few times since we discovered it a few years ago, and for those that haven't yet been a good opportunity will be coming up shortly. Cody Dock is planning a big summer event this month; on June 15th there will be a host of activities at the dock by the side of the River Lee, at South Crescent, E16 4TL.

Events include market stalls, live music, urban bushcraft workshops, natural crafts and activities for children. There will be food to share (bring some along), Nadia's cafe, a bar, a free exhibition and - just generally - fun and a good atmosphere!

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About Cody Dock

The Gasworks Dock Partnership was formed as a social enterprise in November 2009 and registered as a charity (no. 1141523) in April, 2011. The community project is working to bring the once derelict and disused Cody Dock dock on the banks of the River Lee in Canning Town back to life - not just as a dock for mooring.

GDP’s aims for Cody Dock include:

  • Helping people access to the Lower Lea’s environment and celebrate the area’s industrial heritage
  • Developing a community based arts and creative industries quarter on the banks of the River Lea
  • Forging links with the wider community and enabling them to access and enjoy the River Lea
  • Developing the site as an incubator for creative enterprise
  • Nurturing sustainable income that will enable the development to support a wide range of arts, cultural and educational programs
  • Providing new pathways into work for local people
  • Creating a regeneration vehicle for conservation, environmental and cultural benefit

For all the latest news and in-depth articles about the work, have a look at the Newsletters.

What has been achieved so far, and plans for the future

From 2015 – 2018, GDP  opened Cody Dock’s gates to over 50,000 visitors and worked with over 6,000 volunteers on the clean up and restoration of its riverside footpaths. With support from Thames Water, the Veola Environmental Trust, Kew Gardens, the Royal Horticultural Society, Newham Council and the Big Lottery, Cody Dock has established itself as a flagship vehicle for community-led regeneration.

With Phase One complete and the Leaway River Lea Park now kick started, Cody Dock is already home to a number of creative industries, social enterprises and visitor attractions, that include:

  • Docklands Community Boat
  • Cody Dock Cafe
  • Gallery and exhibition space
  • Outdoor classroom
  • Studio spaces

In April 2018, GDP successfully gained planning permission for the seven year development plan of its 2.5 acre site into a creative industries quarter. This will include:

New visitor centre & café
Exhibition space
Social and Industrial heritage archive and pavillion
International artist and respite hosting suites
10 new studios and workshop spaces
10 new live/work moorings
Visitor moorings
D dock facilitiesct

Cody Dock, 11c South Crescent, Canning Town, London E16 4TL

Telephone: 020 74730429

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Crossness Pumping Station, and a Thames walk.

Five EFOG members joined Lynne at Cannon Street Station on Sunday 6th May for a visit to Crossness Pumping Station, on the south bank of the Thames, opposite Dagenham.

crossness 190602 115833703cThe pumping station is similar in design and purpose to the one at Abbey Mills, near Stratford, which members of the group may be more familiar with, at least from a distance. Abbey Mills Pumping Station has been called “The Cathedral of Sewage”, because of its ornate design – although to me it looks more like a Turkish mosque than a cathedral. Apparently the style is actually Italian Gothic.

These crossness 190602 114450701cbuildings were designed and built as part of Joseph Bazalgette’s plan to deal with the sewage problems in London during Victorian times. The problem with how London’s sewage was disposed of came to a head in July and August 1858 when the smell from the river was so bad that Victoria and Albert had to forego a pleasure trip on the Thames, and Parliamentary business was affected.

Bazlgette was employed to find a solution to the odiferous problem, which affected health as well as the nose and river trips. And government. His solution was a vast network of sewer tunnels, all of which ultimately fed the materials to the two pumping stations, one on each side of the river.

Arrivicrossness 190602 120412803cng at Abbey Wood station, the free bus to Crossness was somewhat indeterminate, both as to where it should depart from and in how long, so we opted for two cabs instead. Entering the complex – which is a working sewage treatment station – we were directed towards the Victorian parts of grounds, walking alongside a narrow-gauge railway line apparently being constructed. This led us to a large and well-fitted workshop, in which the Royal Arsenal Narrow Gauge Railway group (RANG) had laid out some model railway layouts for the public to enjoy and to introduce us to their project to run a 700 metre passenger-carrying railway from the site’s gates to the old pumping station. Quite a project for a local railway-enthusiast group! They even have a working steam locomotive - which they have renamed Bazalgette, and a nice open carriage.

crossness 190602 124033533cWe proceeded to the buildings which house the Victorian aspects of the site, one of which had an exhibition of a variety of pumping engines, and then we paid our £8 per person to enter the main building, meeting with other EFOG members who has made their own way there. This main pump-engine building houses four large, originally steam driven, pumps built by James Watt & Co. to Joseph Bazalgette's designs and specification, and were named Victoria, Prince Consort, Albert Edward and Alexandra. Victoria has been renovated, and was “in steam”, an impressive sight, with sounds too, of course. In fact, for demonstration purposes, the engine is now powered by compressed air.

Tcrossness 190602 125830863chere are other exhibits, too, in the visitor centre. Perhaps particular fun was the collection of toilet bowls and ancillary equipment and devices; after viewing those we (of course) made our way to the cafeteria, where good value simple snacks were on offer.

We discussed the options for our return journey, and decided that as it was a pleasant day – sunny and warm but with a nicely cooling breeze – we would make our way along the Thames riverside path to the Woolwich Ferry. This is a distance of 4 miles, and we arrived at the Woolwich ferry terminal in just the right time to board one of the two brand new ferries – the Ben Woollacott. The other – I think not yet in service – is named Dame Vera Lynn.

It is a quick crossing (and free) and – disembarking – five of the group caught a bus to Stratford, and I caught a another which conveniently terminates almost at the end of my road.

It was a nice – and varied – day, and thanks to Lynne for organising it and to the others for the company.

Paul Ferris, 4th June 2019

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Camping weekend in Suffolk

Despite the weather forecast five of us turned up at Newbourne Woodland campsite on a Friday in the middle of May. After erecting the tents, three of us went for a walk around Woodbridge nearby, leaving Ian and Louise to prepare the BBQ. Woodbridge has some interesting architecture and the Tide Mill looks well worth a visit. It was closed at the time of our visit.

suffolk efog 190519 mill buartThe BBQ was a success and we relaxed in a cool, dry evening.

On Saturday we drove to Dunwich Heath, a National Trust site, for a six mile walk. The route went through large tracts of heather where we upset some twitchers as we innocently disturbed a rare bird they were watching by walking past it. We ended at the seashore and only Val was brave enough to put her toes in the sea. A quick stroll around the ruins of Greyfriars Abbey and a visit to Dunwich museum ended the day. A nice meal at The Fox inn, Newbourne was had in the evening.

suffolk efog 190519 tree buartBreakfast on Sunday saw the Great Picnic Table Disaster of ’19. Brian was sitting at the table when he slowly started falling backwards, followed by the table which ended up on top of him. Ian said he went through a range of emotions, from concern to laughter, in the time it took for Brian to land on the ground, the table’s contents strewn around him.

We went out for a three mile walk in the morning, initially walking through reed beds and then alongside the beach where an oak tree’s roots were admired.

It started raining as we arrived back at the campsite, just in time to soak Brian’s tent as he packed it. As soon as the tent was in his car the rain stopped. That was the only rain of note the entire weekend, very different from the weather forecast. And so back home with suntans on our faces and hands.

Brian U.  20th May 2019


Sweet Cookies, gin-an-tonic, a warm walk and chilli meal at Three Mills.

An extra May event was added to EFOG’s programme by Eleanor, suggesting a visit to the House Mill at Bromley-by-Bow on 12th May to see the Sweet Cookies, an Essex-based female close harmony group.

housemill 190512 165806136 artJinan and I met at Stratford to walk from there to the Three Mills complex, on a lovely, sunny late Sunday afternoon. Stratford, of course – since the Olympics – has changed and is changing considerably, so the first part of our walk was along the busy Stratford High Street, heading towards the Bow Flyover and en-canyoned somewhat by the high apartment and office buildings. More or less the only pre-Olympic building that is obvious is the Builders Arms pub, on the corner of Lett Road.

However, there is some openness still where the Greenway meets the High Street. The Greenway is the promenade pedestrian and cycle path designed by Bazalgette to top his Northern Outfall Sewer bank, and one can walk or cycle that some 3 miles to Beckton. Shortly beyond the Greenway we left the High Street for the relative quiet of a footpath alongside the Three Mills Wall River. On the west side – in the Sugar House Lane area, more apartments and other-use buildings are being constructed, but on the side we were walking there are just the back gardens of the older terraced houses of Stratford.

Soon, the open area of Three Mills Green is reached, with residential narrowboat moorings in the arm of the river. In the late afternoon light the views through to the Canary Wharf complex were not unattractive, while closer we observed a coot nesting in a convenient motor-vehicle tyre and a black cat being admonished and chased off by a carrion crow. Indeed, we could see its nest in one of the London plane trees further on.

housemill coot 190512 165919771artWe arrived at the venue a bit early, so we continued our walk through the historic Three Mills Conservation area and between the Lea Navigation and the river itself. We passed under the Fenchurch Street to Shoeburyness and the Upminster Underground Lines bridges, and went just as far as Twelvetrees Crescent bridge to view Bow Locks and from where we could have continued walking to Limehouse Basin and the Thames via the Limehouse Cut, or to Cody Dock and the Thames via the main River Lea.

However, our plan had been to go to the House Mill for the event, and so we returned the relatively short distance to Three Mills to see the Sweet Cookies, and the House Mill Volunteers.

We arrived as the doors opened at 5.30. The House Mill Volunteers might just sound like a part-time military unit from the Naploleonic Wars, but in fact it refers in this case to those people who manage to keep the wonderful House Mill open to the public on occasions, and even help host events such as this. So we were met very soon by Eleanor – whose idea it was to suggest this – and who is one of those who volunteer here, and our other group-member Marilyn, who is another. They, together with others, had prepared for the evening so that there was a bar available, and hot and cold snacks on the menu.

housemill 190512 192843983artThe Sweet Cookies are a female close harmony group, and were accompanied by a male electric piano player. They entertained us with a wide range of music – from folk and show songs to jazz and modern pop. And very entertaining they were too, leading to a very pleasant couple of hours. As well as Jinan and myself – and of course Eleanor and Marilyn – a couple of other EFOG members joined us: Marian and Karen, together with Karen’s husband.

After the music evening, Jinan and I walked back along the riverside to Stratford High Street, and hence made our ways home.

As well as providing a really nice evening of entertainment for us, the event was also valuable in contributing to the ongoing Restoration Project that is is taking place at the House Mill. The event was free, but contributions afterwards and the sales of food and drink would all help towards this. The goal is to restore the heritage water wheels of what is the largest surviving tide mill in the world to working condition. Once complete, the wheels – powered by the tide – could provide enough energy to power the House Mill, with capacity to provide a regular income from the excess electricity generated. This, of course, is all without the emission of CO2 – which just might contribute something to saving our planet.

As an extra thought, a couple of our members during the evening mentioned that they were unable to participate in any of the group’s walks at weekends, and we thought that maybe we should try to organise something for weekdays. Another walk around the Bow Back Rivers, down the Lea Navigation and river via Three Mills and Cody Dock to the Thames just might be an idea to facilitate this?

Paul Ferris, 14th May 2019






After the glorious Easter weekend weather it was a shame that the following Saturday (29th April) started cold, windy and wet as we drove to RHS Wisley. The rain had stopped by the time we arrived and we were surprised to see so many cars in the car park, considering the weather.

wisley efog 190427 115852143 buA reasonable £13.05 admission and we then queued for ages at the inadequate Coffee Shop by the entrance area. The coffee was poor as well as the service. Going into the gardens, we noticed that a lot of money is being spent, with a large extension being due for completion shortly after our visit. We headed up through the Cottage Garden and the Exotic Garden, passing by a nice moulding of a female swimmer as we walked on to Battleston Hill, where among the glorious planting was a wooden dinosaur sited next to a Brazilian Giant Rhubarb, otherwise known as “dinosaur food”. A picnic lunch was taken on the Trials Field, but it was a shame that a notice there warned that plants should not be stolen. On to the Herb and Fruit Gardens, then down to Bowles’ Corner, a little celebration in plants of his work. Up to the new-looking Glasshouse, which was most impressive, with a temperate section, complete with a waterfall, and a very hot section, so hot that some members felt quite uncomfortable. There were some impressive plants in the Glasshouse, including one - a great spear lily - that had flowered for the first time in 18 years!

wisley efog 190427 121054345buA drink break in the pleasant Glasshouse café and we went for a walk through the Pinetum, following the River Wey. We stopped in the bird hide but only Blue and Great Tits could be seen. We then walked back to the main area and our cars. Would we go back again? Yes, we were there more than five hours, covering nearly four miles, and still missed things. The car park looked busy but the place is so large that we were often the only people in sight. And of course, the garden will change with the seasons. A lovely day.



 Brian U.,  28th April 2019