The River Lea and the canals and navigations that were created from it to serve industry in the area flow through Pudding Mill, dividing the area into islands connected by road and foot bridges. As you can imagine, these waterways have been an important part of the identity of the area.
The River Lea has for centuries been a means of access for our ancestors and this area was once the site of a main crossing to the area known as Queen Mathilda's Causeway. Built around AD 1110, it linked the settlements at Bow and Stratford on opposite sides of the valley. It was apparently requested by Matilda, wife of King Henry I, as the old Roman crossing had become unsafe.
The River Lea and its waterways have always been important to this area as for centuries several watermills were located here. An eclectic area of activity, businesses were located on Stratford High Street between Marshgate Lane Lock and Bow Bridge, and included Thomas Frye's Bow Porcelain works founded in the 1740s, one of the first in Britain.
One of the more interesting local industries to pop up in the second half of the 19th century was a business that supplied live pig bristles for the making of brooms and brushes!