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NEWSLETTER January 2019
The 1940s photograph shows the office and service range on Commercial Road. The vehicle entrance on the left leads through to the former sailmaker’s workhouse, which backs onto the towpath of the Limehouse Cut. The vehicle entrance in the middle of the range leads through to the galleried engineering workshop, which also backs onto the towpath. And the house with a vehicle entrance on the right of the photograph belonged to a builder with a large yard at the back, which was taken over by Caird & Rayner in 1904. The open door was the one used by the workers and the adjacent door was used by the office staff and draughtsmen.
At the LBTH Development Committee meeting on 24 January 2019, the revised 2016 planning application for 767-785 Commercial Road was approved by 3 votes to 2 with 1 abstention.
Your representative spoke about the three listed buildings and asked for a deferral so that the applicant and his architect could keep the original loading doors in London’s only fully-surviving former sailmaker’s warehouse (built 1869 and used by Caird & Rayner to make their patented sea water distillation plant from 1889). And to keep the original hinged craning gate on the end gallery in London’s, and possibly England’s, only surviving internal-steel-framed galleried engineering workshop. Built for Caird & Rayner in 1896-97 and where they assembled their distillation plant for dreadnoughts and Cunard liners, with the help of two overhead travelling cranes.
And, in their 1893-94 building in front of the former sailmaker’s warehouse, demolish the elevated rear wing for a new staircase and lift shaft but keep all the amazing workshop stores on the ground floor, with its original shelves and a hatch where the workers were issued with parts.
At least the ‘at risk’ Grade II-listed buildings are now going to be repaired and adapted for office use, with the whole of the galleried engineering workshop and the ground-floor and sail loft of the former sailmaker’s warehouse used as large open offices for co-working. These could and should be visited by school groups and others, by arrangement.
Given the extreme rarity of the internal timber-framed former sailmaker’s warehouse, as much as possible of the historic fabric must be conserved. EEWG therefore asks the Council to attach additional conditions to the planning permission for detailed drawings showing:
  • the rotten ends of timber beams to be replaced by new scarfe-jointed timber
  • other parts of beams and floorboards to be repaired or replaced
  • the re-building of the upper part of the pitched roof with new scarfe-jointed rafters or new rafters, on and between the fully-surviving original and very scarce queen-rod roof trusses.
On each side of the listed buildings there is going to be a large HOUSE OF MULTIPLE OCCUPATION (for a total of 134 people), with only nine flats at the western end near the Commercial Road bridge over the Limehouse Cut, including three affordable flats. The eastern HMO at 785 Commercial Road will incorporate the façade of the four-bay house seen on the right of the 1940s photograph.
Local residents and two Councillors expressed their concerns about the serious lack of affordable housing.
Attachments Here
Swan Wharf is an Edwardian multi-storey stable block with a 1960s extension and a wharf on the River Lea, just below Old Ford Locks.
Having written several letters of objection to the London Legacy Development Corporation (last dated 17 July 2018), EEWG is pleased to announce that the application (No. 18/00315/FUL) was refused by the LLDC planning committee at its meeting on 22 January 2019.
Tower Hamlets Council, SAVE Britain’s Heritage and Canal & River Trust all wrote strong letters of objection, Historic England expressed grave concerns about the proposals and local residents also wrote several letters of objection; and two of them spoke at the meeting. With the exception of one abstention, all the members followed the officer’s recommendation to refuse the application.

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Although the three-storey stable block for about 117 horses has lost its horse ramps at the back, it retains the first- and second-floor horse doorways and most of its small stable windows. The loading doorways in the long front wall on Dace Road were probably inserted in the 1920s so that the building could be used as a warehouse; and part of the building was repaired after a fire in 1953. However, the western half retains all its original concrete floors and cast-iron columns on the ground and first floors.

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The stable block was built 1906-12 for cartage contractors Charles and Alfred Knifton, trading as Henry Crane, who established the wharf in 1901 but died in 1902. The building is a non-designated heritage asset in the most interesting part of the LLDC Fish Island Conservation Area.
Tom Ridge

new eewg logo East End Waterway Group
Local residents, schools, community groups, amenity societies and businesses working with the Canal & River Trust, Tower Hamlets Council and others for the protection and beneficial use of the six-mile waterway ring, its historic buildings, structures and habitats.
Copyright © 2019 EAST END WATERWAY GROUP, All rights reserved.

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