South Bromley, Tower Hamlets
A little-used name (although still recognised by older residents) for the south-eastern part of Bromley-by-Bow, which has been sliced and diced by communications improvements over three centuries
The small but elaborately ornamented Bromley Hall was built in the late 15th century as the manor house of Lower Bromley, perhaps for a courtier at Greenwich Palace, and radically remodelled soon after 1700. The house has since served as a calico printing works, gentleman’s seat, charity home, carpet warehouse and most recently as offices.
The construction in 1770 of a short canal called the Limehouse Cut separated South Bromley from its parent and the locality thereafter evolved as an extension of Poplar. From the mid-19th century, factories were established beside Bow Creek with workers’ housing further inland, focused on the Church of St Michael and All Angels, which has since been converted to flats. Between 1864 and 1885 David McIntosh laid out compact but sturdy terraces to the east of St Leonard’s Road, some of which survive today. McIntosh’s Scottish origins show in the street names.
Poplar gasworks and neighbouring Abbott Street date from the 1870s. John Abbott was a former chemist who also built at Old Ford. Following extensive wartime damage Poplar council began work on its Abbott estate in 1947 and from the 1950s to the 1970s the London County Council and its Greater London successor showered South Bromley with more flats. Many of the early estates have since been rebuilt on a less impersonal scale, although some were highly regarded in their time.
The Northern Approach Road leading to the Blackwall Tunnel split South Bromley down the middle in the 1960s and its eastern half was further isolated by the construction of office blocks on the other side of the East India Dock Road in the 1990s.
The most notable of South Bromley’s blocks of flats is Ernö Goldfinger’s 26-storey Balfron Tower of 1967, the first public housing project by the architect whom Ian Fleming so disliked that he gave his name to a Bond villain.
Postal district: E14
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