Temple Mills

Temple Mills, Newham/​Waltham Forest

A former industrial, commercial and railway area beside the River Lea that was transf­ormed for the 2012 Olympic Games

The demolition of housing in the Clays Lane area
The demolition of housing in the Clays Lane area in advance of Temple Mills’ Olympic trans­form­ation

A crossing point on the River Lea brought early human activity to this locality and evidence has been found of a Roman camp nearby.

In 1185 William of Hastings, steward to Henry II, granted land here to the Knights Templar, who later built wooden water­mills. After the dissol­ution of the order in the 14th century their property passed through a variety of hands (including the Crown’s) and milling and related agricul­tural indus­tries continued to grow. The name Tempylmylle was first recorded in 1461.

A White Hart tavern stood at Temple Mills from the early 18th century.

In the latter part of the 19th century the mills were demol­ished and the Great Eastern wagon works were moved north­wards from Stratford, with marshalling yards spreading inexorably. The works were modernised in 1958 as part of a programme that made them the largest in Britain. British Rail later added a Freightliner terminal.

The wagon works closed in 1983 and railway utilities progress­ively vacated other parts of the site over the following few years.

The Corporation of London relocated Spitalfields market to a site north of Ruckholt Road in 1991 and the A12 East Cross Route was constructed across Temple Mills later in that decade.

In 2007 Eurostar’s Temple Mills depot and engin­eeering centre opened on a site immedi­ately north of New Spitalfields Market.

A swathe of Temple Mills was scarred by construction work on the Channel Tunnel rail link and the entire southern half of the locality was then trans­formed for the 2012 Olympic Games. Derelict land was reclaimed, factories and warehouses were flattened, as were social housing, a travellers’ site and students’ accom­mod­ation in the surpris­ingly hilly area around Clays Lane – a road now erased from the face of the earth.

Most of the area once occupied by the Temple Mills wagon works, sidings and goods sheds has now metamorphosed into East Village, with Westfield Stratford City to the south and Stratford International station between the two. Since the Olympics the vicinity has been called Chobham Manor.

Postal districts: E10, E15 and E20