Mill Meads, Newham
A historic industrial district situated among the creeks and channels of the River Lea, south of Stratford
A ‘mead’ was a meadow and the mills were mainly of the tidal variety, taking advantage of the twice-daily swell on the River Lea where it becomes Bow Creek. Products milled here from the 16th century included corn, gunpowder and later grain for gin distilling.
To the south of the Channelsea River lay Sir William Congreve’s rocket works, which made artillery that was used in the Napoleonic Wars and the Anglo-American War of 1812. The ‘red glare’ of these rockets at the Battle of Fort McHenry is referred to in the American national anthem.
The northern part of Mill Meads is now primarily commercial, with units tending to operate in media-related fields such as design and display, and there are TV studios at Three Mills. Until recently, parts of Mill Meads near the Prescott Channel were still a marshy wilderness, but these have mostly been lost to the expansion of the Abbey Mills sewage works.
Mill Meads are traversed by public footpaths that form a section of the so-called Greenway route, some parts of which are indeed green and pleasant while others are an unappealing assortment of grey and brown.