South Bromley

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. The house was rad­i­cal­ly remod­elled soon after 1700 and over the fol­low­ing cen­turies served as a cal­i­co print­ing works, gentleman’s seat, gun­pow­der fac­to­ry, char­i­ty home and a car­pet ware­house. Brom­ley Hall is now in the care of Lea­side Regen­er­a­tion and its rooms are leased as offices for small busi­ness­es. Its loca­tion is marked on the map below.

The con­struc­tion in 1770 of a short canal called the Lime­house Cut (just vis­i­ble at the top left cor­ner of the map below, on full-width screens) 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 on what had for­mer­ly been Brom­ley Marsh.

A mis­sion chapel was built on St Leonard’s Road in 1861. This was soon replaced by St Michael and All Angels church, which could accom­mo­date a thou­sand wor­ship­pers. It 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, such as Oban Street, which is shown in the pho­to below.

Hidden London: Oban Street, Rutland Terrace (1881)

Poplar gas­works and neigh­bour­ing Abbott Road date from the 1870s. John Abbott was a for­mer chemist who also built at Old Ford.

South Brom­ley had a sta­tion on the North Lon­don Rail­way from 1884 until its clo­sure in 1944, after the line had been dam­aged by wartime bomb­ing. The sta­tion stood at the end of Rifle Street (off the west­ern edge of the map below), at what is now the north-east cor­ner of Lans­bury Square. Lang­don Park sta­tion has since opened a short dis­tance to the south, on the Dock­lands Light Rail­way.

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 block of flats – many of which have since been demol­ished.

The most notable block is Ernő 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.

The North­ern Approach Road lead­ing to the Black­wall Tun­nel split South Brom­ley down the mid­dle in the 1960s. The east­ern part of South Brom­ley was fur­ther iso­lat­ed by the con­struc­tion of office blocks on the oth­er side of the East India Dock Road in the 1990s.

In 2007 Bal­fron Tow­er was entrust­ed to the care of the Poplar HARCA hous­ing asso­ci­a­tion, which after­wards ‘decant­ed’ (i.e. eject­ed) its ten­ants so that the flats could be refur­bished and sold pri­vate­ly.

Built south of Abbott Road in the 1960s, the Aber­feldy estate is in the process of being trans­formed into Aber­feldy Vil­lage, which is shown in the mar­ket­ing image at the top of this arti­cle. Named after its pri­ma­ry thor­ough­fare (which in turn was named after a place in Scot­land), Aber­feldy Vil­lage will ulti­mate­ly con­sist of 1,174 new homes, togeth­er with an ener­gy cen­tre, retail, com­mu­ni­ty and health ameni­ties, and what the devel­op­er describes as “pub­lic spaces and green oases woven into the build fab­ric.” The £250 mil­lion project is expect­ed to be com­plet­ed c.2024.

Postal district: E14