fishguards1South of Gallions Reach, across the Royal Docks marina, before the turn into North Woolwich is the Fishguard Way Development.

Waterfront apartments and town houses now stand where once barges and ships would dock for repair at the historic Harland & Wolff. The massive factory dwarfed the docker’s cottages of North Woolwich and provided employment and industry in the area from 1924 to 1972. The dockyard was the size of several football pitches with another 6 other repair yards dotted along the Thames from the Royal fishquards2Docks down to Tilbury. According to historic publications the machine shop was capable of producing 80ft long boat shafts and crank shafts of 5ft 6 ins, there were upholstery and French polishing workshops, sail making, boiler making, a foundry able to forge iron with up to 14ins square section under hammer, producing castings up to 15 tons. They also produced entire narrow boats at the North Woolwich site. It was a place of heavy industry and hard work.

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From Newham Story online

fishguards5Fishguard Way residents who want to catch a flavour of the historic dockyard can take a short trip to Lyle Park, along the Silvertown Way, after Barrier Park, turn into Bradfield Road to visit the last remaining remnant of Harland and Wolff – the original, ornamental wrought iron gates which were installed in the park as a decorative feature in 1994.

Lyle Park was a bought as a gift to Silvertown’s cramped factory workers by Sir Leonard Lyle in 1924. Lyle was the business partner of Henry Tate, famous for bequeathing art galleries to the country – who joined forces in 1921 to operate as ‘Tate and Lyle’s’ – the great sugar manufacturers, whose factory still dominates North Woolwich as great as that imagined by Roald Dahl in Willy Wonker.

Since its opening in the 1920s, as a haven from the blitz damage and havoc wreaked in the War, right up until many factories closed in the 1970s, Lyle Park was packed with picnicking workers, football teams and families escaping the cramped living conditions around the docks. Today it’s a hidden and often deserted patch of green between the developments along the Thames – much quieter than the busy and popular Barrier Park just along the Thames. But a great place to stroll up to the river front and sit on a bench watching the boats on the Thames.

fishguards6If you visit, while you are there, search out another nod to history in the park.

The water fountain includes a War Memorial plaque to the ‘men of West Silvertown who fell in the Great War’fishguards7