The East End was a place of economic activity concerned with the processing of raw materials and manufacturing of goods in factories. This brought about new investment incentives for the British industry in the late 1800s. The East End’s accessibility to the Thame’s dockland areas and its being situated on the outskirts of central London made this area the ultimate location for a wide scope of manufacturing and production industries. Some of these were considered high risk and most likely to cause harm, especially since much of the industry was also known as being unhealthy. Unfortunately, these claims became even more concrete when on the 19th of January 1917 fifty tons of TNT blew up in the Brunner Mond & Co in Silvertown. Unbeknownst to the then owners, the company had started producing ammunition. This had lead to the greatest explosion in London’s history. The loud sound that the explosion made could be heard as far as Southampton and Norwich. In the end, a total of 70,000 buildings were destroyed and 73 people were killed.
In the 1800s, the introduction of railways from the borough into Essex had a significant impact on the urban development in the borough. This eventually allowed for the beginnings of new railway lines and stations.In the post Middle Age period, London expanded quickly and many of Newham’s village settlements also grew as a result. Newham became known as as attractive area for rich Londoners to build large country dwellings. This was due to its urban location and the fact that it was now easy to travel to and from the city.
Many of the houses have since been demolished, but they nonetheless illustrate a significant transitional phase for Newham. The archeology of this period has not yet been explored but may have potential. This potential would be the study of the new consumer society contrasting with the poorer districts within the city itself.
As previously mentioned, the development of the railways had changed the quality of the area and had caused massive urban development which eventually led to the area being subsumed into London. The Eastern Counties Railway opened in 1839 and a branch line to Silvertown and North Greenwich was added in the 1840s. These railways helped to accelerate the process of developing the industrial growth of the community because the products produced and needed by manufacturers could be easily transported. In addition to this, goods unloaded at the docks could be easily transported somewhere else throughout the area.
This resulted in an industrial growth spurt causing a need for more space with the housing sector for the workers. The progressive growth of Newham’s urban essence generated employment which caused a massive need for housing to provide housing accommodations for the workers and their families. Thus, emerged new communities known as Hallsville, Canning Town, and North Woolwich. It continued to grow and eventually Custom House, Silvertown, and West Silvertown were also added. Unfortunately, the new housing community lacked the necessary water supply and sewerage system needed and so certain diseases such a cholera and smallpox thrived in these areas.
The massive industrial developments that took place during the 19th century and the facilities provided for the workers employed at them are a remarkable and distinguishing element of Newham’s history. When these large industrial facilities were constructed they became known as some of the largest and most imposing structures in the world at that time. The Royal docks were built between 1855 and 1921 in the riverside area that has previously been a marshland until it was claimed back. The marshes by the River Lea had also provided ample room for industry.
The London docks (which are enclosed bodies of water that lie on both sides of the River Thames) are as old as the city itself. In spite of the fact that their story coincides with the story of the increased growth of trade on the Thames, there is no existing information on how the foundation of Britain’s capital came to be.
The River Thames was traversable and granted power for a group of tidal mills, which before now, were critical to London’s development in 1066. The London docks for the next seven centuries will continue to be of service to industries such as calico printing, paper making, and sulphur gunpowder mass production. Until the 19th century, most of the industries of the parish were in or near those western marshes. Throughout the Middle Ages, the mills made mostly flour which were often sold to local bakers trading with London. These Stratford bakers from the 14th century are often mentioned.
The Royal Victoria Dock, which was opened in 1855, was the first dock built specifically for steam ships and the first to be planned with direct rail links onto the quay