Memories of the Tredegar Estate, Bow

Sabella Court Bow

Sunil Rana wrote in to ask if I’d made any progress on tracking down photos of the old Tredegar Estate of 1976 – 2003 (approx). He grew up on the estate, before it was knocked down, and would like some photos to remember those times.

I had previously failed to find anything in the Tower Hamlets archives in Bancroft Road. I read Sunil’s email on Saturday, discovered that the archives were open, and immediately walked round there.

This time I discovered a bit more – but not much. They had a 1976 booklet published by Tower Hamlets council listing 518 flats in precast concrete panel construction plus 30 sheltered flats and a wardens house in brick. That means that they were not counting Sabella House as part of the estate – maybe it was built later. Sabella House still stands I took the photo above on Saturday. Sunil told me that footballer Ashley Cole lived there – Arsenal, Chelsea, 107 appearances for England plus more.

The 1984 Kelly’s Directory for Ordell Road lists the Ordell Arms, Kearley and Tonge transport depot, and Thomas Meadows Freight Forwarding.

In Mostyn Grove on the SW Side it lists Sabella Court flats. On the NE side is lists Hawthorne Court, Abidis Fish Bar and Linus supermarket.

The helpful local archivist, Rob, told me that you had to pay to get listed, so that not everything that exists is shown in the directories.

Parade of shops in Mostyn Grove
Parade of shops in Mostyn Grove, Bow, London E3. Sunil said: “The parade had 5 properties, from left to right, a laundrette, fish and chip shop, grocery shop, newsagents, and social club”

When I got back home Sunil had sent me the photo of the shops above. I used to walk through the Tredegar Estate frequently to get the the underground via Tom Thumb’s Arch, but it never occurred to me to take any photos. Then suddenly it was gone.

Sunil told me that his father ran the grocery shop from 1980 -2003. He said: “My father is fit and well, he’ll be celebrating his 73th birthday this year. He still talks about the shop and community a lot, which you’d expect after 23 years of stories.  My dad now lives in Romford. 

“I remember my dad helping a lot of people in the community; for me the shop was more of a community centre rather than a business.

“My dads name was Kalan (people used to call him Karan). By the way, the grocery shop was named after me, Linus Supermarket, is Sunil spelt backwards.”

Kalin Rana and son Sunil 1982
Kalan Rana and his son Sunil 1982. In the Linus Supermarket Mostyn Grove
Kalin Rana in his Linus Supermarket in Mostyn Grove in 1989
Kalan Rana in his Linus Supermarket in Mostyn Grove in 1989

Looking at the photos above I can remember his father – the shop was sometimes useful on the way home from the tube. Does anybody else remember him?

Reading articles about pre-cast concrete panels, which were popular in the 1960s and 70s I read that the problems with the concrete panels is that they offer poor sound and heat insulation. Through time the steel fixings would rust so the flats might have been demolished because they were unsafe. The 1976 council booklet contained illustrations of how they were fixed to the building.

Sunil said: “From my understanding the pre-cast concrete construction was originally only a temporary solution, however due to council constraints the flats remained for longer than planned.  After 25 years the buildings started to show wear and tear.”

Did any of our readers live on the Tredegar Estate between 1976 – 2003? What was your experience of living there? Do you have any photos of the estate?

Alan Tucker

A page from the book: “Estate Regeneration: Learning from the Past, Housing Communities of the Future” by Brendan Kilpatrick & Manisha Patel

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