Arrive at Canning Town station by a driverless train on the Docklands Light Railway and you find yourself in a massive underground bunker of concrete and steel. Up at ground level, every kind of transport crosses this area: rail and road, walkway and cable car.
This is near to the point where the River Lea flows into the River Thames. Great lego brick type tower blocks of red and purple and yellow reach up high overlooking Bow Creek Ecology Park from the other side of the muddy creek.
Along the wayside of the path leading into the ecology park a muddle of untidy wild flowers grow haphazardly. Left to nature, the stronger thistles push aside the more delicate flowers with the resulting appearance of neglect and sadness.
But the ecology park itself is managed with wildflower meadows and ponds. Blue butterflies settle on the path, newts ripple through the water.
On the banks of Bow Creek there were once osier beds, where willows were grown and cut for basket making. Then came the iron works, a shipyard and a coal wharf. Great ships would arrive here to unload their cargo until the docks declined and fell into disuse, leaving the whole area around here desolate.
This tiny peninsula could so easily have been swallowed up for high rise developments but was saved because of the rare flowers that were found around here – the hairy buttercup, cress and unreels wormwood.
Their seeds were probably brought here in one of ships that came here from all over the world; and their tiny flowers – endowed by the industrial past – have helped to preserve the park’s future.
Walk from East India Dock or from Canning Town Station