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Bromley, commonly known as Bromley-by-Bow, is a district in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets in East London, located on the western banks of the River Lea, in the Lower Lea Valley in East London.

Bromley by Bow, Arrow Road, E3 - - 765231.jpg
Arrow Road, a residential street in Bromley
Bromley is located in Greater London
Location within Greater London
Population14,480 (2011 Census. Bromley Ward)[1]
OS grid referenceTQ375825
London borough
Ceremonial countyGreater London
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townLONDON
Postcode districtE3
Dialling code020
EU ParliamentLondon
UK Parliament
London Assembly
List of places
51°31′29″N 0°01′01″W / 51.5246°N 0.0170°W / 51.5246; -0.0170Coordinates: 51°31′29″N 0°01′01″W / 51.5246°N 0.0170°W / 51.5246; -0.0170

The area is distinct from Bow, which lies immediately north and east of the formal boundary between the two, which runs along Bow Road, or near the Lea, slightly to the south of the Road. The area has become better known as Bromley-by-Bow due to Bromley tube station being renamed to Bromley-by-Bow in 1967, to prevent confusion with Bromley railway station in the London Borough of Bromley. Over time the station's name has become applied to the district itself. The formal boundaries of the area were set when the area became an parish in 1537 when it split from Stepney. The boundaries of the new parish were based on those of much older pre-existing estates.[2][3]

Bromley has a rich history and historical ties with the Commonwealth of Nations, but many of its most historic buildings have been lost. It is connected to the London Underground and Docklands Light Railway.


In early records the name first appears as Brambele, Brambelegh, or Brembeley and is likely to be derived from the Saxon words Brembel – a bramble, and lege – a field.[4]

Since 1967, the area has become known as Bromley-by-Bow due to Bromley tube station being renamed to Bromley-by-Bow, to prevent confusion with Bromley railway station in the London Borough of Bromley. Over time the station's name has become applied to the area itself.

Bow itself (also part of Stepney until the 18th century) was originally known as Stratforde, becoming Stratford-at-Bow when a medieval bridge was built, in the arched shape of a bow, to distinguish it from Stratford Langthorne on the other side of the River Lea.


Pre-conquest to the creation of the ParishEdit

The oldest surviving written reference to the area, as Braembeleg, was from about the year 1000[5] when it was referred to as one of the manors belonging to St Pauls Cathedral.

Bromley was home to St Leonard's Priory a Benedictine nunnery founded in the time of William the conqueror and mentioned in the General Prologue to Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. It was destroyed at the time of the Dissolution in 1536, and the manor and lands passed to Sir Ralph Sadleir, who lived at Sutton House in Homerton and was privy councillor to Henry VIII. The exception was the priory chapel which was retained.

The small Tudor period Bromley Hall was built in the late 15th century as the manor house of Lower Bromley. The house was radically remodeled 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.[6] It is thought to be the oldest brick house in London.

From the creation of the parish (1537) to 1850Edit

The priory chapel was turned into the parish church for a new parish, Bromley St Leonard, which split from the parish of Stepney and covered the area of two much older units, the Manor of Bromley and the estate of the Nunnery of St Leonard.[2][3]

In 1606 a palace was built for James I facing the line of St Leonard's Street by John Thorpe. This was principally used as a hunting lodge but was a grand residence of 24 rooms, including a Stateroom, built along the lines of Hardwick Hall and Montacute House. Some of the stonework was quarried from the remains of the (now disused) priory. It remained in Royal use and was refurbished in the reigns of Charles II and James II and stables were added. During the 18th century, the frontage of the building was renewed and the palace was converted into two merchant houses. It went through a variety of uses, including a boarding school and a colour works. The house was demolished at the end of the 19th century by the London School Board for construction of a new board school. Many of the original fittings remained in place and were said to be in fine condition. The house was sold piecemeal for £250 with the Stateroom, panelling and an oak doorway going to the Victoria and Albert Museum.[7]

Bromley was also known as Bromley-St Leonards, after St Leonard's Priory a Benedictine nunnery founded in the time of William the conqueror and mentioned in the General Prologue to Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. It was destroyed at the time of the Dissolution in 1536, and the manor and lands passed to Sir Ralph Sadleir, who lived at Sutton House in Homerton and was privy councillor to Henry VIII. The priory chapel was retained and turned into the parish church for a new parish, Bromley St Leonard, split from the parish of Stepney.

A map showing the civil parish boundaries in 1870.
A map showing the wards of Poplar Metropolitan Borough as they appeared in 1916.


In 1868, the Poplar and Stepney Sick Asylum was opened on a site next to the present day Bromley-by-Bow tube station. It was renamed St Andrew's Hospital in 1921. It closed in 2006. [8] A new housing development, William Guy Gardens, now occupies the site. Henry Grattan Guinness founded the East London Missionary Training Institute (also called Harley College) at Harley House in Bromley-by-Bow in 1873, with Dr. Thomas Barnardo as co-director. The school outgrew the premises and relocated in 1883, eventually becoming Cliff College.

South Bromley railway station on the North London Railway between Bow and Poplar (East India Dock Road) stations opened in 1884, the name stems from the fact the area to the east was once part of South Bromley, while the west was in Poplar.[9]

The Revd Richard Enraght, religious controversialist,[10] was the Curate of St Michael and All Angels Church in St Leonards Road from 1884–1888 and Rector of St Gabriel Church (now demolished), Chrisp Street (Poplar), from 1888–1895. Between 1899 and 1965 the parish of Bromley St Leonard formed part of the Metropolitan Borough of Poplar, within the County of London.[11]

The cluster of Victorian gasholders at Bromley by Bow is Grade II listed and has been named by the Victorian Society as a heritage building at risk of disrepair. [12]


In 1931, Gandhi was in London for talks with the British Imperial government on the future of India-then apart of the British Empire, the only time he left India between 1914 and his death in 1948. He declined the government’s offer of accommodation in a West End hotel, preferring to stay in the East End, to live among working-class people, as he did in India.

He based himself at Kingsley Hall in Powis Road, Bromley-by-Bow, for the three-month duration of his stay and was enthusiastically received by East Enders.[13]

WWII and Post-warEdit

The area suffered heavily in the Blitz and St Leonards Church was destroyed by enemy action in 1941. The area around Aberfeldy Street was heavily bombed and subsequently redeveloped into the Aberfeldy Estate in 1947.[14]

The ruins and much of the churchyard were swept away when the Blackwall Tunnel Approach Road was built through the area in the 1960s.


Broomfield Street in 1998, before regeneration.

The Spratt's Complex was redeveloped and split into studio workshops (live/work units) and sold by JJAK (Construction) Ltd for leaseholders to fit out.[15] The first building to be converted was Limehouse Cut, varying in size between 580 to 1,610 sq ft (54 to 150 m2). The building was featured in the Sunday Times in June 1986[16] and again in 1989.[15]

In September 2014 Bow School moved from the old site off Fairfield Road in Bow to a new site in Bromley-by-Bow 1 mile to the south-east by Bow Locks, in a brand new building designed by van Heyningen and Haward Architects.[17]

In February 2016, Transport for London released a consultation regarding various changes on local bus services in Poplar and the Isle of Dogs. One of these changes saw route 108 swap routes between Bow and Blackwall Tunnel with route D8 from 1 October 2016.[18][19]

The BBC CBeebies Apple Tree House began filming its episodes on the Devons Estate began in 2017.[20]

Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov stayed at the City Stay Hotel on Bow Road between the 2 and 3 March 2018. This was before they had travelled to Salisbury to carry out the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal.[21][22] In the same year, a campaign was set up by residents who want to see the introduction of crossings and a 30 miles per hour speed limit on the A12, which is advertised on the Tower Hamlets Labour website on behalf of the local residents, calling on the council to contact City Hall and Transport for London on their behalf to improve the safety of the A12.[23] And students at East London Science School took part in the Greenpower Challenge to build and race an eco friendly small car.[24]

A delegation of 15 senior figures from the Commonwealth of Nations Study Conferences Leaders programme went to the Children's House Nursery School in 2019 as part of a programme to look at excellent practice in a variety of fields.[25] Work has began on the Wellington Way health centre where patients will be able to opt for self-diagnosis by using with state of the art NHS technology, this is being paid by Tower Hamlets Council, in partnership with the NHS.[26] The Bow Hub opened in the summer of 2019 and is part one of a network of hubs across the East End and is being created by Tower Hamlets Council to give people a healthier lifestyle, with it been handed to Poplar Harca for a trial six-month period to see how it works out, the space had been empty for years.[27]


The area is covered by three wards in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. The councillors elected in May 2018 were:

  • Bromley North - Zenith Rahman (Labour) and Dan Tomlinson (Labour)
  • Bromley South - Danny Hassell (Labour) and Helal Uddin (Labour).
  • Lansbury - Rajib Ahmed, Kahar Chowdhury and Bex White (Labour)


Approaching the gasholders, viewed from eastern Bromley.

Bromley-by-Bow is a part of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets in East London. To the north and west is Bow and to the east is Stratford and West Ham, and to the south is Poplar and to the southeast is Canning Town. The area is bisected north to south by the Blackwall Tunnel Approach Road (A12) and the boundary of the area to the east is the River Lea which forms the boundary with West Ham in the London Borough of Newham. Between the expanded tunnel approach and the river is the land is being regenerated along the banks of the River Lea. Nearby is Three Mills. To the west are Poplar and the former district of Mile End.

The former Bow Common now forms Tower Hamlets Cemetery and Mile End Park. Bromley-by-Bow lies within the E3 postcode district. Small areas of employment land on the eastern, West Ham, side of the Lea share the same E3 postcode as Bromley and Bow and this leads to them sometimes being informally referred to as part of Bromley-by-Bow.

The London Thames Gateway Development Corporation's aims for the Lower Lea Valley include providing 8,000 new homes and 2,500 new jobs in the Bromley-by-Bow area[28]. The section of land between the River Lea and the A11 is currently being redeveloped. Immediately adjacent to it, in Newham, is the 26 acres (11 ha) Sugar House Island development, led by Vastint[29].


In 2001, according to the UK national census data,[30] there were 11,581 people living in the ward in 2188 households, giving an average of 2.8 people per household. Of these 51% were female, 30% were under the age of 16 and 40% were of Bangladeshi origin.

Tenure in Bromley-by-Bow ward was predominantly rented with only 15% of households being owner-occupiers.[31] Census data indicates that the proportion of households in rented tenure was higher than the average for the borough. 60% of males were economically active with total unemployment being around 16% compared to 11% for the borough as a whole.


Community centres

Kingsley Hall is famous both for the visits of Mahatma Gandhi to the East End in 1931 and the therapeutic clinic run by the alternative psychologist R. D. Laing from 1965. Despite a severe fire in 1995, Kingsley Hall remains an active community centre.[32]

The Bromley-by-Bow Centre is known for it approach to integrated health care, with nursery care, training opportunities and a community centre. It has been cited as a model for the future development of community services and health care.[33]


Bromley By Bow Community Organisation (BBBCO) also provides Youth Provisions and Community Engagement programmes for Bromley By Bow. Its projects and services as a voluntary organisation provide the area with five football teams, Girls Group, Youth Group and Elderly and Community Services. It empowers the local residents, one of the most deprived wards in Tower Hamlets, and its surrounding areas to improve their socio-economic and cultural well-being and be able to sustain a good quality of life.


The Bromley by Bow Centre offers adult educational training opportunities.

Bow School is a comprehensive secondary school and sixth form for boys and girls. In September 2014 the school moved from the old site off Fairfield Road, in the neighbouring district of Bow to a new site in Bromley-by-Bow 1 mile to the south-east by Bow Locks, in a brand new building designed by van Heyningen and Haward Architects.[17]

Marner Primary School on Devas Street and Old Palace Primary School are also located in the area.

Bromley-by-Bow Centre also offers adult training opportunities in the area, such as nursing training or apprenticeships.


Bromley-by-Bow tube station in 2009.

Bromley-by-Bow station is located in the centre of Bromley and has the London Underground District and Hammersmith & City lines serving it. The Metropolitan line ceased serving Bromley in 1990 and National Rail (then British Rail) services used to stop at Bromley-by-Bow (then called Bromley) station on the London, Tilbury and Southend Line before 1962. Today these services pass the station without stopping.

London Buses routes 108, 309, 323, 488 and D8 operate within the area. The 108 uses the Blackwall Tunnel, a source of severe delays which leads to the route often being cited as amongst the least reliable in London.[34]

The area is connected to the National Road Network by the north-south A12 (East Cross Route), also east-west B140 Devons Road and Davas Road as well as local road Bromley High Street provides further access.

The Lea Valley Walk on the River Lea Navigation and Lea River passes on the area eastern side for pedestrians and cyclists. To the south, the Limehouse Cut starts at the Bow Locks.

Notable residentsEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Tower Hamlets Ward population 2011". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Archived from the original on 21 October 2016. Retrieved 16 October 2016.
  2. ^ a b "Bromley St. Leonard (1934)". Retrieved 13 September 2018.
  3. ^ a b "Stepney: Early Stepney - British History Online". Retrieved 13 September 2018.
  4. ^ Bromley St Leonard's, The Environs of London: volume 2: County of Middlesex (1795), pp. 59-69 accessed: 19 May 2008.
  5. ^ Concise Oxford Dictionary of Place Names 4th Edition, Ekwall, 1990
  6. ^ "Leaside Regeneration, the sustainable regeneration company for East London". 14 May 2006. Archived from the original on 14 May 2006. Retrieved 26 May 2017.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  7. ^ The Old Palace of Bromley, Survey of London: volume 1: Bromley-by-Bow (1900), pp. 33-40. Date accessed: 14 February 2009
  8. ^ "Hospitals". Derelict London.
  9. ^ Chronology of London Railways by H.V.Borley page 81
  10. ^ Rev R.W. Enraght BA My Prosecution (1883),, accessed 17 May 2007
  11. ^ F. A. Youngs, Guide to the Local Administrative Units of England, Vol.I, 1979
  12. ^ "Victorian Society reveals top 10 buildings 'crying out' to be saved". BBC News. BBC.
  13. ^
  14. ^ "Aberfeldy Estate — Levitt Bernstein".
  15. ^ a b "Back to the workhouse". The Sunday Times. 19 February 1989.
  16. ^ The Sunday Times: 38. 29 June 1986. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  17. ^ a b Anna Silverman (8 July 2014). "Students thrilled with opening of new Bow School". East London Advertiser. Retrieved 8 July 2014.
  18. ^ Proposed changes to bus services in the Isle of Dogs area Transport for London 13 July 2016
  19. ^ Bus Services Changes 19 August to 8 October inclusive Transport for London
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^ "New 'cut price' office space seeks to lure start-ups from Shoreditch". Evening Standard. Retrieved 3 June 2018.
  29. ^ "Where young Londoners should look for new waterside homes without paying a Thames-side premium". Homes and Property. 1 May 2018. Retrieved 3 June 2018.
  30. ^ census data Archived 26 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine accessed 17 May 2007
  31. ^ Summary 2001 census data for LAP6 Archived 26 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine accessed 17 May 2007
  32. ^ David Baker. "Kingsley Hall Community Centre in East London". Retrieved 13 September 2018.
  33. ^ A man with a microscope Archived 2011-07-08 at the Wayback Machine, Civil Service Live, 29 Jan 2009. Retrieved 1 Apr 2010.
  34. ^ Aldridge, John (July 2007). "Tunnel troubles provoke interesting reaction". Buses. Ian Allan Publishing (628): 21.
  35. ^ "Six new non-party political peers". The Guardian. 15 February 2007. Retrieved 19 May 2008.

External linksEdit