diamond geezer

 Friday, January 07, 2022

Walking Britain's B Roads: the B116
Balaam Street
[Newham]
[0.5 miles]

My apologies but I've had to go back and walk the B116. Originally I didn't think such a road existed but subsequent discussion has confirmed that the Ordnance Survey thinks it does, which means it does. Although originally designated the B166, at some point in the last 20 years the National Street Gazetteer has become convinced it's the B116, possibly through a data entry error, and therefore by definition it is now the B116. This means I now have to subject you to a mundane half mile through Plaistow. I hate to think what my horde of new followers is going to think.

The B116 is better known as Balaam Street and is one of the oldest roads in Plaistow. It's thought to be named after a Norman baron called Hugh de Balun, not the biblical bloke with the donkey, and was recorded as Balostret in 1371. It led from the centre of the village to the edge of the marshes, which in those days spread back well over a mile from the Thames, and was home to a number of prosperous folk who enjoyed the secluded rural surroundings. 'Village', 'prosperous' and 'secluded' are just some of the words nobody would use to describe Plaistow today.



Today a somewhat bespoiled Balaam Street starts at a T-junction in the shadow of a single tower block. The boarded-up pub on the corner was once the Coach and Horses but has been empty for over ten years because turning a damaged listed building into flats is expensive. The three-storey Victorian beauty nextdoor is The Laurels, a former Masonic Hall dressed in ragstone, and very much at odds with everything else we're about to pass. As for the clouds you can see rippling across the sky they're cirrocumulus ahead of a bank of altostratus - nomenclature which will prove significant as we proceed south.



If you've ever wanted to go to college in offices above a carpet warehouse, Balaam Street is the place for you. Its correct name has somehow escaped the notice of the owner of the Balam Food & Wine off licence, although given the number of times the road's changed its spelling over the years perhaps we should let him off. Ian Visits has the full backstory of Barbers Alley, the unnecessarily broad pedestrian thoroughfare which heads off to the left. But the world owes a lot more to the ambulance station on the right which marks the site of Chesterton House, former home of amateur meteorologist Luke Howard.



Luke moved to Plaistow in 1796 to manage his father-in-law's pharmaceutical business, and while living here started to make detailed observations of the cloud formations he saw above him. In 1803 he published a groundbreaking Essay on the Modification of Clouds which included the first attempt at their classification, thereby introducing a nomenclature we still use today.
(1) Cirrus.— Parallel, flexuous or diverging fibres, extensible in any or all directions.
(2) Cumulus.— Convex or conical heaps, increasing upward from a horizontal base.
(3) Stratus.— A widely-extended continuous horizontal sheet, increasing from below.
(4) Cirro-cumulus.— Small, well-defined, roundish masses, in close horizontal arrangement.
(5) Cirro-stratus.— Horizontal or slightly inclined masses, attenuated towards a part or the whole of their circumferences, bent downward, or undulated, separate or in groups consisting of small clouds having these characters.
(6) Cumulo-stratus.— The cirro-stratus blended with the cumulus, and either appearing intermixed with the heaps of the latter or superadding a widespread structure to its base.
(7) Cumulo-cirro-stratus, or nimbus.— The rain-cloud: a cloud or system of clouds from which rain is falling. It is a horizontal sheet, above which the cirrus spreads, while the cumulus enters it laterally and from beneath.
The Howards moved to Tottenham in 1813 so that's where his blue plaque is, but it's Plaistow which provided his blue sky thinking.



Opposite is Plaistow Park, formerly Balaam Street Recreation Ground. As parks go it's pretty bogstandard, having lost its bandstand and several other original features, but the ornamental garden (currently with frozen fountain and single flowering rose) remains intact. If it's food you want the Munchy Grill promises to take care of your peri peri needs while Kate's Anglo-Ghanaian cafe, A Taste of Honey, reopens today after a lengthy Christmas break. The modern mental health centre where the road bends was built on the site of the Invalid and Crippled Children's Hospital, a small unit which provided a few dozen beds for the chronically unwell between 1903 and 1976.



Which brings us to the Greenway, or rather the North London Outfall Sewer, here silently conveying the effluent of millions beneath the street and onward to Beckton. It doesn't generally whiff too badly either, before you ask. Off to one side is one of London's three Dongola Roads, while off to the other is the site of the demolished house where the Human League filmed their video for Keep Feeling Fascination. On Balaam Street we find a scrap of grass overlooked by a single bleak bench, a mobility scooter charging up on the pavement, a refuse bin painted with the flag of St George and a red car bumper lying at the foot of the tree it was smashed into.



At number 42 the Helping Hands charity is collecting pizzas, fruit and veg for local distribution, stacked neatly out front in naturally-chilled plastic trays. Three men are chatting intently outside So Nice Market, then step out into the road when they recognise the driver of a passing car. At Total Gadget Repair Ltd the shopkeeper peers out through the window oblivious to the long term misspelling of Phone Accerrories on the facade above his head. Uncle Jim's Fish Bar is BestMate's local chippy of choice and was once awarded a three star review by this very blog. For those who like to know which bus routes we're following it's been the 241 and 325 all the way.



Balaam Leisure Centre is an unwelcoming brick fortress built on the site of the much splendider Plaistow Baths (which were demolished exactly 50 years ago). Alas the centre's been closed for the last three years following the discovery of a serious water leak from the pool into the concrete slab above the gym, which is an unfortunate thing to happen immediately after a million pound refit, and there are fears it'll never reopen. I'm pleased to say that personalised printers Proclaim Enterprise have spelt Stationery correctly across their frontage, although they have then messed up with the strapline General Printing At It's Best.



Balaam Street draws to a close much where it did centuries ago, no longer on the edge of the marshes but on the busy Barking Road between branches of Iceland and Ladbrokes. What was once the most prosperous village in West Ham is now anything but, as a large pawnbrokers on the final parade attests. But times change, as do road classifications, along what ought to be the B166 but has somehow become the B116 instead.


<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>


click to return to the main page


...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan22
Jan21  Feb21  Mar21  Apr21  May21  Jun21  Jul21  Aug21  Sep21  Oct21  Nov21  Dec21
Jan20  Feb20  Mar20  Apr20  May20  Jun20  Jul20  Aug20  Sep20  Oct20  Nov20  Dec20
Jan19  Feb19  Mar19  Apr19  May19  Jun19  Jul19  Aug19  Sep19  Oct19  Nov19  Dec19
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18  Aug18  Sep18  Oct18  Nov18  Dec18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

» my flickr photostream

twenty blogs
853
our bow
arseblog
ian visits
londonist
blue witch
the great wen
edith's streets
spitalfields life
linkmachinego
round the island
wanstead meteo
christopher fowler
bus and train user
ruth's coastal walk
the ladies who bus
round the rails we go
london reconnections
dirty modern scoundrel
from the murky depths

quick reference features
Things to do in Outer London
Things to do outside London
Inner London toilet map
The DG Tour of Britain
#coronavirus

read the archive
Jan22
Dec21  Nov21  Oct21  Sep21
Aug21  Jul21  Jun21  May21
Apr21  Mar21  Feb21  Jan21
Dec20  Nov20  Oct20  Sep20
Aug20  Jul20  Jun20  May20
Apr20  Mar20  Feb20  Jan20
Dec19  Nov19  Oct19  Sep19
Aug19  Jul19  Jun19  May19
Apr19  Mar19  Feb19  Jan19
Dec18  Nov18  Oct18  Sep18
Aug18  Jul18  Jun18  May18
Apr18  Mar18  Feb18  Jan18
Dec17  Nov17  Oct17  Sep17
Aug17  Jul17  Jun17  May17
Apr17  Mar17  Feb17  Jan17
Dec16  Nov16  Oct16  Sep16
Aug16  Jul16  Jun16  May16
Apr16  Mar16  Feb16  Jan16
Dec15  Nov15  Oct15  Sep15
Aug15  Jul15  Jun15  May15
Apr15  Mar15  Feb15  Jan15
Dec14  Nov14  Oct14  Sep14
Aug14  Jul14  Jun14  May14
Apr14  Mar14  Feb14  Jan14
Dec13  Nov13  Oct13  Sep13
Aug13  Jul13  Jun13  May13
Apr13  Mar13  Feb13  Jan13
Dec12  Nov12  Oct12  Sep12
Aug12  Jul12  Jun12  May12
Apr12  Mar12  Feb12  Jan12
Dec11  Nov11  Oct11  Sep11
Aug11  Jul11  Jun11  May11
Apr11  Mar11  Feb11  Jan11
Dec10  Nov10  Oct10  Sep10
Aug10  Jul10  Jun10  May10
Apr10  Mar10  Feb10  Jan10
Dec09  Nov09  Oct09  Sep09
Aug09  Jul09  Jun09  May09
Apr09  Mar09  Feb09  Jan09
Dec08  Nov08  Oct08  Sep08
Aug08  Jul08  Jun08  May08
Apr08  Mar08  Feb08  Jan08
Dec07  Nov07  Oct07  Sep07
Aug07  Jul07  Jun07  May07
Apr07  Mar07  Feb07  Jan07
Dec06  Nov06  Oct06  Sep06
Aug06  Jul06  Jun06  May06
Apr06  Mar06  Feb06  Jan06
Dec05  Nov05  Oct05  Sep05
Aug05  Jul05  Jun05  May05
Apr05  Mar05  Feb05  Jan05
Dec04  Nov04  Oct04  Sep04
Aug04  Jul04  Jun04  May04
Apr04  Mar04  Feb04  Jan04
Dec03  Nov03  Oct03  Sep03
Aug03  Jul03  Jun03  May03
Apr03  Mar03  Feb03  Jan03
Dec02  Nov02  Oct02  Sep02
back to main page

the diamond geezer index
2021 2020 2019 2018 2017
2016 2015 2014 2013 2012
2011 2010 2009 2008 2007
2006 2005 2004 2003 2002

my special London features
a-z of london museums
E3 - local history month
greenwich meridian (N)
greenwich meridian (S)
the real eastenders
london's lost rivers
olympic park 2007
great british roads
oranges & lemons
random boroughs
bow road station
high street 2012
river westbourne
trafalgar square
capital numbers
east london line
lea valley walk
olympics 2005
regent's canal
square routes
silver jubilee
unlost rivers
cube routes
Herbert Dip
metro-land
capital ring
river fleet
piccadilly
bakerloo

ten of my favourite posts
the seven ages of blog
my new Z470xi mobile
five equations of blog
the dome of doom
chemical attraction
quality & risk
london 2102
single life
boredom
april fool

ten sets of lovely photos
my "most interesting" photos
london 2012 olympic zone
harris and the hebrides
betjeman's metro-land
marking the meridian
tracing the river fleet
london's lost rivers
inside the gherkin
seven sisters
iceland

just surfed in?
here's where to find...
diamond geezers
flash mob #1  #2  #3  #4
ben schott's miscellany
london underground
watch with mother
cigarette warnings
digital time delay
wheelie suitcases
war of the worlds
transit of venus
top of the pops
old buckenham
ladybird books
acorn antiques
digital watches
outer hebrides
olympics 2012
school dinners
pet shop boys
west wycombe
bletchley park
george orwell
big breakfast
clapton pond
san francisco
thunderbirds
routemaster
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
amsterdam
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
typewriters
doctor who
coronation
comments
blue peter
matchgirls
hurricanes
buzzwords
brookside
monopoly
peter pan
starbucks
feng shui
leap year
manbags
bbc three
vision on
piccadilly
meridian
concorde
wembley
islington
ID cards
bedtime
freeview
beckton
blogads
eclipses
letraset
arsenal
sitcoms
gherkin
calories
everest
muffins
sudoku
camilla
london
ceefax
robbie
becks
dome
BBC2
paris
lotto
118
itv