We must celebrate our industrial heritage

Walthamstow Pumphouse Museum
The Grade 2-listed former Low Hall Pumping Station is the home of the Walthamstow Pumphouse Museum. The museum is dedicated to the history of transport, industry and technological innovation in Waltham Forest and the surrounding area (credit Mike Seaborne)

Lindsay Collier, chair of Lea Valley Heritage Alliance, on the campaign to create a new regional industrial museum

We are less than two months away from the end of Waltham Forest’s year as ‘London Borough of Culture’ – but what has been done to celebrate our industrial heritage?

Waltham Forest is the home of British transport, with a claim to fame for major firsts in the development of aviation, road and rail – the first all-British aviation flight took place at Walthamstow Marshes; the first standardised bus in the world was produced at Blackhorse Lane; and the record for fastest construction of a locomotive was made at Stratford Depot on the border with Leyton.

Surely any borough in the country would have jumped at this opportunity to show the rest of the nation its unique industrial heritage? After being advised there would be such a celebration, nothing of real merit has transpired this year – despite offers from Lea Valley Heritage Alliance to discuss the matter with Waltham Forest Council.

Walthamstow Pumphouse Museum has provided the means for several years to make such events happen. Next April will mark 150 years of the railways coming to the borough and the museum will be celebrating this historic achievement with, I hope, the support of the council. We would be willing to discuss it with them.

As well as being chairman of LVHA I am also the current chairman of Walthamstow Pumphouse Museum, so I admit I do have a vested interest. Having said that, I am very much aware of the support that the general public has along with our members to see the museum being developed into a larger regional museum celebrating thee many unique manufacturing and transport achievements that have all transpired in the Lea Valley.

Such a museum could also become the headquarters of LVHA. I am sure that the residents of Waltham Forest would welcome this a fantastic opportunity to have a unique regional industrial heritage museum to complement the nearby Walthamstow Wetlands and William Morris Gallery – both big visitor attractions opened and maintained by the council.

The matter of a recognition of the Lea Valley’s unique industrial heritage story has also now caught the attention of the government, to the extent that a presentation to all MPs in the Lea Valley region, plus interested stakeholders, is due to take place at the House of Commons.

If you as residents of Waltham Forest support our proposals, I ask you to please write to the council and your local MP asking for their support in making Walthamstow Pumphouse Museum into the regional industrial heritage museum it deserves to become.

For more information about Lea Valley Heritage Alliance: