On a beautiful sunny Sunday 13th March 2016 25 FORA members were treated to a guided walk by film maker and writer John Rogers. The idea was to follow the Philly Brook a hidden river running under the streets of Leytonstone and Leyton. This small river or brook runs from near St . Andrews Church Colworth Road Leytonstone E11 to Gateway Road E10 where it joins Dagenham Brook and then the river Lea.
Most of the Philly Brook is culverted and buried beneath the streets of Leytonstone but it does appear briefly in Gateway Road before flowing under Orient Way. The river passes beneath the streets through gaps between the terraced housing, running along alleyways, under car parks, along the middle of Newport Road, under Sidmouth Park and beneath Coronation Gardens. Following the course of the Philly Brook we were able to visualise the topography of the area with different catchments for the Roding and Lea valleys. We pondered the bronze age settlements that had been in the area and considered the huge expansion of London in the later 19th century with the development of the suburbs of Leytonstone and Leyton. John provided many interesting facts and anecdotes to illustrate this fascinating interface between history and geography.
We were struck by the fact that the Philly Brook’s existence is hidden both physically as well as in maps and documents. Surely the Philly Brook could be permitted to rise in Sidmouth Park and Coronation Gardens and be celebrated and allowed to contribute to the biodiversity and beauty of the area.
By Martin Sepion