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Hidden History of London

London's Hidden History

The area around Beckton was open low lying flat marshland until 1870 when the Gas Light and Coke Company bought 540 acres and opened Europe's largest gasworks serving the whole of London.

The Governor of the company was Simon Adams Beck, no you are not going to say the named the area after him - oh yes they did!

Slag from the gasworks piled so high that a dry ski slope was built with in the 1980's, now under redevelopment. The opening of the Docklands Light Railway in 1994, direct service to Tower Gateway, marked a milestone in the development of Beckton and the regeneration of the Royal Docks.

A perfect example of how the introduction of a rail network can completely enhance the social and commercial life of a community.

As an aside, Beckton gas workers went on strike in the late 1800s, following the example set by the girls at the Bryant & May factory - "match that lads" they probably said!

The Beckton Alps Dry Ski Slope was built by a partnership including Michael Jackson in the early 1980s. Officially opened by Diana, Princess of Wales in 1989 a landslip in 1993 on one of the slopes meant more remedial work had to be carried out, and in 2001 it was closed.

The name of Beckton Alps Ski Village was actually the idea of The Gent as, at the time, he was living in the area and involved with the project.

Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket was filmed using the gas works at Beckton and Galleons Reach.

In a particular scene where a Viet Cong girl dies she is laying on the cokespoil of the plant.

We had some fun times with the actors and extras of the film visiting the (then) new local pub The Tollgate Tavern and The Ferndale in Cyprus Place, hosted by old George, an ex-landlord who kept his stool at the corner of the bar.

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