A deep excavation just south of the site of the medieval Temple Mills (named after the Knights Templar who owned them in the 13th century) revealed how this location became a mini industrial estate in the 18th and 19th centuries. It represents the start of a process that was to transform the lower Lea Valley into London’s industrial powerhouse.
Situated between two water channels – Temple Mills Stream and Tumbling Bay Stream – the site was well placed to exploit the power of the river, and mills for many different industries are recorded there in historical records.
A number of buildings were recorded, including a small terrace of six workers’ cottages occupied in the late 18th and 19th centuries. Some of the people who lived in them are named in census records, and finds from the houses gave the archaeologists an insight into their lives and standard of living.
It is possible to trace the development of the site through a series of old maps and photographs. At the turn of the 20th century, a cobbled road was laid down to provide access to new businesses, including a piggery, to the south of the site.