Colin Grainger

Chemical factory that eventually became the Thames Barrier park

Colin Grainger (Newham Mag)

Close up on a picture from my past…a shot I took with an old Polaroid camera 43 years ago in Silvertown of PR Chemicals, also known as Printar, and the Tarmac Factory next door.

It was one of the most polluted sites in the country.

My mother Lily Grainger work as company secretary until she was made redundant in 1970 because the land was needed for the Thames Flood Barrier, the “eighth wonder of the world”. My uncle David Grainger played a big part in creating the barrier.

Chemicals came from all over the world and I remember seeing the great view of the River Thames from there. The barrier opened in 1982, you can see the front of PR Chemicals already has the Thames Barrier construction sides outside.

I was lucky enough to start my stamp collection at the age of eight with those stamps that came from exotic parts of the world.

After the barrier was doing its job it was decided to make the PR Chemicals site a new park for Newham. It took almost another 20 years as they had to decontaminate the site.

The Thames Barrier Park  is a 34.6 acres (14.0 ha) park is named after its location on the north side of Thames next to the barrier.  It was intended to aid the regeneration of the area by creating an attractive public space alongside residential and commercial developments.

thames barrier park

Picture: GLC Planning document

Alain Provost of Groupe Signes won the international competition to design the park in 1995.  As the first largely post-modern design in London, the park has a fresh modern look with adventurous planting and dancing water fountains.Decontaminating the site took many years and was done with painstaking precision.

It now gives one of the most spectacular views down up and down river and the Barrier, ” is so close you can almost reach out and touch it.
Think it took about 200 layers of decontamination material. But the Thames Barrier park, opened in 2000, is a special place.
Pictured: Colin Grainger at the park by Andrew Baker and a shot of the inside of the park. Main image, PR Chemicals by Colin Grainger


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This article was written on 11 Aug 2013, and is filed under East London, PR Chemicals, Regeneration, Silvertown, Thames Barrier, Thames Barrier Park.

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