This is Kemp
Fancy a nice London walk? Well try this one.
Head east from the Tower of London
From the Tower of London head east through St Katharine’s Dock and then into Wapping. On the way you might enjoy Hermitage and the classic barges moored there.
Don’t forget to visit the memorial to the 40,000 civilian victims of the Blitz in the south west corner.
As you enter Wapping stop and enjoy the great view at New Stairs where you can see the the Metropolitan Police Service Marine Unit (the first police station of the first police force in the world).
Past the Wapping warehouses
Keep on walking and you will pass Wapping Overground station on your right (another first, the tunnel under the river by the Brunels) and just keep heading east, always keeping as close to the river as you can past the warehouses.
It’s a lovely walk but it’s not very green. That is of course until you see a bridge in front of you just past the Prospect of Whitby pub. Cross over the bridge and turn right.
Two miles later here you are
And here you are in King Edward VII Memorial Park. The River Thames on one side, a lovely green space on the other.
You have just walked two miles from the Tower of London and Canary Wharf in the distance is another two miles (it looks closer because those bank buildings are very big!).
So in having a lovely little walk you have discovered the first thing about King Edward Memorial Park, or KEMP as we tend to call it, that it is the only green space in the four miles between the Tower of London and Canary Wharf. And that is just one of the reasons why it is very precious to a lot of people.
Turn your back on Canary Wharf
Turn your back on the river and Canary Wharf and look across the park. See that tower block just behind the park? For people who live there the park is their back garden. That’s another reason why this park is so highly valued,
Walk along a little and look at the benches from where people will be sitting and watching the river go by. Several benches are dedicated to those who lived enjoying the park. Many others have their ashes scattered in the park itself. A nice place to rest.
Dedicated by royalty
This park is dedicated to the use and enjoyment of the people of East London forever
Not our words. King George V and Queen Mary actually. That was the dedication when they opened KEMP in 1922. Now I don’t know about you but when a King and Queen say that something should be done I tend to take the request pretty seriously.
So we who live in Tower Hamlets and love our river and our park intend that the people of East London will be able to enjoy it forever. No gaps of several years while it is trashed for the sake of an ill considered scheme by a company whose sole purpose is profit.
Resistance is in our blood
October 2011 marked the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Cable Street, a milestone event in the life of our nation when hundreds of thousands of East Enders fought the police and the black shirts of Oswald Mosley and stopped fascism spreading through our streets.
A few years after that the East End bore the brunt of the London Blitz and thousands of local people died in their homes and in the streets but the will of those who survived was not broken but forged by the fires.
None of us would dare to compare our fight to save King Edward Memorial Park with the personal risk and sacrifice of Cable Street or the Blitz. But it would be an unwise person – or anonymous corporate entity – who would deliberately confront East Enders.
But despite this we have another threat to fight.
And fight it we shall.