Contributed by eric on Oct. 26, 2016
I lived in Gowers Walk in the early 1950s, and walked past the Pump House weekly en route to the Cable Street shops with 'mum'. At the time the nearby Tilbury Warehouse was active, and goods steam trains would pass over Hooper Street bridge. The pumphouse was used, I think, to power hydraulic accumulators, which in turn would power small goods cranes on the platforms of the Tilbury, and they powered capstans which I saw hauling goods trucks across Hooper Street from one dark place to another. Trucks were lowered from the first-floor rail lines to ground-floor sidings.
The mysterious depths of the Hooper Street railway bridge
Contributed by eric on Nov. 1, 2016
Memories of Eric Shorter, b. 1936
I walked Hooper Street often, either taking left or right from Gower's Walk. Left was easy, a right at the next corner went down Back Church Lane to Cable street, and was one way to our shops. The other way went past the famous Pump House and then dog-legged around to meet with Leman Street and then on to Cable Street. But first one had to pass under a wide bridge in Hooper Street, this holding up the spur and sidings from the main line into Fenchurch Street, with the rails then entering the first-floor goods platforms of the Tilbury Warehouse. Under the bridge on both sides were large wooden doors entering into dark caverns, and there were two rail lines across Hooper Street itself. There was other rail storage, served from above by a single-truck hydraulic lift from the Tilbury. As a child I regularly saw trucks being hauled by capstan across the road from one dark cavern to another. An operator would deftly wind a wagon rope around a moving capstan and the truck would move. As appropriate the operator would remove the rope from the capstan with a lasso- ing like motion, and the truck would move on its own at a slow pace. I would have given a week’s pocket money to look inside these dark places, but while such transfers were in progress, all traffic of all kinds was prevented from being under the Hooper Street bridge.
Not long back, in about 2010, I visited Hooper Street again. The bridge has gone, as have all railway workings and storage and the Tilbury itself. But, I walked along the gutter on the northern side, and at a point where the road surface had worn thin, saw the unmistakable glint of a very short piece of bullhead rail pointing across Hooper street. The track was still there, but had been overlaid with Tarmac. My heart sang.
German church at the Old Pump House
Contributed by eric on Feb. 19, 2017
I knew the Pump House site well as a child, but not was there before it was constructed. I have a paper from Germany about a particular church organisation (the St Paul's German Reformed Church) which I believe had a church on the site of the Pump House, but which was ousted from it when the Tilbury Warehouse etc. was built. I have no interest in religious matters, but at the end of WWII I trod the bombed premises of the church on its new site at Sydenham (I shared my time between living at Aldgate and at Forest Hill, both of which had German communities.)