Three Mills has long been defined by its position in the heart of extensive tidal waterways.
In 1086, William the Conqueror’s ‘Domesday Book’ recorded eight tidal mills here, used to grind grain for bread. Later the mills made gin and fed their alcoholic mash to pigs, which in turn supported secondary industries, from soap making to the production of fine bone porcelain.
In 1118, Matilda, Queen of England, almost lost her life crossing the tidal Lea at Old Ford. She left money in her will to build a bridge with curved arches (like a French archer’s bow) which gave the area of Bow its name.
In the 19th century, the Clean Air Act sent heavy industries out of central London and a wide range of industries moved here. By 1910 West Ham was second only to Bristol for its number of factories south of Birmingham.