Raw Materials is an ongoing research project led by the Nunnery Gallery at Bow Arts. We are exploring the industrial heritage of the River Lea through a series of materials. We began with wood, continued with textiles and are exploring plastics in 2018-19.

Explore this website to find out more about our industrial history. You can read about the stories behind the objects we have found in archives and follow their location along the River Lea using our map.

Raw Materials is made possible with the generous support of the Heritage Lottery Fund. Our partners for Raw Materials: Plastics are University College London, Museum of Design in Plastics (Arts University Bournemouth), The Victoria & Albert Museum, and local archives from Barking and Dagenham, Hackney, Newham, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest and Suffolk, as well as Valence House and Vestry House Museum.

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Steering Group visit to Waltham Forest Archive & Vestry House Museum

Located in the middle of the lovely Walthamstow Village, the Vestry House Museum sits in its own beautiful garden and certainly offers an oasis of calm in the midst of the bustling city. The museum focuses on the history of the Waltham Forest area. The building itself has had a rather chequered past, having been a parish workhouse, police station and private home. Now, in its current guise of local museum, it proved to be a treasure trove of information and artefacts.

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