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William Hurst Ashiptel (1776-1852), architect, owner and developer of land at Lea Bridge and Lea Bridge Dock, and surveyor of Hackney.

W.H. Ashpitel is closely associated with Lea Bridge and with Clapton and is buried in St John of Hackney Churchyard. He was a pupil of Daniel Asher Alexander, the surveyor to the London Dock Company between 1796 and 1831 and responsible for the early development of the London Docks and also surveyor to the Trinity House, constructing many lighthouses.

Thomas Wicksteed, engineer of the East London Waterworks at Lea Bridge, was assistant to Henry R. Palmer, engineer to the London Dock until 1829 and co-founder of the Institute of Civil Engineers in 1818.

Ashpitel’s career touched against many of the great architectural and engineering figures of the day. Ashpitel assisted his master in the designs for the London Docks, and in the execution of the works connected with that undertaking. Afterwards a pupil of John Rennie the elder, co-designer and/or engineer of London Docks (with Alexander)[1], he was largely concerned in the Kennet and Avon canal, and in the work of tunnelling under the town of Bath.

Rennie designed bridges at Waterloo, London, Southwark and Old Vauxhall Bridges and is also credited, with Robert Stevenson, for the Bell Rock Lighthouse. (Ashpitel’s architect son, Arthur, designed a church in Leyton containing the stones of the demolished London Bridge, which Rennie had designed). The design for the Bell Rock built upon the design of the Eddystone lighthouse by Smeaton (see earlier).

Later, Ashpitel was in partnership with James Savage (also a pupil of Alexander), and then last in practice on his own account (in Hackney particularly). Amongst other buildings he designed Sir Charles Talbot's house at Deepdene.[2]

Grave of W. H. Ashpitel, St John of Hackney Churchyard

Click to enlarge (opens in a new window)


Mr Forster Powell, an ‘extraordinary man’ undertook to run two miles in ten minutes on the Lea Bridge Road, ‘which he lost by only half a minute’.[3]


Beecholme House, opposite Brooke House, may have been the family home of Maj. John André (d. 1780), who was executed in the American War of Independence.[4]


Lea Bridge water mill assisted by a reservoir at Clapton and with profits from the Waterworks rising in 1791.[5]

A notice of sale in 1791, when an undivided moiety of the Hackney Waterworks and Corn-mills was in the market, we gather that the corn-mills were capable of grinding nearly 300 quarters per week.[6]


Lee Trustees resolved that ‘A Lock with double gates be put down at Lee Bridge instead of the single pair of Gates now there.[7]


William George Daniel Tyssen married Amelia, the daughter of Nicolas Amhurst by Mary daughter of Frances Tyssen who brought the estates at Hackney and at Foulden into the family. William George Daniel succeeded to these estates and in 1814 took the surname Daniel-Tyssen. He died in 1837.[8]


On 14 January 1776, there was an immense fire here, which, after burning with amazing rapidity for two hours, entirely consumed the mills, with a quantity of wheat and flour. About 3,000 quarters of this, the property of the Government, were also involved in the common destruction, which is supposed to have been caused by a flour-weigher leaving a lighted candle between two sacks of meal, one of which must have caught fire. [9]

 ‘A dreadful fire broke out about one o'clock, in the spacious premises called Lea Bridge-Mill, near Hackney, which were nearly burned to the ground, notwithstanding their vicinity to the river, it being some time before engines could be procured. An immense quantity of flour is feared to have been burned, or otherwise destroyed, in the mills and warehouses. At three, the slimes were so strong as to throw a light upon the fronts of houses in Marylebone, distant five or six miles.’[10]


[1] E. Williamson & Pevsner, pp. 199-200, 217

[2] Dictionary of Architectural Publication Society, 1885-1900, Volume 02. Sourced via Wikipedia.

[3] Pedestrianism, with a sketch of the life of Mr Forster Powell. Sporting magazine: Volume 1. October 1992

[4] A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 10: Hackney: Clapton, pp. 44-51, Fn 30. T.F.T. Baker (Editor). 1995

[5]A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 10: Hackney: Public services, pp. 108-115. T.F.T. Baker (Editor) 1995

 [6]The Municipal Parks, Gardens, And Open Spaces Of London. Lieut.-Col. J. J. Sexby, V. Delliot Stock. 1905

[7] Minute Books of both the River Lee Trust (1739 - 1868) and the Lee Conservancy Board (1868-1948), held at the National Archives at Kew. Taken from Lee and Stort web site (http://www.leeandstort.co.uk/index.htm) (NA Rail 845/7)

[8] Amherst Family Papers: National Archives

[9] The Municipal Parks, Gardens, And Open Spaces Of London. Lieut.-Col. J. J. Sexby, V. Delliot Stock, 1905

[10] Domestic Intelligence 1796. Walker's Hibernian magazine, or, Compendium of Entertaining knowledge, for the year 1796 Part 1

Recollections, comments, contributions and corrections

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© leabridge.org.uk December 2012