Saturday, 21 April 2018

A quiet garden in the City of London

(Jo Dungey writes) The ruins of St Dunstan’s in the East now stand in a small public garden in the City of London.  The church was severely damaged in the Blitz of 1941.  The Church of England decided not to rebuild it, and it is now a quiet place to sit, midway between London Bridge and the Tower of London, on St Dunstan’s Hill.


Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Let's draw Three Mills Island - Sunday 20 May 2018

The Clock Mill by Martin Stone

Join us to draw in east London at Three Mills Island – meeting on a Sunday this month. Three Mills is a unique site to explore and draw London’s industrial past. House Mill (1776) and Clock Mill (1817) are tidal water mills on the River Lea. Also close by are the Bow Locks, and the area has river and canal-side walks and panoramic views of east London. 

The day is free of charge, no need to book, just turn up with your art kit.

Key times and meeting points for the day

The Clock Mill
11am: Meet by the Clock Mill (see photograph above). Bring an umbrella if it is raining (the nearby café does not open until 11am).

1pm: Meet by the Clock Mill to look at drawings done so far. If it is wet, we will meet in the cafe of the adjacent House Mill.

3.30pm: Meet at the same location, by Clock Mill (or the House Mill café if wet) to look at drawings we have done and take group photographs.

After this, we will go to The Galvanisers Union pub, 2 Devas Street (near Bromley-by-Bow Underground station) for refreshments, chat and sketchbook sharing.

If we have bad weather: Three Mills Island has very little indoor or covered locations if the weather is wet. There is limited scope to draw from the café or from under nearby bridges. Guided tours of the House Mill are available, at £4. If the weather is wet, we will meet at Three Mills Island, as described here, from 11am to 1pm. If the afternoon is very wet, we may decide to move to the Museum of Childhood, in nearby Bethnal Green. We will decide this on the day at the 1pm meet-up.

Options for drawing

The historic House Mill, Clock Mill and Customs House

Three Mills Island by Steven Baker
Buildings in the surrounding area, including the Three Mills film studio exterior, the ornate Abbey Mills Pumping Mill (1865), modern housing and development sites, and buildings, some derelict, of the industrial past

Victorian gasometers of the Bromley-by-Bow gasworks (built 1870 to 1873)

Canals and rivers with lock gates, boats, bridges and waterside walks

Three Mills Green with landscaping, public art and canalside seating

Views towards the London Olympic Park including the Anish Kapoor ArcelorMittal Orbit sculpture.


There have been watermills on this part of the River Lea since the eleventh century – the Doomsday Book of 1086 records eight mills. The River Lea flows into the Thames and is part of the same tidal system; tidal mills use the flow of water to power the grinding of wheat into flour, and other purposes. The name ‘Three Mills’ was in use by the twelfth century; the mills ground and sold bread flour to local bakers. Grain was brought to the mills by carts or by barge from farms in Suffolk, Essex and Hertfordshire. Standing by the mills, you can see the tramways in the ground used by the grain carts.

The House Mill we see today was built in 1776; the Miller’s House adjoining it was rebuilt in the 1990’s to the original 1763 design after damage from Second World War bombing. The Clock Mill was built in 1817, replacing a timber-built mill. The clocktower is retained from the 1750s; the clock and bell summoned the local people to work at the mills. These two mills have waterwheels under the buildings which would have driven the millstones. The buildings with conical roofs were used to dry grain.

In the eighteenth century, gin making developed here, using grain from the mills. What is now Three Mills film studio was a big distillery and bottling plant, making gin and bottling beer, sherry, wine and spirits. The Customs House next to the House Mill supervised the taxation of alcohol sales.

Many industries developed in the Stratford and West Ham area which used the canals and rivers for transport. For example, in records of 1832, the main goods being transported were coal, malt, grain, flour and gunpowder. Abbey Mills Pumping Station was designed in 1865 by Joseph Bazalgette, as part of the improvement of sewerage in London.

The House Mill was grinding grain until 1940, the Clock Mill until 1951. This is now a Conservation Area and the House Mills Trust plans to restore the mill to working order. At present, the remaining milling equipment and the watermills can be seen by taking a tour of the House Mill, which is kept open by volunteers, as detailed on the Trust’s website.

Practical information

The nearest Underground station is Bromley-by-Bow (District Line, and Hammersmith and City Line). The bus routes 488 and D8 also stop here. Leaving the Underground station, you face a view of dereliction, but don’t worry, it gets better. Turn left into the underpass under the busy A12, following the signs to Three Mills Lane. Follow Three Mills Lane passing around the left of a large Tesco store. Ahead you will see the Clock Mill on the other side of the canal.

There are limited facilities for food and drink at this location, so you could choose to bring something. Next to the House Mill is a small café run by volunteers (open 11am to 4pm). There is a pub, The Galvanisers Union on Devas Street near Bromley-by-Bow Underground station which offers Sunday roast lunches and drinks (open 12 noon to 10pm). Nearby is a Sainsbury’s Local shop (open 7am to 11pm) and there is a big Tesco (open 12 noon to 6pm) between the Underground station and Three Mills Island which also has take-away coffee at its petrol station. There are toilets at Tesco, one at the House Mill café (for customers), and at the pub.

This day is run by Martin Stone and Steven Baker. Photographs by Steven Baker, drawings by Martin Stone and Steven Baker.


Monday, 2 April 2018

Outside London's Facebook HQ

Facebook HQ, Rathbone Square, London

[By James Hobbs] I've been drawing the London offices of some of the companies involved with misusing our data to help bring about the rise of Donald Trump and the UK's departure from the European Union. You can find it here, on my blog.

The London's Urban Sketchers Facebook page, I should add, can be found here.


Sunday, 18 March 2018

Interesting...Urban Sketchers in The Guardian

From the 'In Pictures' section of The Guardian web site:
The artist capturing urban clutter
[John Webb]

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

We Drew Leadenhall Market 10 March 2018

Sketch by Hannah Lee Miller

We met at the start of the day inside Leadenhall Market near the Lamb Tavern (which was a popular spot for some of our group to enjoy refreshments as they sketched). There were building works happening in the market and a nearby street was closed due to the filming of the Pokemon movie but this didn’t prevent our group from finding plenty of things to sketch.

Sketch by Joe Bean

Sketch by Gafung Wong

The weather was better than forecast, and many people sketched outside, although lots of sketchers opted to draw the wonderful interiors of the Market, including the silver dragons, which are a feature here and throughout the City.

Sketch by Dolores Kitchener

The nearby Lloyds and Leadenhall Buildings gave some sketchers an opportunity to contrast the old and new architecture, with others sketching the nearby churches of Great St Helen’s and St Dunstan in the East.

We met again inside the market at lunchtime to share our work from the morning and as always, it was interesting to see the wide range of styles and subjects.

We ended the day by sharing the rest of our sketches and taking a second group photo. Many sketchers commented that this place is worth coming back for more, since it would take longer than one day to really do this interesting area justice with our drawings.

Thank you to everyone who came along and we look forward to seeing you again, and welcoming more new faces at our next sketchcrawl on 28 April in Walthamstow.

Blog Post by Olga Mackness

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Let's draw Walthamstow - Saturday 28 April 2018

The Woodpecker Tapestry by William Morris (1885)
Part of the permanent collection of the William Morris Gallery in Lloyd Park, Walthamstow. 

In April we’ll be drawing in Walthamstow, one of London's historic villages. It got a mention in the Domesday Book, and still retains some interesting old buildings.

St Mary's churchyard
There are two main centres of interest in Walthamstow. The Old Village is to the east of the station. There's the medieval church of St Mary's, with a suitably spooky churchyard, a picturesque row of almshouses, the half-timbered 'Ancient House' and the Vestry House museum (free admission). This has an interesting local collection and would be a useful bolthole on a wet day.

The Ancient House
Vestry House Museum
To the north, along Forest Road, are some more modern landmarks. William Morris House, a Grade II* listed building, was Morris's family home from 1848 to 1856. It's now a gallery (also free admission) devoted to his work and that of his fellow Pre-Raphaelites.

William Morris House - front
Behind the gallery is Lloyd Park. The medieval house which once stood there has vanished, but you can still see its moat.
William Morris House - back
The moat of Lloyd Park
And just along the road is the absolutely humungous art deco town hall; you may have spotted it in movies about Hitler or Mussolini, since it makes a perfect backdrop for fascist rallies.

Walthamstow town hall
If you want to wander a bit further, Walthamstow High Street is the longest street market in Europe. And just east of the Old Village is God's Own Junkyard, under cover and specialising in vintage neon. It says it has a cafe. I haven't been there myself, but it comes recommended and looks amazing.

Key times and meeting points for the day:

11am We will meet outside Walthamstow Central station (Victoria Line, linked by footpath to Walthamstow Queens Road on the Overground). Then sketchers can head off in whichever direction they fancy.

1pm The lunchtime meetup will be at the back of the William Morris House, where there is a good flight of steps for photos. There are also two cafes, one in the house itself and the other in Lloyd Park, behind William Morris House. The park cafe has one the most impressive selections of ice cream I have seen in London. Both have a good range of light lunch options.

3.30pm We finish outside the Vestry House Museum, to compare our work and take a final photo before adjourning to a nearby café or pub.

The day is run by Elizabeth Blunt and Philip Stones.


Sunday, 25 February 2018

We drew Tate Britain - 24 February 2018

Lovely capture of the group at the end of the day from Cynthia

So lovely to see such a good turnout for the February sketchcrawl, based in and around Tate Britain. We had people travelling from Hampshire and Birmingham in the UK to join us and even two European visitors from USk Netherlands and USk Rome!  

Lots of great sketchbook drawings from both inside and out, some of which feature below. Lots more on the Facebook page -

Next meet up is at Leadenhalll Market on Saturday 10th March -

People sketched by Paul

Rossana from USk Rome

This lively sketch by Kat

Architectural study by Gavin

The beautiful architecture in the Members Room sketched by Marie

Window view watercolour by Daniel

Simon braved the cold for this lovely pen sketch

Henry Moore sculptors were a popular subject. This sketchbook drawing by Gaynor

Urban Sketchers at work in the Members Room in Tate Britain  

Sangeeta at work in the Members Room