Visiting Bow, East London; History of the Area, and Top Things to Do

Bow, East London is a 4.6-mile residential area about eight minutes from Shoreditch. It’s strategically perched between the London Borough of Hackney, Poplar, Bethnal Green, and Stratford and is easily accessible via the London Underground train through Bow Road and Mile End tube stations.

Although it lacks the buzzy nightlife typical of its immediate neighbor, Bethnal Green, this laidback area boasts a rich history, easy access to the expansive Victoria Park, and enough gems to keep you indulged all day.

How Bow Came to Be

Bow is one of the oldest neighborhoods in East London. It features Georgian architecture and has quaint tree-lined streets and plenty of pubs where locals like to relax. The 4.6-mile area is today part of the Tower Hamlets, but like most districts in East London, it was originally part of the Stepney Parish in East London.

It became an independent hamlet in 1719 after the pre-existing hamlet was separated from the Parish. In 1900, Bow merged with Bromley-by-Bow and Poplar to form the borough of Poplar, and in 1965 the area officially became part of the Tower Hamlets after Bethnal Green, Poplar, and Stepney metropolitan boroughs were merged.

Bow is known as Stratford of the Bow in full and is named after the distinctive, three-arched bowed bridge at River Lea.  The bridge was built in 1110 when the wife to Henry 1 fell while passing through Bow and ordered the construction of the bow-shaped structure. Locals shortened it to Bow to differentiate it from the nearby Stratford Langthorne.

Things to Do in Bow, East London

Bow doesn’t run short of fun things to do, whether visiting for a day or having an overnight trip. If this is your first visit, check out some of the top things to do in Bow, East London:

Checkout Roman Road Market

A visit to Bow, East London is never complete without visiting the famous Roman Road Market. Stretching half a kilometer through Bow’s town center, the Roman Road marketplace opens every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday and has been operational for more than 150 years now. It has a mix of old to artisanal stalls and offers everything from Italian delicacies, pet supplies, fashion, street food, baked goods, fabrics to home ware.

Visit Victoria Park

Fondly nicknamed the People’s Park or Vicky’s Park, Victoria Park is an 18th-19th century green space on Grove Road in Bow. At 86.13 ha, it’s one of the largest parks in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, East London. It’s also among the most visited in London, with an estimated 9 million visits annually, which no surprise is considering the endless array of fun activities on-site. It’s flanked by the famous Regent’s Canal on both sides providing boating opportunities. It is also home to several historical ornamental structures, including the famous £5,000 Baroness Burdett Coutts fountain and the much-revered 1847 Chinese Pagoda. There are two cafes available, playgrounds, a skatepark, and even sporting amenities, plus the park hosts countless festivals and fun events all year long.

Other notable attractions to check out in Bow, East London include:

  • Tredegar Square
  • The postal museum
  • The Bow Public Library
  • Various
  • Sylvia Pankhurst toy factory

Visiting Bow, East London

Bow in East London is small, but what it lacks in size, it makes up in charm. This small area is just a stone-throw away from Vicky’s Park and is even home to a hidden toy factory. Plan your visit around the Roman Road Market days to make your trip to Bow, East London, even more eventful.