Living in Bow


Five miles from central London, Bow is perfect for families and commuters. It is a quiet area of riverside developments and Victorian terraces that boasts beautiful green spaces. For anyone considering living in Bow, find out more in this area guide.

History of the area

Bow might only be small, but it has played an important part in London’s history. Its name is derived from the bow-shaped bridge over the river Lea that Queen Matilda ordered to be built in the 12th century after she had fallen into the water. A Roman road already passed through the village of Stratford-at-Bow, and the modern B119 follows the route taken by this, one of the first paved roads built by the Romans in Britain, precursor of the Kingsway and the Great Essex Road. Stratford-at-Bow is mentioned by Chaucer in the prologue to the Canterbury Tales.

Bow has long had a reputation for radical politics. The match girls strike of 1888 took place at the Bryant and May factory on Fairfield Road – the building is now part of the residential Bow Quarter, but blue plaques commemorate the strike, which did much for the cause of trade unionism and women’s working rights. Sylvia Pankhurst based her breakaway Suffragette movement at 198 Bow Road, and the socialist and future Labour leader George Lansbury was active in local politics in Bow and Poplar, campaigning passionately for women’s suffrage and poor law relief.

The property market

House prices in Bow are significantly lower than the London average, so gives a great opportunity to first time buyers and those looking to get better value for money on a London property. The area has seen major regeneration since neighbouring Stratford hosted the Olympic Games in 2012, adding to the range of choice available to buyers.

New build homes

Bow is home to many new build, fully serviced developments. The most popular are Marner Point and Ivy Point, both near Bromley-by-Bow tube station, Fish Island Village (between Victoria Park and Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park) and Caspian Wharf near Limehouse Cut.

First time buyers

First time buyers will be encouraged by the lower than average prices in E3. There are also plenty of shared ownership schemes available, and Help to Buy schemes at several of the more recent developments.  

Renting in the area

Rental prices in this part of the East End are lower than the London average, and there is a plentiful supply of flats in the new build developments that are helping to transform Bow. Shared ownership schemes are also available in the area.

Schools and education

Bow has a number of well regarded schools. Old Ford Primary on Wrights Road and St Agnes RC Primary school are rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted. ‘Outstanding’ secondary schools include Beatrice Tate School on Southern Grove. The Mile End campus of Queen Mary University of London is close to Mile End Park.  

Transport links

The area is served by three tube stations, Mile End on the Central Line, Bow Road and Bromley-by-Bow on the District Line. There are two DLR stations, Bow Church and Devons Road, with connections to Canary Wharf in less than 10 minutes.

Lifestyle and leisure

Bow may not have the buzzing nightlife of Hackney or Shoreditch, but there are still a good range of pubs, cafés and restaurants to choose from, and great places to pick up a bargain.  

Places to eat and drink

Go to the Lord Tredegar in Lichfield Road for a classic pint and Sunday roast, while the Morgan Arms in Morgan Street is one of the best gastropubs in Bow. For locally produced whisky, gin, rum and vodka, head to the East London Liquor Company, a distillery just off Grove Road.

Things to do

Bow is bordered by canals and waterways – the Hertford Union Canal to the north, Regents Canal to the west, Limehouse Cut to the south and the Lea River to the east. You will be in good company walking or jogging down the towpaths past the narrow boats – it’s always a colourful scene. In terms of green spaces, Victoria Park is the perfect place for a picnic in the summer or a bracing winter walk. The park has a café, bandstand, bowling green and tennis courts, and is a popular music venue, staging major festivals and gigs throughout the summer months.

Where to shop

There has been a market on Roman Road for 150 years, and it continues to be one of Bow’s enduring attractions. It stretches for around a quarter of a mile and features stalls selling fresh fruit and veg, meat, homewares and clothing. Roman Road is also the main shopping street, with branches of Boots, Superdrug and Iceland along with independent retailers.

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