A darker than usual morning at this time of year

Going back to work on the 4th of January might be enough to darken anyone’s spirits, the mornings are dark enough, but come the 4th dawn will be even darker for us here in London. A partial eclipse will have the moon covering up the rising limb of the sun, the uncovered portion will still be below the horizon at sun-up (08:06am).

Seeing as it will almost certainly be too overcast to take photographs and I’ll have no clear view to the low horizon anyway, I’ve prepared some simulations of what you would see (or I would photograph) were conditions perfect (with no atmosphere glare either).

The start of the eclipse as you'll not see it from East London

The Sun will clear the horizon by 8:15, but a good portion of it will be eclipsed by the moon.


Just as you’re starting work, the sun will be high enough to clear low roofs and trees, you might get to see a chunk missing from it if you’re outside or near a window.

But it’ll probably be too overcast.

All over
9:30, and the sun is definitely high enough to see now, but you’ve missed all the action.

It’s a shame hardly anyone in London will see this eclipse, because it’s one of the best London will see for a long time. The centre-line passes right though London, skirting the west-side of central park in East Ham, passing right over Ilford station and just clipping the eastern edge of Valentines Park.

A fun toy for working out where the eclipse is visible is this map from NASA. The next total solar eclipse visible from London isn’t until June 14, 2151, so armchair eclipse hunters have a bit of a wait.

Local history Monday Tuesday

Whalebone Lane, bit of an odd name for a main road in a town not exactly famed for its whaling fleets, isn’t it? Well, the name derives from Whalebone House, that stood close to the junction of the modern-day High Road and Whalebone Lane. The house taking its name from the large whalebone arch that formed the main gate.

Whalebone House c1935

The house was destroyed in bombing in April 1941, not much survived, although the whalebones did, being transfered to Valance House, where they were recently rediscovered.

There had been a house on the site since at least 1667, the house shown in the photograph above dated from around 1747. What follows is a somewhat incomplete history of the house and owners:

  • c1667 Owned by a Mr. Bell (no further details)
  • c1747 Daniel Pilon constructed the house shown in the photograph.
  • 1783 Nicholas Peter Pilon
  • 1823 to 1846, used as a school by John Peacock
  • 1846 to 1855, owned by the Mull family. Sold off on August 10th 1885 by auction.
  • 1887 Alexander Anderson
  • 1889 to 1917 Philip Savill and Mrs M. Savill
  • 1920 Reginald Wood
  • 1922 Walter Hayter
  • before 1941, owned by Mrs Lester.

When exactly and why the whalebones made their appearance, I’ve not yet been able to discover – anyone know?

Lost Dagenham

Another image from the archives this week: Clay Cottages of Marston Avenue. You won’t find them there now though, these last two were demolished in 1962, razed to make room for garages.

Clay Cottages - Dagenham ~1960

These particular cottages were around 500 years old – some of the oldest dwelling places in Essex. They originally had no first floor, this being added fairly recently. In our enlightened times there would probably be a cry to save them from destruction. In the 1960s however, the low ceilings and lack of modern facilities condemned them.

I’ve reason to believe even the garages that replaced them are now gone.