Laying the foundations: Progress at the Silk District

It’s been an exciting start to the year in the heart of Whitechapel. The first step to laying foundations has been completed and the ground at the Silk District’s site is now fully cleared. The team are preparing to begin piling and setting the deep foundations ahead of the superstructure being erected – read more below.

Construction Update

Work continues to progress well on site ahead of construction work beginning. We have removed any earlier existing structures and have broken and cleared ground across a significant area of site.

We have successfully installed a scaffold gantry on Cavell Street which is in place to prevent falling debris. Following the successful work to clear and prepare the site to lay foundations, we also recently took delivery of the site team’s office. This temporary structure has also been installed.

Piling is the setting of deep foundations ahead of erecting the buildings frame or superstructure. The machines that set those foundations are called piling rigs. The piling mat is a stable working platform that allows those rigs to travel around site and operate properly. We are continuing to install the site’s piling mat, which is completed across 65% of the site. Piling is estimated to begin in May. 

All specialist equipment to monitor noise, dust, vibrations and the water table is now in place, allowing us to proactively review, manage and minimize our impact on the site and to the wider community, residents and businesses.

Archaeological investigations

London is full of interesting things just under the surface! The Silk District site is in an area of London rich with examples of cultural and historic interest from earlier centuries and had been identified to have potential to provide evidence associated with the first purpose-built playhouse in London, John Brayne’s Red Lion playhouse. 

In the mid-sixteenth century, the Red Lion was owned by grocer, John Brayne, who employed carpenters to construct what would be a temporary timber playhouse on the site between June and July 1567, making it the earliest known purpose-built playhouse in England since Roman times.

The archaeology team are continuing their extensive investigations which have been completed over most of the site to determine if the site was that of the Red Lion Playhouse. They have been recording and signing off the outcomes of their investigations with Historic England and other relevant specialists, confirming 90% of the site already explored has no further archaeological potential. 

Their works have unearthed historical activity on the site dating from the Iron Age through to the Victorian period. The found artefacts will be appropriately preserved through record and investigations have confirmed:

•    Post-Medieval brewhouse, beer cellar and other buildings

•    Bellarmine jar – these were used as beer containers. The face of the Bellarmine Monk is a Germanic figure which adorns the top and gives the jar its name

•    Clay pipes - many clay pipes have been found on site, from the 17th century onwards this example reads Mile End across the top, so it will have been made locally

•    Token - originally used by the tax collectors who would use tokens to calculate tax on exchequer boards. When this practice fell out of use, the tokens were used for gambling

Activities & Events

•    This month has already seen the admirable annual battle of Oxford and Cambridge in the legendary Boat Race, with Cambridge being the victor in both men’s and women’s races

•    April also brings the last chance for art fans to catch the exhibition ‘Staging Jackson Pollock’ at the Whitechapel Gallery – the gallery that first premiered Pollock’s work in the UK in 1958. More information here.    

•    We will also witness one of London’s greatest sporting events as it hosts the London Marathon. Head for your favourite spot and soak up the action.

•    As we write to you, we are into London’s stunning cherry blossom season – wander through nearby Victoria Park, or further afield in Regent’s Park or St James’s Park, to soak up the spectacle while it lasts. 

Here to help, introducing your Customer Experience team 

Our Customer Experience Team are here to support you as you plan for your legal completion until the end of your 2-year defect liability period. 

We will make sure you receive a written update about the construction progress of the development and share news about local events and news too. 

We will also keep you updated concerning your estimated notice date. We will keep in touch at least every 8 weeks to check you have your recent estimate for completion and check if you need any help in planning arrangements to live-in or manage your property post-completion.

Do always talk to us before you make any financial or personal plans based on the estimated notice dates. We do endeavor to serve notice to you as close to these dates as we can. Sometimes we can experience changes to these dates and if this happens, we will contact you immediately to discuss in more detail with you,

If you have any questions about The Silk District or how we could help you more, please contact your personal Customer Experience Managers

•    Simon Griggs
•    07725 074 611

•    Rachel Ding (Mandarin speaking)
•    07715 629 936
Both are really looking forward to getting to know you better in these coming weeks.