Bow Quarter

Bow Quarter is an apartment complex, located in Bow, London. It consists of 733 one- and two-bedroom apartments and penthouses, together with a handful of unique workers cottages built around late 1800s. Set in seven acres of landscaped grounds, amenities include a residents' gym, swimming pool, jacuzzi, steam room, sauna, bar and restaurant as well as a convenience store and postal facilities. It is located less than 300 metres from the London 2012 Olympic Stadium.

The building was originally the "Bryant and May Factory" matchstick factory, site of the Match Girls' strike in the 1880s, led by Annie Besant, which was part of the overall suffragette movement and one of the defining moments in trade union history. The Bow Quarter also recently featured in a BBC documentary on gated communities.


From the mid 19th century to more than three-quarters of the way through the 20th century it was the location of the famous Bryant and May match-making operation. At one point at the turn of the two centuries it was London's largest factory.

The three acre site, acquired by William Bryant and Francis May in 1861, contained a number of factories that had once been used for the manufacture of candles, crinoline and rope but had fallen into disrepair. Assistance in adapting the site for match making was provided by John Edvard Lundström, the Swedish safety match maker.

The factory saw many famous historical events: the London matchgirls strike of 1888 started here, for example, culminating in the establishment of the first British trade union for women.Beaver (1985). Part One: "Building a Business".] A blue plaque outside the entrance commemorates the role of social pioneer and feminist Annie Besant in leading the demands for better pay and conditions.

Bryant and May were influential in fighting against the dreadful disease known as phossy jaw, caused by the white phosphorus used in the manufacture of early matches. Some of the first welfare institutions in Britain for industrial workers began on this site, including the provision of a dentist.

The factory was finally closed in 1979, when it still employed 275 people; the work being transferred to Liverpool.Beaver (1985). Part Three: "The age of Technology".] At full production, in 1911, the Bow site employed, more than 2,000 women and girls.Beaver (1985). Part Two: "Years of Growth".]

Present day

Once again the site fell into disrepair until in 1988 developers embarked upon one of East London's first urban renewal projects.

The majority of the apartments today are housed in former factory and office buildings. Arlington for example was built as offices in 1874; Lexington and Manhattan date from the factory site redevelopment in 1911. The Victorian cottages near the entrance provided accommodation for the company directors whilst Staten was built as extra office accommodation in the late 1950s. Park Central was added in the mid 1990s.

Previous residents have included John Barrowman and Steve Strange. Author and TV presenter Danny Wallace recently declared his flat within the Bow Quarter a sovereign micronation with the name of Lovely.




* Beaver, Patrick (1985). "The Match Makers". London: Henry Melland Limited. ISBN 0-907929-11-7.
* Emsley, John (2000). "The Shocking History of Phosphorus: a biography of the Devil's element". London: Macmillan. ISBN 0-333-76638-5.

External links

* [ Official Website]
* [ Residents' Association]
* [ Matchworker's strike]
* [ AudiopleXus mastering is located in the Bow Quarter]
* [ Icdmastering is located in the BQ]

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