What Exactly Is That Strange Rhubarb Sculpture In Stratford?

M@
By M@
What Exactly Is That Strange Rhubarb Sculpture In Stratford?
The Rhubarb in 2019

Long before it got the Orbit, the Olympic stadium and the diverse other baubles of 2012, Stratford had another metallic landmark: The Rhubarb.

It's not officially called The Rhubarb. But it should be.

Its real name is 'The Railway Tree', and it's meant to symbolise the area's considerable history of all things rail. As well as serving as a hub for multiple lines, Stratford was also the site of the Great Eastern Railway's workshops. Hundreds of steam locomotives were built here in the Victorian and Edwardian periods.

We're still calling it The Rhubarb, though.

The Rhubarb gets some spiky friends (2017)

The 10-metre-high artwork is by Malcolm Robertson, who was also responsible for the spiralling clock near Maryland station. It was placed at the junction of Great Eastern Road and Broadway back in 1996, when this was still the second-most visited Stratford in the country. According to this site, the structure was originally to support community-designed pendants from its arms, though this never happened.

How about some rhubarb leaves instead?

The Rhubarb in 2011.

The area around the Railway Tree has changed considerably over that quarter-century. The coming of the Olympic Park, Westfield, Javelin trains, DLR and Jubilee lines have altered this part of town beyond recognition.

All have made a great impression on the area, but we can safely say that none look quite so much like a bunch of rhubarb.

Last Updated 23 January 2020