Home » Cultural Life » From Mudlarks to Sailortown – A Decade of the Museum of Docklands

From Mudlarks to Sailortown – A Decade of the Museum of Docklands



The Museum through the replica of the West India Docks Gate

As the Museum of Docklands celebrates its first decade in existence it is important to pay tribute to the people whose forward thinking bought a derelict historical industrial building into public use.

One of the pleasures of visiting the Museum is to be able to see the old warehouse in all its glory.

No 1 Warehouse where the museum is housed was originally designed and built by George Gwilt and Son  in 1800 -1803. It was significantly added to by Sir John Rennie in 1827.  It was originally part of a complex of huge warehouses that were a half a mile long. unfortunately only Warehouse 1 and Warehouse 2 remain due to the rest of the complex being destroyed by bombing in the Second World War.

warehouse 1

The West India Dock Warehouses in 1921 before they were destroyed.

Although the warehouses are now dwarfed by the skyscrapers of Canary Wharf, when they were built they were considered a source of national pride when the docks became one of the centres of the trade between Britain  the rest of the world.


Warehouse No 1

The Museum charts the role of the Docklands from its beginnings to the dark days of the Second World War and to the eventual decline of the Docks and the growth of Canary Wharf.


The Old London Bridge

Amongst its highlights are a 1:50 scale model of Old London Bridge , many articles from the Docks, a gallery about the Blitz including an Air-raid shelter  and Sailortown a full size reconstruction of the dark and dingy streets of Victorian Wapping. In Sailortown you can visit a local tavern or look through the window of the Animal Emporium.


Welcome to Sailortown


The Local Tavern


The Animal Emporium

Young children have their own section called Mudlarks which has a play area.

Other than the exhibits the museum is a bit of a cultural centre with regular events , there is also a popular Café and Shop.

Its exhibits are not all inside, there are still relics of the old docks around the warehouses not least the statue to Sir Robert Milligan directly outside.  In the dock itself is a couple of boats belonging to the museum.


The museum is one of the hidden treasures of the Isle of Dogs and although not on the scale of the bigger London Museums it provides hours of entertainment for young and old.


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