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Monthly Archives: May 2014

HMS Montrose (F236) in West India Dock


West India Dock has been very busy recently and once again today we welcome an interesting visitor with the arrival of the HMS Montrose.


HMS Montrose is the Type 23 or ‘Duke’ class of frigates, of the Royal Navy, . She was laid down in November 1989 by Yarrow Shipbuilders (who famously had a shipyard in the Isle of Dogs before they moved north), and was launched on 31 July 1992 . She commissioned into service in June 1994.


The ship is 133 m (436 ft 4 in) long,  with a beam of  16.1 m (52 ft 10 in) and  a draught of 7.3 m (23 ft 9 in). It usually carries a helicopter either a Lynx or a Westland Merlin.
Montrose is now part of the Devonport Flotilla, based in Devonport Dockyard in Plymouth.


In the 1990s the ship was deployed in the  South Atlantic to protect the Falkland Islands, and in 2004, Montrose was one of the first ships to make contact with the damaged  Canadian submarine Chicoutimi and was able to give badly needed assistance.
Since then the ship has been deployed in the Middle East and Mediterranean on anti terrorist and anti smuggling patrols.

The ship saw action off the coast of Somalia sinking a Somali pirate ship before returning once again to the South Atlantic.

More recently in 2014, Montrose   joined other warships in guarding  Syrian chemical weapons stockpile being removed for disposal.

HMS Bulwark is moored in Greenwich at the moment to celebrate the Royal Marine 350th Anniversary and Montrose will be joining in these celebrations as well as other official functions. Although here till next week, there will no open day due to other commitments.

Eric Pemberton has sent some great pictures of HMS Bulwark being turned around near the O2.





The Bridge Exhibition at the Museum of London Docklands 27 June – 2 November 2014


Hungerford Bridge c.1845. Photograph by William Henry Fox Talbot, Museum of London

Starting on the 27th June is an exciting new exhibition at the Museum of London Docklands entitled Bridge.

Last week there was an announcement that one of its highlights will be an extremely rare photograph of Old Hungerford Bridge taken by the photography pioneer, William Henry Fox Talbot in 1845.

Brunel’s Hungerford Bridge  was at 1,462 feet long,  one of the longest suspension bridges built at the time. However Londoners did not have long to admire his handiwork because Brunel’s bridge was demolished within fifteen years to make way for a railway crossing.

It is the oldest photograph in the considerable Museum of London collection and will only be displayed under certain conditions due to its fragile nature.

Fox Talbot only began to perfect his process in 1845 and this delicate salt print has been considered too historically valuable to risk showing on  public display before.

The Museum are taking no chances  and have issued the following

Early photographs are extremely fragile. For conservation reasons this photograph will be displayed in strictly controlled lighting conditions, where visitors will be invited to press a button to illuminate it to minimise unnecessary exposure to light.

 It will be on public display for one month only.

Other than the Fox Talbot photograph, there are a large number of other photographs on display both  contemporary and historical artworks.

Like the Fox Talbot photograph, some chart some of the London Bridges creation and demolition.

2012.28/1428 - Bridges: Demolition begins on the old Waterloo Br

Old Waterloo Bridge under demolition Gelatin silver print, made 1936  © Albert Gravely Linney/Museum of London

IN257 - Lower Pool, with Tower Bridge under construction- Magic

Lower Pool, with Tower Bridge under construction © Museum of London

Construction site to the west of Waterloo Bridge: 1866-1870- IN3

Henry Flather (1839-1901) The Construction of the Metropolitan District Railway Albumen print, made around 1868 Waterloo Bridge appears stranded in Flather’s extraordinary photograph, almost as if it has been thrown up during the excavations. The photograph was taken from a point west of the bridge, at the foot of Savoy Street, during the construction of the Metropolitan District Railway and Victoria Embankment. This is one of 64 photographs taken in the late 1860s by Flather to document the project. This photograph will be displayed behind a screen to protect it from unnecessary exposure to light, which could damage it.  © Henry Flather/Museum of London


Looking southwest from Lower Custom House Stairs. Photograph by George Davison Reid. 1920-1933. Museum of London

If these are the calibre of photographs at the exhibition, it will definitely be one not to miss.

Bridge at the Museum of London Docklands will features paintings, prints, drawings, etchings, photography and film. The exhibition opens at the Museum of London Docklands on Friday 27 June 2014. Entrance is FREE.

Keeping up with Jonesy – L. Katiyo


Gas head with lighter imprint

I am delighted to say we have another guest post from L. Katiyo who seeks to unravel an artistic mystery in East London.

A mysterious artist has chosen Tower Hamlets and the East End to install most of his street art.  He operates in the same fashion as Banksy and signs off his work as Jonesy.  He has never been seen installing the art, so no one knows who he is or what he looks like.  He specialises in bronze sculptures and paste-ups.


As you can see (circled in red) the sculptures are so small and easy to miss as you walk past.

What is so special about his work is that you have to be in harmony with the environment to spot it.   It took me 2 months walking the same route twice a week, before I discovered his sculptures along the Hertford Union Canal which runs along Victoria Park at the top of the borough.


 I tryd to save the world but no one let me

The sculptures are miniscule; some as small as a thumb and always designed to blend into the environment.  The level of detail is very intricate for such tiny pieces.  There is a message in the art which gives the impression he is an environmental campaigner.


 Bottle Top

Apart from the Hertford Union Canal, Jonesy’s work can be found in the East End on Hanbury Street, Brick Lane, Fournier Street, Osbourne Street, Sclater Street and Bacon Street.


Take back the plastics

When you find a Jonesy, you can be sure there are a few more Jonesy pieces nearby.  He likes to concentrate his installations in a location.  Even though it is so tempting to walk away with a Jonesy because it is so beautiful, fortunately the public understands his work is meant to be shared and enjoyed by everyone.


Green Head
  Fish head
  Frack its no gas

STS Tenacious Tall Ship in West India Dock 2014


Yesterday saw the arrival of the STS Tenacious, it joined a large number of ships of the German Navy and the Superyacht Emelina.


However unlike the other ships, Tenacious is a regular visitor and  works tirelessly to bring the joy of sailing to groups of people who would not usually have access.


STS Tenacious is  a wooden sail training ship which was specially designed to be able to accommodate disabled sailors. Launched in Southampton in the year 2000, it is one of the largest wooden tall ships in the world. It is 65 metres long with a beam of 10.6 metres at its widest point.


The Tenacious and its sister ship the Lord Nelson are regular visitors to West India Dock. They are owned by the UK-based charity the Jubilee Sailing Trust who have for many years have pioneered sailing for the disabled. The Jubilee Sailing Trust became a registered charity in 1978 and was the brainchild of Christopher Rudd, a school teacher and sailor who wanted to give the disabled children he taught the same experiences his able-bodied students had. Since its launch Tenacious has taken nearly 12,000 people sailing of these 3,000 were physically disabled and 1,000 were wheelchair users


Aboard the German Navy Ships by L. Katiyo

Upper most deck on Mosel (Photo by L Katiyo)
In the last few posts we have reported on the German Navy ships berthed in West India Dock, today they had an Open Day when they allowed visitors on board. Unfortunately I was unable to take up this offer but L. Katiyo who has contributed to the site before, was available and the post  gives  her impressions of the Open Day.
After being fortunate enough to get a full tour of HMS Ocean in 2012 while it was on duty at Greenwich during the London Olympics, I was excited to learn the Germany Navy would open its ships to visitors.  I wanted to find out the differences and the similarities between our own Royal Navy and the German Navy, based on my little bit of knowledge.
Commanding Officer on the Mosel (Photo by L Katiyo)
Unfortunately, the tour was limited to on deck but one of the Commanding Officers on the Mosel was happy to give me a tour and answer all my questions, and even obliged a photo.  The Mosel is the supply ship for the minesweepers.  It carries fuel, food, ammunition and parts to repair machinery, as well as other required supplies.  He pointed out the drones (the small boats accompanying the ships) which are manned or can be deployed unmanned and then remotely controlled from the ships.  The Mosel can also be used as a rescue ship.  It has a landing pad for a helicopter and has been involved in rescue missions.
On board the Siegburg,(Photo by L Katiyo)
On board the Siegburg, I was given a tour by a junior officer.  It is a minesweeper and a much small ship in comparison to the Mosel.  It also has small, remote-controlled drones of about a meter in length which I was not allowed to see.  The drones are used to detonate any mines that are found and are themselves destroyed in the process.  The ship usually carries about 14 of them at any one time.  Listening to the explanations called to mind the computer game, Minesweeper.  A de-mining mission really is like the computer game, controlled from the ship’s computer using sonar to detect mines and then exploding them with drones when they are identified.  Not all mines are detonated that way.  Sometimes divers have to go in and attach explosives to the mines.  The minesweeping ships have decompression chambers for the divers to decompress after diving.  The period for decompression depends on the depth of the dive.
Drones (Photo by L Katiyo)
I wondered where are these mines that have to be detonated and require joint cooperation between the German, the British and the French navies.  It seems most of them are remnants from the WWII and situated in the Baltic Sea.  The maps detailing where the mines were thrown have been destroyed, so trying to find them is like fumbling in the dark.  Only 20% of the mines have been found and destroyed so far.  Missions on ships range from 3 weeks to 6 months.  Interestingly, like the British Royal Navy, the German Royal Navy has Chaplains on board, but only for long missions.  On the Mosel, the Chaplain holds a service on the uppermost deck.
smiley face on the Mosel (Photo by L Katiyo)
I was curious about the smiley face on the Mosel.  Apparently, the sign has the NATO logo at the back but the front was grey and dreary.  They decided to paint a smiley face on it to brighten up things.  For the other ships, the illustrations (which I think of some as some kind of mascot) are more meaningful.  Each ship is associated with a city and takes on a symbol associated with the city. This explains the Pied Paper illustrated on the ship Hamelin which we know from folklore as the Pied Piper of Hamelin.
Pied Piper of Hamelin (Photo by L Katiyo)
The Siegburg has its own symbol associated with the city of Siegburg.  I had a wonderful afternoon and was delighted that two officers spared an hour of their time to talk to me.  Sadly, most of the crew have had very little time to discover our island as some have been on 24hr duty during their brief stopover.
(Photo by L Katiyo)

Superyacht Emelina in West India Dock


After yesterday’s excitement with the arrival of five German Ships and four drone ships, we have the arrival of a Superyacht Emelina.


Emelina is a 51m motor yacht, custom built in 2008 by Codecasa in Italy.


The yacht has a steel hull with a aluminium superstructure with a beam of 9.50m  (31’2″ft) and a 3.30m  (10’9″ft) draft and has a maximum speed of 17.5 knots. She flies the flag of the Cayman Islands.

She has accommodation for up to 12 guests in 2 suites, she also capable of carrying a crew of 10.


One of the novelties of the ship is a foldable sea balcony in the owner’s suite, giving direct access to the sea.

As usual in the world of Superyachts, the two questions that most people will ask namely how much did the ship cost to build ? and who owns her ? are very difficult to find out.


However she will have company in a very crowded West India Dock until Sunday when the German Navy will depart.





The German Navy at West India Dock Part Two – (M1093) Auerbach/Oberpfalz,(M1098) Siegburg and Seehund Drones


There was considerable surprise early on with the arrival of three ships of the German Navy , however that was not the end of the excitement with the arrival of two more minesweepers and a number ( I think four) Seehund  drones .


The two latest arrivals are (M1093) Auerbach/Oberpfalz and (M1098) Siegburg.


The minesweepers act as Mother ships for Seehund remotely controlled minesweeping drones as part of the TROIKA PLUS system which have two-man crews only for transit.


With this large number of ships in the dock and tugs as well , it bought out a crowd of people in the warm sunshine.


How long they will be here for is not known at the moment and the ships are probably on exercise.



The following information is from the German Embassy.

From Thursday 15 May to Sunday 18 May, five warships from the 5th Minesweeping Squadron will berth at West India Docks for their port visit to London. The Squadron is currently conducting a squadron exercise in the North Sea and the ships’ crews are looking forward to an interesting stay in this vibrant city.

The Squadron – led by Commander Guido Brach – will berth with three minesweepers, one supply ship, one tanker and four minesweeping drones at Canary Wharf. These minesweepers and the mine sweeping drones together form the TROIKA PLUS system. According to operational procedures, up to four unmanned drones with activated sweeping gear can be remote-controlled from the vessels.

The ships will be open to the public for an “open ship” on Saturday, 17 May from 1pm to 4pm.



German Navy in West India Dock, (A512)Mosel, (A1425)Ammersee and (M1092)Hameln


Taking most people by surprise was the appearance of three ships of the German Navy in West India Dock.

The Mine Countermeasures ship M1092 Hamelin, an old coastal tanker Ammersee and a tender Mosel. There is indications that other ships will be arriving in the next few hours.


M1092 Hamelin


Mosel A512 Mosel




Old Tanker Ammersee A1425



The Story of Captain Harry Gee and his flight into Heron Quays 1982


Ignored by the vast number of  commuters, there is just below  a destination screen in Heron Quays station  a plaque that celebrates an event that was to have  far reaching consequences for the development of  The Royal Docks and London City Airport.

The idea  of an  airport in Docklands was first proposed in 1981 by Reg Ward, who was Chief Executive of the London Docklands Development Corporation (LDDC) that had been given responsibility for the regeneration of the area.

After discussions with  Sir Philip Beck (Chairman of John Mowlem ) it was considered an idea worth looking into and by November, Mowlem and Brymon Airways had submitted an outline proposal to the LDDC for a Docklands  city centre Airport.

However there was considerable doubt whether the runways would be long enough even for STOL ( short take off and landing) planes at the Royal Dock site.

To allay the doubters Mowlem and Brymon proposed a test flight and landing in the Docks, this was not feasible in the Royal Docks but Mowlem who were involved in the building of the Canary Wharf site  cleared a site near Heron Quays and put down a surface to enable a plane to land. The temporary runway was about 1000 metres long, which was seen as the minimum needed even for STOL. The Civil Aviation Authority was prepared to offer a special licence for insurance purposes and the flight was given the go ahead.

heron quays

On 27 June 1982 Brymon Captain Harry Gee landed a de Havilland Canada Dash 7 aircraft on Heron Quays runway in front of a crowd of bemused spectators.

heron quays 2

Heron Quays 1982

The success of the flight proved an airport was possible in Docklands, however it was not the only flight from Heron Quays. In 1983, during the public enquiry into the Airport,  the inspector, Montague Smith, and his technical expert Air Vice Marshal B. P. Young, requested a demonstration flight. Once again Harry Gee was the pilot and the two officials became the first passengers in a flight out of the Docks.

heron quays 4

Things then moved quickly and  London City airport was constructed , The first aircraft landed on 31 May 1987, with the first commercial services operating from 26 October 1987.  The Queen  officially opened London City Airport in November of the same year.

For anyone living on the Isle of  Dogs, aircraft taking off  and landing are a constant reminder of the close proximity of London City airport but few would realise the airport would not exist at all if the famous flight of Captain Harry Gee into Heron Quays had not been a success.


Surprising there is very few photographs of the  momentous occasion but there was a very short film made of the landing by a news company.


Trains, Taxi’s but no planes- Heron Quays 2014

Frederick Garrard and the Millwall Pottery


Ceramic Wall Tiles designed by Frederick Garrard.. 1873 Rome, Photograph (2004)  by George P. Landow

In the 19th century the Isle of Dogs was home to a number of large manufacturers and quite a few smaller concerns.

One of these smaller concerns were Thomas Wilcox, Edward Price Smith and Orlando Webb, earthenware manufacturers who began their business in 1852, over the next twenty years the business continued but under a series of name changes.  In the 1870s a new firm Thomas James Allen took over the site and created Millwall Pottery Ltd.

At that time the firm occupied premises  near the Ferry House, which comprised a yard with a range of single-storey buildings. These buildings incorporated a couple of old warehouses near to  three cottages.

The quick change of ownership indicated that Millwall Pottery Ltd was not a great success and closed in the 1880s.

The three cottages were leased in the 1870s to another firm dealing in Pottery but this business gained  a considerable reputation for making wall tiles.

The person behind this business was Frederick Garrard , a former architect who became a master potter, Garrard lived in Greenwich and built up a successful business making wall tiles for the burgeoning Art and Crafts movement.

cuenca tile

Cuenca tile Frederick Garrard c. 1875 Photograph and text by Chris Blanchett

Garrard probably though his contacts realised that the demand for Art and Crafts type tiles was considerable and began to manufacture copies of Spanish Cuenca style tiles  which were popular in churches and  copies of Dutch Delftware type tiles for many of the houses that were adopting the Arts and Crafts style.


“Dutch” design tiles Photograph and text by Chris Blanchett

One of his earliest commissions was for restoration of Charlton House not far from Gerrard’s home in Greenwich. So good were Gerrard’s tiles that they were often mistaken for the originals.

Garrard  also developed a line of floor tiles which was highly sought after and was used in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin .

Garrard’s tiles can be seen in a number of public buildings, country houses and churches  all over the UK including Royal Courts of Justice, Bletchley Park, Tatton Park, St Swithuns Church, Bournemouth and  Cragside, the Northumberland home of Lord Armstrong.

Unfortunately, at the height of his success Garrard developed diabetes and in 1893 he died aged 55. Tile production on the site continued till at least 1911 with one of his workers John Lewis James taking control of the works and developing a few lines of his own.


Tile depicting a cricket batsman – John Lewis James – Photograph and text by Chris Blanchett

Because his tiles are so difficult to distinguish from the originals and the fact that they were not clearly marked has meant that Frederick Garrard has perhaps not received the credit for his wonderfully made wall tiles, however recently Tile experts such as Chris Blanchett have undertaken a great deal of research into Garrard’s work and even discovered that some tiles in St Pauls with in the Walls in Rome originated from Garrard’s  Millwall workshop.


Cuenca Tile – Photograph and text by Chris Blanchett

The Isle of Dogs and Millwall is seldom seen as a part of the Arts and Crafts movement, however the work of Frederick Garrard deserves greater recognition as great examples of home made decorative art .