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Monthly Archives: July 2014

A Little Bit of Rock N’ Roll at Canary Wharf by L Katiyo

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA One of the lesser known aspects of Canary Wharf is that it is the venue for  a series of Free Drama and Music Nights over the Summer, these tend to be very popular with people who work in the offices and with Islanders.

Regular contributor L. Katiyo put on her dancing shoes and joined in the fun.


Last night, Canary Wharf rocked to the sounds of tribute band, The Rockerfellas.  The band played popular music by the Beatles, The Beach Boys and other great bands of the era.


They were followed by Summer Dreaming who opened with a song from Grease, wearing fabulous costumes from the 1950s.  It seems music from the 1950s and 1960s is still amazingly popular.


Even the teenagers who flocked to the Canada Square Park, probably dragged along by their parents, knew the words to most of the music.  The park came alive with non-stop dancing.  Fortunately, the weather was obliging.  Rain from earlier in the morning had dried up.


If you want to join in the fun here is a list of future events .

Children’s Theatre Festival: Horrible Histories: Barmy Britain – Part One!

Saturday 2 August
4pm (running time 1hr, no interval)
Jubilee Park
Canary Wharf
Twilight Delights: The Count meets the Duke with The BBC Big Band
Tuesday 5 August
Canada Square Park
Canary Wharf
Summer Sounds: Verity & Violet

Wednesday 6 August
Canada Square Park
Canary Wharf

Twilight Delights: Boogie Wonderland
Tuesday 12 August
Canada Square Park
Canary Wharf
Summer Sounds: Nick Zala-Webb
Wednesday 13 August
Canada Square Park
Canary Wharf

Canary Wharf Jazz Festival

7-8pm Ed barker & Friends
8.30-10pm Riot Jazz Brass Band

1.30-2.45pm GoGo Penguin
3.15-4.30pm Zara McFarlane
5-6.15pm Hidden Orchestra with special guest Phil Cardwell
6.45-8.15pm Ciyo Brown’s The Motown Sound featuring Gwyn Jay Allen and special guest James Morton

1.30-2.45pm Nostalgia 77
3.15-4.30pm Polar Bear
5-6.15pm Yiddish Twist Orchestra
6.45-8.15pm Andy Sheppard Quartet

Friday 15 – Sunday 17 August

Friday 7-10pm / Saturday 1.30-8.15pm / Sunday 1.30-8.15pm
Canada Square Park
Canary Wharf
Twilight Delights: A Swinging Affair with Claire Martin OBE and Ray Gelato
Tuesday 19 August
Canada Square Park
Canary Wharf


The Changing Face of Canary Wharf ? The Wood Wharf Development

wood wharf 1111

An artist impression of Wood Wharf

Regular readers will know that I often take an interest in the plans to build  major developments in Canary Wharf and on the Isle of Dogs.  I tend to be  quite sceptical when I see artists impressions of massive tower blocks because the history of Canary Wharf and other areas suggest that the buildings do not always get developed due to a multitude of reasons. The  Riverside development at Westferry Circus is a good recent example of grandiose schemes that hit  problems and are mothballed often for years.

However  the news of the Wood Wharf project being approved by Tower Hamlets council  is perhaps more significant  because the plans for more than 3,000 homes to be built is supported by the Canary Wharf Group and would represent the first extension to the financial district since the 2008.


The green bits illustrate much of the Wood Wharf development

Canary Wharf Group has been granted planning permission to build 30 buildings, comprising 4.9m square feet of homes, offices and shops, at Wood Wharf.

The building will be a mixture of residential and business with its centrepiece being a 211-metre 57-storey  residential skyscraper facing the  South Dock.

25% of the housing stock is earmarked as affordable housing with proposed new primary school, health facility and a library.

The creation of a mainly low-level mixed use area is a move away from the usual business orientated Canary Wharf Group and represents an effort to promote Canary Wharf as a place to live as well as work.


The proposed 57 storey building near South Dock

This attempt to diversify is probably sensible due to the large number of large building offering office space both in Canary Wharf and the City of London. The booming property market is another factor with Canary Wharf looking at the luxury end of the market.

It is expected some of the buildings will be completed at the  same time as the arrival of Crossrail in 2018.

More than 100,000 people commute into Canary Wharf every day and it has been estimated that could double in ten years.

What all this means for rest of the Isle of Dogs is unclear, will the Wood Wharf development reduce the amount of development on the Island ? or will it increase it  with developers cashing in on the arrival of Crossrail. Either way it will be an interesting development to follow in the next few years.



The Isle of Dogs ‘Big Weekend’


Photograph by L Katiyo

Last weekend saw the Island’s Big Weekend, a free event organised by six churches on the Island: the Barge, Christ Church, City of Peace, Great Light Connections, Quaystone and St Luke’s.


Photograph by L Katiyo

Although the Big Weekend event has only been running for three years, it follows a much older tradition of events organised by the various churches on the Island .


Photograph by L Katiyo

Over 80 volunteers from the churches put on the event that attracts thousands to Millwall Park.

It is also supported by sponsors that include Isle of Dogs Community Foundation (IDCF),
London Borough of Tower Hamlets, Canary Wharf Group, Mustard Seed Foundation
Waitrose Plc, Docklands Settlements.


Photograph by L Katiyo

There were free burgers and hotdogs for everyone, fun and games for children including bouncy castles.


Photograph by L Katiyo

The event organisers believe its a great way for  Islanders got to know each other, sitting around in the marquee or on the grass at Millwall Park.


Photograph by L Katiyo

As in previous years, it ended on Sunday with worship service in the morning and another barbecue after the service.

This event is a good illustration of whilst  the Islands population has increased dramatically in the last few years , there are many organisations and individuals who work hard to foster a community spirit for Islanders old and new.

Orchard Place – Bridge over the River Lea


In the past few weeks I have posted a number of articles about Bridges inspired by the Bridge exhibition at the Docklands Museum.

However whilst waiting at Canning Town station I was fascinated by  what looked like a bridge being built on the stretch of ground known as Orchard Place.


For such a small site it has been the focus of considerable use by industries from processing of whale blubber in the early 1780s, ship building and the great glass works of the Thames Plate Glass Company.


The previous residents of Orchard Place

Regular readers will know about my interest in this area and the regeneration on the site will bring back people living on the site that was known for its industries but did support a small colony of people up to the 1930s.


The people who lived there often felt cut off from the rest of Poplar and the Isle of Dogs because of the poor transport links. Therefore it is especially interesting that the bridge is intended to connect Orchard Place to Canning Town station.


There has been an intention to build a bridge for the last decade but for various reasons it has never materialised.


Finally it seems that the Bridge is being built to cross the Lea river, although only a footbridge it offers a few problems because it is expected to be raised to allow boats to travel up and down Bow Creek.

We will await further developments with interest as the Bridge is constructed and Orchard Place is developed.

The Isle of Dogs by Thomas Wright 1867


Workers in a Isle of Dogs Foundry mid 19th century

Thomas Wright (12 April 1839 – 19 February 1909) was an English author who wrote predominantly  about the  working conditions in England.

What made him unusual was he was a working man himself, travelling around finding work as a labourer in a engineering firm. Even when he became a writer he was known as the ‘The Journeyman Engineer ‘.

He was mostly self taught and had a number of books published, his most popular being Some Habits and Customs of the Working Classes (1867), The Great Unwashed (1868), and Our New Masters (1873).

The following essay is from Some Habits and Customs of the Working Classes when he visits the Isle of Dogs and describes the industries and the considerable Scottish influences.

millwall docks 1867

Building the Millwall Docks 1867

One of the most interesting, and in many respects representative of these little known districts, is the Isle of Dogs. “The island,” as it is familiarly called – although properly speaking it is a peninsula – is not very pleasant in its physical features. It is situated about six miles below London Bridge, and lies considerably lower than the level of the river, which is only prevented from overflowing it by strong embankments. As owing to its exceedingly low level it cannot he efficiently drained, it is very marshy; broad ditches of filthy water running on each side of its main road. To a casual observer it would appear that a visit to the island could only be interesting to persons who wished to study a peculiar style of dwelling- house architecture, the effect of which is that a dissolution of partnership takes place between the woodwork and brickwork of the lower stories before the upper ones are built; or to antiquarians desirous of seeing what the roads of England were like before Macadam was born or commissioners of paving created. And while its slushy, ill-formed roads, its tumble-down buildings, stagnant ditches, and tracts of marshy, rubbish-filled waste ground make the outward appearance of the island unpleasant to the sight, chemical works, tar manufactories, and similar establishments render its atmosphere equally unpleasant to the olfactory sense. Nevertheless, there is much that is interesting in the Isle of Dogs. I have somewhere seen this district described as the Birmingham of London; but I think that the “Manchester of London would convey a much more accurate idea of the kind of place the Isle of Dogs really is.
But in the Isle of Dogs, as in Manchester, the articles manufactured are large, important, and of an eminently utilitarian character.


Launch of the Northumberland 1866

  On “the island” is centred the iron ship building and marine engineering of the Thames. There are more than a dozen ship and marine engine building establishments upon it, amongst them being the gigantic one in which the operations of the Millwall Iron Works Company are carried on, and in which the Great Eastern, the large Government armour-plated ram Northumberland, and many other of the largest merchantmen and vessels of war afloat have been built. Here, too, a great portion of the armour-plate with which our own and foreign nations are encasing their ships of war, and with which the coast defences and other fortifications of Russia are being strengthened, is manufactured. The works of this company alone employ on an average 4000 men and boys, and the other ship and marine engine works on the island employ from 2000 to 100 men each. It would be within the mark to say that the shipbuilding and marine engineering of the Isle of Dogs gives employment to 15,000 men and boys; and, in addition to these shipbuilding establishments, there are on the island tar, white-lead, chemical, candle, and numerous other factories, which afford employment to a large number of men. There are two townships on the island-namely, Cubitt Town and Millwall, and it is in the latter place that a major portion of the manufactories of the island are situated; and Millwall is the place usually indicated when “the island” is spoken of by the inhabitants of the locality.

valiant 1863
Launch of the Valiant 1863

 Any person having a practical acquaintance with the construction of iron ships would naturally expect to find a sprinkling of Scotchmen among the inhabitants of the island; for the mechanics who learn their trade in the shipbuilding establishments of the Clyde are among the most proficient workmen in “the trade,” and the wages paid to this class  of mechanics being as a rule considerably higher in England than in Scotland, it follows as a natural consequence that many Scotch mechanics come to London. The expectation to meet with the Scottish element in the Isle of Dogs is more than realized, for one of the first things that strikes the visitor is the preponderance of this element, as manifested by the prevalence of the Scottish dialect and Christian names. “Do ye no ken sting’n the wee boy, ye ill-faur’d limmer, ye?” were the first words that greeted my ears on landing on the island on the occasion of my first visit to it, the exclamation having been uttered by a pretty little Scotch lassie about eight or nine years of age, who was in pursuit of a wasp under the impression that it was the same one that had on the previous day stung a “wee boy” whom she had been nursing. As I journeyed into the interior of the island the striking, distinctly-marked Scotch accent and phraseology continued to strike on my ear at almost every step; for owing to the sharp ringing noise caused by the riveting hammers which are at work in all parts of the island for many hours in the day, the inhabitants acquire a habit of speaking very loud when in the streets. And thus the broadly-accented “How are ye?” and the “Brawly, how are ye?” which the gude wives exchange when they meet, and the invitations to come awa’ in (to a public-house) and have “twa penny-worth,” or “a wee drap dram,” reach my ears. During meal hours, and the early part of the evening, when the workmen are passing through the streets, the ascendancy of the Scottish tongue is still more apparent, and Sandy, Pate, and Andrew are the names that are most frequently exchanged as the men from the various workshops salute each other while passing to and from their work. At these times a good deal of chaffing goes on among the workmen, and in this species of encounter, the dry humorous Scotchmen have very much the best of it. But as the burly Lancashire men on whom the Northern wit is chiefly exercised, are as good- tempered as they are big, and the dapper, sprightly Cockneys who occasionally join in the encounter are unable to realize the idea that they are getting the worst of a contest of wit with countrymen, the unpleasant consequences to which chaffing often leads are obviated here.
Of course, in a locality so favoured by Scotland’s children, there is a kirk, and a very comfortable little kirk it is, and equally of course the patriotism of the “whisky” drinkers is appealed to by such public-house signs as “The Burns” and “The Highland Mary;” and it must be confessed that on the island the public-houses are a much greater success than the kirk.
Life in the Isle of Dogs commences at a very early hour, and that “horrid example” in sluggards who always wanted a little more sleep, would have had great difficulty in obtaining it after five o’clock in the morning, had it been his fate to live on the Isle of Dogs. At that hour a sound of hurrying to and fro begins, heavily nailed shoes patter over the pavement, windows are thrown up, and shouts of ” Can you tell us what time it is, mate?” or “Do you ken what time it is, laddie?” are answered by other shouts conveying the required information; while knockers are plied by those who are “giving a mate a call” with extraordinary energy and persistence. By a quarter-past five the sound of footsteps has increased until it resembles the marching of an army, and from that time till ten minutes to six it continues unabated. It then rapidly decreases and becomes irregular. At  five minutes to six the workshop bells ring out their summons, and then those operatives who are still on the road change their walk into a run. In the midst of all this bustle rise shrill cries of “Hot coffee a ha’penny a cup,” “Baked taters, all hot,” and “Cough no more, gentlemen, cough no more,” this latter being the trade cry of the vendors of “medicated lozenges.” Before the hubbub raised by “the gathering of the clans” of workmen has fairly subsided, the sharp ringing of the riveting hammers, and the heavy throbbing sound of working machinery commences; and by half-past six life on the island is in full swing. At half-past eight the workmen come out to breakfast; and at that time the gates of the various large workshops are surrounded by male and female vendors of herrings, watercress, shrimps, or whatever other breakfast “relishes” are in season. The instant the breakfast bells ring the workmen rush out through the workshop gates, some hastening to their homes, and others into the numerous coffee-shops in the immediate neighbourhood of the yards. A good breakfast of coffee, bread and butter, and an egg, can be got here for fourpence-halfpenny. Forty minutes are allowed for the discussion of the morning meal. During dinner hour, which is from one till two, and from half-past five till half-past six in the evening (in the workshops that are closed at one on Saturdays the men work till six in the evening on the other five working days of the week, in those where they work till four on Saturdays they leave off work on other days at half-past five), the streets of the island are again alive with the crowds of hurrying workmen. But during working hours the streets are comparatively deserted, save by children, and the numerical force of the juvenile section of the inhabitants of the island does great credit to the papas and mammas, for though the island is generally considered a very unhealthy place, the children as a rule appear to be robust.

A. G. Linney photographs of the Isle of Dogs 1926 – 1935


Millwall Dock; Traffic queuing in the Westferry Road as a ship enters the Millwall entrance lock in September, 1926.

A few weeks ago I published a post about the photographs of Albert Gravely Linney who in the 1920s and 1930s took thousands of photographs  of the Thames and the riverside.

Albert Gravely Linney was a writer and journalist who in 1925 became  the first editor of the new Port of London Authority Monthly Magazine  which gave him full access to most of the docks and wharves along the river.

Wherever he went, Linney took his camera. He also published a number of books featuring stories and the history of the Thames,  his most popular books  being  Peepshow of the Port of London  and The Lure and Lore of London’s River .

In the following photographs we follow A.G. Linney on to the Isle of Dogs where he records views that would be drastically changed within the next ten years.


Street view in Ferry Road off West Ferry Road. Above the terraced houses the masts and yards of the barque Killoran can be seen under repair in Britannia Dry Dock.

A.G. Linney ,1928 (Museum of London )

 The name Britannia Dock dates from 1863,  The dock later formed part of the Millwall Iron Works . Too small to be financially viable in the 20th century it closed in 1935. The filled-in site became a timber-yard, known as Britannia Wharf.


Britannia Wharf near to Napier’s Yard on Westferry Road


Draw Docks: The Newcastle Public Draw Dock, Cubitt Town on the Isle of Dogs on 24th March, 1935.

A.G. Linney ,1935 (Museum of London )

Built as part of Cubitt’s initial development of the riverside in the 1840s, the Newcastle Public Draw Dock  still exists and has a Grade II listing, as have the four original bollards in the dock entrance on Saunders Ness Road.


Millwall: West Ferry Road, near Regent Dry Dock. 1926. View down West Ferry road near Regent Dry Dock, the masts of a ship visible over the wall at the end of the road.

A.G. Linney ,1926 (Museum of London )

Regent Dry Dock had a considerable history constructed between 1813 and 1817 on a site with a river frontage of some 200ft, in the 1860s the dock was expanded to accept two ships at the same time.

1940 - Copy

Towards the end of the 19th century it was in decline , although occupied between 1916 and 1930, the dock was  filled in 1932 and the site taken over by Lenantons.

napier yard

Miscellaneous Views: A barge lying on the foreshore at the Napier Yard, Millwall, on 18th July, 1931. In the distance a large dredger is lying off the Royal Naval Victualing Yard at Deptford.

A.G. Linney ,1931 (Museum of London )

See the above map to see where Napier Yard was located.


Miscellaneous Views: An impressive shot of J.T. Morton’s Wharf at Millwall, on 8th May, 1932. A really excellent shot showing the barges lying on the chalk bedded campsheds beside the river wall.

A.G. Linney ,1932 (Museum of London )

Morton’s became famous in the 19th century for its canned and preserved foods. The Millwall factory was opened about 1872 and became one of the largest employers on the Island. Another claim to fame was that Millwall Football Club originated with a team formed by workers at Mortons in 1885.
At the end of the 19th century the Mortons riverfront was redeveloped which included the laying down of a barge-bed to facilitate loading and unloading.
In 1945 the company was taken over by Beechams who gradually run down the site which was virtually derelict until the 1980s when the site was redeveloped for housing and is now the location of the Cascades development.


Fighting a fire on a barge off Island Gardens, Isle of Dogs, on 28th August, 1930. The barge, in the centre of the picture, was loaded with copra. Firemen in brass helmets can be glimpsed through the smoke, standing on the barge.

A.G. Linney ,1930 (Museum of London )

Round the World Clippers Homecoming parade past the Isle of Dogs


In a previous post this week I give some details of the journey undertaken by the Clipper round the world yachts.


Crews  experienced a wide range of weather conditions from the benign to the extreme: one boat was struck by a tornado, some crews had endure giant waves,  hurricane force winds, dodged icebergs and growlers; extreme heat and cold; be on alert for pirates; had coast guard assisted medical evacuations and a miraculous rescue of a man overboard after being lost in a Pacific storm for over an hour.

The final race was from the Netherlands to Southend which decided the final places.


1 Henri Lloyd
2 GREAT Britain
3 One DLL
4 Derry~Londonderry~Doire
5 Switzerland
6 Old Pulteney

7 Qingdao
8 Jamaica Get All Right
9 PSP Logistics
10 Team Garmin
11 Invest Africa
12 Mission Performance


The yachts will go back to St Katherine’s Dock for the prize winning awards and have a well earned rest.


Photo by Roxy Kapranos


Photo by Roxy Kapranos


Photo by Roxy Kapranos

Clipper Round the World Race Homecoming – July 12th 2014


Last September I published a couple of posts about the start of the Clipper Round the World race.

The fleet of  twelve boats and 670 crew have raced almost 40,000 miles and visited 16 ports on six continents, in the world’s longest ocean race.


The first leg of the Clipper Race ended in Rio de Janeiro, They then continued on via South Africa, Western Australia, Sydney (including the world-famous Sydney-Hobart Race), Singapore, China, San Francisco, Panama, Jamaica, New York, Derry Londonderry and are at the present in the Netherlands before returning to London’s St Katharine Docks for Race Finish on 12th July 2014.


Race 16, Den Helder to London, starts on Thursday July 10.

To celebrate their amazing achievements the boats will undertake a Thames Parade of Sail  on Saturday 12th July

10.00 – Parade of Sail
10.19 – QE2 Bridge at Dartford
11.48 – Thames Barrier
12.01 – Dome
12.12 – Greenwich
12.30 – Canary Wharf Pier
12.45 – St Katharine Docks
14.00 – 15.00 – Final prize giving ceremony at St Katharine Docks.

More Tour de France photographs by L. Katiyo


Whilst I was positioned next to Blackwall Station, one of the regular contributors to the blog, L. Katiyo joined the main crowds on Aspen Way.

If you have watched the Tour de France on television, not surprisingly you only see the cyclists racing but watching it live you realise what a massive undertaking the whole event is.


One of the strangest aspects is the promotional caravan which usually arrives a couple of hours before the race.


It can spread  over  15–20 miles  and often takes 40 minutes to pass a particular point. It is all highly coordinated  by the caravan director plus an assistant, three motorcyclists, two radio technicians and a breakdown and medical crew. Six motorcyclists from the Garde Républicaine, the élite of the gendarmerie, ride with them.


The caravan can contain up to 200 vehicles and if you add to that numerous team coaches, team cars and race vehicles it is quite a sight.


When the race arrived , the cyclists were moving so quickly that photo opportunities are limited.


And then more vehicles with spare bikes and the race has gone. It certainly is a unique sporting event and bought a lot of attention to the usually neglected Aspen Way.



Welcoming the Tour de France to Tower Hamlets


After the Grand Depart from Yorkshire, the Tour de France makes its way to London via Cambridge.

Large scale events are nothing new in London but the Tour de France offers something slightly different.

Although it does not go through the Island itself , it does travel very close by and thousands of people from the Island  joined the crowds.

Aspen Way lies just behind Canary Wharf and was a favourite location for the office workers.


Waiting for the Cyclists to arrive, the crowd was entertained by the Caravan, a strange mixture of sponsors, team coaches and cars and various security vehicles.


Unfortunately the afternoon was punctuated by heavy rain showers but these did little to dampen the crowds spirit. Even the DLR got into the Le Tour mood with two specially painted carriages.


When the race finally arrived it took many by surprise  how quick the cyclists were racing.


Two breakaway riders were quickly followed by the peloton.


And then it was all over, the cyclists racing into central London and the finish.