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Monthly Archives: July 2015

Summer Entertainment in Canary Wharf 2015


Photo Canary Wharf

One of the unusual aspects of Canary Wharf which may surprise many people is that it has a wide range of events throughout the year. However it is the summer when the site really comes to life with a wide range of shows.


Photo Canary Wharf

One of the most popular series of shows is the Twilight Delights which often feature music from West End shows and musicals, this years concerts are likely to be very popular featuring:

Tuesday 28 July – Masquerade: An Evening of Musicals

Delight in the West End & Broadway magic including songs from Phantom of the Opera, Les Misérables, Mamma Mia, Chicago and more with a cast of the West End’s brightest stars.

Tuesday 4 August – The Music of Queen: A Rock Symphonic Spectacular

Harmony, hits and nostalgia from one of the world’s all-time greatest bands. Join the stars from the West End’s We Will Rock You with a musical Queen spectacular and a night of unforgettable Queen magic.

Tuesday 11 August – Happy Birthday Mr Sinatra

Canary Wharf celebrates the 100th birthday of Ol’ Blue Eyes, Frank Sinatra, with all the favourites such as Under My Skin, Fly Me to the Moon, Strangers in the Night and of course, My Way.

Tuesday 18 August – The Soul of Disco

Get in the groove and go for fun-filled trip back to the seventies and The Soul of Disco.

On the 27th of July, there is a lunchtime performance of Ballet by The London Ballet Company with their James Bond themed show, 00 and his 7 and a performance of the Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic opera Iolanthe in the evening.


Photo Canary Wharf

The opening of a small performance space in Crossrail Place Roof Garden has seen an interesting collaboration between Canary Wharf  and the Space Theatre based in the Isle of Dogs to deliver a summer programme of performance and activities.

BLOOM presents free  events, workshops and performances for the community and offers opportunities for local people to take part in and enjoy its wide variety of activities in this brand new setting.


Photo Canary Wharf

Fun free community art festivals where budding local performers in music, dance, theatre, comedy and other art forms get involved. Among the groups to perform are:

•Embrace Dance
•St Matthias with The Pied Piper
•SpaceWorks performs Gulliver’s Travels
•Pollyanna Training Theatre presents Sherlock Holmes’ The Hound of the Baskervilles
•The Isle of Dogs Community Choir performing Our Faithful Thames
•Christ Church Choir
•Emmanuel Betsen performing Flo-ing
•Roya Eslami presenting Spoken Word Poetry
•Nick Myles with Friends Like Steve
•Steven Shawcroft and Chav Holiday
•George Green’s School with Very Grimm Tales

Performances  30 & 31 Jul, 6 Aug, Workshops 29 Jul & 5 Aug


Photo Canary Wharf

Special guest artistes and companies will perform at the Performance Space showcasing their own talent of comedy, circus, theatre and dance


Thursday 30 July, 7-8pm, The End is Nigh by Johnny and the Baptists:

Friday 31 July, 7-8pm, One Summer by the Space:

Thursday 6 August, 7-8pm, Odyssey by Theatre Ad Infinitum:


Wednesday 29 July, 7pm, Introduction to Commedia dell’rte with SpaceWorks:

Wednesday 5 August, 7pm, Street Dance with Embrace:

Events are FREE* but limited capacity.

*Registration required via http://www.space.org.uk or call 020 7515 7799.

Family shows 1 & 8 Aug, workshops 23 & 30 May, 1 Aug

Family friendly performances and workshops hosted by guest artistes and companies suitable for all ages.


Saturday 1 August, 2-2.45pm & 3.30-4.15pm, Up in the Attic by the Half Moon Theatre and Floods of Ink:
Saturday 8 August, 2-3pm, Moonshine’s Entirely Necessary Adventure by Magic Maverick:


Saturday 1 August, 1-1.45pm & 4.15-5pm, Playtime with the Half Moon Theatre:

Events are FREE* but limited capacity.

If you like classic cinema there will be  between 22 July and the 9 August: Classic Films from BFI National Archive on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sunday on the summer screens.

Other events in August include the London Triathlon and the Canary Wharf Jazz Festival.

So if you looking to relax or entertain the kids in the summer holidays, there is plenty in Canary Wharf to choose from.

Dutch Tall Ship, Stad Amsterdam in West India Dock – July 23rd 2015


After the departure of the cruise ship Star Legend yesterday, today we welcome a regular visitor to West India Dock, the tall ship the Stad Amsterdam. The Stad Amsterdam last visited last September and always looks spectacular in the dock.


The Stad Amsterdam (City of Amsterdam) is a three-masted clipper that was built in Amsterdam in 2000.


The ship was built when Frits Goldschmeding, founder of the Randstad employment agency and council of Amsterdam decided that the Dutch needed to build a tall ship to represent the historic maritime nation.


The ship was designed by Gerard Dijkstra basing his design on the 19th century frigate Amsterdam, however although she looks like 19th Century ship she is fitted with modern materials which means that she was fast enough to win the 2001 Cutty Sark Tall Ships’ Race.
The Stad Amsterdam follows in the wake of famous clippers Cutty Sark and Thermopylae who often frequented the West India Docks.

The Stad Amsterdam is used as a training ship but also undertakes luxury cruises and adventure holidays all over the world, in 2009 she was used by Dutch Television to retrace the second voyage of the HMS Beagle.


She is a fully rigged tall ship with an overall length of 76 m, height of 46.3 and over 2000 square metres of sail. She usually operates with a crew of 32 and can accommodate 120 passengers for day trips and 58 for longer journeys.


Cruise Ship Star Legend in West India Dock – 20th July 2015


The West India Dock tends to attract a wide range of ships, however it is not often a cruise ship comes into the dock due to the size of modern cruise ships. Therefore the arrival of the Star Legend is a bit of a surprise, although she is one of the smaller cruise ships.


The Star Legend has quite an interesting history ,she was originally built as the Royal Viking Queen in 1990 by Schichau-Seebeckwerft in Bremerhaven, Germany then was purchased by Royal Viking Line and launched on 1991, and was completed in 1992.


In 1995, the vessel’s name was changed to Queen Odyssey after she was assigned to Royal Cruise Line, she remained in operation for Royal Cruise Line until 1996, when she was sold to Seabourn and renamed Seabourn Legend. She is now renamed Star Legend and entered service for Windstar Cruises in 2015.


The ships other claim to fame was that when she was named Seabourn Legend, she was featured in the 1997 film Speed 2: Cruise Control.

Even though on the small side for a cruise ship with around 200 passengers and 150 crew, it still has a wide range of facilities for its passengers.

Music for the Mind at the All Saints’ Church Blackheath – Saturday 18th July 2015


The Proms begin this weekend, but there will a Concert in Blackheath on Saturday that will illustrate the power of music in a very different way.

all saints

All Saints’ Blackheath

The concert entitiled Music for the Mind will be raising money for the Lost Chord charity which arranges more than 1,300 interactive musical sessions a year in 130 homes, designed to stimulate responses from people with dementia through music. The concert features a number of hits from the Classics including Carmen, Carousel and Rhapsody in Blue and much more. It will include musicians and singers from the well known Blackheath Conservatoire.

If you would like to attend, the full details are :

 Music for the Mind
Saturday 18th July 2015 – 7.30 PM
All Saints’ Church , All Saints Drive, Blackheath, SE3 0TY

Take Note, Greenwich Meridian Choir – The Conservatoire , Blackheath
Hilary Campbell, James Dixon –  Choir Directors.
Rebecca Louise Dale –  Mezzo Soprano
Boyan Ivanov  – Clarinet
Andrea Kmecova –  Piano

Concert supported by The Conservatoire, Piano Maestros and Lost Chord

The concert is Free to attend, although a donation would be appreciated, refreshments will also be available.




Limehouse and The Great Storm of 1703


Whilst recently researching about Limehouse Hole, I came across the fascinating story about  The Great Storm of 1703 and the way that the ships in the Thames were destroyed on the Limehouse riverfront.


One of the great chroniclers of the Great Storm was Daniel Defoe who produced a book based of eyewitness reports which is now considered one of the first pieces of Modern Journalism.


Daniel Defoe 1706

Defoe had spent most of 1703 in trouble, one of his published pamphlets about Dissenters  led to him being placed in a pillory for three days  in July and then imprisoned in Newgate Prison.  He only obtained his release in November after agreeing to act as a spy .  Within a week of his release from prison, Defoe witnessed the Great Storm of 1703,  on the 26th and 27th November. He was particularly interested in the shipping on the Thames and provided the following report.

Nor can the damage suffered in the river of Thames be forgot. It was a strange sight to see all the ships in the river blown away, the pool was so clear, that as I remember, not above 4 ships were left between the upper part of Wapping, and Ratcliffe Cross, for the tide being up at the time when the storm blew with the greatest violence, no anchors or landfast, no cables or moorings would hold them, the chains which lay cross the river for the mooring of ships, all gave way.

The ships breaking loose thus, it must be a strange sight to see the hurry and confusion of it, and as some ships had nobody at all on board, and a great many had none but a man or boy left on board just to look after the vessel, there was nothing to be done, but to let every vessel drive whither and how she would.

Those who know the reaches of the river, and how they lie, know well enough, that the wind being at south-west westerly, the vessels would naturally drive into the bite or bay from Ratcliff Cross to Limehouse Hole, for that the river winding about again from thence towards the new dock at Deptford, runs almost due south-west, so that the wind blew down one reach, and up another, and the ships must of necessity drive into the bottom of the angle between both.

This was the case, and as the place is not large, and the number of ships very great, the force of the wind had driven them so into one another, and laid them so upon one another as it were in heaps, that I think a man may safely defy all the world to do the like.

The author of this collection had the curiosity the next day to view the place, and to observe the posture they lay in, which nevertheless it is impossible to describe; there lay, by the best account he could take, few less than 700 sail of ships some very great ones between Shadwell and Limehouse inclusive, the posture is not to be imagined, but by them that saw it, some vessels lay heeling off with the bow of another ship over her waste, and the stem of another upon her forecastle, the bowsprits of some drove into the cabin windows of others; some lay with their stems tossed up so high, that the tide flowed into their fore-castles before they could come to rights; some lay so leaning upon others, that the undermost vessels would sink before the other could float; the numbers of masts, bowsprits and yards split and broke, the staving the heads, and stems, and carved work, the tearing and destruction of rigging, and the squeezing of boats to pieces between the ships, is not to be reckoned; but there was hardly a vessel to be seen that had not suffered some damage or other in one or all of these articles.

There were several vessels sunk in this hurry, but as they were generally light ships, the damage was chiefly to the vessels; but there were two ships sunk with great quantity of goods on board, the Russel galley was sunk at Limehouse, being a great part laden with bale goods for the Streights, and the Sarah galley lading for Leghorn, sunk at an anchor at Blackwall; and though she was afterwards weighed and brought on shore, yet her back was broke, or so otherwise disabled, as she was never fit for the sea; there were several men drowned in these last two vessels, but we could never come to have the particular number.

Even taking account of perhaps some exaggeration, the sight of hundreds of ships wrecked along the Limehouse riverfront would have been an extraordinary sight and there were also reports  of  chaos at Blackwall.

The Great Storm of 1703 was considered one of the most severe natural disasters ever recorded in England. It arrived from the southwest on 26 November (7 December in today’s calendar). In London, 2,000 chimney stacks collapsed. It was said every church steeple in the city was damaged, fatal casualties numbered 23 dead and over 200 severely injured, mostly by falling masonry.

The damage across the nation was considerable with human losses estimated at 8000 to 10000, an estimated 300,000 trees fell down or uprooted. Four hundred windmills and eight to nine hundred houses were destroyed, and over a hundred churches severely damaged.

Defoe’s The Storm is an extraordinary record of the event with contributions from all over England. The book was very popular at the time, but both the Storm and the book have largely been forgotten. It is ironic that Defoe’s A Journal of the Plague Year is more famous and considered an eye witness account, it wasn’t ! Defoe was only four at the time.

HMS St Albans ( F83) in West India Dock – 7th July 2015


After a rather dramatic entrance into West India Dock, there was a prolonged wait for the HMS St Albans  to enter the inner dock.


Photo Eric Pemberton

The Royal Marines in their boats were first into the dock before slowly the Royal Navy ship made its way into the dock.


HMS St Albans, the 16th and last of the Royal Navy’s Type 23 frigates to be built, was launched on 6 May 2000. Constructed by BAE Systems at Scotstoun, she was delivered to the Royal Navy in November 2001. She is based in Portsmouth. The St Albans has a length of  133 m (436 ft 4 in) , Beam: 16.1 m (52 ft 10 in) , Draught: 7.3 m (23 ft 9 in) with a crew of  around 185 .


The ship has had an interesting history, in 2006, she picked up 243 evacuees from the dock in Beirut and safely transported them to Cyprus.


Like many Royal Navy ships she has been deployed around the world included supporting international efforts in tackling piracy, illegal trafficking, and smuggling.
In May 2013 she was handed over to BAe Systems for her refit in Portsmouth Harbour, where she remained until 2014. After  intense trials she rejoined the fleet.
More recently she has undergone trials in the Western English Channel and visited  Norway for live firing trials.


Photo Eric Pemberton

The St Albans is in West India Dock for 8 days and will be open to the public on Saturday 11th.  The visit is Free but tickets are only available from the Eventbrite website here


Some residents of the dock having a closer look

A Summer’s Day at Island Gardens – 5th July 2015


Living at the top end of the Island, my visits to Island Gardens are not as regular as I would like. However I was informed by Eric Pemberton that a number of changes had taken place that hopefully would encourage more wildlife to frequent the Gardens.


The Friends of Island Gardens group which was set up to protect the popular park have worked with other groups such as Clean and Green to encourage a greater variety of wildlife.


Six bird nesting boxes and four boxes for bats have been provided high in tree branches. Also some area’s of the park have been designated Meadow areas to encourage the land based creatures.


When I visited on Sunday, it was a warm summer’s day and the park was busy with a wide range of people enjoying this important piece of green space.


A large group were admiring the famous view over to Greenwich  but I was taken with the park itself.


Will Crooks who was one of the people responsible for the creation of the park called it a little piece of paradise, on a day like Sunday not many people would had disagreed with him.



Thames Historic Barge Rowing Race – 4th July 2015


Every summer there is the sight of crews guiding 30 tons barges along the Thames with a large flotilla, this unusual event is the Thames Historic Barge Rowing Race .


This year is the 40th running of this prestigious and unique London  rowing event which was founded in 1975 by a charity called The Transport On Water Association (TOW).


The race consists of about 12 teams of between 4 and 8 members who drive (steer and row) 30 ton barges over a seven mile course for about 90 minutes from Greenwich to Westminster Bridge.


Although it is seen as  a  fun event, it does have more serious objectives,  it commemorates the skills of lightermen who moved freight this way along the Thames up until the 1930s, it hopes to encourage  interest in moving cargo via water and  highlights the need to recruit younger people back into river trades.


Piloting 30 tonnes unpowered barges just with oars riding the  tidal river currents is a major undertaking.


The effort to travel along the river with such a large barge is considerable and is a real test of strength and the ability to read the river.


If you would like to find out more about Thames historic barges, visit their website here