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Monthly Archives: May 2016

Queen’s 90th Birthday Street Party at Glengall Grove – 4th June 2016

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The Island has a long history of street parties and on the 4th June the bunting and plates will come out of storage to celebrate the Queen’s 90th Birthday.

The party is open to everyone and will be held on Glengall Grove close to the centre of the island.

The reign of Her Majesty The Queen has seen remarkable changes all over the country, but few areas have seen such rapid change as the Island. As well as celebrating the Queen’s Birthday, the street party will be an opportunity for the different parts of the Island to come together to share some time together. These type of events depend on the time and generosity of a wide range of individuals, groups and organisations.

This event has been supported by Canary Wharf Group, One Housing Group, the Isle of Dogs Neighbourhood Planning Forum, Cubitt Town Junior & Infant school, The Metropolitan Police, Tower Hamlets Council, Cafe Forever, The George pub, Friends of Island History Trust and St Johns Community Centre.

There will be plenty of activities for young and old at the party, so why not join in the fun in Glengall Grove. It will take place between 3pm and 6pm on Saturday 4th June.

HMS Duncan departing West India Dock – 26th May 2016

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Last Friday, the West India Dock welcomed the arrival of Britain’s newest warship, HMS Duncan and today saw its departure. The open days on Saturday and Sunday were sold out and thousands were allowed to inspect the Type 45 destroyer and one of the most sophisticated ships in the Royal Navy.

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The Type 45 destroyers are primarily designed for anti air warfare and have the capability to defend against sophisticated targets such as fighter aircraft and drones.

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Photograph by Eric Pemberton

The ship is the first Type 45 destroyer to be armed with the Harpoon anti-ship missile system and has a crew of around 200.

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Photograph by Eric Pemberton

Guiding the 500 ft warship into the dock took some time and the ships departure and exit from the dock also took  a considerable amount of time and patience.

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Photograph by Eric Pemberton

Fortunately regular contributor, Eric Pemberton was on hand to take a few photographs of the ship backing out of the dock and sailing away from the docks.

 

Walking the Island Board Walk Trail (Part Four)

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The final part of the Island Board Walk Trail brings us to the east of the Island and views over to North Greenwich and the unmistakable O2 complex.

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However we begin near the George Pub with a board that illustrates that working in the docks could be a precarious way to earn a living. Whilst there were a large number of permanent workers in the docks, large numbers were taken on casually to cope with the often erratic nature of when the work was available.

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Large numbers of workers would hang around gates waiting to see if any work was available. If selected you may be lucky to have half a day or a full days work but were not guaranteed any more than that. This created a great deal of uncertainty about whether you could earn enough to survive. The George would often be the place where men would congregate and wait for their name to be called out.

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We then move back into the Millwall Dock on the east side to the board near Glengall Bridge and the floating Chinese restaurant, the view across the water and up to Canary Wharf gives some idea of the large number of developments that have sprung up since the docks closed in the 1980s.

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The walk then takes us up to South Quay and along Marsh Wall to the Blue Bridge and the West India Dock Entrance. If you are in this area when a ship comes into the dock, it gives some idea of the disruption a ‘bridger’ causes. The sight of the Bridge coming up is a wonderful sight and people in their cars often get out of the vehicles to watch the boats moving into the dock. However ships coming into the dock are limited and a ship often comes through the dock within thirty minutes. In the past the bridge may be up for hours while a succession of boats entered the dock and Islanders could be effectively stranded for hours.

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The walk down East Ferry Road takes you into Cubitt Town which has been a built up area for over a century with a quite odd mix of buildings both quite old and modern. The next board is situated in Castilia Square, a small neighbourhood shopping area near the green space of St John’s Park.

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Poet, writer and broadcaster John Betjeman wrote an article for the Spectator in 1956 about architecture  that brought him to the Isle of Dogs in 1956 where he made an unexpected discovery.
One of the best new housing estates I have seen since the war, comparable with Lansbury, intimately proportioned, cheerful and airy and yet London-like. It is called Castalia Square and makes one realise. when one compares it with the gloomy blocks of ‘artisans’ dwellings’ of the mid-war and pre-1914 periods, how good modern architecture can be. In all the destruction I record in this column, it is a pleasure to be able to write about something newly built which makes one’s heart rejoice.
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To finish the walk, we make our way to the Thames path on the east of the Island and look at the development on the other side of the river in North Greenwich. When we reach the last board, we can see the outline of Greenwich in the distance and the board offers the opportunity to reflect on the enormous variety of history in a small piece of East London. For anyone new to the area, the boards provide some insight into remarkable changes that have taken place in the area even within the last thirty years. In many ways the history of the Island is one of change, it has been the home to thousands of people from all over the world and yet still maintains it own character that is very different to other areas.
To understand some of this character, read the boards and listen to some of the wonderful interviews on the audio trail.

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The Boards are a great introduction to the Island and this project provides plenty of interest, the new audio tour has been devised to coincide with the launch of the walk and will be available to download as a podcast from the website: www.islandboardwalk.com/audio-trail It is derived from exclusive interviews with those who live and work on the island and provides real insights into the past, present and future of the Island.

‘Free’ Leaflet/Trail Maps which are available to download online and to collect from The Ship pub, The George pub, HubBub cafe bar and restaurant, Cubitt Town Library and the Great Eastern pub by the School Day’s board at start of the trail.

For downloads and more information visit:

www.islandboardwalk.com

HMS Duncan in West India Dock – 20th May 2016

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West India Dock welcomed the arrival of Britain’s newest warship, HMS Duncan. The ship was built at the BAE Systems yards at Govan and Scoutstoun on the River Clyde and launched from Govan in 2010.

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 The HMS Duncan is a Type 45 destroyer and one of the most sophisticated ships in the Royal Navy and went on her maiden voyage in 2015.

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The Type 45 destroyers are primarily designed for anti air warfare and have the capability to defend against sophisticated targets such as fighter aircraft and drones. The ship is the first Type 45 destroyer to be armed with the Harpoon anti-ship missile system and has a crew of around 200.

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This is not the first HMS Duncan in the area, one of its predecessors, the HMS Duncan of 1901 was launched from the Thames Ironworks at Blackwall.

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Guiding the 500 ft warship into the dock took some time but when berthed offers the rare opportunity for people to see the Royal Navy’s latest warship at close quarters.

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This is HMS Duncan first visit to London and will be open to the public on  21 and 22nd May 2016,  to visit you must book at the Eventbrite website here.

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Regular contributor Eric Pemberton managed to get a couple of photographs of the HMS Duncan turning into West India Dock.

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Walking the Island Board Walk Trail (Part Three)

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The next part of our walk brings us to the middle of the Island and Millwall Docks, and the boards provide information into yet another interesting and historic part of the Docks system. The creation of the Millwall Docks in the 1860s was against the background of economic depression and when they opened in 1868, there was little indication that they would be a success. However by 1869 the warehouses were nearly full with a variety of goods.

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Unlike the West India Dock, goods were stored in transit sheds rather than warehouses and wholesale building around the dock never really took place. Millwall Docks became the main destination of grain and timber into the docks system and in the 1870s, innovative methods of handling grain were developed.

The dock company built granaries and extended its warehousing in the 1880s and Millwall Docks were considered as the centre of the European grain trade. By 1900 about a third of London’s grain imports and 10 per cent of its timber trade came through the Millwall Docks. From 1909 to 1980, the PLA administered the Millwall Docks with the East and West India Docks and The West India and Millwall Docks were connected by the formation of the Millwall Passage in 1926–8 .

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In the Second World War, Millwall Docks were damaged but not as badly as the West India Docks, however the entrance lock suffered a direct hit and never reopened. After the war, the PLA developed Millwall Docks especially in the 1950s and 60s with the creation of the Fred Olsen Terminal. Various huge single-storey sheds were erected with large doorways for fork-lift trucks and mobile cranes. This redevelopment led to the belief that the berths at the Millwall Docks were among the most efficient in the world, unfortunately this did not prevent their closure in 1980s.

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Nearly the entire dockside around Millwall Docks has been developed with a large number of apartments and development is still continuing with the Baltimore Tower complex.  Walking over the Glengall Bridge and down to the old dry graving dock is  slightly less developed and is quite picturesque with the houseboats and occasionally the yachts from the Docklands Sailing and Watersports Centre.

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Walking away from the dock we cross the East Ferry Road and move from an urban to a rural setting when we walk through the gates into Mudchute Park and Farm.

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The large open space where the Mudchute Park and Farm now stands was once grazing land. However during the building of the Millwall Docks in 1860s much of this land was used for storing the bricks that were used to build the dock walls and buildings. This changed in 1875 when The Dock company developed  an innovative system of dredging its docks designed by the company’s engineer, Frederic E. Duckham. This involved the pneumatic transmission of mud, out of the dock into a pipe which ran under East Ferry Road to be deposited on the grazing land creating a mudfield. Gradually the hardened mudfield became known as the Mudchute and was later used for allotments.

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After the war various schemes were put forward for the use of the land , however it was not until 1973 that the site was transferred to the GLC to be used for housing. However, there then began a campaign by local residents and supporters called the Association of Island Communities who wished the land to be used as public open space , the success of this campaign led to the creation of an urban farm in 1977.

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It was somewhat ironic that the mud from Millwall Dock which was considered a health hazard and made the land unsuitable for development turned out to be blessing in disguise as the concentration of mud was full of nutrients that provided good growing conditions for many plants and ideal for farm animals. Since its creation Mudchute Farm and Park has developed into one of the largest City Farm in Europe covering 32 acres and is maintained largely by local volunteers.

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The Boards are a great introduction to the Island and this project provides plenty of interest, the new audio tour has been devised to coincide with the launch of the walk and will be available to download as a podcast from the website: www.islandboardwalk.com/audio-trail It is derived from exclusive interviews with those who live and work on the island and provides real insights into the past, present and future of the Island.

‘Free’ Leaflet/Trail Maps which are available to download online and to collect from The Ship pub, The George pub, HubBub cafe bar and restaurant, Cubitt Town Library and the Great Eastern pub by the School Day’s board at start of the trail.

For downloads and more information visit:

www.islandboardwalk.com

Alexander von Humboldt II Tall Ship in West India Dock

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In a rather crowded West India Dock, we have seen the arrival of the one of the largest tall ships in the world. The 65 m (213 ft) Alexander von Humboldt II is a German sailing ship which was built as a replacement for the historical original Alexander von Humboldt which was also used as a training ship.

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The Alexander von Humboldt II was launched in 2011 and was the first tall ship built-in Germany since 1958. The ship has the distinctive green hull like its predecessor and has been built with a traditional barque rig with 24 sails with a sail area of 1.360 m². In favourable wind conditions, she can reach up to 14 knots.

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Unlike her predecessor, the Alexander von Humboldt II has up to date modern technology including radar, radio and satellite communication, electronic charts, life rafts, two high-speed dinghies.

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The ship is owned and operated by Deutsche Stiftung Sail Training (German Sail Training Foundation / DSST), based in the barque’s homeport Bremerhaven. DSST is a non-profit, charitable organization. Its aims are to provide traditional high seas sailing for people of all ages, but especially for young men and women aged 15-25.

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The ship has a volunteer crew of up to 25 and up to 54 trainees at a time, Most journeys take between five days and two weeks, but there are also day trips. During summertime, the ship usually cruises the North and Baltic Seas, often participating in the tall ships’ races. When the weather gets cooler, the barque sail to the Mediterranean, the Canary Islands and Caribbean.

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The ship has arrived from Hamburg and at this time it is not known how long she will be in dock.

HMS Kent in West India Dock

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Last night saw the arrival of HMS Kent which is one of the Type 23 frigates within the Royal Navy. The ship was built by BAE Systems on the Clyde and was launched in 1998 by Princess Alexandra of Kent.

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HMS Kent is the twelfth ship that has had this name in the Royal Navy and has travelled the world since her launch in a number of deployments. The ship has been involved in a number of anti-priracy and anti-drug missions in recent years including actions against smugglers, pirates and terrorists. The ship has a length of 133 m (436 ft 4 in), beam of 16.1 m (52 ft 10 in) and can carry a crew of up to 205.

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Whilst she is in dock, the crew will carry out a Capability Demonstration for representatives of London’s emergency services. The ship will be berthed in West India Dock over the weekend before making her way to Scotland take part in the Battle of Jutland centenary commemorations, in which she will play a central role.

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This year marks 100 years since the Battle of Jutland which is considered one the greatest sea battles of the 20th Century. HMS Kent will arrive at Rosyth, a major port and key ship building area of the First World War, where she will take part in events organised by the Scottish Government at South Queensferry. She will then sail for Scapa Flow where she will provide a gun salute.

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Another Royal Navy ship will arrive next weekend with the arrival of the HMS Duncan into West India Dock.