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Monthly Archives: January 2020

The Commute of the Future at Canary Wharf

Bemused commuters outside Canary Wharf station were faced with what seemed like a large drone but may be part of the commute of the future.

A Bristol-based start-up Vertical Aerospace have been working on developing electric aircraft vehicles, designed specifically for vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL).

The company’s eVTOL aircraft named Seraph completed its first ever test flight in June last year when the 750kg aircraft successfully flew across Cotswold Airport in Kemble, Gloucestershire proving that its technology works and paving the way for eVTOL aircraft to be used in the future.

With the flight of the Seraph, Vertical Aerospace became the first company in the world to release flight footage of an eVTOL aircraft capable of carrying 250kg. The aircraft can reach speeds of up to 80kmph.

Founded by Stephen Fitzpatrick, Vertical Aerospace is building technology to revolutionise how people fly, by making air travel personal, on-demand and carbon free.

With more research and money being ploughed into electric aircraft vehicles like Vertical Aerospace’s eVTOL, there are a real possibility that many short-haul flights can be replaced with environmentally-friendly flying vehicles within four years.

It was a dream of many a young child in the 1960s, that flying vehicles would be the mode of the transport in the future, it may be possible  that over half a century later it may becoming a reality.

Chinese New Year Family Festival at the Museum of London Docklands – 8th and 9th February 2020

Chinese New Year (c) Museum of London

Celebrate the Year of the Rat at the Museum of London Docklands with the return of the popular two-day Chinese New Year family festival.

Chinese New Year (c) Museum of London

Located very near to London’s original Chinatown in Limehouse, the museum is the perfect place to enjoy the Chinese Lunar New Year festivities.

Chinese New Year (c) Museum of London

The event will include Chinese calligraphy, ancient folktales, ribbon dancing, board game making, dance performances, martial arts demonstrations, creative workshops, arts & crafts plus much more.

Chinese New Year (c) Museum of London

The event is free but you must book in advance for some of the activities which may have a small charge.

Chinese New Year (c) Museum of London

The Isle of Dogs and Limehouse have a long tradition of being the location of Chinese communities and this event is a great way to celebrate that connection.

For more information, visit the Museum of London Docklands website here

Winter Lights Festival 2020 at Canary Wharf from 16 to 25th January 2020

If you are suffering January blues, it might worth making your way to Canary Wharf for their Winter Lights Festival. The festival returns for a sixth year bringing together some of the most imaginative light artists to create spectacular artworks, installations and experiences.

Some old favourites return and each year the festival seems to get bigger and better. The festival is great for all the family with plenty to entertain the children.

This year there are over 25 spectacular installations, there are pieces which can be admired from afar as well as those which will allow people to get up close and interact with them.

1: Mi-E Dor De Tine by Daisler Association, Middle Dock
This romantic message declares “I miss you”. Whilst there is no perfect translation, this is the closest adaptation for this Romanian saying. It refers to a deeper meaning about longing or missing someone.


2: Bit.fall by Julius Popp, Chancellor Passage
An ever-changing cascade of words created by thousands of falling illuminated water droplets. The words are derived from a number of live news sources including The Times, The Guardian and the BBC News.


3: The Clew by OTTOTTO, Cubitt Steps
Made from 100 circles of red light, The Clew is a beautiful structure created around the Cubitt Steps Bridge.


4: Liquid Sound by Entertainment Effects, Cabot Square
Once again, the much-loved fountain in Cabot Square has a makeover for Winter Lights with a display of music and light.


5: Absorbed by Light by Gali May Lucas, Cabot Square
Take a seat in between the three figures of Absorbed by Light, designed by the British Gali May Lucas and executed by Berlin-based sculptor Karoline Hinz.
Experience how it feels to be next to the characters on the bench.


6: Sky on Earth by UAII Studio, Columbus Courtyard
This atmospheric UK premiere is inspired by the experience of a night flight over storm clouds. Columbus Courtyard will be transformed into an electrifying life sized cloud made of foam.

Czech Republic

7: Time & Tide by Paul & Pute, Columbus Courtyard
Time & Tide, with its hourglass design and colours inspired by nature, reminds us of the urgency of halting the plastic pollution of our oceans.

UK / Thailand

8: Shish-ka-buoy by Angus Muir Design, Westferry Circus
This fun installation is equally interesting by day as it is under the cover of darkness; during daylight hours, the large cluster landlocked six metre tall buoys absorb the light and give off a magical glow.
By night, thousands of LEDs inside create a whirl of colours and spherical gradients in this installation made from fully recyclable polyethylene marine buoys.

New Zealand

9: Lactolight by Lactolight, Westferry Circus
7,344 recycled plastic milk bottles become individual pixels in a giant low-res video screen. Programmed light depicting colours and patterns combined with a custom built soundscape gives you an overall sensory experience.


10: Stratum by Studio Chevalvert, Westferry Circus
Stratum is an interactive installation made up of 92 illuminated metal totems. Visitors are invited to move their hand over the sensor to trigger movement in the artwork.


11: Mountain of Light by Angus Muir Design, Wren Landing
Mountain of Light is a monolithic installation, towering to a height of four meters and brought to life by a dramatic repertoire of lighting effects that begin with subtle changes in shade and culminate in an intense mash up of colours.

New Zealand

12: Ditto by Ithaca Studio, Wren Landing
A column of light repeating infinitely above and below the audience. Enter the space and experience light and sound swirling around overhead and underfoot trailing into infinity and creating beautiful reflections and colours in both daytime and evening.


13: Luma Paint Light Graffiti by Lichtfaktor and Bomber Graffiti, Crossrail Place Roof Garden
Create your own unique light painting!
In 2008 Lichtfaktor developed the first real time Light Painting Software. It works on any object, from cars to buildings, transforming almost any object into a living paint canvas so you can create stunning paintings in just a few seconds.


14: Aquatics by Philipp Artus, Crossrail Place, Level -1, Quayside
Animated water creatures swim and dive around each other in this mesmerizing and delightful interactive light installation.


15: Desire by UxU Studio, Crossrail Place, Level -1, Quayside
Desire is a playful, sensual design that at first glance looks like giant, red lips. From the side, the image of the lips disappears, and you see a heartbeat instead – a heart beating faster with strong desires.


16: Constellations by Studio Joanie Lemercier, North Dock, viewing point at Crossrail Place, Level -1 Quayside
Making its London debut, Joanie Lemercier’s Constellations takes us on a trip through space with visuals projected onto a giant water screen with an electronic soundscapes by producer Paul Jebanasam.

France / Belgium

17: Seed of Life by Amberlights, Canada Place, Level -1, outside Waitrose
Enter the Seed of Life and discover a metallic rainbow spectrum of colours created by reflections and refractions from the natural elements of the daylight.


18: Lightbench by LBO Lichtbank, Canada Square Park
A firm Canary Wharf favourite, our ten stunning light benches, form part of the permanent art collection.

19: Neon Tree by Hawthorn, Canada Square Park
Neon flex will transform a tree into a striking sculpture in the heart of Canada Square Park. This colourful display will shine subtly by day and dazzle by night.


20: The Bra Tree, Canada Square Park
Drawing inspiration from a tradition on the American ski slopes of throwing your bra onto a tree, Canary Wharf will host their own special illuminated version.

21: Affinity by Amigo & Amigo and S1T2, Montgomery Square
Affinity is an immersive, interactive light sculpture inspired by the dazzling complexity and connectivity of the human brain.


22: Pools of Light, Jubilee Park
The ponds at Jubilee Park are getting a makeover for Winter Lights. See them transformed by thousands of colourful illumined orbs, weaving a stunning stream of light and sound through the park.

23: Squiggle by Angus Muir Design, Jubilee Park
Squiggle is a winding mass of 450 metres of digital neon tubing twisting and turning to fill Jubilee Park. This unique sensory journey is created by the artist’s innovative manipulation of space and sense.

New Zealand

24: 16 bits by Parker Heyl, Jubilee Place
Parker Heyl has a mechanical engineering and robotics background and is interested in kinetic sculpture for live performance.

The installation was developed as part of the Analog Future project at the Interactive Architecture Lab at The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL

25: Chromatic Play by Tine Bech Studio, Jubilee Park
These fun, illuminated sculptures invite you to interact with them. Each glowing creature has alien-like antennae fitted with interactive sensors, so when a visitor is in close proximity their presence is detected and the colours begin to change.


26: SASHA Trees by ADAM DecoLight, Ten Bank Street Park
Ten Bank Street becomes a magical winterscape as this new park is illuminated with glowing fir trees. The striking neon colours of the trees create a fantastic contrast with the surrounding buildings.


The Festival takes place from Tuesday 16 – Saturday 25 January 2019 between 4-10pm throughout Canary Wharf, the festival is free to attend.

Click here to download a map to help guide you round the festival

The Return of the Waterman’s Arms

Recently I received information about the redevelopment of the Island’s most famous pubs. In January, The Great Eastern pub on Glenaffric Avenue will be closed for a major £587,000 refurbishment and will reopen in early April as the The Waterman’s Arms.

The Heineken owned Star Pubs and Bars are hoping 15 new jobs will be created on the back of the investment which will see the community pub and hostel being transformed into a top-quality neighbourhood bar with ensuite accommodation, offering high quality food, drink and service.

The new licensees, Laura Lythall and Sam Hawkes have extensive knowledge of the area after running The Ship Inn on the Island for four years. The interior is being opened up to provide seating for 70 and the bar extended through the pub’s two main rooms, with a raised snug created at the back of the pub.

Upstairs there will be seven luxurious individually styled ensuite boutique bedrooms. And outside, a courtyard garden is being created with a firepit and festoon lighting.

The Waterman’s Arms will open from 10am for a late breakfast, cakes and snacks followed by lunch and dinner. Barista style, artisan coffee will be served throughout the day. The aim is to make the pub a focal point of the community and a destination for top quality food and drink.

The pub has a fascinating history, it originally began life as the Newcastle Arms, built by William Cubitt and opened in 1853. However it was in the early 1960s that the pub changed its name to the Waterman’s Arms and it was taken over writer and broadcaster Dan Farson who became licensee in 1962. Farson made his name on television by presenting documentaries about various subcultures like the teddy boys. After he made a documentary about East End pub entertainment, he was determined to run his pub with a music hall atmosphere. Farson lived in Narrow St in Limehouse and was fascinated by the local characters and East End life.

Due to his high profile on television, the pub was an instant success with well-known performers on stage, and the rich and famous making their way to the Isle of Dogs. Clint Eastwood, artist Francis Bacon, Brian Epstein, Judy Garland and Shirley Bassey were just a few of the celebrities that visited the pub.

Farson’s talents as a broadcaster and writer were not matched by his business acumen and he quickly managed to lose a considerable amount of money in a relatively short time. By 1964, the party was over and the pub returned to being a neighourhood pub although there were still the occasional coach party that turned up for the live entertainment at the weekend. As the docks declined, so did the interest in the pub from outside of the Island, although it did feature in a number of films and television, most notably in The Long Good Friday.

More recently, the pub changed its name to the Great Eastern and was converted into a pub and backpacker’s hotel. The building is one of the few remaining original public houses on the Island and we wish the new owners and licensees the best of luck in restoring the pub to its past glories.

A Limehouse Baker and ‘Carey Street’

Clennam (from “Little Dorrit”) in Marshalsea Debtors’ Prison

Many people overspend and get into debt over the festive period but getting into debt in the early 19th century had more serious consequences including spells in prison. Michael Munoir sent the following which illustrates the case of a local Limehouse baker who was in Newgate prison for debt and wishes to be discharged from prison in 1813.

I John Jones, a prisoner for debt, confined in His Majesty’s gaol of Newgate, and late of St. Ann’s-place, Commercial-road, in the parish of St. Ann, Limehouse, in the County of Middlesex, and using the name and description of John Jones, baker, do hereby give notice, that on the 26th day of October 1821, I presented my petition, schedule, and oath to the Court for the Relief of Insolvent Debtors, at No. 6, Carey-street, Lincoln’s-inn, praying to be discharged from custody upon all process, and to have future liberty of my person against the demands for which I am now in custody, and against the demands of all other persons named or specified as my creditors, or as claiming to be my creditors, in my schedule annexed to my said petition ; and the said petition, oath, and schedule have been filed in the said Court: whereupon the said Court hath ordered, that the matter of the said petition shall be heard in the said Court, to be holden at the Guildhall of the City of Westminster, on Tuesday, the 14th day of December next, at the hour of nine in the morning ; and the said Court hath judged fit to dispense with my serving the Assignees of ……

A long list of creditors follows including a number from Limehouse such as Robert Gammon, Narrow-street, Limehouse, coal merchant; Thomas Luens, Ratcliffe Highway, grocer; Elizabeth Gardiner, Ratcliffe Highway, tallow chandler: I. Hawley, Ratcliffe Highway cheesemonger; John Williams, Church-row, Limehouse, coal-merchant; James Roberts, Three-colt-street, Limehouse, butcher;

being the creditors named in my schedule, with notice of my application in manner directed by the Act of Parliament in that behalf; and hath ordered, that notice of the said petition, oath, and schedule, be inserted in the London Gazette, and in the two newspapers called the Morning Post and the Star, of which my said creditors, hereinbefore-named are hereby required to take notice. JOHN JONES

Although we do not know the full story about John Jones, we can see from his long list of creditors that he was in considerable debt. Public notices regarding insolvent debtors and bankrupts, informing creditors about proceedings and applications for release, have appeared in The London Gazette for centuries, as a statutory requirement.

Newgate West View of Newgate by George Shepherd 1784-1862

During the 18th and early 19th centuries, it was said that more than half of all prisoners were debtors. In London, there were separate prisons for debtors including the Fleet (closed 1842); Farringdon (closed 1846); King’s Bench (closed 1880); Whitecross Street (closed 1870); and Marshalsea (closed 1842).

Execution by hanging, outside Newgate, early 1800s

We can see from the petition that John Jones was a prisoner in Newgate Prison which was one of the most notorious prisons in the capital. Until 1861, only those who bought and sold goods to make a living could be made bankrupt. Others who were unable to pay their debts were referred to as ‘insolvent debtors’. Public executions took place outside the Debtors Door which would not have made our Limehouse baker feel any better.

Newgate Exercise yard by Gustave Dore , from ‘London : A pilgrimage’ by Gustave Dore and Blanchard Jerrold 1872

Debtors could be imprisoned indefinitely until the debt was repaid to creditors. This was made more difficult because some prisoners had to pay for their keep in prison which could mean getting into more debt. One of the reasons that debtors were put into prison was because it was expected that the debtors’ families and friends would repay the debt. Imprisonment for debt only ended in 1869, although there were some exceptions.

One of the best known individuals who were imprisoned for debt, was John Dickens, father of author, Charles Dickens. He was incarcerated in Marshalsea in 1824, when Charles was just 12 years old. John owed a baker, £ 40 10s, and was committed to prison, where he lived with his family (apart from Charles, who worked in a blacking factory) until he was released three months later.

This episode had a profound effect on Charles Dickens, who featured debtors’ prison in his work. Little Dorrit features a story about a debtor, imprisoned in Marshalsea which is also mentioned in David Copperfield and The Pickwick Papers.

In the original petition, many readers would have noticed the address of the court, Carey Street became famous for the saying ‘being on Carey Street’ which indicates you were bankrupt or had serious financial difficulties.

Many thanks to Michael for bringing this fascinating subject to my attention.