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West India Dock Review 2021

It is a tradition of Isle of Dogs Life at this time of the year to write a review of the ships that have called at West India Dock. Whilst we have not had the numbers or variety of previous years, we have a number of interesting visitors.

It has been the year of the superyachts in the dock and three of the ships are still in the dock, Bravo Eugenia, PHI and Here Comes The Sun have been here since December. The old favourite tall ship Tenacious made an appearance and in Greenwich was the RRS Sir David Attenborough polar research ship for a time.

Bravo Eugenia superyacht

PHI superyacht

Moon Sand Superyacht

Here Comes The Sun Superyacht

Dr No

Super Yacht Kismet

Tall Ship Tenacious

RRS Sir David Attenborough polar research ship

Let us look forward to the return of more ships to the dock. The development surrounding West India Dock and Canary Wharf is gradually becoming completed and hopefully we can put the pandemic behind us in 2022.

I would like to wish our readers a happy and healthy New Year.

Bravo Eugenia superyacht in West India Dock

Last week, I was joking that in West India Dock it was like a superyacht convention, the arrival of the Bravo Eugenia has added to the excitement.

At 109 meters (358 ft) Bravo Eugenia is probably one of the longest superyachts we have had in the dock since the 2012 Olympics.

Bravo Eugenia was built by Oceanco in the Netherlands and was completed in 2018.

Bravo Eugenia has exterior design by Nuvolari Lenard, interior design by Reymond Langton Design Ltd., with naval architecture by Lateral Naval Architects.

Up to 14 guests are accommodated on board the superyacht with accommodation for 30 crew members.

For once, we know the owner of the yacht. It is Jerry Jones, owner of the NFL Dallas Cowboys team.

What we do not know is how long the $250 million yacht will be in London.

PHI superyacht in West India Dock

I do not know if superyacht owners are having a convention, but another superyacht has appeared in West India Dock. After a very quiet year for visitors to the dock, we are finishing the year with a bit of excitement.

The recent arrival is the 58.5m / 192ft superyacht PHI which was built at Royal Huisman’s newbuild facility in Vollenhove, The Netherlands. The brand new yacht can accommodate up to 12 guests in 6 staterooms, with 11 crew members.

PHI was designed by Cor D. Rover, with naval architecture Van Oossanen Naval Architects, and the interior of the yacht was designed by Lawson Robb.

The attractive yacht has a aluminium hull and aluminium superstructure with a top speed of 22.0 kn.

As usual in the secretive world of superyachts, it is not known how long the yacht will be in the dock or who the owner is.

Moon Sand Superyacht in West India Dock

After a very quiet summer, we have a little bit of excitement with the arrival of not one but two superyachts. We have already reported on the Here Comes The Sun yacht but the new arrival is the 55m superyacht Moon Sand.

Moon Sand was built by Lürssen who are known for building the largest yachts in the world, Moon Sand at 55m is the smallest yacht launched by the yard since 1955.

So we have in the dock, the largest yacht built by Amels with Here Comes The Sun and with Moon Sand the smallest yacht built by Lürssen since 1955.

Moon Sand was designed by Bannenberg & Rowell, Moon Sand is influenced by the design of the 1973 Lürssen superyacht Carinthia VI.

Moon Sand was built in Germany by Lurssen and is brand new being delivered in 2021. It is so new, there is little information about its layout inside.

Here Comes The Sun Superyacht in West India Dock

On a bright cold morning, we welcome Superyacht ‘Here Comes The Sun’ into West India Dock.

The 83m/272ft yacht was built by Amels in the Netherlands at their Vissingen shipyard. The interior was styled by British designer design house Winch Design and exterior design is the work of Tim Heywood Design.

When the ship was launched in 2017, she was largest superyacht ever built by Amels and was built to very high specifications. She was refitted in 2021.

Here Comes The Sun can accommodate up to 24 guests in 12 suites comprising five VIP cabins and four cabins that can operate as twins or doubles. She is also capable of carrying up to 27 crew onboard.

Her length is 83 m (272 ft), beam is 14.54 m (47.7 ft) and she has a draught of 3.85 m (12.6 ft).[4] The hull is built out of steel while the superstructure is made out of aluminium with teak laid decks. The ship has all the latest state of the art equipment like satellite communications, beach club, gym, deck jacuzzi, WiFi and air conditioning. It also has a piano, sauna, beauty salon, underwater lights and elevator.

Here Comes The Sun is certainly impressive and probably one of the largest superyachts that has visited West India Dock.

In the secretive world of superyachts, it is difficult to know who the owner is, but there are rumours the ship has changed hands recently for a considerable amount of money.

Diwali Lights and other delights in Canary Wharf

Wandering around a chilly Canary Wharf, I came across a Diwali lights display in the Jubilee Park gardens.

This is one of the many displays that Canary Wharf have around their estate.

It is perhaps a good time to provide some information for events to come.

ICE RINK CANARY WHARF
Saturday 23 October 2021- Saturday 26 February 2022

CANARY WHARF SQUASH CLASSIC
Sunday 14 – Friday 19 November 2021,

CAROLS & CANDLES SERVICE
Tuesday 14 December 2021, 6pm (doors 5.30pm)

WINTER LIGHTS
Wednesday 19 January – Saturday 29 January 2022

The RRS Sir David Attenborough polar research ship in Greenwich

An interesting visitor to Greenwich is the RRS Sir David Attenborough polar research ship which has completed basic sea trials and is ready to undertake its first expedition.

It is due to spend a few days in Greenwich and will highlight the start of the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow.

International scientific advisers are using the Attenborough to issue statements about the urgent need to address the climate crisis.

The 129m-long Attenborough has spent the past year in trials around the British coast preparing for its first ocean voyage to Antarctica in November. The vessel will deliver supplies to the UK’s main scientific base, at Rothera, and other stations around the Southern Ocean.

The Attenborough is a Polar Class 4 icebreaker and cost £200m to build. It has a helipad, cranes and equipment to deploy minisubs and other ocean-survey and sampling machinery

Review-London: Port City at the Museum of London Docklands from 22 October 2021 – 8 May 2022

Yesterday, I took the short walk to The Museum of London Docklands to have a look at their major exhibition entitled London: Port City which explores how the Port of London has changed and shaped the city, its people, places and language. The exhibition covers more than 200 years of experiences and activity on a river.

It is appropriate that exhibition about the Port of London is located in an old warehouse complex which was part of West India Docks, London’s first enclosed dock system and packed with valuable cargoes from around the world from 1802 until its closure in 1980.

The exhibition is based upon the extensive archives of the Port of London Authority (PLA), over the years I have used plenty of information from the PLA to tell some of the remarkable stories of the Port and the Docks. Therefore it was quite exciting to see some of the 222 objects in the exhibition which cover a timeline of over 200 years.

The exhibition illustrates the work of the PLA and an impressive audio visual display allows visitors to watch life into the PLA control room, using large-scale projections to create a day in the life of the Port of London. The PLA was responsible for making sure the docks were fully functional and the exhibition features a 1950s diver’s helmet and air pump used by someone clearing riverbeds.

The exhibition includes a fascinating range of maps, plans and documents like the one commemorating the original unveiling of the statue of merchant and slave owner Robert Milligan, which was removed from outside the museum in 2020.

One of the really interesting aspect of the exhibition is the old films that show the port and docks in their glory days, it is watching these films that you began to understand the scale of the operation. Hundreds of ships and thousands of workers created a bustling and often dangerous environment with cargo from all around the world making its way through the port.

The exhibition tries to give some idea this activity, with exhibits about the various smells and aroma, visitors to the exhibition can experience distinct scents, carefully blended to capture the original pungency of the port.

The exhibition also reveals the stories behind 80 words and expressions associated with the docks that have entered the English language including ‘crack on’, ‘aloof’ and ‘Mudchute’.

Over the 200 years, many different types of cargo entered the port and the exhibition includes examples like a pot of dehydrated meat from the 1940s and a pot of ambergris or whale poop as it is labelled.

The PLA has collected a wide range of art connected with the port and a selection is shown together with films showing how the port has been used in films, tv programmes and video games.

It is not often that the museum itself is an intrinsic part of the exhibition, but this small free exhibition provides an opportunity to enjoy the exhibits and the surroundings. Despite the limited use of space, the exhibition covers a wide range of subjects to tell the remarkable story of the Port of London. The Isle of Dogs is an important aspect of this story and anyone interested in the local history of the area will find the exhibition fascinating.

Lion Rampant: Duncan Dunbar and the Age of Sail by Michael Rhodes

Modern Limehouse is mainly a quiet residential area, however in the 19th century it was a bustling throng of businesses, ship builders and associated workers. Within this maelstrom of activity was Dunbar Wharf under the auspices of Duncan Dunbar. His fascinating story is told in a new book by Michael Rhodes. The book entitled Lion Rampant: Duncan Dunbar and the Age of Sail charts the rise of Dunbar from his birth at Dunbar Wharf to his death when he was one of the richest men in Britain.

Duncan Dunbar junior was not a self made man but built upon the considerable fortune left by his father Duncan Dunbar senior who arrived at Dunbar Wharf in 1779 after a short time working on Robert Milligan’s sugar plantation in Jamaica. His friendship with Robert Milligan and James Hibbert would be very beneficial for Dunbar when they became the leading lights behind the creation of the West India Docks.

Photograph – Isle of Dogs Life

Dunbar Senior used these contacts when he began his export business which began at Ropemakers Fields in Limehouse as a brandy, wine and beer merchant. Dunbar had noticed a gap in the market providing alcoholic drinks to the various outposts of the British and used his contacts with Milligan, the East India Company and various suppliers to build up a lucrative trade. An interesting by-product of this trade was that traditional British dark beers were not suitable for long journeys, so India Pale Ale was developed by a number of brewers, notably Hodgsons in Bow. The book throws some light onto the ongoing debate about IPA, part of the confusion is that Dunbar IPA was popular throughout the empire but it was often brewed at the Barley Mow brewery owned by Taylor Walkers and exported under the Dunbar label.

Photograph – Isle of Dogs Life

The success of these enterprises allowed Dunbar senior to expand his business along the Thames waterfront and Ropemaker Fields. He took over full control of his business and gradually included his sons John and Duncan as partners. After Duncan Senior died in 1825, the sons were left the business and property at Dunbar Wharf. Although Duncan was only 22 and John 17, they had worked in the business for many years and had a wide network of family and acquaintances.

The main part of the book charts the rise of Duncan Dunbar junior from Dunbar Wharf in Limehouse to shipbuilder and owner of the largest fleet of sail ever assembled. He also founded two insurance companies and two banks and dominated trade routes to Australia, New Zealand, India, and Asia. It is estimated that his ships brought to Australia and New Zealand one-third of all arrivals and supplied transport for the Burmese War, the Crimean, Second Opium War and Indian Rebellion.

However for all his success, Dunbar remains quite an enigmatic figure and a pioneer who has been largely forgotten by history. Over the years this has always been the source of some mystery to myself who has long been fascinated by Dunbar Wharf and its long and varied history.

This book does provide some clues to his personality with a section that delves into his personal life. Duncan Dunbar junior was actually born in a small room at Dunbar Wharf and grew up in Limehouse before being sent to Forres Grammar school in Scotland. Duncan Dunbar senior was a great believer in Scottish education and Forres contained a number of the wider Dunbar family. At the age of 15, Duncan Dunbar junior worked full time at Dunbar Wharf learning the family trade.

Even in his early 20s, Duncan Dunbar junior was a large imposing man and had a reputation as an engaging and enquiring personality. He had followed his father’s footsteps by becoming a member of Blackheath Golf Club, he developed into quite a competent golfer winning the Summer medal more than once. Blackheath Golf Club was much more than just a sporting outlet, many of the members were wealthy and held prominent positions in the business and political world.

However as his business grew, Dunbar had less time for golf and was in demand to sit on Business and commerce organisations like the City of London club, Lloyds Registry, he became a director of the West India Dock Company. He remained unmarried but was surrounded by family at his home in Howrah House in Poplar. Despite his rise in society, it seems that Dunbar was generally liked for his approachable demeanor and good humour, he also seemed to have something of ‘the common touch’ being popular with the Dunbar ship captains and crew.

Duncan Dunbar by Camille Silvy, 18 January 1862, © National Portrait Gallery, London

As he grew older, he developed an interest in art and moved to Porchester Terrace in Bayswater. This move from East to West London was significant on many levels suggesting he was ready to enjoy the fruits of his labours and would leave the day to day running of the business to trusted members of staff. A photograph in the book shows Duncan Dunbar in 1861, the photograph reflects his position as one of the moving forces of the Empire.

However, the stress and strains on his constitution would eventually come to the fore and suddenly in 1862, Duncan Dunbar junior collapsed and died in his Bayswater home. He was only 58 and his death rocked the Stock Market and the business community.

This book comprehensively charts Dunbar’s rise and provides evidence about how quickly Dunbar’s business empire was carved up between family members and the executors of the considerable 1.6 million pound estate. It was the demise of the Dunbar business that probably explains why Duncan Dunbar’s name disappears from history and his legacy is little understood.

Hopefully, this book will change people’s perceptions of Duncan Dunbar, the author has travelled the world accumulating information from a variety of sources to create the most definitive biography of Duncan Dunbar to date. This fascinating biography places Dunbar and Limehouse at the centre of global trade that provided the template for the modern world. Products and labour from around the world became interlinked in a way that had never been seen before. The effects of that trade changed the world forever and this book is a timely and important reminder of the process and people behind that trade.

If anyone wants to buy a copy of the book, find a link here

Dr No in West India Dock

After the recent visit by Kismet to West India Dock, we have a new arrival with the Dr No which is a 37 m / 121′5″ luxury motor yacht built by Narasaki Zosen in 1995. Dr No last visited the dock in May this year.

The ship is very unusual because it was first launched in 1995 as the Japanese Fisheries training ship Wakachiba at the Muroran shipyard.

The yacht underwent major changes under her first yacht owner, Tom Perkins, who acquired the vessel which was known as Blue Hunter in 2011 and developed it as an explorer yacht. The deck is littered with equipment to enable dinghies or submersibles to be launched.

The motor yacht can accommodate 12 guests in 5 cabins. The owner is not known which is not unusual in the yacht community.

You often see larger ships converted for explorations but very unusual to see something of this size being used in this way. Although some owners enjoy the luxury of superyachts, there is a trend to create explorer yachts to explore some of the world’s more exotic locations.