If after the excitement of the festive period, you are suffering January blues, it might worth making your way to Canary Wharf for their Winter Lights Festival.The Winter Lights festival returns for a fifth 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.
Although the festival does not open till the 15th, here is a sneak preview of what to expect.
1: Prismatica by RAW Design in collaboration with ATOMIC3, Jubilee Plaza
Prismatica turns heads with the countless colourful reflections made by its giant prisms. Visitors can walk amongst them to see city life in every colour of the spectrum and spin the prisms to make them dance.
2. BIT.FALL by Julius Popp, Chancellor Passage, Middle Dock
The speed at which information is sourced, exchanged and updated in our modern society is almost inconceivable, and more ephemeral than ever before. The work BIT.FALL translate this abstract process into an experience for the senses as an ever-changing cascade of words, derived from a live newsfeed on The Times website, falls down on a wall of water.
3. Two Hearts by Stuart Langley, projection in Newfoundland Place, viewing point at Cubitt Steps
As the structure of this iconic residential skyscraper grows, lower level windows flicker and shine with light to momentarily form two illuminated and transient hearts, symbolic of the life and energy the building is poised to support.
4. Whale Ghost by Pitaya, Cubitt Steps
This monumentally-scaled kinetic sculpture echoes the marine mammal and fossil skeletons seen in natural history museums. Whale Ghost invites the visitor to spend a moment thinking about the impact of mankind on our biodiversity.
5. Sasha Trees by Adam Decolight, Westferry Circus
Westferry Circus becomes a magical winterscape as we illuminate this beautiful location with glowing fir trees. The striking neon colours of the trees create a fantastic contrast with natural foliage surrounding them.
6. Blue Neuron by Zac Greening, Columbus Courtyard
Blue Neuron is a beautiful kinetic light installation built from reworked heat-treated plastic bottles. Zac’s inspiration comes principally from nature. Working in a wide range of media, from discarded plastic bottles to laser projections, his works often comment on issues such as sustainability, environmental degradation and consumption.
7. Time & Tide By Paul & Pute, Columbus Courtyard
Time & Tide, with its hourglass design and colours inspired by nature, aims to remind us of the urgency of halting the plastic pollution of our oceans. Its form tells us that time is running out to repair this problem before the damage to our planet is irreversible.
8. Heofon Light Maze by Ben Busche of Brut Deluxe, Cabot Square
Heofon is an old English word for the sky. This fascinating light maze is based on triangular geometry which reflects and shifts light rays along the entire colour range of a rainbow. On the outer perimeter the panels are covered with a mirror film converting the interior into an infinity room.
9. Colour Moves by Rombout Frieling Lab, Adams Plaza Bridge
Colour does not exist. Colour is in the mind. It is the result of complex processes of adjustment and comparison. Colour Moves is an immersive installation of pigments that react with specific wavelengths of light.
10. Recyclism by Oskar Krajewski /Art of OK, Crossrail Place, Level 0
Artist Oskar Krajewski is working towards a new chapter in art history – Recyclism. Recyclism is a platform for artists and like-minded people who care about our global environment. Oskar’s sculptures are made almost entirely of recycled materials such as unwanted toys, obsolete electronics, plastic packaging or any everyday use objects.
11. Aura by Ronan Devlin, North Dock, Adams Plaza
Aura creates a stunning spectacle on the water by combining art and technology. Camera sensors capture participant’s form and feelings and mirror them in real time onto a giant water spray in the dock.
12. We Could Meet by Martin Richman, Crossrail Place, Quayside Level -1
A permanent installation of more than 500 illuminated acrylic rods installed in a water channel, this engaging art work was commissioned by Canary Wharf Group in 2015.
13. Vena Lumen by Fontys Vena Lumen team, Crossrail Place Roof Garden, Level -1
Vena Lumen means pulsing light. Take a seat on this stunning bench, place your hand on the sensor and watch it transform your heartbeat into dancing light.
14. Enchanted Connections by Tine Bech Studio, Crossrail Place Roof Garden, Level 1
Enchanted Connections invites visitors to the Crossrail Place Roof Garden to interact with light and each other in an imaginative way.
15. Last Parade by Alexander Reichstein, Crossrail Place Quayside, Level -1
Last Parade is a site-specific video installation that creates a wildlife reserve filled with rare animals and birds, where the shadows of endangered and threatened species march perpetually along the Canary Wharf Riverside, slowly fading out as their march ends.
16. Lightbench by LBO Lichtbank, Canada Square Park
These firm favourites light up Canada Square Park every evening as part of the permanent collection. The benches subtly change colour and are lined up to create a pleasing spectacle along the pathway.
17. Submergence by Squidsoup, Montgomery Square
Submergence is a large, immersive, walkthrough light experience. This is the largest version ever shown, comprising of some 24,000 individual points of suspended light, that transforms the space into a hybrid environment where virtual and physical worlds coincide.
18. Light, Stone, Pavement by Raoul Simpson, Jubilee Park
Light, Stone, Pavement is a playful, contemporary take on the simple game of hopscotch, where the chalk lines are replaced by a glowing outline of electric luminescent ribbon triggered by the player’s progression through the game.
19. Flow by Squidsoup, Jubilee Park
Flow is a series of explorations using dynamically controlled points of light to visualise the flow of energy, data and objects. The piece is inspired by the myriad of cultural references to energy and flow patterns, from Aboriginal dreamtime paintings to Japanese wave and ripple designs.
20. Floating Islands by Mürüde Mehmet, Jubilee Park
Community artist Mürüde Mehmet will be working with local children in Tower Hamlets to construct colourful organic floating forms made from recycled bottles. The creations will be displayed on the running water streams at Canary Wharf, encouraging awareness of how much waste is created by single use plastic water bottles.
21. Angels of Freedom by OGE Collective, Jubilee Place
These beautiful illuminated wings travel around the world, connecting people by allowing everyone to become an angel in their own way.
The Festival takes place from Tuesday 15 – Saturday 26 January 2019 between 5-10pm throughout Canary Wharf, the festival is free to attend.
We have an early visitor to West India Dock with the arrival of Superyacht Reef Chief in West India Dock. The yacht was last in the dock in June 2018 and shares the berth with the tall ship Tenacious.
Reef Chief is a 49.07m, 160.76ft luxury yacht which was built in United States of America by Trinity Yachts and delivered in 2009. The yacht was previously named Anjilis and her luxurious interior is designed by Glade Johnson Design and her exterior styling is by Geoff Van Aller.
The yacht has a aluminium hull superstructure with an ultra-modern stabilization system. Reef Chief can accommodate 11 guests in 5 rooms and can carry up to 9 crew onboard.
Various reports suggest the yacht has been sold recently, but as usual it is very difficult to find out who actually owns the vessel.
It is that time of the year when people begin to review the past 12 months, carrying on the tradition from previous years, we are listing the ships that have visited West India Docks in the last year.
The development surrounding West India Dock and Canary Wharf seems to have had a considerable effect on the numbers visiting the dock. It has been a very quiet year for visitors in the dock, however we did welcome an interesting mix of ships and boats.
Some old Tall Ships favourites returned with Lord Nelson and Tenacious, other tall ships included Atyla and Marienborgh. We also had the Tall Ships Youth Trust Challenger Fleet on a visit.
Superyachts included the WindQuest Catamaran, Reef Chief, Forever One and the Lady A.
French Navy ships included Lynx, Guépard, Léopard, Panthère and Lion.
The Marienborgh yacht seems to be permanently in the dock and Tenacious has been berthed for several weeks.
The Massey Shaw, The Portwey and the Lord Amory which are permanently moored in the dock provide year round interest.
With all the development, it is unlikely that in the foreseeable future that numbers visiting will pick up quickly but we will keeping our eye on the many different ships that circle around the Isle of Dogs.
This year we spotted Superyacht Elandess, BNS Crocus, cruise liners Viking Star and MV Ocean Majesty.
May we wish all our readers a Happy New Year and we look forward to welcoming new visitors to the dock in the New Year.
Long time contributor Eric Pemberton has bought to my attention a new book that tells the remarkable story of the Queen Victoria Seamen’s Rest in East India Dock Road in Poplar. The book entitled ‘Saving Jack’ tells the story of the first 175 years of the Queen Victoria Seamen’s Rest (QVSR) and is written by David Hurrell and Alexander Campbell.
Seamen’s missions were institutions that were organised in the 19th Century to cope with the large number of seaman arriving in the London Docks. They were often part of the outreach work of various Churches who tried to provide support to sailors all around the world.
Whilst almost all the Missions founded for Seamen in London have disappeared , one institution still survives and retains its original function after more than a century. This is the Queen Victoria Seamen’s Rest (QVSR) which started life as the Wesleyan Seamen’s Mission of the Methodist Church in 1843.
The Methodists had also supported the work of the British and Foreign Sailors Society, however in 1890s they decided they needed to expand their services and build their own mission the Queen Victoria Seamans Rest in Jeremiah Street in Poplar.
As well as providing accommodation it also provided educational and recreational facilities. Remarkably it still provides accommodation and other facilities for seamen, other forces personnel and homeless people in need.
Eric sent a few of his postcards that feature the Queen Victoria Seamen’s Rest (QVSR) some time ago and feature some of the many facilities available to the residents.
If you would like to find out more about this little known part of Docklands history, you can buy a copy of ‘Saving Jack’ which has been published in a limited edition of 1,750.
To purchase a copy for only £9.99, you can get directly from the mission or visit their website here for further details
The address is
Queen Victoria Seaman’s Rest
121-131 East India Dock Road
London E14 6DF
Over the last few years, an amazing array of ships have passed through West India Docks. However it is worth remembering that when the docks was in full use, literally thousands of ships would use the docks. I have recently come across a news paper report from 1910 that illustrates that some of the great British voyages and adventures began from West India and East India Docks, Limehouse and Blackwall.
In the early part of the 20th century, the race to the South Pole was one of the great expeditions to undertake and their was plenty of confidence that the expedition led by Captain Scott would be successful. This confidence is shown by the reporter who goes to West India Dock to look over the expedition ship ‘Terra Nova’ and speaks to Scott and his crew.
The preparations for the South, Polar Expedition are going forward, and the following graphic account is given by ‘The Daily Chronicle’
‘Ware open hatchways!’
The cry might have been heard ringing out every other moment from a stout, square-rigged wooden barque of some 760 tons that lay in West India Dock. Outwardly there was little t0 distinguish this particular boat from others of its class ranged along the opposite quay. But on closer view one noticed signs of special activity.
Besides the men that were working lustily the blazing sun, swinging stores and pig-iron ballast into the thick-ribbed hold, one saw strange figures in top hats and frock coats, and others in elegant mourning gowns being escorted over piles of rope, oil barrels, casks, crates, half-sawn -beams, and newly-painted ladders, by guides whose white caps and gold-braided jackets betokened them undoubted officers of His Majesty’s senior service.
The secret of it all was soon solved by the Inscription on the bow, boats and belts— ‘Terra Nova R.Y.S.” For this plain and unassuming craft is, indeed, the very one in which Capt R. F. Scott and his gallant comrades are going to make yet another effort to capture for England the honour of being first at the South Pole.
She sails under the command of Lieutenant Evans— Captain Scott himself going on later by liner and joining the ship at New Zealand and something like seventy tons of provisions will have been got aboard. She will first go to Portsmouth to take in the scientific Instruments, then, onto Cardiff for coaling purposes, and then southward ho!
Accordingly, what with the loading of the stores, with reception of a constant stream of visitors, distinguished and otherwise, and the fixing up of all sorts of alterations that this latest raid of the Antarctic calls for, the Terra Nova was a scene of mingled, cheery activity, of hammering, and shouting that may, perhaps be remembered through many a silent vigil in the Polar solitudes.
With it all Captain Scott himself, who flitted in and out quite informally in a simple lounge suit and straw hat and Captain Evans and the other officers, welcomed everybody who had the remotest right to be there, and guided each round the tough little craft, which is to be their home for so many weary months, with unfailing patience, and courtesy.
Nothing, indeed, could be farther from the truth than any notion that the polar explorer must be necessarily a ‘rough customer,’ shaggy, gigantic, and unsociable, These officers of the Terra Nova, who are going to do things that have baffled the buccaneers and desperadoes of the centuries are neat, dapper, quick-witted young officers, boyish and keen and gentlemen to the core. They are without exception light and ‘wiry in physique— the very antithesis of the John Bull type. They are, in fact, picked men of a new and fine English breed. Behind their cheery modesty there is a determination that is not of cast-iron but of steel.
Shown round by Captain Scott. and Lieutenant Evans, ‘The Daily ‘Chronicle’ representative inspected every corner of the good ship from the tiny laboratories that had been specially built, to the cosy forecastle and the mighty beams beneath which the crew’s hammocks will swing.
Although It is twenty-five years old, the Terra Nova is, Captain Scott explained, in perfect condition. It has already proved its soundness in several voyages, both north and south. It flew the American flag at Franz Josef Land. It was relief ship to the Discovery, itself, which curiously enough now in the service of the Hudson Bay Company is lying in the very same dock.
As for the stores, their variety was bewildering. A specially interesting shipment was case upon case of lubricating oil for the motor-sleighs that are to play so important a part in the actual dash for the Pole. The pemmican and cocoa that are to be the staple food of the shore-party had been already stored away as they would be wanted last.
But as there are to be no less than three different expeditions to ‘cater for as’ soon as the ship touches the ice barrier the needs are infinite. One saw at least twenty crates of biscuits being heaved into the hold, huge stacks of boxes of sardines, a great stand by on account of the oil, casks of beer and crate after crate of mineral waters, dried vegetables of all kinds, beetroots, brussels sprouts, artichokes, broad beans, spinach, French beans, petis pois extra fine, asparagus, cauliflowers, ‘celery au jus, young carrots, cabbage, cheeses, pickles, soups, marmalade, lard, tinned fruits galore, tobacco and cigars, Christmas puddings—the list would have no end.
As it happened, the very last package to be taken aboard when the sheds closed was a large gramophone. By its means doubtless, many an Antarctic night will be charmed away with the songs of the old country, the silence of the ice-floe broken with Recollections of Harry Lauder or a Tetrazzini record.
Terra Nova in the Antarctic
Unfortunately, although Scott and four companions reached the South Pole in 1912, they discovered that Norwegian explorer, Roald Amundsen, had got there first. The expedition group never made it back to safety being overcome by frostbite, starvation or exposure.
If you would like to see some of the relics from Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s Antarctic expedition (1910 – 1913) they are on display at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich in their Polar Worlds gallery. They include Captain Scott’s overshoes, Captain Scott’s sledging goggles and Captain Scott’s book bag in which he kept his famous diary.
Swimming Fete at West India Docks 1895
Regular readers may know that the Isle of Dogs played an important part in the history of swimming being the birthplace of John Trudgen and the scene of many swimming competitions.
However, the West India Docks also placed an important part in the promotion of Lifesaving in the water. William Henry who was a champion swimmer became increasingly concerned by the amount of drownings in Victorian Britain. This led him to become the founder of the Royal Lifesaving Society which was founded in 1891. The main architects of the formation of the new Society were William Henry and Archibald Sinclair who were keen to promote lifesaving. In the first year, the first lifesaving courses were introduced and a handbook of techniques produced and a national lifesaving competition was held with 24 teams competing.
By 1897, the Lifesaving Society were ready to expand their society and organised its first International Gala at the West India Dock in the presence of the Duke & Duchess of York. Competitors participated from United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, Germany Sweden and France. Events included swimming competitions, lifesaving demonstrations and diving events.
Swimming Fete at West India Docks 1895
This was not the first time that swimming events had been held in West India Dock but was one of the largest and most prestigious.
A newspaper report from 1897 gives all the details.
Swimming Fete at the West India Docks
In the six years of its existence the Life-Saving Society has organised no more important or successful gathering than the “Diamond Jubilee International Championship Gala,” which took place at the West India Docks on July 3. Various circumstances combined to give a distinction to the occasion, not the least being the presence of the Duke of York, who is president of the society, accompanied by the Duchess of York. Although not a wealthy organisation, the Life-Saving Society has a great and widespread influence in all parts of the world where swimming clubs are established. The proceedings had been timed to begin at 3 o’clock, but long before that hour vast concourse of spectators had lined the quays of the West India Dock, and had occupied every position from which a view was obtainable.
In honor of the occasion, the warehouses and other buildings in the neighbourhood hung out flags, and the vessels in the dock made a liberal display of bunting, which gave au appearance of unusual gaiety and brightness to the generally sombre surroundings.
A most enthusiastic welcome was given to the Duke and Duchess of York, when punctually at 3 o’clock, they arrived, accompanied by Lord Knutsford and the Hon Sydney Holland, acting-president of the society. The Royal party entered the dock in the steam launch Cintra, which, besides flying the Royal Standard and the Union Jack, was tastefully decorated with flowers and. evergreens.
The first item on the programme was a display of rescue and release drill by twenty-two teams of four swimmers each. The most important event on the “card ” was the mile amateur championship, for a challenge cup, which has been held since 1893 by J. H. Tyers, Manchester Osborne S.C., champion of England, and holder of the world’s record. As events proved, however, Tyers was not to retain the championship for another year. First to get away, he was speedily challenged by J.H. Derbyshire, a member of his own club, but at the end of the first lap, he was leading by nine yards. At the third round out of the eight which made up the mile, the race lay between Tyers, Derbyshire, Arnold Toepfer (Poseidon S.C., Berlin, champion of Germany),and Percy Cavill (East Sydney S.C., champion of Australia). Very soon, however, Derbyshire, Toepfer, and Cavill fell off, and J. A. Jarvis (LeicesterS.C.), Midland Counties champion swam to the front. Tyers steered very wide, and finally the Midlands champion finished the winner by fully twenty yards. The English amateur record time for this distance is 26min 46sec. The time on Saturday was not so good, being 32min 28 sec. Jarvis who is a house-painter by trade—is a young man of twenty-five, and he has won all the Midland County championships for the past four years. On every previous occasion when he competed for the mile championship he was placed third. He has not swum a mile for twelve months, and won Saturday’s race practically untrained.
Later events proved that in diving the Swedish representatives are unapproachable, bat the race unmistakably demonstrated the superiority of the Englishmen in strong, powerful swimming. Toepfer, the German, was the only representative from abroad, who seemed able to maintain anything like the pace of the English swimmers. Guy Seron (Brussels S.C.), the Belgian champion, Cavill, of Australia, and W. J. Stratton (Zephyr S.C.), champion of New Zealand, all fell behind early in the contest, and finished a long distance in the rear of Jarvis and Tyers.
In a special 100-Yards Scratch Race, J. Hellings (Bondi), Sydney, obtained first place, J. Hunt (May field), Manchester, second, and T. Rourke, Salford, third position. The winner’s time was 1 min 11 sec , the second and third man being respectively one and three seconds behind
A 100-Yards Rescue Race was won by J. T. Savill and W. E. Wood (London and India Docks S.C.), W. W.. Green and S. W. Turner
(Pacific S.G.) being awarded second place. A 100 yards open amateur handicap was swum in four heats, the final result being:—
O. W. Payne (Polytechnic), first ;
F. G. Robinson (Neptune), second ; and
E. Eildred (York), third.
The winner received s start of 16sec.
Z. Claro (City Police), with a start of 16sec
wonthe 100yds Open Obstacle Handicap,
with S. Ross (Shakespeare) for second,
and W. Fewell (Polytechnic) in third
Apart from these contests, the most interesting feature of the programme was the display of high aud fancy diving given by the twelve gentlemen who came as representatives of the Swedish Swimming Associations. It is no exaggeration to say that nothing to equal it has ever been seen in London, and it drew from the spectators round after round of the heartiest and most appreciative cheering. So great was the interest manifested in it by the Duke of York that the launch was moored out nearer to the diving platform, in order that His Royal Highness and the Duchess of York who also followed the exhibition with evident
pleasure might have a better opportunity of witnessing the performances.
Succeeding this display came a national graceful diving contest, which was won by V. Sounemans, of Brussels, H. S. Martin, of St. James, being awarded second position, and Master W. E. Webb, of the same club (a mere boy), taking third place. Sounemans, when the result was announced, offered to give an exhibition of high and fancy diving, and was rewarded with an outburst of hearty, honest English cheering, the recollection of which must always remain with him. The diving display was “sandwiched” between several minor events, and shortly after it was over the Duke and Duchess of York took their departure, having remained for fully an hour and a half, most interested spectators of the gala.
Swimming events were held in West India Dock up to the 1930s but few would have been as well attended than this one. The Royal Lifesaving Society has gone from strength to strength and runs courses and competitions all around the world. It is now a Drowning Prevention Charity and the UK’s leading provider of water safety and drowning prevention education.