Home » Cultural Life

Category Archives: Cultural Life

Free Isle of Dogs River Festival at Folly House Beach – 20th August 2022

I am delighted to report that Thames21 & Isle of Dogs are holding a festival to celebrate the Thames River and its riverside residents. The river is an important part of living on the Island and has been a source of work and enjoyment for centuries.

To find out more about the river pop along to the festival.

There will be:

CLEAN-UP of the beach

RIVER DIPPING to see what lives in the Thames

LITTER DETECTIVES to collect important data

BEACH FUN including skimming contest, sand castles and treasure hunt

PAINTING BY THE THAMES with Expressions Wellbeing

LOCAL RIVER HISTORY with Friends of the Island History Trust

WELLBEING with Healthy Island Partnership and Mind in Tower Hamlets

A chance to get to know more about the @Reclaim our River campaign


Mumbai street food from the delicious Shanu’s Kitchen uk


Free Isle of Dogs River Festival at Folly House Beach – 20th August 2022

11:30am – 4:30pm, Kelson Beach aka Folly House Beach

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.

Saturday 23 October 2021- Saturday 26 February 2022

Sunday 14 – Friday 19 November 2021,

Tuesday 14 December 2021, 6pm (doors 5.30pm)

Wednesday 19 January – Saturday 29 January 2022

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.

The National Maritime Museum in Greenwich to reopen on 7th September 2020

Good news for many Islanders is that the Royal Museums Greenwich have announced the reopening of the National Maritime Museum on 7 September. Visitors will once again be able to explore the story of Britain and the sea through science, trade, conflict, work and leisure in the world’s largest maritime collection.

Entry to the National Maritime Museum will remain free. Time slots will have to be pre-booked online and a one-way visitor route will be in place.

In line with the government’s announcement on 31 July, face coverings must be worn inside the museum. Protective screens in the ticket hall and gift shop will be installed and sanitiser stations will also be available throughout to ensure the safety of all visitors and staff.

Initially, the interactive All Hands Children Gallery and Ahoy! Children’s Gallery will remain closed.

The announcement follows the phased approach to reopening Royal Museums Greenwich announced earlier this summer. Cutty Sark reopened on 20 July, the Royal Observatory Greenwich opened in part on 3 August and the Queen’s House reopened on 10 August.

At the Queen’s House, Faces of a Queen: The Armada Portraits of Elizabeth I will run until 31 August 2020. This is the first time the three surviving portraits have been displayed together in their 430-year history.

Additionally, Woburn Treasures has been extended until Easter 2021. This exhibition is a major collaboration, which will see significant works from the private art collection of The Duke and Duchess of Bedford on show in the Queen’s House. The collaboration marks the first time significant collection pieces have been on public display in a national museum since the 1950s.

For more information , visit the Royal Museums Greenwich website here

National Maritime Museum Greenwich Celebrates Third Annual World Oceans Day with Online Festival

With regular activities curtailed, more and more cultural organisations moving events online, one event to look forward to in June is organised by the National Maritime Museum Greenwich.

The National Maritime Museum will hold a day-long festival of activities to mark World Oceans Day for the third consecutive year on 8 June 2020. Although the museum is closed due to lockdown, Royal Museums Greenwich will mark the day with a completely digital festival.

NMM is partnering with individuals and organisations from across the world to provide a day-long schedule of programming, accessible to virtual visitors through RMG’s World Oceans Day 2020 web portal. This hub for the digital festival will allow virtual visitors to engage in innovative activities and explore RMG’s extensive online resources from home.

Highlights of World Oceans Day 2020 online festival include a welcome by Royal Museums Greenwich Director Paddy Rodgers, a specially curated music mix by BBC Radio DJ and presenter Nick Luscombe, home learning craft and kitchen science videos, interviews with scientists and oceanography experts, an online scavenger hunt, a panel discussion with live Q&A, and a live online quiz.

The variety of events on offer as part of NMM’s World Oceans Day 2020 online festival aims to encourage visitors to act as caretakers of the ocean allowing participants of all ages to discover the diverse and beautiful ocean creatures and habitats, how our daily actions affect them, and how we are all interconnected.



(Subject to change)

10:00am World Oceans Day 2020 Welcome Message from Royal Museums Greenwich Director Paddy Rodgers
10:10am Ocean Conservation Q&A with Dr Lucy Woodall
10:30am Ocean at Home Learning Activities
11:30am Kitchen Science with the Royal Observatory Greenwich – Episode 1, Salinity and Density
12:00pm Antarctica Craft Series – ‘Flow’ with Alice McCabe
12:30pm Longitudinal Dialogues – The Displaced by Serge Attukwei Clottey, followed by virtual Q&A
1:00pm World Oceans Day Music Mix by Nick Luscombe
2:00pm Antarctica Craft Series – ‘Ice, Wind, Water’ with Anna Kompaniets
2:30pm Kitchen Science with the Royal Observatory Greenwich – Episode 2, Salinity and the Sea
3:00pm Antarctica Craft Series – ‘Sea Creatures’ with Jo McCormick
3:30pm Kitchen Science with the Royal Observatory Greenwich – Episode 3, Salinity, Temperature and the Sea
4:00pm Antarctica Craft Series – ‘Engine Room’ with Geoff Copeland
4:30pm Episode 1 – ‘Antarctica’ Online Scavenger Hunt by Knaive Theatre
5:00pm World Oceans Day Panel Discussion
6:45pm World Oceans Day Live Online Quiz (for 6:50pm start)


World Oceans Day Quiz
Take part in a live World Oceans Day Quiz, and test your general knowledge about oceanography, marine life, the environment, and songs related to the ocean. This fun and friendly event is free and open to all who want to join for some ocean knowledge fun.
Sign up via Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/world-oceans-day-quiz-tickets-105386616206

World Oceans Day Music Mix by Nick Luscombe
Take time out and tune in to an exclusive music mix from DJ and radio presenter Nick Luscombe. “As someone who grew up in Plymouth (now known as Britain’s Ocean City) I’ve long been inspired by the sea as a pathway to new places, people, ideas and opportunities,” he says. “My mix of music draws on those feelings – some tracks are quite literal and others, I hope, share a sense of adventure through sound.”

Longitudinal Dialogues – The Displaced by Serge Attukwei Clottey, followed by Online Studio Visit
The Line, London’s first dedicated public art walk, presents a screening of The Displaced by Ghanaian artist Serge Attukwei Clottey. The film powerfully captures a performance on the beach in Accra which Clottey developed with members of his GoLokal performance collective. Through the film, Clottey explore his family’s ancestral migration aboard a canoe on the ocean. Following the screening, watch a film of the artist in his studio in Accra as he introduces his approach and discusses issues raised in his work. This event is the first iteration of The Line’s Longitudinal Dialogues programme, which develops cultural conversations along the Greenwich Meridian.


Kitchen Science with the Royal Observatory Greenwich

In this series of how-to videos, scientists from the Royal Observatory Greenwich will use simple experiments with household objects to illustrate how the currents in the world’s oceans are driven by salinity and temperature, and how the changing global climate is affecting our oceans.

Ocean Science in your Kitchen – Episode 1, Salinity and Density
Ocean Science in your Kitchen – Episode 2, Salinity and the Sea
Ocean Science in your Kitchen – Episode 3, Salinity, Temperature and the Sea

Antarctica Craft Series
Join artists and friends of the National Maritime Museum for a series of art workshops inspired by World Oceans Day.

‘Flow’ with Alice McCabe – Use foraged foliage to make an arrangement inspired by hot and cold ocean currents and the circumpolar current that keeps Antarctica cool

‘Ice, Wind, Water’ with Anna Kompaniets – Learn to make something from nothing in this crochet workshop that uses recycled materials to mimic the Antarctic environment

‘Sea Creatures’ with Jo McCormick – Create a fantastical print of the deep sea creatures that call Antarctica home, using household objects.
‘Engine Room’ with Geoff Copeland – Explore the idea of Antarctica as engine room for global climate in this print-making workshop.

Ocean at Home Learning Activities

Ocean in a bag (Early Years activity) – Early years can explore the colours of our oceans in this sensory activity. Use recycled materials and artwork from the Royal Museums Greenwich collection to inspire a marine artwork.

Ocean in a bottle (Key Stage 2 Activity) – Older learners will be inspired by the magnificence of the oceans and to create their own ocean in a bottle using recycled materials.

‘Antarctica’ Online Scavenger Hunt by Knaive Theatre

Nothing is as it seems in ‘Antarctica’, a daring online scavenger hunt from Knaive Theatre, commissioned by UK Antarctic Heritage Trust as part of its cultural programme Antarctica In Sight. Explore the science of the White Continent from the safety your computer in this unique and empowering online encounter. Discover Episode One on the World Oceans Day online portal and continue your adventure from there.


World Oceans Day Panel Discussion

Physicist, Oceanographer, TV presenter and Royal Museums Greenwich Trustee Helen Czerski will host a discussion between four panellists, exploring our relationship with the ocean. Panellists include artist Dr Michael Pinsky, Laura Boon, Lloyd’s Register Foundation Public Curator: Contemporary Maritime at Royal Museums Greenwich, along with Professor Alex Rogers, Deep Sea ecologist and current Science Director of REV Ocean and Lisa Koperqualuk, Vice President of International Affairs for the Inuit Circumpolar Council Canada.

Ocean Conservation Q&A

In this video series, we aim quick fire questions at experts in ocean conservation. In this episode, we ask Dr Lucy Woodall, Senior Research Fellow, University of Oxford, what it is like to travel to the depths of the ocean in a submarine, all about the creatures that make the deep their home and the effects plastics are having on the ocean.

For more information, go to the Royal Museums Greenwich website

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

The Mudchute Agricultural Show 2019 – 29th and 30th June

Get away from the urban jungle and get a taste of the countryside with the Mudchute Agricultural Show 2019. The show takes place over two days and allows city dwellers to enjoy some of the delights of country life.

Mudchute will welcome rare breed sheep from London’s City Farms and beyond for two days of livestock shows, with categories such as best young handlers, primitive sheep and best lambs.

Test your baking and culinary skills by entering the fresh produce competitions which will take place on Saturday with cakes and bakes as well as jams, chutneys and more. For those whose passion is growing, the hanging baskets and vegetable box competitions are not to be missed. Community participation is encouraged and free registrations are open from 10am on the day.

Fleece spinners, wood workers and willow weavers will demonstrate their crafts and local market stall holders will sell their creations. There will be a Shetland pony photo booth and raffle with proceeds going directly towards the upkeep of the Mudchute Park & Farm.

Visitors are encouraged to bring their own picnic or enjoy a meal at Mudchute Café, Ruby Red tea caddy or the food truck.

MasterChef semi-finalist Annie McKenzie and team will close the day bringing food and theatre together in a production of The Wind in the Willows, an immersive dining experience like no other (book tickets ahead).

Mudchute Park & Farm is one of the largest inner City Farms in Europe with a wonderful collection of British rare breeds and currently home to over 100 animals and fowl. Set in 32 acres of countryside in the heart of East London, Mudchute is a community charity, with a working farm, stables and a wide range of education activities.

Mudchute Agricultural Show 2019 takes place on Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th of June between 11am – 4pm

Lower Field, Mudchute Park and Farm, Isle of Dogs ,London E14 3HP

Entry is Free

For more information, visit the Mudchute Park and Farm website here

Celebrating St George’s Day

Photo Laureen Katiyo

Regular contributor Laureen Katiyo kindly sent some photographs of the celebrations from the Feast of St George event which took place in Trafalgar Square last weekend. Like most people, I tend to be quite ambivalent to the celebration of the patron saint of England but why is this?  In some ways we seem to be happier celebrating other countries festivals like St Patrick’s Day.

Photo Laureen Katiyo

To determine whether this is a more recent phenomenon, I decided to look back into the past through newspaper reports and found this apathy to St George’s Day has a long history.

In 1839, the following writer tries to build up the day.

 A man may be, in the fullest sense of the word a ‘citizen of the world,’ and still preserve that veneration for the important festivals of his native soil — of which, indeed, every Englishman should be proud, and with which must necessarily be associated many early and joyous reminiscences. We fervently hope that whatever dimness may this year have been cast upon the lustre of St George, will be dispelled by the halo which shall arise from the celebration of the 23d April, 1839.

Even the Victorians were neglectful as this report from 1885 describes.

It is a matter of known fact that of late years St. George’s day bas been neglected through the complete insouciance of the Englishmen. While the Scottish and Irish have stood forward and insisted on their Patron Saint’s Days being annually honoured the name of St. George has not been often heard.

A report from 1928 turns this apathy into a virtue, it is all because of our natural modesty.

An Englishman considers it is bad form to boast about his work, about this country, or about its achievements. Even on St. George’s Day, the festival of the nation’s patron saint, and the birthday of Shakespeare, the world’s greatest poet, the English people are very subdued, as a rule, in their celebrations.

Another problem is St George himself, he seems to have a mysterious past which had no obvious links with England, it is generally accepted that St. George was a soldier who was tortured and killed for his Christian faith in around AD 303. After this stories about his strength and courage soon spread throughout Europe. The best-known story about St. George is his fight with a dragon, it was believed that it was the 12th century Crusaders however who first invoked his name in battle.

Photo Laureen Katiyo

King Edward III made him the Patron Saint of England when he formed the Order of the Garter in 1350, and the cult of the Saint was increased by King Henry V, at the battle of Agincourt. Shakespeare famously included the rallying call by King Henry V with the famous phrase, ‘Cry God for Harry, England and St George’.

Perhaps one of the major issues is the tendency for English people to consider themselves as British first then English. It has been very common to many people in the past for people to say that they are British rather than English because they are part of Great Britain or United Kingdom.

Photo Laureen Katiyo

So why the renewed interest in St George and Englishness? Ironically it is possibly the greater independence of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland in recent times that has led England to reconsider its role and English people to find their own identity. The various events on St George’s Day is part of this movement, whether these events can overturn centuries of apathy is a different question.

Telling the Story of Bow Creek

Many thanks to Buzz Bullock who sent the following article from the Tower Hamlets News which was written in 1969. Entitled Bow Creek, it tells the story of the community and the area with a number of photographs. It is particularly interesting that even in the late 1960s, the story of the small community fascinated local historians.

Orchard Place 1867

I have over the last few years written a number of articles about Orchard Place which is a little known part of Poplar. It lies in an unusual location and is surrounded by Bow Creek, the area itself is two peninsulas with an odd configuration which looks like a finger and a thumb.

Orchard Place has a long industrial history and for over centuries was popular with a large number of firms with its access to the Thames and the River Lea. Despite its industrial nature a small contained community lived here from the 19th century up to the 1930s.

Despite being part of a large East London, the community in Orchard Place was known as   ‘London’s “Lost” Village’, with no public transport links with the rest of Poplar, and a long walk down Leamouth Road was needed to connect with the rest of Docklands.  

Very little was written about the community, although the community shared many of the problems and pastimes of other East End folk, there were aspects of the community that were unique. They often made a living from the river either by collecting some of flotsam and jetsam or fishing.

The community may have benefitted from the river at times, but it was also a source of destruction. High tides often flooded the small houses and the Great Thames Flood of 1928 caused considerable damage which the community never really recovered from.

Recently one of the peninsula in Orchard Place is being turned into a mixed residential City Island nicknamed ‘Mini Manhattan’. Standing on Canning Town station you can get quite a good view of this rather unusual development.

As I have mentioned before, there are not many areas that have changed from ‘London’s “Lost” Village’ to ‘Mini Manhattan’ in a few decades.

Craft Central Winter Market at The Forge – 24th to 26th November 2017

Regular readers will know that a few weeks ago, I visited the Forge which has become the new home for Craft Central. The Forge is one of the most interesting industrial relics from the time of shipbuilding on the Island.

I am delighted to say that the Forge will be open this weekend for visitors to enjoy their Craft Central Winter Market.

The seasonal market will be selling handmade products by over 50 talented craftspeople. Home accessories, fashion, jewellery, ceramics, stationery, prints and more will be on sale. The winter market will be a chance to meet and buy directly from designer-makers, take part in one of the family craft workshops and enjoy a drink in the pop-up café.

An added bonus will be Friends of Island History Trust will have a membership and information stall at the market, FoIHT books and calendar will be on sale and there will be displays of Mike Seaborne’s 1980s photographs of the Island and a collection of even older images provided by Frontispiece Antique Prints.

Opening Times

Friday 24 November 5pm – 8pm

Saturday 25 November 11am – 6pm

Sunday 26 November 11am – 5pm

Free Entry

For more information, visit the Craft Central website here