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LÉ George Bernard Shaw in West India Dock

An interesting visitor in West India Dock is the Irish Navy ship, LÉ George Bernard Shaw (P64).

The ship is the fourth and final ship of the P60 class vessels built for the Irish Naval Service in Babcock Marine Appledore, Devon.

The ship is designed as on Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV), she is 90.00 m (295.28 ft) long and a beam of Beam 14.00 m (45.93 ft).

The ship entered into service in 2018, and, following a military fit-out, has commenced Maritime Defence and Security Operations at sea.

The ship is named after one of Ireland’s most celebrated and well-known playwrights, critics and intellectuals, George Bernard Shaw.

It is unusual to see an Irish ship in dock and is a welcome visitor to the dock which still has the PHI and Reef Chief berthed.

Winter Wonderland in Canary Wharf

It might be a little early for Christmas but the snow has arrived in London, to enjoy the winter scenes, I took a stroll around Canary Wharf .

Jubilee Gardens has been decked out with artificial Christmas trees but the snow really adds to the effect.

The snow on the real trees add to the Christmas scene.

Cabot Square offers a mixture of statues, fountain and large Christmas trees.

People have been busy in Westferry Circus building snowman of different sizes.

But this chap has taken things more arty with a wonderful head sculpture made of snow.

The cold spell is due to last for a while, so have a look around before the snow disappears.

Super Yacht Kismet and NATO Ships in West India Docks

It was with some surprise when I wandered into West India Dock and saw the Super Yacht Kismet and some Nato ships.

Kismet is a large superyacht and has visited the dock a number of times before. It often comes to London when its owner Pakistani-American billionaire businessman Shahid Khan wants to entertain guests attending NFL matches in London.

The yacht is often in the dock before being taken up to near Tower Bridge for entertaining guests.

Kismet is 308ft long has three decks and a private sundeck with a pool-Jacuzzi-BBQ area and all mod cons. The ship features exterior styling by Espen and interior design by Reymond Langton Design featuring marble and rare woods, it will accommodate 12 guests in six staterooms, and has a crew of 20.

This ship is the second vessel named Kismet owned by Mr Khan and estimated to have cost 200 million dollars, a previous 223ft yacht was sold for a rumoured £70 million in 2013. The new Kismet was built at German boatyard Lurssen.

The Nato boats are The Kursis of the Lithuanian Navy (M54), Sulzbach Rosenberg (M1062) and Homburg (1069) of the German Navy.

Pegase (M644) of the French Navy, The other two ships are not easy to identify.

Executions at the Museum of London Docklands from 14 October 2022 to 16 April 2023

I have not been to Museum of London Docklands for a while, so I was delighted to get the chance to visit their new exhibition entitled Executions which explores the phenomenon of public execution in London’s history from 1196 to 1868.

London was the location of many high profile public executions, Smithfield, Southwark, Banqueting House, Newgate Prison, Tower Hill and Tyburn were just some of the main sites.

The exhibition reveals the social, cultural and economic impact of public executions over 700 years through a range of objects, paintings and projections.

The exhibition begins by looking at some of the methods of execution like burning, boiling, beheading, hanging and Hanging, Drawing and Quartering.

Public executions were often a spectacle to deter crime and rebellion and demonstrate the power of the crown, church and state. One of the highlights of the exhibition is a projection recreation of the Tyburn gallows.

As the centuries past, more and more crimes were punishable by death, at the end of the 18th century over 200 crimes could lead to a death sentence. Many of the executions attracted large crowds and the exhibition explores the spectacle and rituals of execution days.

Some of the condemned played up to the crowd especially the ‘celebrity criminals’ like Jack Sheppard.

The exhibition features a section on gibbeting which was usually reserved for pirates, the bodies would be left in a metal cage along the river as a warning not to be tempted to follow that ‘profession’.

Many of the executions of pirates took place at Wapping’s Execution Dock and gibbets were located around the Isle of Dogs.

In the exhibition’s final section is a series of objects that chart the end of public executions, Victorian ideas of civilised behaviour led to the decline of public executions. Executions did not go away but were moved behind closed doors.

This interesting and informative exhibition explores some of the darker aspects of London history. Although we like to think we have become more ‘civilised’ many of the issues over this period still remain. Crime and punishment are still topics of debate and ‘celebrity criminals’ still exist.

The exhibition makes full use of the unique building that houses the Museum of London Docklands. Many of the exhibitions at the Museum of London Docklands are usually free but there is a charge for this particular exhibition.

Urban Sublime: An exhibition of paintings by the Urban Contemporaries and guests at the Coningsby Gallery, 30 Tottenham Street from 4th July to 16th July 2022

Frank Creber, Glenkerry House

Regular readers will know that we often feature the artwork of Frank Creber who is an artist with over thirty years experience of working with community groups in Bromley by Bow. Frank has charted the connection between redevelopment and their impact on local communities and has created work related to Canary Wharf and the Isle of Dogs.

Frank Creber, The Yellow Bridge

I am delighted to say that Frank and a group of artists are holding a new exhibition that explores the theme of the Urban Condition.

Jane Palm-Gold, Homeless In St. Giles-in-the-Fields Churchyard During Lockdown Awaiting Soup Kitchen

Frank is part of a group called Urban Contemporaries which are a number of figurative painters aiming to explore the city experience. A motivation for the artists of the Urban Contemporaries is to create exhibitions made up purely of paintings and so to offer an opportunity to weigh the qualities and virtues of the medium.

Ferha Farooqui, Landscape and memory

It presents the ways contemporary painters continue to develop their language, finding links to the past and applying them to living, contemporary subject matter.

Melissa Scott-Miller, Hillmarton Road at night

Many of the paintings explore the energy and tension of modern life examining particular places and scenes of the city environment.

Sarah Lowe, Latte to go

Many of the artists in Urban Contemporaries create works that meticulously record from life in all its elements.

Philippa Beale Leicester Square 2000

The artists who make up the 16 Urban Contemporaries and the invited guest artists offer dynamic, thought provoking contemplations of the city environment, and the, predominantly, figurative nature of the works make them accessible to all audiences.

Artists: Philippa Beale, Trevor Burgess, Frank Creber, Susanne du Toit, Gethin Evans, Ferha Farooqui, Annette Fernando, Timothy Hyman RA, Michael Johnson, Sarah Lowe, Elizabeth McCarten, Jane Palm-Gold, Alex Pemberton, Melissa Scott-Miller, Grant Watson, Charles Williams.

Coningsby Gallery
30 Tottenham Street
London, W1T 4RJ

Opening hours: 9:30am to 6pm Monday to Friday
Weekend opening hours: 12pm to 6pm Saturday and Sunday 9th and 10th July

Remembering Bullivants Wharf

Anyone walking along the riverside walk on the west side of the Island will come across the above plaque which marks one of the darkest days of the Island when more than 40 people were killed and 60 were injured after a bomb hit a public shelter on the 19th March 1941.

On the 5th July 2014, Friends of Island History Trust volunteers joined Keith Woods and others involved in the placing of a plaque, to recognise those killed and injured in the WWII bombing of a public shelter at Bullivants Wharf. Each year, there is a remembrance event at the plaque to mark the tragedy. Unfortunately this year, due to the restrictions of covid-19 a scaled down event will take place, with six representatives attending the memorial along the Thames Path on the 80th Anniversary of the atrocity on 19th March. Keith and Anne Woods will be joined by Con Maloney and Brian Smith and Reginald Beer and Councillor Peter Golds, to pay their respects and lay flowers, with Fr Tom Pyke (Christ Church) leading the proceedings at 12noon. At the corresponding time you are invited to join them in two minutes silence from the safety of your own home or workplace. 
Prayers were said at St Edmunds last Sunday and at St Luke’s and those affected will be remembered this coming Sunday at Christ Church.

Mick Lemmerman on his wonderful Island History site has a comprehensive and insightful article that gives the full story of the tragedy at Bullivants Wharf

For further information on the WWII bombing see: https://islandhistory.wordpress.com/2021/03/12/the-80th-anniversary-of-the-tragedy-at-bullivants-wharf/

Super Yacht Ilona in West India Dock

On my allocated daily exercise, I was surprised by the appearance of the Super Yacht Ilona in West India Dock, the Ilona last visited the dock in 2016 and also visited when the 2012 London Olympics was taking place.

In these strange times, it seems odd that the yacht would visit the dock but we do not know the reason for the visit.

The 73.81 metres (or 242 ft) long custom built yacht was launched by Amels in the Netherlands in 2004 and she has also refitted in 2006, and 2012. She is classed as one of the world’s top 100 largest private yachts and has the unusual feature of a helipad, when she was built the helicopter could be stowed in a hangar below deck. In the latest refit, the helicopter garage was replaced by a large 10m by 3m swimming pool.

Estimated to have cost 100 million dollars, Ilona was and maybe still owned by one of Australia’s richest men, businessman Frank Lowy who made much of his fortune developing shopping centres with the Westfield Group.


Memories of Millwall Poultry Club by George Donovan

A few years ago, I wrote a post about the Millwall Poultry Club which was based on an article that was published by the Picture Post in 1939.
It was a fascinating article about the club that used to meet at the L.C.C. Mens’s Evening Institute, in Glengall Grove. Leading lights of the club were President, Mr W. Powell-Owen, Charlie Sieloff, Dave Hedley, Mr Dave Love, Mr W White and Mr S Hayward.

Team of Pullets and trophies. left to right Mr Budd, Borough councillor, Mr W White steeplejack, Mr S Hayward railway shunter,
Mr Dave Love Jnr plater, Mr C Sieloff labourer,Mr Dave Hedley lorry driver.

It was a pleasant surprise to be recently contacted by George Donovan who remembers some of the people involved and was interested in raising poultry himself. George very kindly wrote down some of his memories for us to enjoy

Mr George Hedley washing with soap

My wife and I once lived in Stebondale Street Millwall when we married [Christ Church] in 1948, then on to here in Essex via Prestons Road in Poplar and Dagenham. When we lived in the prefab in Stebondale Street, the rent book was held by my Mother-in Law, and it was with her permission that I built the Chicken run from the floor-boards of the bombed out pub a few doors down. I remember lifting the cork lino up in the upstairs club room, and they were as new as when first laid. My wife’s brother, George Mahoney who lived across the road in Parsonage Street, encouraged my interest in poultry keeping, for it was his father-in-law Charlie Sieloff who lived with them that was the principle. One of the pictures I saw on the web was Charlie in his backyard. He was keen on Bantam’s and a breed known as Wyandotte’s.

In 1948, My wife’s mother, a widow, agreed that we could live with her in her council rented Pre-Fab until we were able to get accommodation of our own, and we were happy to do this. Having an interest in poultry it wasn’t too long before I was able to build a chicken run in the back garden and housed it with 4 ‘point of lay’ birds. Within weeks the birds began to earn their keep and fresh eggs were often on the menu. All was going well for many months until it became noticeable clear that egg production was beginning to become a little erratic and there didn’t appear to be any obvious reason for this. Being a member of the local Poultry club I approached the ‘instructor’ who after some deliberation concluded that the birds were being troubled at night by ‘Red Mite’. The cure was that I should go to the local chemist and purchase some ‘Tincture of Nicotine’ and just before the birds went to roost paint their perch with the liquid so that when the birds perched the heat of their bodies would vaporise the solution which in turn would impregnate their feathers killing off the mite. Armed with this remedy I went to the chemists (Timothy Whites who had a shop in Crisp Street) only to be told that I needed a ‘Certificate to Purchase’ to be obtained from the local Police Station as Nicotine was a registered poison. That didn’t seem to be any problem, so along to the local ‘nick’ I went and presented myself to this ruddy faced walrus moustached desk sergeant, who having got hold of the poison book, began the formalities of asking the necessary whys and therefore’s.

The instructor Mr W Powell – Owen

All seemed to be going well until we got to the address part.
“And where do you live sir?
And is this your own property—No, Its council owned and rented.
And are you the tenant sir—No, I live with my Mother-in Law”.
I can see that man’s face now as he put down the pen and stood back off his stool, “Your living with your Mother-in Law and you want to buy poison——!!!!!!!!.

Some years ago I met up with this gentleman who had a small museum over in Kent. He used to write for the Poultry World magazine and was a lecturer on poultry at some college. He’s a renowned Poultry judge too. His name is Fred Hams. He knew Charlie Sieloff and Powell-Owen.

Many thanks to George for his memories and some insight into a now lost world of poultry keeping, although if you want to see some rare breeds of poultry, you can find them at Mudchute Farm and Park.

Book Review : Christmas Child by Carol Rivers


Regular readers will know that I often feature books by best-selling author Carol Rivers who has written a series of books about the Isle of Dogs. Carol’s gritty and heartwarming East End family dramas are greatly influenced by her grandparents who lived in Gavrick Street and then Chapel House Street on the Island. The books are widely praised for their realism and have appeared regularly in many bestseller charts and have a loyal readership in the UK and increasingly in the United States.

Recently, I was delighted to receive her latest book entitled Christmas Child which is based in Victorian London and follows the exploits of Ettie O’Reilly, who grows up in an orphanage in Poplar.

The book begins on Christmas Day 1880 in Poplar when a sick unmarried mother leaves her new born baby at the Sisters of Clemency Convent, next we move forward thirteen years and that baby is now thirteen year old Ettie O’Reilly whose protected life in the orphanage is coming to an abrupt end with the closing of the institution. The nuns had been her only family and she had enjoyed helping the nuns and helping the younger orphans helping them with their reading and writing.

When Michael, an East End street urchin arrived, Ettie tries to help him with his reading and writing, but he is difficult and has spent his whole life looking out for himself. Eventually, Michael and Ettie become good friends, and when Michael declares Ettie to be his girl, she is not unhappy.

When the Roman Catholic church decides to close the orphanage, Ettie is found a place as a maid to Lucas and Clara Benjamin, who own a smoking lounge in Soho. Michael decides to go back to life on the streets and Ettie starts her new life as a maid to the Benjamin’s.

Ettie finds that that life outside the orphanage is a challenge in more ways than one and good fortune is often followed by bad fortune. The twists and turns of Ettie’s life during next few years are fraught with danger, poverty and near death, but she is blessed in finding some true friends who seek to protect her from her mother’s fate. After being exposed to the dark side of the city, will she ever find Michael and have true happiness?

What sets Carol’s books apart from many others of the type is that she creates believable characters who represent some of the best and worst of human qualities. Carol’s books pays tribute to strong characters, often women like Ettie who will not be defeated by life’s injustices and hardships. Carol also manages to realistically portray a complex Victorian London full of great wealth and terrible poverty.

Although this fascinating and enjoyable book represents a move away from the East End family dramas, it still has a strong sense of humanity which Carol suggests can be found even in the worst environments.

I am sure that Christmas Child will be just as successful as Carol’s other books and If you would like to read buy a copy of the book, it is available here.

Carol lives in Dorset but still follows closely events on the Island and is a long time supporter of Isle of Dogs Life. If you would like to find out more about the book or other books written by Carol Rivers. Please visit her website here

Visiting the Mudchute Agricultural Show 2019 – 30th June

Summer has finally arrived and it is time to enjoy some of the outside delights of the Island. On a sleepy Sunday morning, I made my way to Mudchute Park & Farm for the Mudchute Agricultural Show 2019.

The show takes place over the weekend and allows city dwellers to enjoy some of the delights of country life.

Rare breed sheep from London’s City Farms are shown in livestock shows,

with categories such as best young handlers, primitive sheep and best lambs.

Craft creators, wood workers and dry stone wall makers are demonstrating  their crafts

and local market stall holders are selling their creations.

Visitors are treated to a large number of attractions and can enjoy a stroll around the Park & Farm . The Mudchute Agricultural Show is fast becoming one of the main highlights of the Island events year.

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