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Nobody can fail to be aware of the major developments in Canary Wharf and the Isle of Dogs but a recent visit to Trinity Buoy Wharf suggests that change is even coming to one of the more isolated parts of the area.
Orchard Place has been transformed by the City Island development and gradually the building works are moving near to Trinity Buoy Wharf with the Goodluck Hope development which will provide 804 new homes, commercial units, an education space, and a restored Grade II-listed Orchard Dry Dock.
The impression of isolation that has been a major characteristic of Trinity Buoy Wharf for centuries is gradually disappearing as lorries trundle up Orchard Place.
Keen to pay homage to its history, the name of some of the old firms are now displayed in the buildings and information boards give an interesting history lesson.
The area has a fascinating history, For nearly two centuries the Corporation of Trinity House occupied this site from 1803 to 1988, but even before then in 1760s Trinity House were storing buoys in nearby Blackwall. The site was mainly used for storing buoys and other marine equipment but gradually workshops were added for testing, repairing and making equipment.
The Lighthouse was not built to aid the Thames river traffic but was an Experimental Lighthouse which was designed by James Douglass, the one still standing was not the first one however there was another experimental lantern nearby built in the 1850s in which the famous scientist Michael Faraday carried out tests in electric lighting for lighthouses.
The present lighthouse was constructed in 1864 and was used to experiment with electric light and different coloured lights the results being checked at Charlton across the river. After the second world war the lighthouse was used for the training of Lighthouse keepers.
Outside the warehouse in memory of the work of Michael Faraday is a small shed called the Faraday Effect.
Lined up against the jetty is an old Trinity lighthouse ship which has been turned into a Music Recording Studio.
Old shipping containers have been painted and made into office blocks called Container City .
Fatboy’s Diner, a genuine 1940s American Diner from New Jersey has now been moved in front of the lighthouse.
For the last twenty years, Trinity Buoy Wharf has been developed into an Arts Quarter and a film by Rupert Murray here tells the story of how the location is now a workplace to over 500 people who often work in the creative industries. There are new proposals that includes the development of new buildings to provide additional floorspace, a new riverside walkway and public square.
As usual, I will try to keep up with new developments and chart some of the changes that will transform Trinity Buoy Wharf in the next few years.
Regular readers will know that I am fascinated by the Trinity Buoy Wharf area which is one of the most unusual places in London. The area has a fascinating history, The Corporation of Trinity House were a company responsible for buoys, lighthouses and lightships and in the early 19th century established Trinity Buoy Wharf as its Thames-side workshop where wooden buoys and sea marks were made and stored. Eventually new buildings were constructed during the Victorian period including the Electrician’s Building and an Experimental Lighthouse whose roof space housed a workshop for the famous scientist Michael Faraday.
By 1910 Trinity Buoy Wharf was a major local employer, with over 150 workers on the site and carried on until 1988 when it finally closed. In 1998, Trinity Buoy Wharf which was then an empty, derelict site was taken over by The Trinity Buoy Wharf Trust which began to develop the area as a centre for the arts and creative industries and the location is now home to a working community of over 350 people.
As part of the 20th anniversary celebrations, Trinity Buoy Wharf will explore the site’s rich maritime history of Trinity Buoy Wharf; its buildings, lighthouse and the Thames, River Lee and their banks nearby with a night of special events will take place including specially installed light projections, art shows, films, images, stories and guided tours.
6pm- 6.40pm Maritime Heritage talk
6pm- 6.40pm “The Wharf” by Rupert Murray screening
6pm- 7pm Supercomputer performance
7.20pm- 7.55pm Guided Site Tour
8.30pm- 9pm TBW Drawing Prize PV
Open from 6pm- 9pm:
Story Box installation
3D projection light show
Andrew Baldwin’s Sculpture Park
Elisabeth Bond Exhibition
RioFoneHack interactive experience
Fat Boys Diner + The Orchard Cafe
Open Studios including:
Royal Drawing School
English National Opera
Trinity Art Studios
One positive aspect of the trust taking over the site was that it has preserved many historical aspects of this important part of London that may have been lost. If you would like to see how this was achieved, why not visit the Anniversary party on the 26th September, attendance will be free and there are plenty of cultural delights to enjoy.
For more information, visit the Trinity Buoy Wharf website here
Miscellaneous Views: The north bank of the Thames between Blackwall and Trinity Buoy Wharf, on 3rd February, 1929. To the left is J.W. Cook’s Orchard Wharf, Orchard Stairs and causeway. The lighthouse on Trinity Buoy Wharf is in the centre distance, and to the left of that the towers of the Thames Ironworks building at the mouth of the River Lea.
A.G. Linney ,1929 (Museum of London )
In a recent post on the Bridge exhibition, there were a couple of photographs by Albert Gravely Linney , although he was not a professional photographer, his work is now considered very important because he captured all aspects of the River Thames just before the destruction of World War Two.
Albert Gravely Linney was a writer and journalist who in 1925 became the first editor of the new Port of London Authority Monthly Magazine which gave him full access to most of the docks and wharves along the river.
Wherever he went, Linney took his camera. He also published a number of books featuring stories and the history of the Thames, his most popular books being Peepshow of the Port of London and The Lure and Lore of London’s River .
The Museum of London holds thousands of Linney’s photographs and over the next few weeks I will do a series of posts showcasing his work in relation to the Isle of Dogs.
First of all is the photographs that Linney took at Trinity Buoy Wharf in the years 1927 – 1930, what is really fascinating about this series of pictures is to see Trinity Wharf as a working centre.
For nearly 200 years, from 1803 to 1988, Trinity Buoy Wharf was occupied by the Corporation of Trinity House, initially for storing buoys and sea-marks, but in the 19th century took over the responsibility for testing chains, anchors and cables which led to the building of number of workshops and a lighthouse for testing, repairing and making equipment.
In the 1930s that work was still being undertaken, so we have pictures of men painting Buoys and the mountains of chains and cables. We also have next to Trinity Buoy Wharf , the famous Thames Ironworks which closed in 1912 but a few buildings at this time still remained.
Miscellaneous views: A Trinity House vessel moored alongside the Trinity Buoy Wharf, Blackwall, in August, 1930. Bow Creek, the entrance to the River Lea is on the right. A.G. Linney ,1930 (Museum of London )
Miscellaneous views: Buoys lined up on the quayside at Trinity Buoy Wharf, Blackwall, in March, 1929. In the background is the Engineering Department building of the Thames Ironworks, which was demolished around 1948. A.G. Linney ,1929 (Museum of London )
Miscellaneous views: Mooring chains awaiting tests at Trinity Buoy Wharf, Blackwall, in July, 1927. The man in the foreground is the Superintendent of the Trinity House Depot, Mr Reynolds. A.G. Linney ,1927 (Museum of London )
Miscellaneous views: Painting buoys at the Trinity Buoy Wharf, Blackwall, in July, 1927. Linney did not take many photographs of people actually at work. A.G. Linney ,1927 (Museum of London )
Miscellaneous views: The experimental lighthouse at Trinity Buoy Wharf, Blackwall, in June, 1929. Built in 1864, the lighthouse has survived although Trinity House sold the site in the late 1980s.A.G. Linney ,1927 (Museum of London )