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The Rise and Fall of Westferry Printing Works on the Isle of Dogs

With all the new development in the Isle of Dogs and Canary Wharf, it would have been easy to overlook the demolition of the Westferry Printworks. Although it was only built in the 1980s, the works played an important part in the modernization of the newspaper industry and led to the decline of Fleet Street as the heart of British Newspapers.

Whilst many people may remember the Wapping dispute, the newspaper revolution of the 1980s led to the introduction of new technology. Docklands played a major part in the story with printing facilities set up on the Isle of Dogs, the West Ferry Printing Works of the Westferry road were considered the largest newspaper print works in Western Europe when it was built in 1984–6.

The closing of the docks led to large expanses of relatively cheap land not far from the centre of London. Newspaper owners saw the opportunity to modernise the printing plants and introduce different working practices. This was not completed without conflict which was mostly focused on Wapping.

There is some irony that the decline of the newspaper industry has coincided with the rise of land prices in the Isle of Dogs. This led to the decision to close the West Ferry Printing Works in 2011, move the works to Luton and redevelop the site.

The 15 acre site will provide over 700 new private and affordable homes which will be available to buy or rent. There are plans for open spaces, waterside walks, two new parks and a waterfront promenade.

Some concerns has been raised about the future of the Docklands Sailing and Watersports Centre which is near the site and will be impacted by the development.

The West Ferry Printing Works has always been quite mysterious, when it was open, you seldom saw anyone go in or come out. The dark mirrored glass made it difficult to see inside. It seemed just the place where a Bond villain would hang out and rather bizarrely the works were used as Elliot Carver’s printing works for his paper “Tomorrow” in the film Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), where James Bond fights with several henchmen.

The rise and fall of the West Ferry Printing Works is just the latest of a long line of businesses who have been located in the Isle of Dogs in the last 200 years that became internationally famous before they either closed or moved elsewhere.

Walking the Island Board Walk Trail (Part Three)

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The next part of our walk brings us to the middle of the Island and Millwall Docks, and the boards provide information into yet another interesting and historic part of the Docks system. The creation of the Millwall Docks in the 1860s was against the background of economic depression and when they opened in 1868, there was little indication that they would be a success. However by 1869 the warehouses were nearly full with a variety of goods.

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Unlike the West India Dock, goods were stored in transit sheds rather than warehouses and wholesale building around the dock never really took place. Millwall Docks became the main destination of grain and timber into the docks system and in the 1870s, innovative methods of handling grain were developed.

The dock company built granaries and extended its warehousing in the 1880s and Millwall Docks were considered as the centre of the European grain trade. By 1900 about a third of London’s grain imports and 10 per cent of its timber trade came through the Millwall Docks. From 1909 to 1980, the PLA administered the Millwall Docks with the East and West India Docks and The West India and Millwall Docks were connected by the formation of the Millwall Passage in 1926–8 .

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In the Second World War, Millwall Docks were damaged but not as badly as the West India Docks, however the entrance lock suffered a direct hit and never reopened. After the war, the PLA developed Millwall Docks especially in the 1950s and 60s with the creation of the Fred Olsen Terminal. Various huge single-storey sheds were erected with large doorways for fork-lift trucks and mobile cranes. This redevelopment led to the belief that the berths at the Millwall Docks were among the most efficient in the world, unfortunately this did not prevent their closure in 1980s.

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Nearly the entire dockside around Millwall Docks has been developed with a large number of apartments and development is still continuing with the Baltimore Tower complex.  Walking over the Glengall Bridge and down to the old dry graving dock is  slightly less developed and is quite picturesque with the houseboats and occasionally the yachts from the Docklands Sailing and Watersports Centre.

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Walking away from the dock we cross the East Ferry Road and move from an urban to a rural setting when we walk through the gates into Mudchute Park and Farm.

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The large open space where the Mudchute Park and Farm now stands was once grazing land. However during the building of the Millwall Docks in 1860s much of this land was used for storing the bricks that were used to build the dock walls and buildings. This changed in 1875 when The Dock company developed  an innovative system of dredging its docks designed by the company’s engineer, Frederic E. Duckham. This involved the pneumatic transmission of mud, out of the dock into a pipe which ran under East Ferry Road to be deposited on the grazing land creating a mudfield. Gradually the hardened mudfield became known as the Mudchute and was later used for allotments.

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After the war various schemes were put forward for the use of the land , however it was not until 1973 that the site was transferred to the GLC to be used for housing. However, there then began a campaign by local residents and supporters called the Association of Island Communities who wished the land to be used as public open space , the success of this campaign led to the creation of an urban farm in 1977.

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It was somewhat ironic that the mud from Millwall Dock which was considered a health hazard and made the land unsuitable for development turned out to be blessing in disguise as the concentration of mud was full of nutrients that provided good growing conditions for many plants and ideal for farm animals. Since its creation Mudchute Farm and Park has developed into one of the largest City Farm in Europe covering 32 acres and is maintained largely by local volunteers.

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The Boards are a great introduction to the Island and this project provides plenty of interest, the new audio tour has been devised to coincide with the launch of the walk and will be available to download as a podcast from the website: www.islandboardwalk.com/audio-trail It is derived from exclusive interviews with those who live and work on the island and provides real insights into the past, present and future of the Island.

‘Free’ Leaflet/Trail Maps which are available to download online and to collect from The Ship pub, The George pub, HubBub cafe bar and restaurant, Cubitt Town Library and the Great Eastern pub by the School Day’s board at start of the trail.

For downloads and more information visit:

www.islandboardwalk.com

A Guide to the London Marathon 2016 on the Isle of Dogs

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It is safe to say that although Canary Wharf is often in the news, the rest of the Isle of Dogs is seldom the focus of national and international interest. However this always changes on the day of the London Marathon when the normally quiet streets are filled by thousands of runners and thousands of spectators.

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The race tends to attract the world’s greatest men and women marathon runners and this year is no exception. 2015 champion Eliud Kipchoge takes on 2014 champion Wilson Kipsang when the two Kenyans head a strong field at the Virgin Money London Marathon on Sunday 24 April.

Kipchoge, Kipsang, Dennis Kimetto and Stanley Biwott head a strong Kenyan team in pursuit of Marathon glory and Rio 2016 Olympic places. The Kenyans will not have it all their own way with Ethiopia’s triple Olympic gold medallist, Kenenisa Bekele, and Eritrea’s hero from the Beijing World Championships, Ghirmay Ghebreslassie in the field.

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In the women’s elite race, Tigist Tufa will return to the scene of her greatest triumph when she lines up to defend her Virgin Money London Marathon title. Mary Keitany was denied a third London Marathon victory last year and the Kenyan looks set to be Tufa’s main rival again in 2016. Dibaba, Cherono and Florence Kiplagat will also be in a strong field.

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No fewer than 13 Britons are set to line up in the race with the hope of securing a place on Team GB’s For Rio. Londoner Scott Overall and Scot Callum Hawkins have already beaten the Olympic qualifying time and need to be in the first two Britons across the line to guarantee a ticket to South America.

Two unusual features of this year’s race is Tim Peake will be running the course in Space and a runner will cross the finish line in The Mall at the end of the Virgin Money London Marathon to become the millionth finisher in the history of the event.

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However, for many people the race is a personal challenge and an opportunity to raise considerable amounts for their particular charities. The large number of  fancy dress runners add to the carnival aspect of the race.

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Due to the fact that many people may be unfamiliar with the Isle of Dogs I thought I would do a mini guide to the Isle of Dogs.

The race enters the Island at Mile 15 when it comes onto Westferry Road , this is a long road down the side of the west side of the Island. Lots of shops and a few pubs here and most of the spectators will be locals.

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Just before Mile 16 you will pass the Docklands Sailing and Watersports Centre  which leads into the Millwall Docks and  is often filled with small yachts overlooked by the old cranes standing next to the dock.

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The sweep around the bottom of the Island takes you near Island Gardens which has wonderful views of Greenwich and the river. Here is also the entrance and exit of the Greenwich foot tunnel.

Going up the East Ferry Road to  mile 17 you will see the greenery of Millwall Park on the right and the Mudchute DLR on the left.

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Just past Mudchute you will see the entrance to Mudchute Farm and Park ,one of the  biggest inner city farms in Europe.

A little further on you have Asda on the right and Crossharbour DLR on the left, then the route takes you further up to Limeharbour adjacent to Millwall Dock  and then onto Marsh Wall.

A short run down along Marsh Wall to South Quay DLR, is followed by a run past the International Hotel to mile 18, there is a quick switchback into the Canary Wharf estate for Mile 19.

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Canary Wharf has become a popular watching base for many spectators due to its proximity to the transport system and the over 200 shop, bars  and restaurants.

The race then goes out to Poplar to begin the long stretch home.

Some of the benefits of watching the Marathon on the Isle of Dogs is that you can actually watch in comfort rather than being part of the massive crowds in Greenwich and Tower Bridge. You also have easy access to the transport system and access to many pubs, bars and restaurants.

To make sure you are in the right place at the right time here is rough time guide .

Start time

The wheelchair race starts at 08.55 am

The elite women’s field: 9.15am

Elite men and mass start: 10.00am

 

At Mile 15 (Westferry)

Wheelchair men 09:46  Wheelchair women 09:55

Elite women 10:35 Elite men 11:11

Mass begins   11:21

 

At Mile 17 (Mudchute )

Approximate times when pass Mudchute

Wheelchairs 9:53 (men), 10:03 (women);

Elite women from 10:45

Elite men from 11:21

The masses  from 12:26.

 

At Mile 19 (Canary Wharf)

Approximate times when pass Canary Wharf

Wheelchairs 10:03 (men), 10:11 (women);

Elite women from 10:56

Elite men from 11:30

The masses  from 12:46.

A Guide to the London Marathon 2015 on the Isle of Dogs

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London Marathon on Isle of Dogs Map

It is safe to say that although Canary Wharf is often in the news, the rest of the Isle of Dogs is seldom the focus of national and international interest. However this always changes on the day of the London Marathon when the normally quiet streets are filled by thousands of runners and thousands of spectators.

This year fields are considered the strongest to contest the race. In the women’s race, Edna Kiplagat ,a double world champion sprinted to victory on The Mall last year, beating Florence Kiplagat. The two Kiplagats will meet again in April when they face Mary Keitany, who won the London Marathon in 2011 and 2012.
British interest will be centred on world record holder and three-time London champion Paula Radcliffe who will use the race to say farewell to marathon running.

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Whilst in the Men’s race, former world-record holder Wilson Kipsang will defend his London Marathon title  against fellow Kenyan Dennis Kimetto, the man who made history last year when he broke Kipsang’s record to become the first man ever to run 26.2 miles in less than two hours three minutes in last year’s Berlin Marathon. Kipsang will be attempting London Marathon history by becoming only the fourth man in the event’s 35-year history to claim a hat-trick of London titles.
The Kenyan pair are just two of the great runners in a men’s elite field which include the legendary Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele, the triple Olympic track gold medallist, and multiple world-record breaker.

Due to the fact that many people may be unfamiliar with the Isle of Dogs I thought I would do a mini guide to the Isle of Dogs.

The race enters the Island at Mile 15 when it comes onto Westferry Road , this is a long road down the side of the west side of the Island. Lots of shops and a few pubs here and most of the spectators will be locals.

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Just before Mile 16 you will pass the Docklands Sailing and Watersports Centre  which leads into the Millwall Docks and  is often filled with small yachts overlooked by the old cranes standing next to the dock.

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The sweep around the bottom of the Island takes you near Island Gardens which has wonderful views of Greenwich and the river. Here is also the entrance and exit of the Greenwich foot tunnel.

Going up the East Ferry Road to  mile 17 you will see the greenery of Millwall Park on the right and the Mudchute DLR on the left.

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Just past Mudchute you will see the entrance to Mudchute Farm and Park ,one of the  biggest inner city farms in Europe.

A little further on you have Asda on the right and Crossharbour DLR on the left, then the route takes you further up to Limeharbour adjacent to Millwall Dock  and then onto Marsh Wall.

A short run down along Marsh Wall to South Quay DLR, is followed by a run past the International Hotel to mile 18, there is a quick switchback into the Canary Wharf estate for Mile 19.

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Canary Wharf has become a popular watching base for many spectators due to its proximity to the transport system and the over 200 shop, bars  and restaurants.

The race then goes out to Poplar to begin the long stretch home.

Some of the benefits of watching the Marathon on the Isle of Dogs is that you can actually watch in comfort rather than being part of the massive crowds in Greenwich and Tower Bridge. You also have easy access to the Transport system and access to many pubs and bars, restaurants.

To make sure you are in the right place at the right time here is rough time guide .

Start time

The wheelchair race starts at 09.00am

The elite women’s field: 9.20am

Elite men and mass start: 10.10am

At Mile 15 (Westferry)

Wheelchair men 09:51  Wheelchair women 10:00

Elite women 10:28 Elite men 10:40

Mass begins   11:21

At Mile 17 (Mudchute )

Approximate times when pass Mudchute

Wheelchairs 9:58 (men), 10:08 (women);

Elite women from 10:50

Elite men from 11:31

The masses  from 12:26.

 

The Houseboats of Millwall Dock

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In recent weeks, I have written about the various buildings around the Isle of Dogs, however they are not the only accommodation available on the Island. Lying in Millwall Dock is a number of large houseboats that offer a very different style of living. Most of the houseboats seem to be Dutch in origin and have been a familiar sight in the docks for a number of years.

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However even this style of living is not cheap with the boats often costing £200,000 or above.

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Most of the boats have not moved for years and attract their own particular wildlife, a pair of swans often nest and lay eggs amongst the boats.

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With  the houseboats and when the small yachts go on the water from the Docklands Sailing and Watersports Centre, Millwall Docks can be a lovely picturesque sight. However dotted around the docks are reminders of the days when it was a working dock.

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Millwall Dock 1934

The Millwall Dock was constructed by John Aird & Co. to a design by Sir John Fowler and opened in 1868.It originally contained around 36 acres of water and had a 200 acre  estate. The western end of the Outer Dock was originally connected to the Thames at Millwall by an 80 ft wide channel. However in the 1920s, the  Port of London Authority connected the northern end of the  Dock was connected to the West India Docks and closed the direct connection with the Thames. The dock was used mainly for timber and grain, one of the features of the dock was a massive McDougall’s flour mill which was demolished in the 1980s. It also had a dry graving dock to undertake repairs.

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Millwall dock 1934

The Millwall Dock of today may not have the big ships but it still maintains its own unique style and charm. Whilst it was once a place of frantic activity, it is now a place of peace and leisure and is very popular with office workers and Islanders who enjoy sitting around the dock  especially in warm weather.

Race Day – The London Marathon 2014 on the Isle of Dogs

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Well, all the preparations have been completed, the barriers have been erected and the day of the race arrives.

From early morning , various supporters begin to stake their claim to a section of the course and wait in anticipation.

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It is not often that the Isle of Dogs is the centre of a global event that is shown on television in more that 150 countries around the world.

Marcel Hug pipped GB’s David Weir to win in men’s wheelchair race.

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The Elite Women with including winner Edna Kiplagat, Florence Kiplagat second, Tirunesh Dibaba 3rd

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Richard Whitehead

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Elite Men with Wilson Kipsang who wins men’s London Marathon in new course record of 2:04.27.

Stanley Biwott, who finished second, while Tsegaye Kebede , last year’s winner, who comes out on top to cross the line third.

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Lots of support for Olympic Champion Mo Farah who finished eighth in his first Marathon

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Once the elite races are finished the streets are taken over by the vast amount of the runners who have their own challenges.

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A Guide to the London Marathon 2014 on the Isle of Dogs

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It is safe to say that although Canary Wharf is often in the news, the rest of the Isle of Dogs is seldom the focus of national and international interest. However this always changes on the day of the London Marathon when the normally quiet streets are filled by thousands of runners and thousands of spectators.

This year there is even greater interest with Britain’s Mo Farah making his marathon debut and one of the greatest runners of all time Haile Gebrselassie  acting as pacemaker.

Also running will be the world record holder Wilson Kipsang, the reigning London Marathon champion Tsegaye Kebede, the world and Olympic marathon champion Stephen Kiprotich,  Priscah Jeptoo, the reigning women’s champion is back  and  David Weir  Britain’s greatest ever wheelchair racers, is going for a record seventh win.

Due to the fact that many people may be unfamiliar with the Isle of Dogs I thought I would do a mini guide to the Isle of Dogs.

The race enters the Island at Mile 15 when it comes onto Westferry Road , this is a long road down the side of the west side of the Island. Lots of shops and a few pubs here and most of the spectators will be locals .

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Docklands Sailing and Watersports Centre

Just before Mile 16 you will pass the Docklands Sailing and Watersports Centre  which leads into the Millwall Docks and  is often filled with small yachts overlooked by the old cranes standing next to the dock.

island-gardens

Island Gardens

The sweep around the bottom of the Island takes you near Island Gardens which has wonderful views of Greenwich and the river. Here is also the entrance and exit of the Greenwich foot tunnel.

Going up the East Ferry Road to  mile 17 you will see the greenery of Millwall Park on the right and the Mudchute DLR on the left.

farm (1)

Mudchute Farm

Just past Mudchute you will see the entrance to Mudchute Farm and Park ,one of the  biggest inner city farms in Europe.

A little further on you have Asda on the right and Crossharbour DLR on the left, then the route takes you further up to Limeharbour adjacent to Millwall Dock  and then onto Marsh Wall .

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Kaskelot in South Dock

A short run down along Marsh Wall to South Quay DLR, (if you go into the South Dock you will find the tall ship Kaskelot) is followed by a run past the International Hotel to mile 18, there is a quick switchback into the Canary Wharf estate for Mile 19.

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Canary Wharf

Canary Wharf has become a popular watching base for many spectators due to its proximity to the transport system and the over 200 shop, bars  and restaurants.

The race then goes out to Poplar to begin the long stretch home.

Some of the benefits of watching the Marathon n the Isle of Dogs is that you can actually watch in comfort rather than being part of the massive crowds in Greenwich and Tower Bridge. You also have easy access to the Transport system and access to many pubs and bars, restaurants.

To make sure you are in the right place at the right time here is rough time guide .

Start time 

The wheelchair race starts at 8.55am

The elite women’s field: 9.15am

Elite men and mass start: 10am

At Mile 17 (Mudchute )

Approximate times when pass Mudchute

Wheelchairs 9:53 (men), 10:06 (women);

Elite women from 10:45

Elite men from 11:21

The masses  from 12:16.