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The Isle of Dogs Remembers

Photo – Eric Pemberton

Last week I wrote about the Remembrance trail in Canary Wharf, this week there are a number of Remembrance events on the Island.

There is a joint exhibition which is being run by Friends of Island History Trust and Christ Church, between 11am and 3pm on Thursday 8th November at Christ Church Manchester Road, London E14

Photo – Friends of Island History Trust

The exhibition remembers the many civilians as well as service men, women and animals who were affected by the war and guests and attendees are invited to bring along any photos, memorabilia or artifact relating to WWI and the volunteers on the day will invite visitors to sign a white triangle with a dedication or thought during the exhibition, which will then be joined together as bunting and displayed at the Church.

Christ Church, consecrated in 1857 was used as a place of shelter during the First World War and is one of the most recognisable landmarks on the Island.

Photo – Eric Pemberton

The annual Remembrance  event at Island Gardens organised by the Friends of Island Gardens will take place on the 9th November  with children from four local schools  joining members from the community from 10.30 to reflect all wars, and a bugler will play the last post and two minutes silence to be observed from 10.58 at the memorial plaque at the Eastern End of the Gardens.

St Luke’s Church in Alpha Grove will be holding an exhibition at the newly built church on Saturday 10th November, it will include actors, artifacts from war, Craft and Live music and afternoon tea between 2pm and 4.30pm and a special service, wreath laying and 2 minutes silence on the 11th starting at 10.55am and there will also be a Service of Remembrance at Christ Church and St Edmunds Church, West Ferry Road on Sunday.

Many Thanks to Debbie Levett, Secretary for Friends of Island History Trust for the information.

Autumn in Island Gardens

Whilst enjoying the autumn sunshine, I decided to put on my walking shoes and wander around the Island to Island Gardens. Arriving at Island Gardens it seemed that the Calder Wharf development had progressed but my main aim was to enjoy the gardens.

Anytime is a great place to visit the gardens but my favourite times are spring and autumn, autumn is especially enjoyable because although most of the flowers have died away, there is often an atmospheric mist on the water that shrouds the Old Naval College, Greenwich Park and the Cutty Sark.

Island Gardens is popular with locals and visitors, you often see a tour group wandering around or people sitting enjoying the views. The park is always interesting, you can see children running around the bandstand and people taking their dogs for a walk but you can always find a spot for a little peace and quiet.

One of the most unique features of the gardens is the view across to Greenwich, this famous view is still one of the great views of London and has remained largely unspoiled for centuries.

Island Gardens were formally opened by Will Crooks in 1895, Crooks a local MP considered that the park would be ‘little paradise’ for local people. It is still a ‘little paradise’ thanks to individuals and local groups such as Friends of Island Gardens who work hard to protect the park.

Remembrance Ceremony at Island Gardens – 10th November 2017

This weekend, there will be a large number of events related to Remembrance Day around the country and especially London where the Cenotaph will be focus of attention on Sunday.

In 2014,  a War Memorial Plaque was unveiled in Island  Gardens, to remembers all those from the Isle of Dogs who died in two World Wars, it was particularly poignant considering it was on the centenary of the start of the First World War.

This year, there will be a short Remembrance Ceremony at Island Gardens on Friday the  10th November, it will include contributions from the Friends of Island Gardens, Cubitt Town School and George Green School Choir.

10.55   Welcome from Friends of Island Gardens

10.58   Last Post – Bugler

11.00   Two Minutes Silence

11.02   Reveille – Bugler

Laying of Wreaths

Cubitt Town School – Poem

George Green School Choir will sing the first three verses of “Oh Valiant Hearts”

A hymn remembering the fallen of the First World War


Many thanks to Eric Pemberton for sending in the  information.



Summer Birthday Garden Party in Island Gardens – 5th August 2017

It is shaping up to being a summer of community events with a number of events planned for August.

One event not to miss is the Summer Birthday Garden Party in Island Gardens which celebrates the 122nd year of the park being opened and its continual attraction for Islanders and visitors.

The event will include a number of attractions including Face painting, a Magician, Balloon artist, the Pearlies, Police and Fire Brigade, Pimm’s and Prosecco Lounge, Food and Drink, Games and Live Music.

The free event is organised by the Friends of Island Gardens who work tirelessly to improve and maintain the famous gardens and play a major role in protecting the park from developments that would impinge on its special character.

In recent years, the development of Calders Wharf which is located next to the park has raised a number of concerns about the impact to the park. If you would to find out more, find a link to the FOIG’s petition here

The Garden Party takes place on the 5th August between 12 and 5 pm.


The Island Gardens Christmas Lights Switch On – 10th December 2015

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The wet and windy weather did not deter the crowds from attending the switching on of the lights in Island Gardens. Located at the bottom of the Isle of Dogs, Island Gardens is a small park famed for its wonderful views of Greenwich.

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The event was organised by the Friends of Island Gardens and featured a Craft Market for those still looking for Christmas gifts.


Local schools and other community groups provided the evening’s entertainment with carol singing and other festive songs.


The lights were switched on by Sir George Iacobescu, chairman and chief executive officer of  Canary Wharf plc who gave a short speech about the importance of Canary Wharf playing a role in the local community. Sir George and the Canary Wharf group have  taken a particular interest in the Friends of Island Gardens project and provided their support since its inception.

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The  Friends of Island Gardens was formed to protect the park from any future developments,  the group has been responsible for raising the profile of the park but also have helped to bring  a number of initiatives to make the park an even better place to visit. The lights at Christmas is just one event that they have initiated that hopefully will  become an annual event.


They may not have the scale of the lights in Canary Wharf or over the river in Greenwich, but these are very much part of the local community and this was indicated by the large number of local people who enjoyed the event.


If you would like more information or would like to join the Friends of Island Gardens , contact them on friendsofislandgardens@gmail.com.


Springtime at Island Gardens 2015


After a grey and cold start to the Easter break, we have enjoyed some much-needed sunshine  that has bought people out of doors.

It is always a pleasure to work around the Island which offers radically different views ranging from the City of London to the O2 in North Greenwich. However one of the favourite views is from Island Gardens over to Greenwich.


This view was judged to be the greatest view in Europe by Sir Christopher Wren in the 17th Century and became associated with the painting of Greenwich from this spot by Giovanni Antonio Caneletto in the 18th Century.


Whilst agreeing that it is a special view, it does sometimes  mean that people ignore the beauty of Island Gardens.  At this time of the year with the spring plants in flower and the trees in blossom, the park is one of the best places in London to sit and watch the world go by.


The parks history is fascinating because it is only here due to  a series of transactions in the 19th century.

With the development of the Isle of Dogs riverfront in the 1840s,  John Liddell, the medical inspector to Greenwich Hospital, put forward the idea of saving from industrial development the ground on the Isle of Dogs opposite the Hospital.  He suggested that any further development would have an adverse effect on the pensioners at Greenwich Hospital. His report went to the Admiralty who entered discussions to buy or lease the land from  Cubitt and Company who in turn leased the land from Lady Glengall. Eventually an agreement was made  that prevented the building of factories and warehouses but would allow the building of a few villas by Cubitt in a plantation area. In the end only  a couple of villas were built but the plantation was left neglected until the question of making the derelict plantation into a municipal park was raised with the Metropolitan Board of Works and Poplar District Board of Works by the Director of Greenwich Hospital in 1885.

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In 1889 the newly formed London County Councils began  negotiations for its purchase. The Admiralty and Cubitt and Company agreed to the sale and the purchase was eventually made in 1895 when  the freehold was acquired from Lady Margaret Charteris’s trustees for £2,200.

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The LCC parks department planting the north, west and east sides with trees and shrubs, as well as the formation of paths , a riverside walk, areas where children could play, and the erection of a  wooden bandstand.

Island Gardens were formally opened by Will Crooks on 3 August 1895, Crooks a local MP considered that the park would be ‘little paradise’ for local people.  It is still a ‘little paradise’ and individuals and local groups such as Friends of Island Gardens have worked hard to protect the park from future development.



Eric Pemberton’s Postcards – Cubitt Town and the Isle of Dogs

Multi-view of Cubitt Town 1912
Once again many thanks to Eric Pemberton for sending an intriguing collection of postcards and photographs.  The above postcard is interesting for the views shown, they mostly consist of Island Gardens, Greenwich and a couple of churches.
Primitive Methodist Church Cubitt Town

The chapel stood on the west side of Manchester Road, the first Primitive Methodist building here was begun by Thomas Ennor of Limehouse in 1862. There was a schoolroom below the chapel. The building was extended backwards in 1878 and again in 1891, increasing the accommodation to 450.

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St. Lukes Church was bombed out during 2nd World War, the last remaining part of the church was demolished last year.
 Mellish Street.
A very unusual view of Mellish Street from the early 20th century.
The Granary Millwall Docks
The Central Granary could cope with 550 tons of grain handled in an hour. The granary had a capacity of 20,000 tons and was considered a major advance in dealing with grain. The building itself was a shell of three million  bricks with 7½ acres of floor space. It was 259ft by 103ft and 95ft tall in eleven storeys, ten for storage in five firewalled divisions, with delivery on the ground floor. The basement and the attic were for conveyors. The Central Granary remained the principal granary in the Port and a vital part of London’s grain trade until 1969, it was demolished in 1970.
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A very rare Stereoscope of the Great Eastern launch
Eric Pemberton and his colleagues in the Friends of Island Gardens have helped to promote changes in Island Gardens to make the area more attractive. Island Gardens are visited by over one million people each year but do not have any public toilet facilities. Eric has began a petition to address this oversight to provide better facilities for the many visitors to Island Gardens.
If you would like to support and sign the petition, visit the Government site here. 

The unveiling of the War Memorial Plaque in Island Gardens


Thursday evening saw the  unveiling of the War Memorial Plaque in Island  Gardens, although it remembers all those from the Isle of Dogs who died in two World Wars, it has been unveiled as part of the large number of events to remember the centenary of the start of the First World War.

The event was well attended by a wide range of local people and representatives from the Police and Fire Brigade.


The Friends of Island Gardens group have worked with the local council to create a small area within the park which will be a place that people can pay their respects to the many who sacrificed their lives.


The plaque will act as a reminder that those sacrifices are still remembered even as time marches on.


Frank Thienel (Treasurer) did the introductions, Sir George Iacobescu, Chief Executive Canary Wharf plc gave a short speech and laid a wreath on behalf of Canary Wharf & the Friends of Island Gardens,  Rita Bensley (Islander) and Chair of the Association of Island Communities gave a speech and unveiled the plaque, the Friends of Island History also laid a wreath.


Photo’s by Eric Pemberton