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The Isle of Dogs is thrust into the national and international spotlight once a year with the arrival of the London Marathon. In the week before the race, new boardings appear on the roadside and metal barriers arrive to be placed along the route.
On the morning of the race, volunteers and charities take their spots along the route in eager anticipation of yet another carnival of running. People were enticed outside with the wonderful warm weather and began to take their positions along the route . The spectators on the west of the Island have the benefit of watching the runners going down Westferry Road and returning via Marsh Wall before the runners head into Canary Wharf.
The elite wheelchair races are the first to start and finish and they raced around the Island at great speed, in an exciting finish Britain’s David Weir won his eighth London Marathon in the men’s wheelchair race.
Australia’s Madison de Rozario won her first-ever London Marathon to take victory in the women’s wheelchair race.
Kenyan Vivian Cheruiyot won her first London Marathon with Kenya’s Brigid Kosgei second, Ethiopia’s Tadelech Bekele third and Great Britain’s Lily Partridge finished a creditable eighth place.
The men’s race was another win for Kenya with Eliud Kipchoge , Ethiopa’s Tola Shura Kitata was second and Britain’s Mo Farah finished third in a new British record.
After the elite races, the crowds on the Island get bigger with family and friends of the runners of the mass race taking their places along the route, other spectators come out in large numbers to offer support to the runners who face their own particular challenges, it is the mix of serious runners, celebrities, fancy dress runners and fun runners make the marathon the great success it is. Many of the runners run for their favourite charity and since 1981, competitors in the race have raised nearly 60 million pounds for various charities.
Eventually the large mass of runners dwindle down to smaller groups and spectators begin to drift away, the noise and excitement of the big day is replaced by quietness with the occasional lorry appearing on the course to take down various structures and the cleaning department picking up the tons of litter.
Congratulations to all those who took part and all the volunteers who make the London Marathon, the special event it is.
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.
The race tends to attract the world’s greatest men and women marathon runners and this year is no exception.
Daniel Wanjiru will defend his London Marathon title against three of the greatest distance runners ever. Ethiopian track legend Kenenisa Bekele and Olympic gold medallist Eliud Kipchoge will both be on the start line alongside Britain’s multiple world and Olympic track champion Mo Farah. Other runners include Stanley Biwott, Abel Kirui, Bedan Karoki , Ghirmay Ghebreslassie and Britons Tsegai Tewelde and Jonny Mellor.
The women’s elite race is just as competitive, Mary Keitany will attempt to smash Paula Radcliffe’s outright marathon world record, set 15 years ago but faces strong challenges from Tirunesh Dibaba, Gladys Cherono, Vivian Cheruiyot, Brigid Kosgei, Mare Dibaba and world champion, Rose Chelimo of Bahrain. Charlotte Purdue, Tracy Barlow and Lily Partridge will be the main British hopes.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Just past Mudchute DLR 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 and Novotel to mile 18, there is a quick switchback into the Canary Wharf estate for Mile 19.
Canary Wharf has become a popular watching base for many spectators due to its proximity to the transport system and over 200 shops, 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 do not miss any excitement, here is the time guide.
Good luck to everyone taking part in the race and everyone who contributes to one of London’s greatest sporting events.
At the start of each year, I try to keep readers up to date with some of the latest developments on the Island and Canary Wharf. Last year saw the completion of the new Novotel hotel, Baltimore Tower and the Dollar Bay development.
Whilst there are some major developments on the Island, most of the larger developments are around Millwall Dock, Marsh Wall and especially overlooking the South Dock around South Quay and the developments in Canary Wharf are taking place in the east and west fringes of the estate. Two major schemes are under development, New Phase (formerly known as Wood Wharf) and the Newfoundland development.
Both developments have made considerable progress with the buildings steadily moving upwards, the New Phase site in particular is taking shape with its residential tower clearly visible and other buildings in various states of development. When completed the New Phase site will have a mix of uses, including a residential area for over 3,200 new homes, nearly 2 million sq ft of commercial office space, and 335,000 sq ft of shops, restaurants and community uses.
At the other side of the Island, the 58-storey residential tower on the Newfoundland site is now well into construction with glass facades being added. If you think this will be tall, it will be dwarfed by the new development over the road from the Newfoundland site, it is based on the old City Arms site and is called the Landmark Pinnacle which will have 75 levels which the developers claim will be London’s largest residential tower.
This will eventually be part of the Landmark complex which is situated near the site.
Along Marsh Wall are the beginnings of the Wardian towers, there will be two blocks at South Quay Plaza, Galliard are building more towers which will be part of Millharbour Village and finally there is the beginnings of the Madison scheme.
It is remarkable that except for complaining about the various road and path closures and the disruption of lorries delivering materials, most people take very little notice of the various developments until they are completed.
It is worth noting that this is one of the biggest developments in the United Kingdom since Canary Wharf was built. Because most of the development has been concentrated at the top of the Island, there has not been widespread criticism, although many questions are being asked about coping with the increased population and the increase in workers coming into Canary Wharf to work. In the next few years, it is expected the population of the Isle of Dogs will be double that of 2011.
The history of the Isle of Dogs has been about change, however in the next decade; the whole skyline of the Isle of Dogs will change dramatically. It is part of the process that started with the building of Canary Wharf skyscrapers that seemed to change London’s attitude to tall buildings forever.
Sunday was a bright, sunny if a little chilly morning and it was time to turn my back on the road works and building sites on Marsh Wall and head for the wide open spaces of the countryside. Fortunately when you live on the Isle of Dogs, the countryside is not far away, in fact it is only a short walk down the Island to Mudchute Farm.
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.
The Park and Farm are a great example of community action, in the 1970s, the Island community fought against plans to build a high rise estate on the land. The success of the campaign against these plans led to the creation of the Mudchute Association which was formed to preserve and develop the area. Since then it has become a well-known London attraction loved by adults and children alike.
One of the ironies of the site is that the hills and mounds were formed in the 19th century by the waste matter dredged up by the construction of Millwall Dock. This foul-smelling mud put off any prospective developers of the land and it remained derelict for much of the 20th century. Another irony was that the mud was actually full of minerals and nutrients and provided ideal growing conditions for the many allotments that were built on the site.
Once inside the gates of the Park and Farm you are transported into another world of sheep grazing in the fields, donkeys, goats, llamas and pigs.
But that is not all, the Park and Farm is proud of its roots in East London and you can even enjoy some mussels and jellied eels.
A visit to the Park and Farm is a pleasant way to get away from stresses of Christmas shopping and crowded trains. You can wander around the fields and look at the beehives, visit the old Ack Ack gun which was stationed in the park in the Second World War, let the kids have a go on the merry go round and enjoy a warm drink at the wonderful café whilst watching the horses in the stables.
Not surprisingly, the Park and Farm is very popular with families but is free and open to everyone who enjoys some peace and quiet away from the urban jungle.
If you are looking for a Christmas treat, the Park and Farm is having a special Christmas Open day on the 9th December between 11am and 4 pm with a Santa’s Grotto, Kid’s craft workshops, Donkey rides, Fairground rides, Cream teas and plenty of food and drink options.
The Park and Farm are also selling Christmas Trees from 3ft to 10ft with proceeds going to the Mudchute charity.
If you have never been to Mudchute Park and Farm, it is well worth a visit at any time of the year and is one of the best and most enjoyable open spaces on the Island.
If you would like more information about Mudchute Park and Farm, visit their website here
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.
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.
Friday 24 November 5pm – 8pm
Saturday 25 November 11am – 6pm
Sunday 26 November 11am – 5pm
For more information, visit the Craft Central website here
Regular contributor, L Katiyo over the weekend enjoyed the many delights of the Blackheath firework display that can be often seen from the Island.
The Island does not have a major bonfire display and the Blackheath display is one of the largest in London attracting crowds of over 100,000 people.
Most of the firework displays in London are well organised and family friendly which can be enjoyed by everyone.
Blackheath has a long of celebrating Bonfire Night, a newspaper report from 1885 illustrates Lewisham, Blackheath and the surrounding area really enjoyed the parade of the ‘ Lewisham Bonfire Boys’.
On Wednesday, the Lewisham Bonfire Boys held their annual carnival in celebration of Guy Fawkes Day. At 6 o’clock a procession has formed outside the Lewisham-road station of the London, Chatham, and Dover Railway and with bands and banners flying, the bonfire boys started on their perambulation of the principal thoroughfares of Lewisham, Lee, Blackheath, Greenwich, and Catford. The cavalcade, which was about half-a-mile in length, included many vehicles illuminate with coloured fires and a large number of mounted men attired in fancy costumes. The characters were, of a most varied description. The houses and shops along the line of route were all brightly illuminated with coloured fires and Chinese lanterns. The streets were thronged with people, and the motley procession must have been witnessed by some 40,000 or 50,000 persons.