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The Rise of Wood Wharf in Canary Wharf

Over the last few years, we have kept a close eye on many of the developments taking place on the Island and Canary Wharf.  One of the largest developments has been Wood Wharf which is considered one of the most ambitious urban regeneration projects in London.

Unlike the main part of Canary Wharf, Wood Wharf is being developed into a 23 acre site with 5m sq. ft of mixed use space. Built on the former docks site, it is envisaged that Wood Wharf will have one of the largest clusters of tech and creative businesses in the UK. Canary Wharf Group are hoping that this Hi Tech hub will bring 20,000 jobs to the region, generate £2bn gross value from new jobs and £199m into the local small business economy.

Canary Wharf Group have produced some computer generated impressions of the finished site that offer a view of Canary Wharf which will probably the final stage of large development in the near future.

The site will have open spaces, waterside walkways, running trails and more retail areas and will be designed to high sustainability standards. The development will be targeting zero-carbon and zero-waste and is being built to have a positive social impact on the local area and communities. 25 per cent of the 3,600 residential homes will be affordable housing.

Although the new development does not directly impinge on the Isle of Dogs, indirectly it will have a knock on affect will more people living and working in the area. The top of the Island has seen unprecedented amounts of development in recent years and that development is slowly encroaching towards the bottom. It is likely that the development of Wood Wharf will accelerate that process even further.

The 1980s and 1990s saw the development of one of the largest business districts in Europe, that development was not necessarily welcomed by many Island residents. However in last 30 years, the Island has changed considerably and many will view the Wood Wharf development as more of an extension of the Canary Wharf footprint. Lots of Islanders use Canary Wharf for shopping, attending the various events and the transport system and of course, many residents work on the Canary Wharf estate.

In the 1800, the Isle of Dogs was largely inhabited before the coming of the Docks, after the rise and fall of the docks, we now have the rise of Canary Wharf. So the only real constant for the Island is change but there are few areas in London that have been the site of so many large global concerns in a relatively short time.

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New Addition to the Memorial Area in Island Gardens

Tucked away in a lovely quiet corner of Island Gardens is the Memorial Area, The Friends of Island Gardens group have worked with the local council to create this small area within the park which is a place that people can pay their respects to the many who have sacrificed their lives.

A plaque was unveiled within the Memorial area in 2014 to mark the centenary of the start of the war and to mark the centenary of the end of the war there is a new addition, a pair of First World Tommies in Silhouette. The soldiers have their rifles in reverse as a mark of respect and mourning.

Unlike many places, there are not a lot of monuments to those who died in the two world wars on the Isle of Dogs. The main reason is that the Island itself suffered from considerable damage from bombing in the Second World War and has had extensive redevelopment since the 1980s.

In recent years, various groups have placed plaques around the Island to remember various events in the past, if you walk around the Island they are usually placed near were the disaster or incident took place.

The Memorial area in Island Gardens has become a community place of remembrance at certain times of the year but especially on a date near Remembrance Sunday. This years event will be held on Friday 9th November from 10.30 am and will have four schools sending children and there will be a bugler in attendance.

Many thanks to Eric Pemberton and Friends of Island Gardens for the photographs and information.

Watching the Historic RAF 100 Flypast from the Isle of Dogs

It seems ironic that after weeks of clear blue skies, it was grey skies and low clouds on the day of the flypast of aircraft to mark the centenary of the Royal Air Force.

Rather than battle the hundreds of thousands packing the Mall and Central London, I decided to join the large number of office workers who streamed out of work and made their way to Westferry Circus to get the best view of the flypast over the City of London.

The flypast began to form over Suffolk at around 12.45pm before heading towards London. It was just before one o’clock when the first aircraft appeared. The flypast consisted of 100 different aircraft of 23 different types, with 200 aircrew from 25 different RAF squadrons.

The list of aircraft included: Puma HC2, Chinook HC4, Juno H135, Jupiter H145, Dakota, Lancaster, Spitfire, Hurricane, Prefect T1, Tucano T1, Shadow R1, Hercules C-130J, A400M Atlas, C-17 Globemaster, BAE146, Sentinel, Voyager, Rivet Joint RC-135W, E-3D Sentry, Hawk T1, Hawk T2, Tornado GR4, Lightning, Typhoon FGR4 and Red Arrows.

It was the nine helicopters led the armada before the distinctive Dakota, Lancaster, Spitfire and Lancaster.

The heavyweights followed with the Hercules and Globemaster before the Hawks, Tornado, Typhoon, Lighting and finally the Red Arrows streamed red, white and blue smoke to finish the show.

It seems remarkable that one hundred years as passed since the The Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service merged to create the RAF on 1 April 1918 to become the world’s first independent air force. Since that date, the RAF have played a major role in the nation’s defence at home and abroad.

Race Day : The London Marathon 2018 on the Isle of Dogs – 22nd April 2018

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.

A Guide to the London Marathon 2018 on the Isle of Dogs

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. 

 

The Changing Face of Canary Wharf and the Isle of Dogs – March 2018

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. 

Christmas at Mudchute Park and Farm

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