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Start of a new year and superyachts are still arriving at West India Dock, the latest arrival is Phoenix which has a length of 41.14m (134’12”).
The yacht’s builder is Benetti from Viareggio in Italy who delivered superyacht Phoenix in 2021.
The Phoenix features exterior design by RWD and interior by Bonetti / Kozerski architecture DPC, with naval architecture by Benetti SpA.
Up to 10 guests can be accommodated on board the Phoenix, and she also has accommodation for 9 crew members including the captain.
The Phoenix has been in St Katherines Dock for a while and people have speculated that the yacht belongs to the new owners of St Katherines Dock but nothing official is known.
I do not know if superyacht owners are having a convention, but another superyacht has appeared in West India Dock. After a very quiet year for visitors to the dock, we are finishing the year with a bit of excitement.
The recent arrival is the 58.5m / 192ft superyacht PHI which was built at Royal Huisman’s newbuild facility in Vollenhove, The Netherlands. The brand new yacht can accommodate up to 12 guests in 6 staterooms, with 11 crew members.
PHI was designed by Cor D. Rover, with naval architecture Van Oossanen Naval Architects, and the interior of the yacht was designed by Lawson Robb.
The attractive yacht has a aluminium hull and aluminium superstructure with a top speed of 22.0 kn.
As usual in the secretive world of superyachts, it is not known how long the yacht will be in the dock or who the owner is.
Yesterday, I took the short walk to The Museum of London Docklands to have a look at their major exhibition entitled London: Port City which explores how the Port of London has changed and shaped the city, its people, places and language. The exhibition covers more than 200 years of experiences and activity on a river.
It is appropriate that exhibition about the Port of London is located in an old warehouse complex which was part of West India Docks, London’s first enclosed dock system and packed with valuable cargoes from around the world from 1802 until its closure in 1980.
The exhibition is based upon the extensive archives of the Port of London Authority (PLA), over the years I have used plenty of information from the PLA to tell some of the remarkable stories of the Port and the Docks. Therefore it was quite exciting to see some of the 222 objects in the exhibition which cover a timeline of over 200 years.
The exhibition illustrates the work of the PLA and an impressive audio visual display allows visitors to watch life into the PLA control room, using large-scale projections to create a day in the life of the Port of London. The PLA was responsible for making sure the docks were fully functional and the exhibition features a 1950s diver’s helmet and air pump used by someone clearing riverbeds.
The exhibition includes a fascinating range of maps, plans and documents like the one commemorating the original unveiling of the statue of merchant and slave owner Robert Milligan, which was removed from outside the museum in 2020.
One of the really interesting aspect of the exhibition is the old films that show the port and docks in their glory days, it is watching these films that you began to understand the scale of the operation. Hundreds of ships and thousands of workers created a bustling and often dangerous environment with cargo from all around the world making its way through the port.
The exhibition tries to give some idea this activity, with exhibits about the various smells and aroma, visitors to the exhibition can experience distinct scents, carefully blended to capture the original pungency of the port.
The exhibition also reveals the stories behind 80 words and expressions associated with the docks that have entered the English language including ‘crack on’, ‘aloof’ and ‘Mudchute’.
Over the 200 years, many different types of cargo entered the port and the exhibition includes examples like a pot of dehydrated meat from the 1940s and a pot of ambergris or whale poop as it is labelled.
The PLA has collected a wide range of art connected with the port and a selection is shown together with films showing how the port has been used in films, tv programmes and video games.
It is not often that the museum itself is an intrinsic part of the exhibition, but this small free exhibition provides an opportunity to enjoy the exhibits and the surroundings. Despite the limited use of space, the exhibition covers a wide range of subjects to tell the remarkable story of the Port of London. The Isle of Dogs is an important aspect of this story and anyone interested in the local history of the area will find the exhibition fascinating.
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.
Well that’s what normally happens, but we do not live in normal times. Although the 2019 Marathon was its usual race, the 2020 Marathon was confined to elite runners and was run in St James Park with no spectators.
This year’s marathon unusually run in October rather than April will feature large numbers of runners but crowds are not encouraged and will be restricted in some areas.
The race tends to attract the world’s greatest men and women marathon runners and this year is no exception.
Shura Kitata (ETH) caused one of the biggest upsets in London Marathon history last year when he beat the great Eliud Kipchoge (KEN) he returns this year looking to get his first win on the traditional course from Greenwich to Westminster after a second place (2018) and a fourth place (2019) on his previous two races on the famous route.
But the Ethiopian will face stiff competition with Birhanu Legese (ETH),Mosinet Geremew (ETH), Titus Ekiru (KEN), Evans Chebet, Sisay Lemma (ETH,), Kinde Atanaw (ETH), and Vincent Kipchumba (KEN) in the field.
The British field will be led by Jonny Mellor, Mohamud Aadan, Joshua Griffiths and Charlie Hulson.
World record holder Brigid Kosgei (KEN) is aiming to be the first woman since Katrin Dorre in the early 1990s to win three back-to-back London Marathons.
but there is a large field of talent lining up alongside Kosgei on the Start Line, including Lonah Salpeter (ISR) Joyciline Jepkosgei (KEN), Birhane Dibaba (ETH), Roza Dereje (ETH), Valary Jemeli (KEN), Degitu Azimeraw (ETH), Zeineba Yimer (ETH) and Tigist Girma (ETH).
Charlotte Purdue, who is the fastest Brit in the field and will be hoping to qualify for a spot on the British team for the World Athletics Championships in Oregon in 2022. Other Brits running include Natasha Cockram, and Sam Harrison.
The newly crowned Paralympic marathon champion Marcel Hug (SUI) will be the man to beat as he comes off a dominant Games in Tokyo.
Hug won an incredible four gold medals at the Paralympics in the 800m, 1,500m, ,5000m and defending the marathon title he won in Rio five years earlier. Britain’s David Weir, is racing in his 22nd consecutive London Marathon.
The defending women’s wheelchair champion Nikita den Boer (NED) will resume her battle with last year’s runner-up Manuela Schär (SUI) on the streets of London. Other women in the field include Tatyana McFadden (USA) and Shelly Woods (GBR).
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 in normal times due to its proximity to the transport system and over 200 shops, bars and restaurants.
The race then goes out to Poplar and Limehouse to begin the long stretch home.
The event will be televised live on BBC TV and broadcast around the globe.
00:00: Virtual Virgin Money London Marathon (participants must complete the 26.2 miles by 23:59:59)
08:30: Virgin Money Giving Mini London Marathon
08:50: Elite wheelchairs
09:00: Elite women
09:30: Elite men and mass start
TV coverage (subject to change)
BBC2 08:00-10:00: Live coverage
BBC1 10:00-14:30: Live coverage
BBC Red Button/iPlayer 14:30-16:00: Live coverage
BBC2 18:00-19:00: Highlights
Good luck to everyone taking part in the race and everyone who contributes to one of London’s greatest sporting events.
After a very quiet period, we welcome an old favourite back to West India Dock with the arrival of the STS Tenacious tall ship
The Tenacious is a wooden sail training ship which was specially designed to be able to accommodate disabled sailors. Launched in Southampton in the year 2000, it is one of the largest wooden tall ships in the world. It is 65 metres long with a beam of 10.6 metres at its widest point.
The Tenacious and the Lord Nelson are owned by the UK-based charity the Jubilee Sailing Trust who have for many years have pioneered sailing for the disabled.
The Jubilee Sailing Trust became a registered charity in 1978 and was the brainchild of Christopher Rudd, a school teacher and sailor who wanted to give the disabled children he taught the same experiences his able-bodied students had.
Since its launch Tenacious has taken nearly 12,000 people sailing of these 3,000 were physically disabled and 1,000 were wheelchair users.
Like many people during lockdown, I kept very much to my local area and did not do my usual wanderings around the Island. However with Canary Wharf in easy walking distance, I decided to have a wander around the large estate.
On the surface, little seems to have changed with gardeners tending the green areas and contractors working on the many building projects but what you begin to realise is that there are very few office workers and most of the people wandering about are wearing masks. The once bustling financial district which used to welcome over 120,000 workers each day is much emptier with estimates of less than 10,000 workers returning to their offices.
One noticeable change has been the often packed tube station is much quieter with the crowds now slowed to a trickle.
Many of the large banks and businesses seem in no hurry to get the thousands of workers back into Canary Wharf to their offices. To encourage workers to return, The Canary Wharf group has installed signs and created a one-way system for pedestrians, it is also regularly cleaning public areas and will manage the towers’ lifts to ensure social distancing. However, despite these measures, employers and employees show little urgency to return to their offices after several months of working from home.
One of the major problems is that the vast majority of people commute to the area using public transport, and many workers remain uneasy about being stuck in a crowded tube.
Walking around Canary Wharf, another realisation is that the many small businesses which rely on office workers are struggling with few or no customers. In pre-pandemic times there would be hundreds of people per day queuing for coffee or fast food, now it is just one or two.
Is this the end of Canary Wharf as we used to know it ?
One worry for the small businesses is that the thousands of office workers will never return in large numbers because of changing working patterns. Just a few months ago, Canary Wharf was looking forward to extending the estate with many new buildings and Crossrail poised to deal with the proposed increase in workers. Those plans now seem more than optimistic and the next few months will show if there is a market for office space or not.
The initial signs are not good, Morgan Stanley is said to be reviewing their London requirements, Credit Suisse is giving up some office space and Barclays is considering its headquarters altogether.
However, there is some people that suggest that even if the huge landmark office buildings are slowly being emptied, Canary Wharf could become the world’s biggest technology hub.
Over the years writing for Isle of Dogs Life, it has always surprised me how often history repeats itself. The docks were seen as an integral part of London but their time came and went. No area is safe from world events and Canary Wharf is probably facing its biggest challenge since it was raised from the ashes of the West India Docks.
A couple of weeks ago, I published a book review of “Smith of Lambeth” by David Jones, the book was about David’s early life and his family who were from the Isle of Dogs. David has very kindly sent more information that tells us more about the Joneses life on the Island.
David’s paternal grandfather, Richard Jones, and his parents, brothers and sisters, left their home in Wales in the 1880s and settled on the Island. His grandfather Richard Jones, and two of his brothers, William and Edward soon showed their sporting prowess playing for Millwall Football Club who were then based on the Island. Richard would later play for Manchester City before gaining international honors for Wales.
One of stories in the book is about William Jones who after playing for Millwall and Sheppey United, signed for Ryde on the Isle of Wight. In 1899, 25 year old William was playing for Ryde in the Isle of Wight Senior Cup final when in scoring the winning goal, he collided with the goalkeeper and died from the injuries sustained.
A newspaper report from the time gives us more information of the tragic event.
At an inquest held at Ryde, Isle of Wight, on ‘William Jones; the professional football player, who died from injuries received at a match, William Jennings, of Southampton,, the referee, said that Jones was dashing with the ball in front of him for goal wherein Reed, the goalkeeper, ran out to meet the ball. The men collided and fell, Reed’s knee striking Jones, who was picked up in great agony. Reed did not break the rules, and had there been no accident he would not have cautioned him. Other witnesses said they considered the affair quite accidental, It was stated that the post-mortem examination revealed ruptured intestines. The jury returned a verdict of accidental death, and found that no blame attached to any one; They asked the coroner, however, to communicate with the English Football Association, advising .that more stringent be adopted to prevent rough play.
David’s father’s family kept a green grocery shop on Glengall Road in which his paternal grandmother, née Skeels, worked. David’s parents, aunts and uncles, on both sides of my family, were born on the Island as was David in 1934.
David provides more information about his family :
David’s great grandparents, William & Betsy Skeels.
My great grandparents, William & Betsy Skeels. They had 10 children. They lived at 495 Glengall Road, Cubitt Town. They had a greengrocers shop on Glengall Road where my Grandmother, Ada Skeels, and my Dad, Richard William Jones, worked from time to time. They also operated a Fruit & Veg Barrow. William is also reported to have been a fishmonger. One of their sons, Reuben, was killed in World War 1, in 1917.
Ada Skeels is mentioned in an Old Bailey court case from 1900.
19th November 1900
LORENZO MORFINI (33) and GIOVANNI BALDASARI (30) , Unlawfully having counterfeit coin in their possession, with intent to utter it. Other Counts, for attempting to utter, and uttering.
MR. PARTRIDGE Prosecuted, and MESSRS. GEOGHEGAN and SANDS Defended
Baldasari; and the evidence was interpreted.
LUIGI FERANI . I live at 30, Manchester Road, East—I understand English a little—in March I let a second floor back room to the prisoner Baldasari—on September 27th the prisoner Morfini arrived with two portmanteaux, and the two prisoners occupied one room, in which the portmanteaux were till October 14th—on October 15th the police came, and I pointed out to them the room and the portmanteaux.
Cross-examined by MR. SANDS. I keep a boarding-house for Italians, and 10 or 12 live there—Baldasari was one—he went out with an ice-cream barrow—Morfini came as a stranger, but three years ago he had stayed there—Morfini had a friend named Joseppe to see him—he had a fair moustache—I only saw him go out twice—Baldasari came home about 9 p.m.—he went out as usual the morning the police came—I first knew that Morfini was in prison when the police arrested Baldasari.
Cross-examined. There were two single beds in the room—no one but the prisoners used the room—Morfini did a little shoemakers’ work in the house.
ADA SKEELS . I assist my parents in a shop at 85, Glengall Road, Millwall—we keep open all day on Sundays—on Sunday, October 14th, about 8.20 a.m., Baldasari came in for a pennyworth of walnuts—he gave me a penny—he walked away a little distance, and came back and bought another pennyworth of walnuts—he gave me a florin—I gave him 1s. 11d. change—I put the florin in my pocket with two others—I afterwards found one of them was bad—there was another man with him; a shorter man—on October 23rd I picked Baldasari out from 15 or 16 people in the prison yard at Thames Police-court at once.
My parents, Richard William and Ethel Caroline Jones, were married on Christmas Day, 1928, at Christ Church on Manchester Road. A few years back, I visited the church and spoke to Father Tom Pyke. He told me that it was quite common, in those days, for working class people to marry on Christmas Day.
My mother’s family name was Draper. She was one of 11 children, 7 of whom survived to maturity. Her father was an itinerant dock worker, a concertina player, and a heavy drinker. At sometime, he was a soldier, I have a picture of him in uniform, but I don’t know his years of service. He had a violent temper and his children feared him. My Aunt Lily, on the death of her parents, took on the duties of raising the three youngest children. She had to prevent social workers from taking them and putting them in foster homes. She always praised good neighbors for helping her. My mother, and her brothers and sisters, had only warm words for their mother. Both parents died in their 40s.
My fathers family is covered in my book. Apart from the 3 brothers all playing for Millwall, my Uncle Bill played for the reserve team around 1930. He never made the first team.
Among the names often mentioned by parents, uncles and aunts, when talking about their lives on the Island were several Millwall football players. “Tiny Joyce” the Millwall goalkeeper During my Grandfathers playing days. Two 1920s players, Jack Fort and Jack Cock, both capped for England. and Elijah Moore, Millwall’s groundskeeper. They were all family friends. Two boxers were often mentioned, Ernie Jarvis, a flyweight contender, later News of the World boxing reporter, and Teddy Baldock, a claimant to the world bantamweight title. My Aunt Edie remembered him training in the streets and “sparring” with the lamp posts. Teddy was known as the “Pride of Poplar.“
My fathers younger sister, Ada, married Robert Kay, an independent lorry driver. He came from a Catholic family. The nearest catholic school was in Greenwich, so he had to walk through the foot tunnel under the Thames, every morning.
With such a large family, I am sure there are people living on the Island and beyond that have some connection to David’s family.
Many thanks to David for the information.
The recent post by George Donovan mentioned for a while he lived in a Prefab, I was made aware that not everyone knows about Prefabs, so I thought I would provide a short guide.
Prefabs (prefabricated houses) were a major part of a plan to address the United Kingdom’s post–Second World War housing shortage. The idea was to build 500,000 prefabricated houses, with a planned life of up to 10 years, within five years of the end of the Second World War. The plans changed because around one million new houses were built between 1945 and 1951 but only about 150,000 were prefab houses.
Stewart Street prefabs Stewart Street, Photo George Warren (Prefab Museum)
On the Isle of Dogs, a number of Prefabs were built to deal with the desperate shortage of housing on the Island. The main areas of prefabs on the Island were in North Millwall, around Stebondale St, and the Glengall and Samuda area.
George gives some insights into the joys and drawbacks of living in a Prefab.
Living in the pre-fab was quiet nice really, they were well designed and very functional. The kitchen’s had fitted units with a gas powered refrigerator made by The Press Steel Company of Oxford. They did have a couple of problems though that came to light on residence. One was that they housed rodents [Mice]. You could hear them scampering in between the walls. They may even have been there from the day of installation having nested whilst in storage. The remedy was two cats.
The other problem was flies. Now that was due mainly because of the derelict surroundings that were prevailing at the time. I found the solution to that too. Next door to the Police station on East India Dock Road at the top end of Chrisp Street-was this sort of ‘junk’ shop run by a man and his son named Wells. They got into selling ex WD army surplus stuff. I still have a Trenching Tool that I bought from them. You just walked into the shop and browsed around and I discovered these small canisters. They were shaped like a present day oxygen bottle about two and a half inches long. At its end there was this spur like nipple. I got to learn that they were issued to the army for use as personal hygiene. The contents were under pressure and you snapped the nipple off and sprayed [I suppose the contents were some form of DDT] under your arm pits etc:
So in the prefab, I would be the last to go to bed and I would use one of these in the kitchen to kill the flies. First one up in the morning would do the sweeping up.
I read some time back that there was a community living in South London still living in Prefabs and are fighting the council who want to demolish them. There is one as a museum piece at the BWM at Duxford, the same type that we lived in.
Debbie Levett, the Secretary for Friends of Island History Trust let me know recently that a number of members of the Trust have assisted Jane Hearn to record some of the history of the Islands prefabs. Jane is collating the history of the countries prefabs for the prefab museum website which is a fascinating look back to this post war phenomenon.
An Electric Launch
Professor Sylvanus P. Thompson writes to The Times :-” Having been one of a privileged party of four, the first over propelled upon the waters of the River Thames by the motive power of electricity, I think some details of this latest departure in the applications of electric science may be of interest.
At half-past 3 this afternoon I found myself on board the little vessel Electricity, lying at her mooring off the wharf of the works of the Electrical Power Storage Co. at Millwall. Save for the absence of steam and steam machinery the little craft would have been appropriately called a steam launch. She is 26ft. in length, and about 5ft, in the beam, drawing about 2ft. of water, and fitted with a 22inch propeller screw. On board were stowed away, under the flooring and seats,fore-and-aft, 45 mysterious boxes, each about of about 10in. in dimensions. These boxes were nothing else than electric accumulators of the latest type, as devised by Messrs. Sellon and Volokmar, being a modification of the well-known Plante accumulator. Fully charged with electricity by wires leading from the dynamos or generators in the wonks, they were calculated to supply power for six hours at the rate of 4h.p. These storage cells were placed in electrical connection with two Siemens’ dynamos of the size known as D 3,furnished with proper reversing gear and regulators,to serve as engines to drive the screw propeller.
Either or both of these motors could be ‘switched ‘ into circuit at will. In charge of the electric engines was Mr. Gustave Phillipart, jun., who has been associated with Mr. Volokmar io the fitting up of the electric launch. Mr, Volokmar himself and an engineer completed, with the writer, the quartet who made the trial trip. After a few minutes’ rundown the river, and a trial of the powers of the boat to go forward, slacken, or go astern at will, her head was turned Citywards, and we sped- I cannot say steamed-silently along the southern shore, running about eight knots an hour against the tide. At 37 minutes past 4 London Bridge was reached, where the head of the launch was put about, while a long line of onlookers from the parapets surveyed the strange craft that without steam or visible power-without even a visible steersman-made its way against wind and tide.
Slipping down the ebb, the wharf at Millwall was gained at one minute past 5, thus is 24 minutes terminating the trial trip of the Electricity, For the benefit of electricians I may add that the total electromotive force of the accumulators was 96 volts, and that during the whole of the long run the current through each machine was steadily maintained at 24 amperes. Calculations show that this corresponds to an expenditure of electric energy of 31.11 horse power.
It is now 43years since the Russian Jacobi first propelled a boat upon the waters of the Neva by aid of a large but primitive electro-magnetic engine, worked by galvanic batteries of the old type, wherein zinc plates were dissolved in acid. Two years ago a little model boat was shown in Paris by M. Trouvé, actuated by accumulators of the Fauro-Plaute type. The present is, however, not only the first electric boat that has been constructed in this country, but the very first in which the electric propulsion of a boat has been undertaken on a commercial scale. Looking at this first practical success, who shall say to what proportions this latest application may not attain in the next decade?”
Two years later a race took place between Electricity and the electric launch Australia from Millwall to Charing Cross Bridge and back to Greenwich.
The author of the news report was Silvanus Phillips Thompson was a professor of physics at the City and Guilds Technical College in Finsbury, and was elected to the Royal Society in 1891.
However since the 1970s, electric energy in cars and boats has become more popular to help create a more environmentally friendly world.
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, the roads are repaired, new hoardings 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. From around 9am, people begin to take their positions along the route, the grey skies and cold wind ensured that many of the spectators were well wrapped up . 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, American Daniel Romanchuk won the men’s wheelchair race with Switzerland’s Marcel Hug second and Japan’s Tomoki Suzuki third.
Switzerland’s Manuela Schar easily won the women’s wheelchair race ahead of four-time winner Tatyana McFadden and last year’s champion Madison de Rozario.
Kenyan Brigid Kosgei, 25, became the youngest female London winner with last years winner Kenya’s Vivian Cheruiyot second, Ethiopia’s Roza Dereje of Ethiopia third and Great Britain’s Charlotte Purdue finished a creditable tenth place.
The men’s race was another win for Kenya with Eliud Kipchoge, Ethiopia’s Mosinet Geremew and Mule Wasihun finished second and third. Britain’s Mo Farah finished fifth and Callum Hawkins tenth.
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, the amount raised by the London Marathon has now passed £1bn.
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.