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The Royal Drawing School Foundation Year 2018/19 End of Year Exhibition at Trinity Buoy Wharf from 14 June to 20 June 2019

Trinity Buoy Wharf is home to a number of creative organisations, one of these organisations is The Royal Drawing School which is holding its Foundation Year End of Year Exhibition 2018-19 between Friday 14 June – Thursday 20 June 2019.

The Royal Drawing School was founded in 2000 by HRH The Prince of Wales and artist Catherine Goodman as The Prince’s Drawing School but became the Royal Drawing School in 2014. The school was created to address the need for high-quality drawing teaching in the UK, they offering tuition and resources to art students, artists, children and the public.

The Royal Drawing School runs over 250 different full and part-time drawing courses each year for adults and children of all ages and abilities from three London campuses in Shoreditch, Chelsea and Trinity Buoy Wharf. The school also collaborates with a number of institutions including The National Gallery, The British Museum and the Royal Academy.

Photo copyright – The Royal Drawing School

The Foundation Year is often tailored to individuals planning to go on to study an arts subject at university. The course helps students to develop the making and thinking skills needed for the next level of study and provides a route to a number of creative disciplines.

So if you would like to take a trip to the wonderful world of Trinity Buoy Wharf and look at the work of talented artists, why not make a visit between the 14th June and 20th June. The exhibition is open from 11am – 6pm and admission to the exhibition is free.

Painting by Rollain Muanda

Artists involved are Rebecca Ashford, Joseph Barton, Rowan Bazley, Jessica Berry, Josephine Binney, Bella Blazwick-Noble, Lois Burton, Jojo Cole, Ashleigh Darling, Ella de Peretti, Bruno Diaz, Lily Elgood, Minnie Fawcett-Tang, Kezzie Florin-Sefton, Octavia Greig, Isgard Hague, Nancy Harper, Ruby Head, Jasmine Hewitt, Aisling Kamara, Sophie Langton, Elle Lycett, Fred MacKenzie-Williams, Niam Madlani, Rachel Marston, Ciara Mckenna, Rollain Muanda, Lily Orset, Nancy Pilkington, Virginia Serafini, Emilia Shafiee, Lily Smith, Sophia Sofianou, Lance Soleta, Finn Stevenhagen, Isis Taylor-Hudson, Natasha Thomas, Mollie Thompson, Jessie Urbach, Serena Walker, Scarlett Ward, Purdey Williams, Zhilin Xu (Grace), Onosiokhue Yakubu.

The Royal Drawing School also runs a Foundation Masterclass which is an intensive summer course for young artists aged 16-19, who are thinking about heading to art school. This offers unique opportunity to hone skills, build a portfolio, and experience an art school environment.

For more information about the exhibition and the Foundation course, visit The Royal Drawing website here

Travelling instructions to Trinity Buoy Wharf

Canning Town (Jubilee Line/DLR) is the nearest station, a 10 minute walk from Trinity Buoy Wharf. Take the ‘London City Island’ exit and cross the red bridge, follow the path through London City Island, and continue straight along the road, past the roundabout into Trinity Buoy Wharf.


The Changing Face of Trinity Buoy Wharf

Nobody can fail to be aware of the major developments in Canary Wharf and the Isle of Dogs but a recent visit to Trinity Buoy Wharf suggests that change is even coming to one of the more isolated parts of the area.

Orchard Place has been transformed by the City Island development and gradually the building works are moving near to Trinity Buoy Wharf with the Goodluck Hope development which will provide 804 new homes, commercial units, an education space, and a restored Grade II-listed Orchard Dry Dock.

The impression of isolation that has been a major characteristic of Trinity Buoy Wharf for centuries is gradually disappearing as lorries trundle up Orchard Place.

Keen to pay homage to its history, the name of some of the old firms are now displayed in the buildings and information boards give an interesting history lesson.

The area has a fascinating history, For nearly two centuries the Corporation of Trinity House occupied this site from 1803 to 1988, but even before then in 1760s Trinity House were storing buoys in nearby Blackwall. The site was mainly used for storing buoys and other marine equipment but gradually workshops were added for testing, repairing and making equipment.

The Lighthouse was not built to aid the Thames river traffic but was an Experimental Lighthouse which was designed by James Douglass, the one still standing was not the first one however there was another experimental lantern nearby built in the 1850s in which the famous scientist Michael Faraday carried out tests in electric lighting for lighthouses.

The present lighthouse was constructed in 1864 and was used to experiment with electric light and different coloured lights the results being checked at Charlton across the river. After the second world war the lighthouse was used for the training of Lighthouse keepers.

Outside the warehouse in memory of the work of Michael Faraday is a small shed called the Faraday Effect.

Lined up against the jetty is an old Trinity lighthouse ship which has been turned into a Music Recording Studio.

Old shipping containers have been painted and made into office blocks called Container City .

Fatboy’s Diner, a genuine 1940s American Diner from New Jersey has now been moved in front of the lighthouse.

For the last twenty years, Trinity Buoy Wharf has been developed into an Arts Quarter and a film by Rupert Murray here tells the story of how the location is now a workplace to over 500 people who often work in the creative industries. There are new proposals that includes the development of new buildings to provide additional floorspace, a new riverside walkway and public square.

As usual, I will try to keep up with new developments and chart some of the changes that will transform Trinity Buoy Wharf in the next few years.

Trinity Buoy Wharf 20th Anniversary – 26th September 2018


Regular readers will know that I am fascinated by the Trinity Buoy Wharf area which is one of the most unusual places in London. The area has a fascinating history,  The Corporation of Trinity House were a company responsible for buoys, lighthouses and lightships and in the early 19th century established Trinity Buoy Wharf as its Thames-side workshop where wooden buoys and sea marks were made and stored. Eventually new buildings were constructed during the Victorian period including the Electrician’s Building and an Experimental Lighthouse whose roof space housed a workshop for the famous scientist Michael Faraday.

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By 1910 Trinity Buoy Wharf was a major local employer, with over 150 workers on the site and carried on until 1988 when it finally closed. In 1998, Trinity Buoy Wharf which was then an empty, derelict site was taken over by The Trinity Buoy Wharf Trust which began to develop the area as a centre for the arts and creative industries and the location is now home to a working community of over 350 people.

As part of the 20th anniversary celebrations, Trinity Buoy Wharf will explore the site’s rich maritime history of Trinity Buoy Wharf; its buildings, lighthouse and the Thames, River Lee and their banks nearby with a night of special events will take place including specially installed light projections, art shows, films, images, stories and guided tours.

6pm- 6.40pm Maritime Heritage talk
6pm- 6.40pm “The Wharf” by Rupert Murray screening
6pm- 7pm Supercomputer performance
7.20pm- 7.55pm Guided Site Tour
8.30pm- 9pm TBW Drawing Prize PV

Open from 6pm- 9pm:
Story Box installation
3D projection light show
Lighthouse/ Longplayer
Andrew Baldwin’s Sculpture Park
Elisabeth Bond Exhibition
RioFoneHack interactive experience
Fat Boys Diner + The Orchard Cafe
Open Studios including:
Royal Drawing School
English National Opera
Trinity Art Studios
Hours Studio

One positive aspect of the trust taking over the site was that it has preserved many historical aspects of this important part of London that may have been lost. If you would like to see how this was achieved, why not visit the Anniversary party on the 26th September, attendance will be free and there are plenty of cultural delights to enjoy.

For more information, visit the Trinity Buoy Wharf website here 





The SS Robin Returns Home


Around three years ago, I posted the remarkable story of the SS Robin which has been located in the Royal Docks. I am delighted to report that plans have been announced to move the ship to Trinity Buoy Wharf, close to where she was built in 1890. Urban Space Management, leaseholders of Trinity Buoy Wharf, have agreed to maintain the SS Robin and to make her story more accessible to the public alongside other important ships.  

It is planned that the collection of the SS Robin, and the tugs Knocker White and Varlet and lighter Diana will form the basis of an open air museum to help bring to life the rich heritage of the area from East India Dock Basin to Trinity Buoy Wharf.  For the past few years the tugs Knocker White and Varlet have been berthed near the Museum of Docklands in West India Quay.


The SS Robin is the world’s oldest complete steam coaster and the last of her type in the world. The Dirty British Coaster was immortalised in John Masefield’s poem ” Cargoes .”

Quinquireme of Nineveh from distant Ophir,

Rowing home to haven in sunny Palestine,

With a cargo of ivory,

And apes and peacocks,

Sandalwood, cedarwood, and sweet white wine.


Stately Spanish galleon coming from the Isthmus,

Dipping through the Tropics by the palm-green shores,

With a cargo of diamonds,

Emeralds, amythysts,

Topazes, and cinnamon, and gold moidores.


Dirty British coaster with a salt-caked smoke stack,

Butting through the Channel in the mad March days,

With a cargo of Tyne coal,

Road-rails, pig-lead,

Firewood, iron-ware, and cheap tin trays.


The British coastal cargo steamships were the workhorses of the Merchant fleet in the late 19th, early 20th Century around the ports of Britain and Northern Europe. However by the 1960s they had virtually disappeared.

SS Robin is a traditional raised quarterdeck coastal cargo steamer built in Orchard House Yard near the famous Thames Ironworks on the eastern tip of Isle of Dogs and launched in 1890.

She was built to high standards regarding materials and workmanship with her hull fitted out in East India Dock. From there she was taken to Dundee to have her boiler and engines fitted. After trials she was taken to Liverpool to begin her career as a coastal steamer in 1890.

For the next ten years she plied her trade around the ports of Britain and occasionally some of the continental ports carrying the heavy cargoes such as coal, steel and china clay for which the steamers became famous for.

However in 1900, she was sold to a Spanish owner who renamed her Maria and spent the next 70 odd years going up and down the North Atlantic coast, she survived Two World Wars, once getting an escort from the French Navy to protect her from U Boat attacks.

But then at the end of a hard working life and due to be scrapped, there was another twist of fate she was recognised by the Maritime Trust as a one of a kind and in 1974 was purchased and travelled back to Britain under her own steam.

From 1974 she was given her original name back and moored in St Katherine’s Dock and her restoration began. In 1991 she moved to West India Quay where between 2003-2007 she was used as an Education Centre and Gallery.


However more structural restoration was needed, so in 2008 she went back to the coast this time to Lowestoft to prepare for her latest reincarnation in the Royal Docks where she returned in 2011.

 She may still be a Dirty British Coaster of John Masefield’s poem but now she is in elite company. She’s part of the National Historic Fleet and one of only three ‘Core Collection’ (Grade 1) vessels in the capital. The other two ships are the Cutty Sark and HMS Belfast.

Although the SS Robin is considered too fragile to be able to float again, she and the other boats will be a wonderful reminder to visitors to the Trinity Buoy Wharf area of the long and glorious history of shipbuilding in the area.

A Walk around Trinity Buoy Wharf


Regular readers will know that I am fascinated by the Trinity Buoy Wharf area which is one of the most unusual places in London. The bright sunshine on Sunday was just the encouragement I needed to take a walk up to the wharf to check up on the latest developments. With plenty of street art and sculptures around the site, there is always something new to discover.


For the those who do not know the area, here is a short potted history. The Corporation of Trinity House is a company responsible for buoys, lighthouses and lightships and in the early 19th century established Trinity Buoy Wharf as its Thames-side workshop where wooden buoys and sea marks were made and stored. Eventually new buildings were constructed during the Victorian period including the Electrician’s Building and an Experimental Lighthouse whose roof space housed a workshop for the famous scientist Michael Faraday.

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By 1910 Trinity Buoy Wharf was a major local employer, with over 150 workers on the site and carried on until 1988 when it finally closed. In 1998, Trinity Buoy Wharf which was then an empty, derelict site was taken over by The Trinity Buoy Wharf Trust which began to develop the area as a centre for the arts and creative industries and the location is now home to a working community of over 350 people.


The first indication that this is a slightly surreal location is the Black London taxi with a tree sprouting out of the top mounted on a roundabout. A number of large buoys and some street art entertain you as you walk along the pathway up to wharf. One of the most striking pieces of work is the Electric Soup mural by New Zealand Artist Bruce Mahalski on a former shop front on Orchard Place.


A new piece is a 3D painting of the word paint which is quite striking as you wander down the road.


Sculptor Andrew Baldwin has a number of sculptures at the wharf including his latest installation which is a very original staircase has been installed on the Main Stores building.


If the sculpture was a surprise, the fact that the Fat Boy’s Diner has been moved next to the Lighthouse was more of a shock. Fatboy’s Diner is a genuine 1940s American Diner from New Jersey that was bought over from the States then had a few short stays in different parts of London before finding its present site. The Diner itself is a bit of a celebrity featuring in the film Sliding Doors, music videos and magazines.


The growth of the Container City seems to be ongoing with new studio and gallery space being developed. It was encouraging to see more people than normal coming to the wharf on a Sunday with a steady stream of people enjoying the area and the food and drink at the Cafe and the diner.


Memento : A Guide to Trinity Buoy Wharf


Regular readers will know that one of my favourite spots off the beaten track is Trinity Buoy Wharf which I have featured in many articles. To help you explore some of its delights, at the end of November, Trinity Buoy Wharf and ScreenDeep are launching a new listening experience called “Memento: Trinity Buoy Wharf”.

Memento: Trinity Buoy Wharf will be an hour-long audio guide which is part tour, part social commentary with interview soundbites from artists, heritage experts and locals. To launch the guide Trinity Buoy Wharf is inviting the public to a free event which will feature walks and the chance to meet some of the people who work and live on the site.

Highlights of the event:

Walks will take place at 7pm/ 8pm/ 9pm on November 25th.


You can speak to artist Jem Finer, Longplayer creator at the Lighthouse between 7pm and 8pm.

You can talk to artists on site in their studios and see moving image artwork at the Electrician’s Shop by Mash Cinema and henrietrtawilliams.com between 6.30pm and 10.30pm.


Food and drink options are available at the Bow Creek Café and Fat Boy’s Diner between 7pm and 10pm

If you do not want to do the walk, you can just turn up and just have a look around.

If you are not able to attend the launch night, after 25th of November 2015 you will be able to download the Sound Walk which will be available free  at the Trinity Buoy Wharf website here


The Sound Walk either live or downloaded will illustrate some of the stories of this historic and unusual area and introduce you to some of the people who are developing the area into an industrial docklands arts quarter.

Walking into the Past – East India Dock Basin Nature Reserve


On my frequents walks to Trinity Buoy Wharf, the route comes across the East India Dock Basin, the last remaining section of the famous East India Docks and now home to a variety of birds in a nature reserve.


1940s – Export, Import and Basin still in use.

The East India Docks were built between 1803 and 1806 after the success of West India Docks which opened in 1802. The East India Company were well-known in the area and had been importing goods to  Blackwall since 1600. The docks were successful until the Second World War when bomb damage caused the Export Dock to close permanently and was subsequently sold in 1946 to became part of the site of Brunswick Wharf power station.


Photo (1953) Brunswick Wharf Power station where the Export Dock used to be

After the Second World War, the East India Docks handled short-sea and coastal traffic until 1967 when the decisions were made to close the docks. Between the late 1960s and the 1980s the Import Dock was gradually filled in, leaving only remnants of the Docks walls and East India Dock Basin.


The quietness of the nature reserve may be a world away from the hustle and bustle of a working dock, however a quick walk around the area offers a few clues to the basin’s original use. Ship bollards are dotted around the place like metal mushrooms and the  lock gates are still in place.


The East India Dock Basin connected the dock system to the river, via the East India Dock Entrance, which had two locks. These lock gates were the sole entrance to the East India complex. They were enlarged in 1890 and refurbished in 1997.


The nature reserve attracts a surprising number of different birds, including Kingfisher, Grey Heron, Common Teal, Black Redstart , Canada Goose, Cormorant,Great Spotted Woodpecker, Kestrel, Little Ringed Plover, Reed Warbler and Tufted Duck.


The tidal water in the basin is  a mix of fresh and salt water and is full of fish that attract   wading birds. East India Dock Basin is owned and managed by the Lea Valley Regional Park Authority and is open daily between 8.30am and 5pm. The dock is a 10 minute walk from East India DLR.



Shakespeare’s Comedies at Trinity Buoy Wharf – 11 April 2015 to 25 April 2015


Trinity Buoy Wharf is one of the hidden treasures of the Isle of Dogs, although it has an intriguing history it is also the location of an Art quarter which offers plenty of entertainment all through the year.

I have often featured the Street Art and sculptures that are dotted around the location, however few people might realise that Trinity Buoy Wharf often puts on shows.


It has just been announced that there will be a Shakespeare’s Comedies Season between the
11 April  – 25 April 2015 in the old  Electrician’s Shop.

The site-specific season will consist of three of Shakespeare’s most notable comedies performed in rep.

As You Like It directed by Stephen Sobal (Artistic Director of All In Theatre),

A Midsummer Night’s Dream directed by Mark Curtis (Small Nose Productions)

Much Ado About Nothing directed by Lazarus Theatre Company’s Ricky Dukes

For times and tickets please click here.


If you cannot make it to the shows, a trip to Trinity Buoy Wharf is full of surprises. It is the scene of the London’s only Lighthouse, an original American Diner and number of installations  including Yoshie Jujioka’s Metal Sculpture Kit, The Ascenda , and the Time and Tide Bell.


A recent addition to the Container City at Trinity Buoy Wharf has just opened,  Clipper House which was  recycled from the 2012 Olympic Broadcasting Studios at Stratford Olympic Park  provides a number of  offices, workspaces and art studios overlooking the River Thames.



A G Linney Photographs of Trinity Buoy Wharf 1927 – 1930

originaltrinity 1

Miscellaneous Views: The north bank of the Thames between Blackwall and Trinity Buoy Wharf, on 3rd February, 1929. To the left is J.W. Cook’s Orchard Wharf, Orchard Stairs and causeway. The lighthouse on Trinity Buoy Wharf is in the centre distance, and to the left of that the towers of the Thames Ironworks building at the mouth of the River Lea.

A.G. Linney ,1929 (Museum of London )

In a recent post on the Bridge exhibition, there were a  couple of photographs  by Albert Gravely Linney ,  although he was not a professional photographer, his work is now considered very important because he captured all aspects of the River Thames  just before the destruction of World War Two.

Albert Gravely Linney was a writer and journalist who in 1925 became  the first editor of the new Port of London Authority Monthly Magazine  which gave him full access to most of the docks and wharves along the river.

Wherever he went, Linney took his camera. He also published a number of books featuring stories and the history of the Thames,  his most popular books  being  Peepshow of the Port of London  and The Lure and Lore of London’s River .

The Museum of London holds thousands of  Linney’s photographs and over the next few weeks I will do a series of posts showcasing his work in relation to the Isle of Dogs.

First of all is the photographs that Linney took at Trinity Buoy Wharf in the years 1927 – 1930, what is really fascinating about this series of pictures is to see Trinity Wharf as  a working centre.

For nearly 200 years, from 1803 to 1988, Trinity Buoy Wharf was occupied by the Corporation of Trinity House, initially for storing buoys and sea-marks, but in the 19th century took over the responsibility for testing chains, anchors and cables which led to the building of number of workshops and a lighthouse for testing, repairing and making equipment.

In the 1930s that work was still being undertaken, so we have pictures of men painting Buoys and the mountains of chains and cables. We also have next to Trinity Buoy Wharf , the famous Thames  Ironworks which closed in 1912 but a few buildings at this time still remained.

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Miscellaneous views: A Trinity House vessel moored alongside the Trinity Buoy Wharf, Blackwall, in August, 1930. Bow Creek, the entrance to the River Lea is on the right. A.G. Linney ,1930  (Museum of London )


Miscellaneous views: Buoys lined up on the quayside at Trinity Buoy Wharf, Blackwall, in March, 1929. In the background is the Engineering Department building of the Thames Ironworks, which was demolished around 1948. A.G. Linney ,1929 (Museum of London )

trinity 4Miscellaneous views: Mooring chains awaiting tests at Trinity Buoy Wharf, Blackwall, in July, 1927. The man in the foreground is the Superintendent of the Trinity House Depot, Mr Reynolds. A.G. Linney ,1927 (Museum of London )

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Miscellaneous views: Painting buoys at the Trinity Buoy Wharf, Blackwall, in July, 1927. Linney did not take many photographs of people actually at work. A.G. Linney ,1927 (Museum of London )


Miscellaneous views: The experimental lighthouse at Trinity Buoy Wharf, Blackwall, in June, 1929. Built in 1864, the lighthouse has survived although Trinity House sold the site in the late 1980s.A.G. Linney ,1927 (Museum of London )

Walking on Water Exhibition at Excel – 3rd to 11th May 2014


Regular readers will know that I have followed with interest the work of Frank Creber and the Water City Project.

Frank has recently worked on the SS Robin project and had a recent exhibition at the Lloyd’s Register, however the  WOW: Walking On Water: East London’s Legacy – the Big Picture  exhibition at Excel  in partnership with Grand Design exhibition takes the project to a different level.

At the heart of the exhibition is a 200-piece display of artwork by  Frank who has created  a visual chronicle made over 10 years  of the communities, developments and places coming to life in East London.


The Walking on Water is an interactive exhibition in The Boulevard at ExCeL London offering visitors a walking tour through East London, from Trinity Buoy Wharf to the Royal Docks, to Three Mills, Stratford and the Lower Lea Valley. there is an integrated display of art, photography and exhibition stands featuring many of the  regeneration initiatives.


The Artistic quarter of  Trinity Buoy Wharf  illustrates how an old industrial  area can be transformed into an area where  creative industries  can thrive.


The  Exhibition also profiles the work of Eastside Community Heritage  through their displays of black and white photographs which tells this story of local peoples’ lives and how many relied on employment in the many industries  around the historic waterways.


Another aspect of the exhibition is  the often untold stories of how local people themselves transform their environments  with collective action, this is illustrated by the  extraordinary 10-year story of Cody Dock and how a group of local residents took over what many thought of as a rubbish dump, and ended up delivering community ownership of a prime piece of river-facing real estate. .


The exhibition also looks at the ways that  a number of diverse organisations such as Poplar HARCA, Catlin Group, University of East London,  UCL Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA), East London Business Alliance (ELBA) as well as Communities groups can contribute to regeneration.


The Walking on Water exhibition in partnership with the Grand Design exhibition raises some interesting questions, for example we will spend a lot of time, energy and money on our immediate environment such as our homes, but  often consider we have little power in changing the wider environment.

This is what the Walking on Water Exhibition is keen to challenge by showing how partnerships can forged to build sustainable communities  in East London.

The Exhibition is Free and is in the Boulevard which runs down the centre of Excel, Frank Creber’s artwork is always interesting and the photographs are fascinating.

If you are going to the Grand Design Exhibition, why not take a little time to look at the Walking on Water exhibition or take a trip to Excel to view the Walking on Water exhibition alone there is certainly enough there to make the trip worthwhile.

The Exhibition runs from  3 – 11 May 2014

10am – 6pm daily (to 5pm final day)

For more information on the exhibition, visit the website here