Home » Posts tagged 'west india docks'

Tag Archives: west india docks

Tall Ship Tenacious in West India Dock

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.

London: Port City at the Museum of London Docklands from 22 October 2021 – 8 May 2022

At this time, the ‘Tuscania’ was operated by Cunard on the London – New York passenger route.

I was delighted to receive news of a major exhibition at the Museum of London Docklands in October, the exhibition entitled London: Port City explores how the Port of London has changed and shaped the city, its people, places and language, over centuries. The exhibition will trace more than 200 years of experiences and intense activity on a river.

It is appropriate the the exhibition is in the Museum of London Docklands, itself originally 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 first consignment of 28 railway carriages for Kenya & Uganda railways arriving at the Royal Albert Dock, lifted by the London Mammoth.

The exhibition will draw upon the extensive archives of the Port of London Authority (PLA) to present a wider picture of the complex operations that have enabled the Port to connect London to the rest of the world, from the final days of the 18th century to the creation of the huge London Gateway ‘mega port’ in the Thames Estuary. The exhibition will full of stories, incidents, major operations, characters, technological advances, pivotal moments, surprising details and little-known facts.

Imported bananas being handled at the Royal Docks.

Exhibition highlights include:

Revealing the stories behind 80 words and expressions that entered the English language and the place names of streets and pubs as a result of the docks including ‘crack on’, ‘aloof’ and ‘Mudchute’.

An impressive audio visual display that will transport visitors into the PLA control room, using large-scale projections to create a day in the life of the Port of London, with multiple spectacular views of the river and all of the activity happening 24 hours a day.

An interactive timeline reveals stories from the docks since 1800, using 222 objects from the PLAs vast and eclectic archive. Material ranges from sandals with hollowed out soles to smuggle opium, seized in the 1870s, to original plans for the world’s most innovative purpose-built dock complexes.

Many of the dockers whose voices feature throughout the exhibition recall being hit by a heady aroma as a new cargo was unloaded or as they made their way through different areas of the docks. Visitors will experience a suite of distinct scents, carefully blended to capture the original pungency of the port.

Trade Winds: London, a new artwork by contemporary artist Susan Stockwell, using archive material and international currency to explore themes of international trade, economies, migration and empire. Elsewhere, a new artwork by Hilary Powell uses experimental photographic techniques and film to explore the container shipping industry and the people who keep it going.

Importantly, the exhibition will address the wider global context of London’s seaborne trade, most notably its historical dependence on the sugar trade and slavery. A document commemorating the original unveiling of the statue of merchant and slave owner Robert Milligan, which was removed from outside the museum in 2020, is displayed alongside original plans for docks.

For more information visit the Museum of London Docklands here

Tales from the Riverbank

One of the joys of living on the Isle Of Dogs is the access to large stretches of water with the docks and the Thames winding around the Island. Over the years, I have reported on the large number of boats and ships that have visited West India Docks that have included warships and tall ships. Over the last few years, these marine visitors have got less and less due to the large developments near the dock.

Since the Covid crisis, the visitors have stopped almost altogether and I decided to go down to the riverbank and look for any interesting boats or ships on the river.

I often think when I am looking at the river about what it would have looked like a hundred years ago when the Thames was a truly working river full of lighters, barges and boats bringing their produce and materials to the centre of London.

Until the crisis, the river was not busy in the old sense but did have quite a large range of ships and boats going up and down the river from cruise ships, large yachts, tall ships, river cruises and many more.

Standing on riverbank near the O2, it was some time before a Thames Clipper appeared and a little later a Port of London boat Barnes drifted by. Barnes is a Port of London Harbour Service vessel which is a catamaran designed for the lower tidal waters and for use as Pilot cutters.

Walking down to Westferry Circus, I had more hope that the river stretch around Limehouse may be busier.

A London Port Health Authority Londinium boat appeared, and in the distance a Cory Riverside Energy barge was taking some containers into the city.

Thames Marine Services boat Gosso, Port of London’s Driftwood II and a Police speed boat all went by as I sat and enjoyed the warm weather.

The Cory Riverside Energy barges are a familiar sight on the river all through the year. The barges are used to transport non-recyclable waste from waste transfer stations along the River Thames to Cory’s energy waste facility in Belvedere.

Driftwood II as the name suggests is a Port of London boat whose main function is the collection of driftwood and other debris from the River but they are also equipped with hydraulic cranes, burning gear and salvage pumps.

Whilst the traffic on the river was well down on normal times, it did remind me that working boats were still going up and down the river. Although we tend to ignore these smaller boats when there are larger ships in the river, it is these boats that are the workhorses that keep things ticking along.

The last boat I watched was Cory Riverside Energy barge Recovery bringing its containers backdown river, this seemed appropriate in the present climate when we are all looking for signs of recovery in our everyday life.

More ‘Docklands at War’ Photographs from the Museum of London Docklands

To commemorate VE Day on Friday 8 May, the Museum of London Docklands has released a number of images from its ‘Docklands at War’ gallery with additional exclusive content from the collection rarely on display.

Many of the photographs illustrate that the London docks and the riverside factories in the East End of London bore the brunt of enemy attack and were targeted by enemy aircraft, with over 25,000 German bombs falling on the Docklands over the course of the war.


Tin of dried eggs. Fresh eggs were rationed in World War II. Although many people kept chickens, eggs were in short supply for most Londoners. In May 1941 the first imported dried egg powder arrived from America. The initial allowance for a family was one packet, equivalent to twelve eggs, every eight weeks. This allowance later increased to a packet every four weeks. The Ministry of Food issued recipe leaflets instructing © Museum of London

The photographs also illustrates some of the stranger aspects of the war like powdered eggs and tinned whalemeat.

Part of a German bomb, dropped on London by German bombers during World War II.  © Museum of London

Air Raid Precautions rattle. During World War II, Air Raid Precautions wardens were employed to help members of the public during bombing raids. During training, wardens were instructed on how to respond to a gas attack. If poisonous gas were released over London, wardens were told to sound a hand rattle to alert people to stay indoors or put on their gas masks. Fortunately London never did experience any enemy gas attacks during the war. © Museum of London

Superintendent’s Office, Royal Albert Dock, October 1938. Port of London Authority (PLA) buildings were reinforced with sandbags so they could be used as air-raid shelters. Photography: John H. Avery & Co © PLA Collection / Museum of London

The Prime Minister and Mrs Churchill, with the Flag Officer, London, and J Douglas Ritchie (on left), touring London’s dock in Sept 1940, seen with a group of auxiliary firemen © PLA Collection / Museum of London

Tin of whalemeat steak for use in casseroles. Produced by ‘Taistbest’ the tin contains 16 ounces of whalemeat. A blue and white paper label surrounding the tin describes the contents and gives details of the manufacture. Whale meat was one of many unfamiliar food products imported to the UK during World War II. The government encouraged housewives to use whale meat as a substitute for meat and fish, both of which were in short supply. This tin provides a ready-made casserole meal of whale meat, but the Ministry of Food also issued information on how to fry, stew and mince this unrationed food © Museum of London

Royal Docks air raid precautions. Completed concrete shelter covered with earth. Entrance shown on the right. An emergency exit was allowed for the left hand end. Date: 11/07/1939 © PLA Collection / Museum of London

Night Raid over London Docklands. This is a dramatic view of a night time raid on the city, during the Second World War, by Wimbledon-born ‘fireman artist’ Wilfred Stanley Haines. From Rotherhithe on the south bank, the scene looks towards Wapping and depicts parachute flares, deployed by German bombers, illuminating the sky. They fall towards the Wapping entrance of the London Docks, seen in the background on the far left, as searchlights criss-cross the night sky.

If you would like to see more photographs from the period, Con Maloney has made a wonderful video which uses images from the Island History Trust’s photographic collection. Many thanks to Debbie Levett from the FOIHT for sending the link, to watch press here

The video was made on behalf of the Massey Shaw Education Trust and Friends of Island History Trust to mark the 75th Anniversary of VE Day but to also recognise what we are going through today.

If you are interested in Docklands at War, you will find plenty of information and photographs at the Museum of London Docklands and their online collections.

‘Docklands at War’ Photographs from the Museum of London Docklands

The Docklands ablaze during the Blitz on 7th September 1940. The rising palls of smoke mark out the London Docks beyond the Tower of London, the Surrey Docks to the right of the bridge and the West India Docks on the Isle of Dogs in the distance. This image can be found on page 36 of the book London’s Changing Riverscape. © PLA Collection / Museum of London

To commemorate VE Day on Friday 8 May, the Museum of London Docklands has released a number of images from its ‘Docklands at War’ gallery with additional exclusive content from the collection rarely on display.

Many of the photographs illustrate that the London docks and the riverside factories in the East End of London bore the brunt of enemy attack and were targeted by enemy aircraft, with over 25,000 German bombs falling on the Docklands over the course of the war.

Bomb damage to London Dock. Shed, formerly Guiness’s on west side of eastern dock, looking north from the southend. Date of air raid: 8/12/1940 Date: 19/12/1940 Photography: John H Avery & Co  © PLA Collection / Museum of London

The Nazi’s believed by destroying the docks, they could severely hamper local and national economy and weaken British war production.

By the end of World War II, the damage to the East End left much of the area in ruins. Tens of thousands of homes were uninhabitable, businesses were destroyed, and a third of the Port of London’s docks were decimated with West India Docks and St Katherine Docks suffering most of the damage.

St. Katharine Dock air raid damage. F warehouse including S end of ‘E’. From Marble Quay looking south east. 7th Sept 1940. “St Katharine Dock after air raid, September 1940. The damage occurred on Saturday 7 September 1940, the first attack on Docklands. The photographs were taken later as a technical record.” Photography: John H. Avery & Co © PLA Collection / Museum of London

The Prime Minister visits some of the thousands of British workers at East India Dock, 1944, engaged upon the construction of sections of the prefabricated ports. Two prefabricated ports, each as big as Gibralter, were manufactured in Britain in sections, towed across the channel, and set down off the coast of Normandy. The use of the prefabricated port greatly simplified the problem of supplying the Allied Armies in France. The dock was pumped dry to allow for the building of concrete ‘harbours’ that would be towed to France for ‘D Day’. © PLA Collection / Museum of London

Tanks arriving in the London Docks prior to embarkation for the D Day beaches, 1944 © PLA Collection / Museum of London

The crucial role of the dockers to the war effort brought some improvement in their working conditions, including the introduction of mobile canteens. Here the staff of the Port of London’s Mobile Canteen No 32 dispense tea to queuing dockers in 1942. © PLA Collection / Museum of London

West India Dock WWII concrete air raid shelter showing precast units being placed in position by crane. South of East Wood Wharf office. Date: 21/07/1939 © PLA Collection / Museum of London

Bomb damage to London Dock. Milk Yard Boundary Wall. South side of Shadwell Old Basin, looking east. Date of air raid 8-9/12/1940 Date: 19/12/1940 Photography: John H Avery & Co © PLA Collection / Museum of London

Bomb damage to London Dock. West End of Denmark Shed showing bulged quaywall of South Side of Western Dock. Date: 19/12/1940 Photography: John H Avery & Co © PLA Collection / Museum of London

River Emergency Services’ volunteers carrying bandages, and blankets and taking a break from their civil defence duties to pose for this photograph. © PLA Collection / Museum of London

The photographs are a reminder that in a crisis, normality goes out of the window and people come together to fulfil jobs that they not normally do. Although the present crisis is not the same as the horrors of the Second World War, there are similarities and we probably can now understand better the human costs of any kind of crisis.

If you are interested in Docklands at War, you will find plenty of information and photographs at the Museum of London Docklands and their online collections.

The Remarkable History of the Cutty Sark

In last week’s post about Millwall Dock, I mentioned that in the early 1950s, the Cutty Sark was bought into the Millwall dry dock for an inspection and repairs.

Cutty Sark is now a major landmark in Greenwich where she has sat serenely for over 60 years. But in the 1950s, her future was not clear cut and she became the subject of a public debate about what to do with the famous old clipper. Cutty Sark was built on the River Clyde in 1869 for the Jock Willis Shipping Line, she was one of the last tea clippers to be built and one of the fastest. She came into service at a time that sail was giving way to steamships.

The Cutty Sark spent only a few years working on the tea trade before being used to bring wool from Australia, quite often she would bring her cargo into West India Docks. The Cutty Sark became famous due to her races against Thermopylae, especially the one that took place in 1872. The Cutty Sark was damaged and finished second but most people were agreed that she was one of the fastest clippers of all time. The ship held the fastest time achieved between the UK and Australia for ten years.

Cutty Sark and HMS Worcester at Greenhithe in 1938

For all her fame, the days of sail were nearly over and the ship was sold to the Portuguese company Ferreira and Co. in 1895 and renamed Ferreira. There she continued as a cargo ship until purchased in 1922 by retired sea captain Wilfred Dowman who remembered some of her past glories and he used her as a training ship in Falmouth. After he died, Cutty Sark was transferred to the Thames Nautical Training College which was based near Greenhithe in 1938. There she became an auxiliary cadet training ship alongside HMS Worcester.

By the early 50s, it was considered that this career had come to an end and various ideas were put forward as regards what to do with her.

A number of newspaper reports of the time gives some idea about the debate.

Cutty Sark to Sydney?

LONDON, December 25 1951 (A.A.P.).— A famous tea clipper may end its days in Sydney Harbour.The Evening News’ gossip writer says that sailing enthusiasts are discussing the possibility of sailing the Cutty Sark to Australia. The Thames Barge Sailing Club president (Mr Hugh Vaudrey) said the lowest estimate of the cost of refitting the vessel was £10,000 sterling. Mr. Vaudrey believes that strongly-supported Cutty Sark societies in Australia and New Zealand would help bear the cost. He added : Out there they regard the Cutty Sark the same way as Americans do the Mayflower.

Plan for Cutty Sark to Sail Again

A dispute has arisen over a proposal to reconstruct and refit the world’s only surviving clipper, 83-year-old Cutty Sark, and sail her to Australia and New Zealand. The man behind the idea is a London solicitor, Mr. Hugh Vaudrey, who says the plan has the sympathetic backing of members of Cutty Sark societies in Australia, New Zealand, America and Canada. Mr. Vaudrey, who founded the Thames Barge Sailing Club, which has the Cutty Sark Preservation committee, believes that the clipper could be made seaworthy and a crew recruited.

The project is strongly opposed as completely impracticable by the Greenwich National Maritime Museum, which considers that the vessel could not make a sea journey of any length and that officers and crew would be unobtainable.

Director of the museum, Mr. Frank Carr, said: — ”We would like to see the Cutty Sark cradled in concrete at Greenwich as Nelson’s Victory is at Portsmouth. This would cost upwards of a quarter of a million sterling, but we are assured of Government, London County Council and private support, and feel sure all Dominion shiplovers would help also.

‘However we feel that the present isn’t the time for such expenditure and are prepared to wait for upwards of four years before launching an appeal. ‘The vessel is at present owned by the Thames Nautical Training College, and is capable of staying afloat at her berth at Rotherhithe for at least that time.

Permanent Home For Cutty Sark

LONDON, Tuesday. — Famous old racing tea and wool clipper Cutty Sark may be preserved for all time as the result of an offer by an “anonymous body.”

AN official of the Thames Nautical Training College, where the clipper is moored, said that she would be taken from Greenhithe to Mlllwall tomorrow for survey to see if she was in suitable condition for permanent preservation.

After that she will either moored in the river or put into dry dock at the college to be kept open for visitors.

The Cutty Sark was taken to Millwall for a survey and repairs but this was not without incident. In January 1952, the 800-ton tanker MV Aqueity collided with Cutty Sark’s bow in the Thames. The two ships were locked together after the collision which forced Cutty Sark’s jib boom into Worcester’s forecastle rails, snapping the boom before scraping along Worcester’s starboard side. Cutty Sark’s figurehead lost an arm in the process and the Cutty Sark was towed to the Shadwell Basin for repairs.

In the end the money was raised and the ship was finally bought to dry dock in Greenwich. But as many people may know, even that was not the end of the story with two fires that threatened to destroy the old clipper.

It is always a pleasure to see the old girl at Greenwich from the bottom of the Island and its important to remember that the ship has many longstanding ties with the West India and Millwall Docks.

The ‘Fishing City’ and Other Isle of Dogs Projects

Last week’s post about Wood Wharf was a reminder that the Isle of Dogs have had some remarkable transformations. However the Island has been subject of a few schemes of the last 350 years, some that came to fruition and others that were considered follies.

The peculiar nature of the  Isle of Dogs which forms a horseshoe around which the Thames has led many to consider the possibility of creating a short cut at the top of the Island to cut down the time spent going around it. In the early 1570s, a scheme was considered by the City of London to construct a canal from the Thames at Limehouse Hole to the River Lea. They even bought in a  Dutchman to survey the potential sites and come up with a plan, eventually nothing was done but it was an idea that did not go away.

A century later, in 1681, the engineer, Andrew Yarranton came up with a scheme for turning the Isle of Dogs into a ‘fishing city’, to provide safe berths for a shipping fleet and houses for fishermen. His plan was to build two parallel docks and a connecting channel, controlled by locks, with houses lining the quays for the fishermen and families. He also believed other businesses like the making of rope and nets could use the Island. The Fishing city never came to light but some of these ideas and the idea of a canal were part of the grand scheme to build West India Docks over a century later.

The building of the West India Docks between 1799 and 1806 changed the whole character of the Isle of Dogs with the top part of the Island effectively cut off by large walls, docks and the City Canal. Between 1800–5, the Corporation of London built the City Canal which had long been thought about but never built. The canal was 3,711ft long between the lock gates, 176ft wide at the surface of the water and 23ft deep at its centre, disaster struck in early 1805 when the coffer-dam failed, causing a great wave to rush through the canal. Extensive repairs were needed and the opening had to be delayed to late 1805.

The City Canal was not a success because the cost of going through the short cut was not really worthwhile. Eventually the West India Dock company bought the canal in 1829 and turned it into the South Dock. This was not the end of the docks expansion with the heart of Island turned into Millwall Dock in the 1860s.

Despite the success of the docks, Philip Revell developed a plan of the 1870s to clear the whole Island and build an island fortress for the defence of London. It was not taken that seriously but was an interesting idea with what seemed to be locks on the Thames.

Even as recently as the 1930s, people were looking at reintroducing a passageway through the Island, a newspaper report gives more details.

An ingenious scheme for shortening the course of the Thames in London by about two and a half miles and converting the Isle of Dogs into a vast docks is advocated by Mr. H. Bragg, L.R.I.B.A., in the current issue of Modern Building Construction (says the London “Daily Chronicle”).

Mr Bragg proposes that the present U-shaped course of the river encircling the Isle of Dogs should be “cut out,”, and that a straight cut be constructed across the north part of the isle between Bugsby’s Reach and the Lower Pool. This could be done, he suggests, by widening the present West India Import Dock and extending it to the river both east and west.

Mr Bragg’s other proposals are:— Five new docks to be built on the Isle of Dogs, A river wall to be constructed along the south bank of the river from Lower Pool to the east end of Greenwich Reach and then across the present land to the river west of Woolwich Reach. Mr Bragg proposes that the ground between the new docks should be utilised not only as wharfage and warehousing space, but also for the erection of dwellings for dock workers with attractive gardens and children’s playgrounds.

Mr Bragg’s ideas were not taken up but this is one of the lessons of these types of schemes it is very difficult to know which will be a success and which will be a disaster. The ideas to turn West India Dock into a financial district and the creation of City Airport were not taken seriously at first.

Thames Sailing Barge Parade and Open Day in West India Docks – 17th and 18th September 2016


It is a great time for nostalgia on the Thames with Tall Ships floating past the Island and one of the biggest parades of Thames Sailing Barges seen for a long time in London over the weekend.


Lined up in West India Dock is around ten Thames Sailing Barges which at around 3.30pm on Saturday will form a parade and make their way onto the Thames and sail up to Tower Bridge.The Barges going under the raised Tower Bridge will be a wonderful sight and reminder  of when hundreds of the barges would sail into The City of London to pick up and discharge cargo.


The Thames sailing barge was the name given to a type of working sailing  boat common on the Thames in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The flat-bottomed barges were perfectly adapted to working in the Thames Estuary and beyond. Some worked along the coast and even went to continental European ports.


They carried many different cargoes, but often transported bricks, sand, coal and grain. Due to the efficiency of a Thames barge’s design, they only needed a crew of two for most journeys. Known as one of the ‘workhorses’ of the Industrial Revolution, in their heyday there were thousands of Thames Sailing Barges but it is now estimated that there are less than one hundred.


If you would like to see the Barges close up, on Sunday 18th September there will be a Sailing Barge Open Day at West India Dock. The Barge area will become a Popup Museum, open free to the public.


Shoreside activities at West India Dock include full access to the partaking barges so the public can learn of the barges history as well as meet and mingle with barge owners and crew members,.

Walking the Island Board Walk Trail (Part Three)

island board walk

The next part of our walk brings us to the middle of the Island and Millwall Docks, and the boards provide information into yet another interesting and historic part of the Docks system. The creation of the Millwall Docks in the 1860s was against the background of economic depression and when they opened in 1868, there was little indication that they would be a success. However by 1869 the warehouses were nearly full with a variety of goods.


Unlike the West India Dock, goods were stored in transit sheds rather than warehouses and wholesale building around the dock never really took place. Millwall Docks became the main destination of grain and timber into the docks system and in the 1870s, innovative methods of handling grain were developed.

The dock company built granaries and extended its warehousing in the 1880s and Millwall Docks were considered as the centre of the European grain trade. By 1900 about a third of London’s grain imports and 10 per cent of its timber trade came through the Millwall Docks. From 1909 to 1980, the PLA administered the Millwall Docks with the East and West India Docks and The West India and Millwall Docks were connected by the formation of the Millwall Passage in 1926–8 .


In the Second World War, Millwall Docks were damaged but not as badly as the West India Docks, however the entrance lock suffered a direct hit and never reopened. After the war, the PLA developed Millwall Docks especially in the 1950s and 60s with the creation of the Fred Olsen Terminal. Various huge single-storey sheds were erected with large doorways for fork-lift trucks and mobile cranes. This redevelopment led to the belief that the berths at the Millwall Docks were among the most efficient in the world, unfortunately this did not prevent their closure in 1980s.


Nearly the entire dockside around Millwall Docks has been developed with a large number of apartments and development is still continuing with the Baltimore Tower complex.  Walking over the Glengall Bridge and down to the old dry graving dock is  slightly less developed and is quite picturesque with the houseboats and occasionally the yachts from the Docklands Sailing and Watersports Centre.


Walking away from the dock we cross the East Ferry Road and move from an urban to a rural setting when we walk through the gates into Mudchute Park and Farm.


The large open space where the Mudchute Park and Farm now stands was once grazing land. However during the building of the Millwall Docks in 1860s much of this land was used for storing the bricks that were used to build the dock walls and buildings. This changed in 1875 when The Dock company developed  an innovative system of dredging its docks designed by the company’s engineer, Frederic E. Duckham. This involved the pneumatic transmission of mud, out of the dock into a pipe which ran under East Ferry Road to be deposited on the grazing land creating a mudfield. Gradually the hardened mudfield became known as the Mudchute and was later used for allotments.


After the war various schemes were put forward for the use of the land , however it was not until 1973 that the site was transferred to the GLC to be used for housing. However, there then began a campaign by local residents and supporters called the Association of Island Communities who wished the land to be used as public open space , the success of this campaign led to the creation of an urban farm in 1977.


It was somewhat ironic that the mud from Millwall Dock which was considered a health hazard and made the land unsuitable for development turned out to be blessing in disguise as the concentration of mud was full of nutrients that provided good growing conditions for many plants and ideal for farm animals. Since its creation Mudchute Farm and Park has developed into one of the largest City Farm in Europe covering 32 acres and is maintained largely by local volunteers.


The Boards are a great introduction to the Island and this project provides plenty of interest, the new audio tour has been devised to coincide with the launch of the walk and will be available to download as a podcast from the website: www.islandboardwalk.com/audio-trail It is derived from exclusive interviews with those who live and work on the island and provides real insights into the past, present and future of the Island.

‘Free’ Leaflet/Trail Maps which are available to download online and to collect from The Ship pub, The George pub, HubBub cafe bar and restaurant, Cubitt Town Library and the Great Eastern pub by the School Day’s board at start of the trail.

For downloads and more information visit:


German Navy Ships : FGS Main, FGS Siegburg and FGS Pegnitz in the West India Dock – April 15th 2016


After a quiet period for visits, West India Docks welcomes three ships from the German Navy. Two coastal minesweepers FGS Siegburg, FGS Pegnitz and auxiliary support vessel FGS Main are berthed in the dock and will be moored until the 18th April.


The FGS Siegburg and FGS Pegnitz are based in Kiel, are part of the 3rd German mine-sweeping squadron, whereas the FGS Main is normally stationed in Eckernförde and is part of the 1st German submarine squadron.


The FGS Main was commissioned in 1994 as a supply ship and is known as a Type 404 Elbe class replenishment ship or tender which supports the German Navy squadrons of Fast Attack Craft, submarines and minesweepers. The ships carry fuel, fresh water, food, ammunition and other materials.

The FGS Siegburg and FGS Pegnitz are minesweepers of the German Navy’s Type 352 Ensdorf class which carry remote controlled Seehund drones which locate and destroy mines.


According to the German Embassy, the ships will moor in West India Docks between the 15th to 18th April and be open to the public from 2-4pm on the 16 April 2016.


The vessels are part of a German task group visiting London. The task group led by the commander of the 3rd German minesweeping squadron, Commander s.g. Axel Schrader, is currently on a two weeks squadron exercise, which started on 11 April. The first week of exercise focused on seamanship, as well as damage control and communications, to followed by mine countermeasure exercises.

The task group will return to their home ports on 22 April.


Regular contributor, Eric Pemberton managed to get a few photographs of the FGS Main coming into the dock.