Posts Tagged ‘Crossharbour’

Canary Wharf Workshop 2004

Thursday, May 9th, 2024

Canary Wharf Workshop – On Sunday May 9th 2004 I led a small workshop group of photographers on a walk which started at Canary Wharf and then went to Canning Town and the River Thames. Although photography is theoretically banned on the Canary Wharf estate we had no problems with security, probably because we kept to obviously public areas and I had asked those taking part not to use tripods.

Canary Wharf Workshop

I was never a fan of the redevelopment of London’s docklands under Michael Heseltine and the London Docklands Development Corporation set up in 1981. Of course development was needed after the docks became redundant, but we should have seen a development that was made for the interests of the population of London, not simply for the mates of the Tory Party.

Canary Wharf Workshop

The area needed some kind of overall planning authority, but one that worked with the local authorities in the area rather than against them, ignoring their priorities.

Canary Wharf Workshop

Of course there were gains from the work of the LDDC, perhaps the main ones being the Docklands Light Railway and the Jubilee Line Extension to Stratford. Certainly by the time it was wound up in 1990 it had changed the whole area significantly. But many of those changes had sacrificed local needs to business profits.

Canary Wharf Workshop

The piece that I wrote about the day reflected my political views about what had taken place. A year or so later London won the bidding for the Olympics, leading to yet more development in the area by an authority that disregarded local needs and led to inappropriate development, still proceeding, in East London. I’ll reproduce what I wrote in 2004 here, with minor corrections, particularly to capitalisation and spelling.

May 9th 2004 found me taking a group of photographers for a walk around some parts of London’s docklands. We started at the centre of this ‘crime of the century’. I still don’t quite understand why a Conservative government felt so at odds with the City of London that it decided to set up offshore competition in the Enterprise Zone.

The feeding frenzy that ensued, trousering public property and tax breaks into the private pocket at an unprecedented rate was inevitable.

The long-term consequence has been a distorted development with few real buildings of distinction but some expensively finished tat, and a lack of overall planning. I’m not sure that London would benefit from gaining the Olympics for which it is currently bidding, but if it fails, probably part of the reason will be the Docklands debacle.

We started below the obscene gesture towards the old city, at least clear about its symbolism, then took the DLR down to Crossharbour with its silly bridge, walking back to the Wharf and taking the Jubilee to Canning Town.

Then back alongside the Lee (still waiting for that riverside walkway) to East India dock basin and along by the Thames, where a galleon appeared in front of the dome.

The River Lee is here better known in its tidal section as Bow Creek, and we are still waiting for parts of that riverside walk to be opened if they ever will be. There was a competition for a new bridge across Bow Creek with a wining design named, but money disappeared and it was never built. But a few years ago we did get a different new bridge higher up by Canning Town station and the development of the industrial site of Pura Foods as London City Island.

A few more of my pictures from the walk on My London Diary

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All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall.
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West India Docks 1988 (1)

Wednesday, November 10th, 2021

Millwall Inner Dock, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-6b-65-positive_2400
Millwall Inner Dock, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-6b-65

When the Docklands Light Railway opened in 1997 there were just two lines, one from the City at Tower Gateway east to Canary Wharf and then south to Island Gardens, and the second coming down south from Stratford to Canary Wharf and then using the same track south. For cost reasons it had been decided not to make a connection with the existing Underground network, except at Stratford where the DLR shared a station with both the Central Line and National Rail. The tunnel link to Bank Station was only opened four years later.

So I and my two young assistants had walked as in my earlier post from London Bridge across Tower Bridge to Tower Gateway station, and then took the DLR to Crossharbour. It was something of a fairground-like attraction, particularly around where the line turned south to go into West India station, and in the first years the line was little used and it was usually possible at the terminus to get a seat right at the front of the driverless train and imagine you were in the driving seat.

Glengall Bridge, Millwall Inner Dock, Tower Hamelts, 1988 88-6b-66-positive_2400
Glengall Bridge, Millwall Inner Dock, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-6b-66

There was considerable building work taking place around Millwall Inner Dock, as well as cranes and the lifting bridge and it made a good day out for small boys as well as older photographers.

My assistants, Millwall Inner Dock, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-6b-52-positive_2400
My assistants, Millwall Inner Dock, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-6b-52

And here they are on an empty plinth surveying the scene, sandwiches and drinks in their back packs.

Millwall Inner Dock, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-6b-55-positive_2400
Millwall Inner Dock, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-6b-55

Millwall Dock was only opened in 1868 and was then quite separate from the West India Docks to the north. It had an entrance from the Thames on the west side of the Isle of Dogs to a large dock running halfway across the ‘island’, with another large dock, later called the Millwall Inner Dock branching off to the north. Most of the cargo was timber and grain, and McDougall’s built a large flour mill on its south bank the year after it opened. In 1928 it was connected to the West India Docks by the Millwall Passage, and became a part of the same impounding system for water levels.

Guardian building, Marsh Wall, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-6b-41-positive_2400
Guardian building, Marsh Wall, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-6b-41

The Guardian print works in Wimpey’s Enterprise Business Park was built in 1985-7 and apparently its silver-blue reflective panels and tinted glass were meant to make its ugly box look smaller, merging the building with the sky. It doesn’t work in black and white and it didn’t work in reality. The Guardian now has its print works in Stratford.

Millwall Inner Dock, Marsh Wall, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-6b-42-positive_2400
Millwall Inner Dock, Marsh Wall, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-6b-42

Looking roughly south down Millwall Inner Dock from Marsh Wall. The chimney in the distance is that of Deptford Power Station, demolished in a spectacular explosion in 1992.

Docklands Light Railway, DLR, Daily Telegraph, Marsh Wall, South Quay, Tower Hamlets, 88-6b-43-positive_2400
Docklands Light Railway, DLR, Daily Telegraph, Marsh Wall, South Quay, Tower Hamlets, 88-6b-43

The Daily Telegraph moved in to this building to the east of South Quay DLR station when it was completed in 1987, naming it Peterborough Court. In 1992 they moved to Canary Wharf tower.

Our walk around the area continues in West India Docks 1988 (2) shortly.