New University campus in Canada Water?

9 March 2013 at 11:31 | Posted in Docklands present, Maps and plans, Photos | 5 Comments
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At the moment, the University of East London (UEL) is the only Docklands-based university, although Ravensbourne College also recently moved from Bromley to the Greenwich Peninsula.

Now, however the prestigious Kings College London is eyeing a new campus opportunity near Canada Water. They have taken an option on the former Mulberry Business Park, and last week displayed their plans for 750 student rooms along with a new office and postgraduate accommodation, affordable housing, and some ancillary uses such as cafes and possibly some small retail units.

At the exhibition I attended, there was a good deal of support from local people, myself among them. It should bring hundreds of people through the area during the day, and with no car parking, the impact on traffic will be minimal.

What’s even more interesting is that while this is a standalone proposal which they are seeking to progress in time for the September 2016 student intake, KCL are also looking at what opportunities the relocation of Harmsworth printworks may bring. KCL don’t own the print site, but are drawing up a masterplan which includes using part of that site to not only extend the student and staff accommodation, but to also potentially bring teaching and leisure uses to the site, creating a Canada Water campus. These are very exciting plans, and I think would bring some very welcome activity to an area which can be very quiet by day when everyone’s gone off to work.

There is a lot of detail currently available on KCL’s website here, but a few photos from the exhibition below give an impression of their ambition. They are hoping to submit a planning application to Southwark for the Mulberry site in Spring 2013.

KCL's Mulberry site

KCL’s Mulberry site


Model of proposed student block

Model of masterplan for Canada Water

KCL's campus vision

KCL’s campus vision

Rotherhithe station, then & now

2 September 2012 at 17:41 | Posted in Docklands past, Docklands present, Photos | 1 Comment
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Rotherhithe station first opened in 1869, when the Thames Tunnel was converted from a foot tunnel to a railway. It has changed a lot over the years, particularly above platform level, and when London Underground closed service on the East London line in December 2007 for its transfer to London Overground, the station – along with others along the route – got a substantial facelift.

The change over just the last 20 years is quite striking, as the following photos illustrate. The older pictures were taken around 1990, and the newer ones during the summer of 2012.

The station facade has been opened up to enlarge the entrance, making it more accessible and welcoming as these shots from 1990, 2007 and 2012 illustrate:

The ticket hall is virtually unrecognisable:

And as it looks to departing passengers:

The orange & brown later 1970s look has been replaced with a much more modern escalator enclosure:

The final drop to the platform is by stairs due to a lack of space for the escalators, and these too have been spruced up:

The bottom of the stairs are shown in these shots:

The platforms were pretty dreary before the 1990s installation of bright enamel panels along the walls. In the 1990 picture the view down the northbound platform shows the fairly dingy atmosphere compared with the modern shot:

Looking north along the same platform:

The southern end of the platforms lie under the Rotherhithe tunnel, which passes above. This view shows the southern end of the southbound platform with the Rotherhithe tunnel structure just visible, and in the modern shot shows the new emergency escape stairs to Albion Street, installed to supplement the main stairs in the event that a train needs to be evacuated:

Building the Jubilee line at Canada Water

12 July 2012 at 20:36 | Posted in Docklands past, Docklands present, Photos | Leave a comment
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In a couple of weeks, the Jubilee line will be one of the most crucial transport links serving London’s Olympic Games, serving not only the Olympic Park at Stratford but also the North Greenwich Arena (as the O2 is temporarily called), ExCel via Canning Town, and football at Wembley, as well as serving the many events in central London from beach volleyball, the marathon and triathlon to the parallel festivals.

So it’s easy to forget just how new the eastern part of the line is, opening only in 1999. The rebirth of Docklands pre-dates the eastern extension of the Jubilee line, but undoubtedly without it a great deal of the new development you can see today would not be there without the new tube line.

Canada Water is a good example of an area which is still undergoing its transformation, with a new centre beginning to arise around the tube station where until recently there was only tumbleweed.

The picture below (click to enlarge) was taken in 1996 looking south, and shows the large station box running from left to right, with a temporary bridge over it carrying Surrey Quays Road.

The picture below from Bing maps shows the area in about 2011; the buildings are slightly distorted on account of this being a stitch of more than one image, but the transformation over the past decade and a half is very evident. The circular building in the centre-right of the picture is the tube station, with the bus station to the right and adjacent to it. Above and to the left is the new Canada Water library, under construction in this photo but which actually opened late in 2011.

The vacant plot immediately below the station in the photo is Site A of the Barratts development, home to a fast-rising 80 metre tower with 26 floors.

All change at Canada Water

13 May 2012 at 10:45 | Posted in Docklands present, Photos | 1 Comment
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The pace of change at Canada Water is growing, with the area adjacent to the station now really beginning to feel like a proper urban place. Here’s a quick update of the new Ontario Point tower under construction and on its way to 26 floors, opposite the new library:

Stave Hill

29 December 2011 at 22:03 | Posted in Docklands past, Docklands present, Photos | 3 Comments
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Stave Hill is a wonderful hidden secret of Rotherhithe, a 10 m high artificial mound alongside Russia Dock Woodland, lifting visitors just high enough to see over the rooftops.

The area is naturally very flat; until the Surrey Docks were built, the whole area was marshland, with occasional flooding on the highest tides. When urbanisation reached the area, and the Thames wall sufficiently protected from the tides, the site of Stave Hill became a part of Russia Dock, named for one of the countries which did business with the Surrey Docks.

Following the closure of the docks, Russia Dock was filled in, along with most of the Surrey Docks, while the GLC and local borough debated what should become of the area. In the 1980s the London Docklands Development Corporation controversially took over the task of regeneration, and set about creating some new open spaces around which residential development could take place.

The LDDC realised that while plenty of land would be needed if they were to create the number of homes they envisaged, they at least had the foresight to realise that infilling the waterways almost in their entirety left the centre of the peninsula with little character to build on, so a new canal – the Albion Channel – was dug, from Surrey Dock (now Surrey Water), through the former site of Albion Dock to the remaining part of Canada Dock, now Canada Water (the rest of the dock lying underneath Surrey Quays shopping centre and part of its car park).

What to do with the spoil? Another part of the LDDC’s plan was  a landscaped park centred on Russia Dock, but being very flat now (having been entirely filled in) there was nowhere that a visitor could go to take a view. The spoil from Albion Channel thus gained a home as an artificial hill alongside Russia Dock Woodland, providing some much appreciated elevation within the otherwise rather flat area. (The approximate location of Stave Hill is circled in the aerial photo above).

Stave Hill is approached from Dock Avenue, a residential pedestrian street linking Stave Hill (and Russia Dock Woodland) with Timber Pond Road, now much shadier than it was in 1987!

The first image below is from circa 1987, and shows the view across the rooftops of houses just being completed, to the City in the distance, with a single prominent tower (then still called the NatWest Tower, now Tower 42). (Click on any images for a larger version.)

By 2008, the view looks quite different, with the trees maturing, and some notable new buildings appearing in view, including the City’s Gherkin.

Finally, in late 2011, another new building in the City has joined the cluster, Heron Tower, slightly to the right (north) of the Gherkin and Tower 42.

Just out of shot in the above frames is the Shard, the new 310 m high tower on the south bank of the Thames at London Bridge; it can be seen in the wider view below:

Oh, and the view towards Canary Wharf’s not bad, either…

Docklands Football: Millwall

11 December 2011 at 18:29 | Posted in Docklands past, Docklands present, Football, Maps and plans, Photos | Leave a comment
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There is a long history of football in the Docklands area, which has spawned some famous football clubs over the years. In this short series I’ll briefly profile the clubs which grew up around Docklands (before in some cases moving away); however this is by definition only a brief overview I’ll provide links to more comprehensive information. I am not focussing on the clubs’ honours and achievements which are well documented elsewhere but on their links to Docklands.

Millwall feature in this first post as they are perhaps the club most closely associated with Docklands; indeed their nickname started out as The Dockers, and the east stand in the current ground is now known as the Dockers Stand.

They were formed, as Millwall Rovers, in the Millwall area of the Isle of Dogs, in the heart of Docklands, in 1885. It was formed by workers of JT Morton’s, a Scottish firm which employed a number of Scottish workers in their Millwall factory; Millwall’s colours of navy blue and white reflect the Scottish heritage of the club.

In 1899, the ‘Rovers’ in the name was replaced by ‘Athletic’, and Millwall Athletic were founder members of the Southern League. The club played in a number of grounds in the Millwall area of the Isle of Dogs, starting in Glengall Road (now Tiller Road), with other grounds following in East Ferry Road (one, shown on the left behind the still-standing Lord Nelson pub at the corner of Manchester Road, was then sold and became home to Manchester Grove), but the growing club needed a new ground to call their own, and wanted to locate in a more densely populated area.

In 1910 the club made the move across the River Thames to a new ground, The Den, in Cold Blow Lane, SE14, between New Cross/Deptford and Bermondsey, and a few years later dropped the word ‘Athletic’ from their name. The plan on the left shows the area in 1914, with The Den towards the bottom left (click for larger image). The pitch of the New Den (see below) is outlined in blue towards the top left of the map.

Ten years after moving into The Den, the Football League expanded with a new Third Division, and Millwall moved, with much of the Southern League, into the Football League. Playing in the national leagues, Millwall drew crowds of over 48,000 to The Den, which became known for its intimidating atmosphere and partisan Lions Roar from the crowd. This atmosphere intensified in the 1970s and 1980s, when hooliganism spread through English football, and Millwall gained a reputation which the club has struggled to entirely throw off.

As the 1990s arrived, the Den had changed little over the decades, and in a post-Hillsborough era was in need of complete overhaul, with terraces on three sides and the main stand past its sell-by date.

In 1993 Millwall made the leap from The Den to a new ground a few hundred metres away in Zampa Road, SE16, the New Den (the ‘New’ now having been dropped over time).

I was standing on the north terrace for that last game at the old Den. For all the inadequacies of the facilities, including the open air toilets, it was a ground full of character, and I sincerely miss the terraces of old; I think the game’s administrators have never understood terrace culture, and would love to see safe standing areas return to England’s football grounds.

Regrettably I didn’t have my camera on me for that final game, but I did return over the following months as the old ground gave way to the New Den. The site of the old Den is now a residential development called John Williams Close. Hover for captions and click for larger images.

For more detailed information, visit fan history site Millwall History and of course the usual suspects of the official club site and Wikipedia, and Simon Inglis’s superb football grounds books.

Wapping, 1983

3 October 2011 at 19:53 | Posted in Docklands past, Photos | 1 Comment
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The photo below shows Wapping from above in 1983, with the former London Docks filled in for development (click for larger version).

The large space in the middle is the heart of the former London Docks, which made Wapping something of an island between the Thames and docks.

The docks were largely filled in to allow development of new homes in their place. The picture on the left shows the final stages of construction of new homes along the ornamental canal which features the former dock wall.

Homes also now surround the last vestiges of the docks at Hermitage Basin and Shadwell Basin, where Del and Rodney found Uncle Albert in an episode of Only Fools and Horses. Uncle Albert muses that it used to be a working dock and look at it now, all closed down with houses where the dockers used to work. “Yeah”, says Del; “Triffic, innit?”

Part of the site was shortly to become the infamous home of News International (at the top of the cleared land in this picture, incorporating the large brown building visible).

The print works were built in secret, but after completion in 1986 the main Rupert Murdoch newspapers – The Times, Sunday Times, Sun and News of the World moved here from Fleet Street, precipitating large-scale industrial action by the print unions at Wapping, and eventually the loss of all the major newspapers from Fleet Street for new premises. More recently the site returned to the front pages due to the phone hacking scandal, and the News of the World, based here since 1986, closed in the summer of 2011. In September 2011 News International announced that they would be leaving Wapping altogether, closing one of the most interesting chapters in UK newspaper history.

To the right of News International, and just below the white St George’s church, lies Tobacco Dock, a lovely survivor of the Docklands regeneration. The former tobacco warehouse was converted into small but interesting shopping centre in the 1980s, and I remember my dad taking me there very soon after it opened. I loved it, and thought it would be hugely popular. Sadly it didn’t work, and gradually the shops within it dwindled and the shopping centre was left empty, except for occasional TV filming. There are plans to turn it into a hotel, so maybe it’ll have another lease of life.

The red astroturf of the John Orwell Sports Centre is visible in the foreground, occupying the site of a former dock. Between there and the Thames is Wapping Pier Head, formerly an entrance into the London Docks. The waterway has long been filled in and now forms a communal garden for the gorgeous houses which were formerly occupied by dockmasters. They are now highly desirable, and allegedly home to such worthies as Graham Norton and Helen Mirren among others; I can’t vouch for that but google throws up plenty of such rumour! The Beatles visited before the gentrification of this area, and this was the location of Ross and Emily’s wedding, for aficionados of Friends!

The view below shows a more recent view of the same area, from bing.

Rotherhithe – a place in history, 1982 video

18 September 2011 at 17:37 | Posted in Docklands past, Videos | 1 Comment
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This fascinating amateur footage, if somewhat showing its age now, was shot around the Rotherhithe area in 1982, and has found its way onto YouTube for all to enjoy courtesy of Michael Reardon.

Part one:

Part two:

I’m very grateful to Michael Reardon for editing it and putting it onto YouTube (and to Gary for alerting me to it!).

Surrey Docks map, 1984

4 September 2011 at 18:56 | Posted in Docklands past, Maps and plans | Leave a comment
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The map below comes from a 1984 Greater London Council (GLC) book, Docklands History Survey. In it the GLC listed the buildings within the Docklands area worthy of future protection or conservation following the winding-up of the GLC two years later. (Click the map for a larger version.)

The map shows the derelict Surrey Docks in Rotherhithe.

The map is slightly odd in being formed of two separate surveys, with the northern part of the map obviously a year or two ahead of the southern part, with the northern part looking very similar to the 1983 aerial photo.

In both cases, Rotherhithe Street is the principal street around the peninsula, with Salter Road under construction in the newer, northern part of the map.

Several docks remain in whole or in part, with Canada Dock still visible, just before it succumbed to the new Surrey Quays Shopping Centre, and its car park, a few years later.

The Southwark /Lewisham boundary is interesting to me; in this area it still broadly (if not perfectly) followed the traditional parish boundary between Rotherhithe and Deptford, which also made it the boundary of Surrey and Kent before the London County Council came along. This made the southern edge of South Dock part of Lewisham at the time of this map, whereas the boundary was tidied up in 1994 and now runs along the middle of Plough Way, making this area part of Southwark. So if you happen to be bringing up a young cricket fan and live in one of the streets between South Dock and Plough Way, you’ll have to think hard whether they should support Kent (if you subscribe to traditional pre-1994 boundaries) or Surrey!

Reproduced by permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of HMSO.
© Crown Copyright. All rights reserved. Published according to Ordnance Survey’s Fair Dealing policy.

Canada Water progress

21 August 2011 at 21:05 | Posted in Docklands present | Leave a comment
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The new development around Canada Water is really coming along now. There is lots of piling and excavation under way on sites A3 & A4, next to the station where the tower will be. Tower crane arrival apparently imminent.

Meanwhile, Site A1, at the eastern end of the Barratts development,  is occupied and looking very smart. Here it is from Swan Road to the north, showing how it blends in with the older council blocks on the left:
Swan Road looking south

The new road between A1 (left) and A2 (right) is open, and now called Dominion Drive (planning docs called it the ‘Swan Road Extension’)
Dominion Drive

A2 (Vancouver House) is taking shape now, changing the whole feel of the area outside the station:
Vancouver House

The library is also crawling along, with completion expected in the next few weeks and I’m liking the look now; I was disappointed with the facade previously, but I think it looks a lot better when you can see a whole frontage clad:
Canada Water library

And here’s it reflecting in the tube station:
Canada Water tube and library

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