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.

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

Surrey Docks, 1983

21 August 2011 at 21:04 | Posted in Docklands past | 7 Comments
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The photo below shows the Russia Dock area from above in 1983, largely cleared and awaiting development (click for larger version).


At the far bottom right lies the (then) new Downtown Health Centre. Top centre is the new home of Fisher Athletic FC, the Surrey Docks Stadium, which hosted Conference football when Fisher Athletic were flying high. Sadly the club moved out a few years ago, forcing the Fish to share with Dulwich Hamlet. The club subsequently folded, to re-emerge as fan-owned Fisher FC, playing further down the football pyramid.

The foreground shows the former docks filled in and largely awaiting development, although Downtown to the right has been built. Stave Hill, Russia Dock Woodland, Bacon’s College and the Albion Channel will soon appear in this area.

At the top left, just past the gasholder (still there), a very neat square of levelled land shows where my own house will shortly be built (in the 1980s, that is).

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

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