Canary Wharf Pier
The TFL River Action plan proposes that piers should be destinations in themselves. So I’ve decided to try them out and this is my second visit. Canary Wharf is one of the larger piers and on the Thames Clipper website two places of interest are identified; the shopping mall and The Museum of Docklands. The shopping mall offered little appeal so I set off for the museum which is well signposted.

View of Canary Wharf from the pier

View of Canary Wharf from the pier

The museum is in West India Quay which is a Grade 1 listed building overshadowed by numerous tall office blocks. It was originally used to store imported tea, sugar and rum. Several restaurants and bars also occupy the building. The museum is spread over three floors. You start on the top floor and work down. Exhibitions cover from the earliest Roman settlements on the Thames to regeneration of the area. The model of the Old London Bridge is well worth seeing. It is in two sections, east and west. I had read that the piers of the bridge had impeded the flow of the Thames and in winter ice accumulated around them and this is why the Thames had frost fairs. Seeing the model really helped me to understand this.

Museum of Docklands

Museum of Docklands

The expansion of trade and the development of the docks unfold as you walk through the museum. The Sailors’ Way and the Second World War air raid shelter develop a sense of period and place effectively. The final part of the museum focuses upon the regeneration of Docklands and here I did have problems. Some of the narratives on the information boards lack balance. For example, there is one called Bridging the Gap which detailed the 1994 plans for a crossing from North Greenwich to Blackwall. It states that the scheme met with local opposition but the LDDC had thought it vital for the development of the Dockland area. There is not even a nod to explaining the basis of the local opposition. The Royal Borough of Greenwich has recently launched a new Bridging the Gap campaign which is again generating legitimate environmental concerns. The board about Jack Dash, trade union leader involved in the dock strikes, labelled Good Morning Brother omitted to inform the public that this was the title of his autobiography: a serious omission. There was some celebration of the financial service industry and no doubt in the fullness of time this view may be modified. I came away thinking that the promise of regeneration has been largely illusory. More about property development than the creation of jobs for local people.

West India Quay

West India Quay

Is it worth visiting? Well yes and as an added attraction there is a good riverside view of the distinctive Olympia Slip sheds at The Royal Naval Dockyard Deptford. With the prospect of 3,500 new apartments (only 500 affordable) going up there future views may be obscured.

http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/Docklands/

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