Docklands Panorama

August 2015

The panorama of Docklands as seen from near the new N1 Golf Driving Range just after sunrise. This view has remained quite similar since the completion of phase two of the Canary Wharf Estate. It is now set to change dramatically with the construction of numerous residential towers which is a new direction for this area. Much of this development will take place around Millwall and The South Dock near South Quay DLR Station. This is set to become the most densely populated area outside of Asia. The one to watch is South Quay Plaza at sixty eight stories, only four short of The Shard will be the tallest residential tower in Europe with construction just starting. On the left is Baltimore Tower which at forty five stories will be an impressive building with full surround balconies on every floor.

The Docklands were once the busiest docks in the world but started to decline in use from 1960 onwards. As ships became larger docking moved further East to Tilbury in Essex. The docks closed in 1980 and the area fell into decline. The creation of the London Docklands Development Corporation in 1981 and granting the Isle of Dogs Enterprise Zone status in 1982. led to its current use as a major financial business district in addition to The City. In 1987 the Canadian company Olympia and York agreed to construct a major office development on the Isle of Dogs, with construction commencing in 1988.

The first buildings were completed in 1991 which included One Canada Square that became the UK's tallest building and a symbol of the regeneration of Docklands. Upon opening, the London commercial property market had collapsed and Olympia and York Canary Wharf Limited filed for bankruptcy in May 1992. Canary Wharf takes its name from the West Wood Quay of the Import Dock. This was built in 1936 for Fruit Lines Ltd, a subsidiary of Fred Olsen Lines for the Mediterranean and Canary Islands fruit trade. At their request, the quay and warehouse were given the name Canary Wharf.

In December 1995 an international consortium, backed by the former owners of Olympia and York and other investors, bought the scheme. The new company was called Canary Wharf Limited, and later became Canary Wharf Group. Recovery in the property market generally, coupled with continuing demand for high floor-plate grade A office accommodation, slowly improved the level of interest in the estate. A critical event in the recovery of Canary Wharf was the much delayed start of work on the Jubilee Line, which the government wanted ready for the Millennium celebrations.

Now Canary Wharf is thriving with thousands of new flats being built in the surrounding area, the Jubilee line has reached full capacity and it is often difficult to board trains, this will not ease until Crossrail opens in 2018. I love exploring this area and there are some fantastic views but photography on the estate is heavily restricted and you are not allowed to use a tripod. My favourite views are this one and from the end of the South Dock looking West. The first time I photographed this view was in 2001, I remember being in a bookshop waiting for my film to be developed when I heard of the terrible events of September 11th in New York.

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