London’s Docklands. They have always seemed to me the eeriest of places – so still and secretive in a way, and steeped in history that is at turns violent, bloody, and cruel in its happenings – to people and animals alike. Despite their proximity to the ever-shifting Thames and what is now some of London’s busiest commercial and residential spots – Greenwich, Bermondsey and Canary Wharf – this part of London has never drawn me. But when taking a walk on a crisp winter’s evening at sunset I found an eerie yet magical side to the docklands that I didn’t know existed – these photos tell their story.
Greenland Dock, London’s oldest surviving dock from the now lost Surrey Commercial Docks Company (closed in 1969) – the buildings and warehouses that once lined its sides were used to boil whale blubber to make oil – whales brought here by whaling ships that came from Greenland, hence the dock’s name. One can only imagine what that must have smelled like! Now the sites are home to new-build riverside homes with sunset views.
Could you live on a houseboat as pretty as this one?
These sites would once have been used by whaling ships from Greenland. Now they are home to pleasure boats and dockside pubs, which lend this area a quiet and serene atmosphere.
One last dock to explore – Canada Water (formerly Canada Dock), from which the station nearby takes its name. This is now a freshwater lake which has many species of bird and other wildlife taking rest here from the hustle and bustle in the city outside. It was originally used as a meeting and unloading ground by ships arriving from Canada carrying timber and other goods for use in England. This incredibly striking building that the sunlight has lit up so well is Canada Water Library, which is open to the public.
Be sure to check out the cafes and eateries surrounding the docks themselves – Deptford especially has some great cocktail bars to discover in their converted railway arches!
Until next time.