An itinerary of London, England. Docks and skyscrapers of Docklands.

London’s skyscraper district of Canary Wharf (Docklands)

Canary Wharf is a business district of London, built on the site of old dilapidated docks in the eastern part of the British capital. Glass and concrete skyscrapers are visible from many parts of the city, and at the same time the old docks, converted into houses and restaurants, are preserved here.

In the 19th century there was a huge cargo port in the area of Docklands, where goods from all over the world were transshipped. Between the 1960s and 1970s, shipping became containerized, where only large ships could be used.

At the same time, large ships could not pass through the Thames into London and the port industry moved to the deeper water ports at Tilbury and Felixstowe. By 1980, all of Canary Wharf’s docks were closed and soon the port was in decline. Unemployment in the area was high, poverty and social problems appeared.

A solution was found – the area began to be developed with modern buildings that housed offices and apartments, galleries and restaurants. The very idea to create a business center on the degraded city blocks belongs to banker Michael von Klemm. Margaret Thatcher’s government supported the project. At first, residents met the new venture with disbelief, but soon the area began to develop intensively. Along with public investments came large private investments. The area became a successful unique enterprise, competing with the City, the largest business and financial center of London.

Canary Wharf is now a millionaire’s district that surprises us with its skyscrapers and rivals the City of London’s main financial center in terms of the level of activity and concentration of capital.

Canary Wharf translates as “Canary Wharf. That is how a part of London’s prestigious business district is frivolously called. However, the name is better translated as Canary Wharf, since it was from here that ships departed for the Canary Islands and brought fruit to the harbor.

The business center was built on the site of abandoned docks, hence the name – Docklands, and the name of the peninsula “Doggy”, where Canary Wharf is located, can be explained by the very hard life of those who used to live here.

The skyscrapers of Canary Wharf – brief description

The business district of Canary Wharf from a distance looks like the Defiance in Paris, where more than 70 buildings, 14 of which are skyscrapers, were built four kilometers from the city center in the 70s. In this case, Paris, known for its beautiful architecture, according to experts, from such a neighborhood did not suffer at all.

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In Canary Wharf is half a dozen high-rise buildings, which are located the offices of famous companies. Among the skyscrapers, the ensemble of three buildings undoubtedly stands out:

  • The 244-meter, 50-story One Canada Square, easily recognized by the pyramid at the top. The first floor houses a shopping mall and the other floors are office space. It was built in 1991 and until 2012 was the tallest building in London
  • “25 Canada Square” is a 201-meter-high, 42-story skyscraper that houses the European headquarters of the Citigroup financial group
  • “8 Canada Square” has 42 floors and is 200 meters high. The building is the headquarters of the HSBC Group.

These towers do not have observation decks and tourists cannot climb to the top of the buildings. Note that “One Canada Square” is a symbol of Canary Wharf and before the construction in 2012 of the Shard skyscraper height of 310 meters was the highest in the UK.

The Shard Tower (Shard) is located between the two bridges – the Tower and the London Bridge, has an observation deck, and its name translates as “shard”. But Shard also lost its primacy after the construction of the 339-meter Mercury Tower in Moscow in 2013. Now the Shard is the fourth tallest building in Europe.

More than 100,000 people work in the Canary Wharf neighborhood, 80% of whom commute by public transport.

London is an extremely overcrowded city. But what about the City or the Docklands. The clerks here certainly have their cars, but they can’t afford to drive them to work. You have to pay to enter the city center, but that’s not the main thing – there are very few parking spaces, and of course they are very expensive. Therefore, all employees (except for top managers of companies) go to work by public transport – subway and electric trains (London has more than a dozen stations, which connect the city with the suburbs). In addition, it is also much faster – you can avoid traffic jams on the highways

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Getting to Canary Wharf

  • By subway – Canary Wharf station on the Jubilee gray line (literally the “Jubilee” line) (the line was built a few years ago, so it’s not on the old maps)
  • On the DLR is the surface subway line, which runs without a driver, Canary Wharf station.

You can also see the area during a boat ride on the Thames to Greenwich.

A few notes on the lifestyle of London clerks

In addition to taking public transportation, a mandatory part of Canary Wharf office workers’ pastime is going to the pub after work. Usually after the end of the working day, all employees head to the nearest pub. Even if it is in a modern building, the pub itself will be decorated in the traditional English style – wooden panels, portraits on the walls, and of course ale from local breweries.

A visit to the pub for Londoners is not so much a desire to take a drink, as an obligatory part of business etiquette. Employees have to socialize with each other not only at work. Having a pint with colleagues after work is considered to be a good thing. It strengthens personal ties, helps to find out the rough edges in relations, watch soccer and share the news. After a pint or a couple of pints of ale, a Londoner heads to the subway or to the nearest train station to go home.

In Canary Wharf, the infrastructure is solid and everything has been thought out down to the smallest detail. There are parks and bicycle parking lots, beautifully landscaped plazas, and recreational areas near the offices of major banks and media companies. Even the old harbor, two harbor cranes, and old docks are successfully used in the design of the neighborhood.

Lunchtime managers go outside with sandwiches and salads, and some even run around the park.

Lots of big stores and malls, restaurants and pubs. One of them, The Gun, a gastropub on the outskirts of Canary Wharf, was frequented by the British naval commander, Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson. It was also where, according to legend, he secretly met Lady Hamilton.

There are high-rise residential buildings in the area, but only the very, very wealthy can afford to live in them, even by the standards of the City of London.

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Next door to the glass and steel giants are the old docks. One of the buildings houses the Museum of London Docks, which tells about the past of the area.

Canary Wharf (Docklands) is quite far from the center of London, so not all tourists have time to see it. If you don’t have much time, you can take a boat trip down the River Thames from Tower Bridge to Greenwich. Over the past 100 years this place has changed dramatically: the bustling shipyards fell into decay and became a depressed area where only crime was developed. However, thanks to the willful decision of the city authorities, huge skyscrapers have grown in Canary Wharf, the area has become attractive to investors and also became one of the new attractions of London.

An itinerary of London, England. Docks and skyscrapers of Docklands.

Docklands is the real Cinderella of London’s neighborhoods. Once the world’s largest port and home to cargo ships from all over the world, it’s now a vibrant and affluent business and residential district. The reason for this positive change is an extensive renovation program that began in the 1980s and continues to this day.

Docklands is the unofficial name for the part of London that encompasses Canary Wharf, Isle of Dogs, Limehouse, Millwall, Tower Hill, Shad Thames and Wapping.

It’s a place where thoughtful renovation, cutting-edge modern architecture and meticulous landscaping have come together to create an exceptional living and working environment.

Almost all of Docklands’ facilities were severely damaged by the bombing of London during World War II. Without fully recovering from the wartime devastation, London’s port facilities were soon supplanted by other deep-water ports that began to dominate international shipping.

In 1969, the Greater London Council bought the first site, St. Catherine’s Docks. Although some of the original warehouses remain, the first phase of renovation began even then: a hotel, marina, restaurants and apartments were built. The originality and habitability of these projects, reinforced by measures to protect the river from pollution, sparked new enthusiasm for long neglected areas. The 12 miles (20 km) of decaying docks, factories, and old residences from Waterloo Bridge to Woolwich were the subject of feverish bidding and lively planning, peaking in the late 1980s.

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Charles Dickens frequently mentions the riverfront and the docks in his novels Our Mutual Friend and Great Expectations. In addition, a memorable and vivid description of the docks, their buildings, and the people working in them is contained in Joseph Conrad’s Mirror of the Sea.

The docks also appear in Philip Pullman’s novel Ruby in the Mist.

The 1990s series “Electronic Bugs” used Docklands extensively to film four episodes. Although the script referred to an anonymous city rather than specifying Docklands directly, the action took place in and around many familiar landmarks, from the London Arena to the Docklands light rail depot.

In the comedy “No Dating,” the main characters live in an apartment located in Docklands, and the action of the television series and the book “Call the Midwife” also takes place in the 1950s on the docks.

Docklands is popular with young professionals who love the area’s quiet nightlife and pleasant riverside atmosphere, but families also enjoy the local lifestyle.

The area has a good selection of elementary and secondary schools, including outstanding ones. When choosing schools in Docklands, you can look at public elementary schools, public schools and academies, or fee-paying independent schools.

A good choice of schooling in the area is an important advantage of Docklands. London is considered one of the best places to get an education in the UK, and Docklands is no exception. There are a large number of Ofsted rated ‘good’ elementary school here, such as Seven Mills Primary School and St Edmunds Catholic School.

Canary Wharf College Secondary School is rated “outstanding”, and quality additional education for ages 16-18 is provided by George Green School. That said, in Docklands, the fact that a property is in close proximity to good schools doesn’t make it more expensive, which means you can provide your child with a quality education at no extra cost.

Docklands is an ideal place to invest in London real estate. Here you can buy a modern apartment in a high-rise building or a converted Victorian warehouse. You’ll also find small neighborhoods here with traditional townhouses and maisonettes.

The average price of a property in Docklands is £767,864. The prices range from £112,500 to £5,200,000.

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The average value of apartments in the area is £758,070 and the average value of houses is £1,175,000.

The average rent in Docklands in 2022 is £568 per week, with prices ranging from £335 to £2,200.

Docklands is rightly considered one of London’s hidden gems: the area boasts a wealth of attractions not available in central London. History and culture buffs will find a place for themselves at the Museum of London Docks, which recounts the area’s trading past. The Everyman cinema in Canary Wharf is also a popular place for an evening out. For those who want a little more adrenaline, the area is also home to Wakeup Docklands, a London water sports park offering wakeboarding and paddleboarding lessons. If you prefer a more leisurely vacation, Mudchute Park and Farm, Bow Creek Ecopark, and East India Dock Basin Nature Preserve are popular places to walk.

Outdoor attractions in Docklands include marinas, riverfront walks and sailing schools, and a 32-acre country farm, Mudchute Park, run by a public charity.

The area offers gyms and fitness centers with exercise and sports facilities to suit all tastes.

London Docks Museum Although the London Docks Museum lies outside the usual tourist itineraries, it is one of the best and most popular museums in the UK.

The museum is dedicated to the history of the London river, port and people – it tells the story of the place since Roman times. Three floors of the museum take you through the chronology of these places all the way to the most recent reconstruction of Docklands.

The museum itself is located in a former Georgian-style sugar warehouse, built in 1802, next to the West Indies docks on the Isle of Dogs in East London.

Its location is made even more interesting by its proximity to the Canary Wharf complex, which creates quite an interesting mix of old and new.

The museum has 12 galleries, featuring such exhibits as “The War of the Docks,” “The Peace Warehouse” and “London Sugar and Slavery.” You can also find life-size replicas of the docks here – and get a feel for what they used to look, feel and smell like.

An important note – as of recently, admission to the Museum of London Docks is now free.

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