The London Docklands is a fascinating place in the city. But why? Find out what makes this part of London so interesting in this article…
What You Should Know About The London Docklands
Did you know you could see he whole area of London Docklands by travelling through the automated light metro system? London Docklands is a hidden gem tucked away in the heart of one of the world’s most vibrant cities. From ancient maritime history to modern-day skyscrapers, this stunning location has something special for everyone.
With so much to explore and discover, it’s no wonder that the London Docklands is a must-visit destination for tourists of all ages. Are you ready to uncover 13 fascinating facts about the London Docklands that will leave you spellbound? If so, keep reading!
1. It is the Home to Green Landscaped Parks
London Docklands is home to several green landscaped parks that offer a peaceful haven away from the city’s hustle and bustle. The largest of these parks is the Thames Barrier Park, which covers an area of 7-hectare.
Did you know that the park was established on polluted land? It took painstaking efforts to decontaminate the ground! Moreover, this park is known for its unique landscape design incorporating water features and sculptures. You can also relax on the park’s grassy hills and enjoy stunning views of the River Thames.
Another gem in London Docklands is the Sir John McDougal Gardens, once home to a brewery. The park offers a beautifully landscaped garden, a pond, and a playground for children. You can also enjoy a picnic on the park’s open fields while taking in the serene surroundings.
2. The Docklands Light Railway – A Unique Automated Light Metro System
The London Docklands Light Railway (DLR) is an automated light metro system that connects the London Docklands with other areas of London. It’s a fantastic way to get around and explore the sights and sounds of this vibrant neighbourhood in an innovative and unique type of transport.
One of the best things about the DLR is its ease of use. The network map is straightforward to read, and you can buy your ticket at any station using a contactless payment card or Oyster card. The fare system is based on zones, and tickets are also reasonably priced.
The first stop on the DLR is Tower Gateway, which provides easy access to the Tower of London and Tower Bridge. From here, you can stroll along the Thames Path to explore many restaurants, cafes, and attractions along the river.
3. The Museum of London Docklands Offers an Insight into the History and Heritage
One of the most notable landmarks in the London Docklands is the Museum of London Docklands. The museum is in a warehouse constructed in 1802 and used for sugar imports from the West Indies. Today, the museum showcases the area’s history, including the docks’ role in the slave trade and the Blitz during World War II.
The museum also features a dedicated children’s gallery called Mudlarks. This interactive space is designed to engage young visitors with hands-on exhibits, games, and activities that explore the museum’s themes in a fun and educational way.
4. Cutty Sark is the World’s Last Surviving Tea Clipper
The Cutty Sark, an iconic tea clipper, located in London Docklands is a maritime masterpiece and the world’s last surviving ship of its kind. Built-in 1869, it was designed to outrun any other vessel in Britain and China’s highly competitive tea trade.
In 1953, the Cutty Sark was purchased by the Cutty Sark Preservation Society, where it underwent extensive restoration work. It took over six years to complete the restoration, and in 2003, it was opened to the public as a museum ship.
The ship’s exhibitions offer a glimpse into life aboard the Cutty Sark, including the crew’s living quarters and cargo holds. The Cutty Sark also boasts a unique feature – its original hull is suspended in mid-air. It allows visitors to walk beneath it and see the intricate details of the construction.
5. Isle of Dogs is Famous for its Greenwich Foot Tunnel
Isle of Dogs has a Greenwich foot tunnel that is over a hundred years old and boasts a rich history. Its original purpose was to provide a route to workers from the north side of the Thames to reach the docks on the south side.
The tunnel is roughly 1,215 feet long and has a diameter of just over 9 feet. It was designed by Sir Alexander Binnie, who also crafted the Blackwall Tunnel. What makes the Greenwich Foot Tunnel unique is its design features. It has an iron dome-shaped entrance and the ceramic tiles that line the walls.
Interestingly, during World War II, the tunnel was used as an air-raid shelter, providing safety for up to 8,000 people. Several urban legends are associated with the tunnel including stories of ghost sightings and eerie sounds echoing through the tunnel at night.
While the Greenwich Foot Tunnel may not be a “secret” spot, it’s worth a visit for its fascinating history and impressive design. And if you’re feeling brave, try visiting at night to experience its mysterious ambiance firsthand.
6. The ExCeL London Exhibition Offers Sporting Events
ExCeL London Exhibition Centre transformed London Docklands into the thriving entertainment destination.
The ExCeL London Exhibition Centre offers various fun programs such as sporting events, exhibitions and conferences for tourists. It has hosted major events such as the 2012 Olympic boxing competition, and the 2019 London Classic Car Show.
The centre’s success has been a major factor in attracting new businesses and development to the area. One particularly fascinating aspect is the sheer diversity of sports showcased within its walls.
There’s something for every sports enthusiast, from traditional athletic disciplines like boxing, fencing, and weightlifting to unique and thrilling activities like taekwondo, judo, and wrestling.
7. The Emirates Air Line – A Cable Car System that Offers Panoramic Views
The Emirates Air Line is a cable car system that offers panoramic views of the River Thames and London. The 1.1-kilometer route connects the Greenwich Peninsula to the Royal Docks and it takes approximately 10 minutes to reach.
The cable car system can carry up to 2,500 passengers per hour in each direction. The cabins are made of glass, giving tourists an unobstructed view of the city. It is the first urban cable car system in the United Kingdom.
8. Anne’s Limehouse – An Anglican Church Known for its Captivating Architecture
St. Anne’s Limehouse was designed by the renowned architect Nicholas Hawksmoor. He was also responsible for designing several other churches in the area. Also, the church was built in the early 18th century and was funded by the Commission for Building Fifty New Churches.
The church has a rich history and has witnessed many important events. During World War II, it was a refuge for residents seeking shelter from the bombings. The church has recently been used as a filming location for several movies and TV shows.
One of the most notable features that attract tourists is its unique octagonal shape inspired by the ancient Christian baptistery at Ravenna, Italy. The unique shape gives the church a striking and unusual appearance.
9. Boisdale Restaurant is Famous for its Games
The Boisdale restaurant offers Scottish dining, live music, and world-class whisky, making it stand out.
While many visitors to London may not be familiar with Boisdale, it has a rich history worth exploring. Ranald Macdonald, a Scottish aristocrat passionate about food and music, founded the restaurant.
Macdonald’s vision was to bring the best of Scotland to London, and he has succeeded in doing so with Boisdale. One of the main attractions of Boisdale is its famous games, which include snuffbox, quoits, and darts. You can play these games peacefully in a traditional Scottish setting.
Visitors can also participate in whisky tastings and learn about the history of this iconic drink.
The restaurant’s menu is also worth mentioning. It features a range of Scottish, and traditional British favorites. The wine list is extensive, and the whisky selection is unparalleled, with over 1,000 malts.
10. Jubilee Park – A Beautiful Roof Garden Built Above an Underground Station
Did you know that Jubilee Park is one of the largest roof gardens in Europe? The park is conveniently located above the Canary Wharf tube station. Simply take the Jubilee Line to Canary Wharf station, and you’ll find the park’s entrance on the station’s upper level.
It’s accessible via public transport and only a short walk from nearby attractions like the Museum of London Docklands and the O2 Arena.
One of the highlights of Jubilee Park is its stunning array of flora and fauna. The park is home to over 300 trees, including birches, cherries, elms, and a variety of wildflowers and grasses.
You’ll also find a pond filled with fishes, frogs, and algae that attract native species, such as blue tits and robins.
Stroll along the winding pathways and admire the park’s beautiful flora and fauna. If you’re feeling active, why not try out the fitness equipment or play a game of table tennis? You can also relax on one of the many benches and enjoy the stunning views of the city skyline.
11. North Dock – Homes Aquatic Birds and Seals
North Dock’s Aquatic Habitat is home to various marine animals, including aquatic birds and seals.
Aquatic birds are an important part of the North Dock’s ecosystem and can be found year-round. The Western Gull, the Pelagic Cormorant, and Double-crested Cormorant are among the most common species.
The Western Gull is the most common bird species in the area, known for its loud call and aggressive nature. These birds are opportunistic feeders and will eat anything from fish to garbage. During the breeding season, they build nests out of seaweed and grass on nearby rocks and islands.
Visitors can witness the graceful flight of the Western Gull, hear its distinctive call, and observe the fascinating behaviors of these birds, such as nesting and feeding. Additionally, lucky visitors might even glimpse playful seals frolicking in the water, creating a memorable and enchanting experience.
12. The Annual Thames Festival Holds Spectacular Fireworks Display
The Thames Festival Fireworks Display is one of London’s most anticipated annual events at the London Docklands. This spectacular event attracts thousands of visitors each year, and it’s not hard to see why. The show is one of the country’s biggest and best fireworks displays, and it never fails to impress.
The history of the Thames Festival Fireworks Display dates back to 1997 when it was first held as part of the Thames Festival. Since then, the event has grown in scale and significance, becoming a highlight of London’s cultural calendar.
The display is a carefully choreographed spectacle, with a dazzling array of colors, shapes, and sounds lighting the night sky.
The fireworks are set off from barges on the Thames, providing a unique and unforgettable viewing experience. The best spots to watch the fireworks include the North Bank of the River Thames, Tower Bridge, and Wapping.
13. Crossrail Place Roof Garden – Offers Canary Wharf Skyline Views
Did you know that Crossrail Place Roof Garden is an innovative example of sustainable architecture? The garden was designed to be a green oasis in the heart of Canary Wharf, with over 1,500 individual plants worldwide.
As you wander through the garden, you’ll see the panoramic vistas of the iconic Canary Wharf skyline towers, surrounded by the beauty of lush greenery and vibrant plant life.
You’ll also discover interesting art installations and sculptures as you explore the garden. For a truly unique experience, visit the garden at night when it is illuminated by soft, atmospheric lighting.
To ensure everyone remains engaged and excited about their visit, consider organizing a scavenger hunt or nature walk through the garden. You could also set up a picnic with snacks and drinks for guests to enjoy while taking in the stunning views of the city skyline.
London Docklands was once the heart of London’s international trade, where ships worldwide would dock and unload their goods. In the early 1800s, the East India Company built the East India Docks, kick-starting the area’s development.
Today, London Docklands is home to several landmarks that showcase its fascinating past, which chronicles the history of the region in detail.
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