Be amazed by a new burst of development at Canary Wharf

In sharp contrast to the winter gloom, Tuesday’s bright sunshine spurred us on to take yet another probe into the Westferry situation at Canary Wharf.  As reported in my recent blog of January 14th, I thought it necessary to explore further the profusion of high rise proposals bordering Westferry Circus, West India Dock and South Dock.

Catching a bus from Island Gardens DLR to Westferry Circus was an important orientation exercise.  The dramatic elevated view point to the East towards Marsh Wall highlights a series of high rise development sites under construction.

The Canary Wharf development of high rise offices and residential can be easily seen, while the major riverside site is on hold.  The extent of the lower levels have been excavated and developed up to ground floor level, clearly marking the extent of the site.  Just across the road where the Heron Quays mini circus with its multi-coloured light signals is where the diamond shape residential high rise is sited next to a major HQ office tower which will be the second tallest on the Isle of Dogs peninsula (just a floor or two lower than No. 1 Canada Square).


Meanwhile, on South Quay itself, two other major schemes are being marketed.  Wardian – a twin tower scheme by Ballymore – is under construction.  A visit to their iconic sales gallery will impress, located in a purpose-built design cube at 76 Marsh Wall.  While there, I suggest a visit to Berkeley Homes South Quay Plaza to view their show suite on site.  Their scheme competes directly with these other residential developments in the same neighbourhood and further schemes to the east of Canary Wharf existing estate.  Note the angular frontage to the Dock and be sure to look at their plush letting books – see sketch map for all four schemes.


The mid-winter river scene across the two-mile stretch of Greenwich Reach is a lonely place and attracts only the enthusiast to poke about the tideline for some hidden treasure.  Yet on the this gloomy Monday morning, three crouching figures scan the outgoing tide line while speeding Thames Clippers could well douse the unwary.  It was only yesterday evening in the Parish Hall of St. Alfege’s that such an enthusiast displayed his own particular treasure trove to the SANRA parishioners.  Warren Silk from Tunbridge Wells displayed his Thameside finds and described in detail the joy of the hunt for items hidden in the silt of the ebbing tide.  His favourite patch is undisclosed but could be guessed from his demand for easy access onto the foreshore from an undisclosed neighbouring free parking bay.


Armed with a flask of hot coffee, he described his dawn ‘raids’, pre-planned with the aid of a tide table.  His issued licence gives him permission to do this very personal endeavour – he records each ‘minutiae’ from dressmaker pins, garnets, coins, medieval pottery shards and even the humble clay pipe discarded perhaps by a Greenwich pensioner as he mused about his own adventures of yesteryear.  The intricacies of pre-Victorian fashion demanded much use of the humble pin to hold the elaborate gown together fresh from a fashion plate.

The recent East Coast storms and flood threats to the estuary and Thameside are largely secured by the Woolwich Flood Barrier when, after a telephone warning, we prepare our humble defences.  I even venture onto the Highbridge foreshore while the next door rowing club venture out onto the tideway.  Taking advantage of the opening of the steel floodgate, I beat the bounds of our own particular historic beach which was once a favoured mooring place of coastal craft and even Venetian galleys.

Concerns were raised at Question Time about the rapid changes caused by fast moving craft such as the Thames Clippers which rush up and down not only creating a devilish wash but a secondary undertow every twenty minutes or so for at least 18 hours a day.  The original Clippers were imported from Sydney where the riparian authorities decided enough was enough.  The extension of the Clipper Service has the Mayor’s support as new piers at Blackfriars have recently been opened with the promise of more cross-river services planned serving Canary Wharf and the Greenwich Peninsula.

About RiverWatch returns

Peter Kent shares his Thames riverside studio viewpoint

One response to “Be amazed by a new burst of development at Canary Wharf”

  1. Susan Miles says :

    Of the Thames Clippers – just six years ago we had a curious feeling of déjà vu while travelling up the Parramatta River from Sydney Harbour, for we were on an identical clipper. In fact I was able to sit on the very metal bench to one side of the open deck at the back which I preferred when commuting by river between Greenwich and Westminster. It was rather weird, to be on such a familiar craft but with such extraordinarily different sights and smells, and bathed in light so utterly unlike our own. Of course the topography of the river was completely different too, and we couldn’t travel as far as we hoped because of the mangroves. How interesting to learn that the clippers are no longer used there. They create less wash than traditional craft, but there is more turbulence beneath the surface

    I found this extract from the History of the Parramatta River by Ian Hoskins, 2015: The first colonial accounts referred often to mangroves. It was in the upper stretch in the 1790s that the colony’s first master boat builder, Daniel Paine, obtained the mangrove wood which was ‘very useful for cutting into Boats timbers growing in every shape proper for the purpose’.

    However I gather these clippers were built in Brisbane.

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