Kent on the prowl around Canary Wharf

Recording the birth and growth of London’s Docklands has indeed been a privilege for an octogenarian whose artistic endeavour has been focused on the transformation from sad demise of the up-river port to joyous rebirth into a virile and energetic quarter of our great city.

As a student armed with the necessary pass, I had gained admittance to all of London’s Docklands and sketched the extraordinary change of use, and feel charged to comment on what I can now see from my Greenwich studio looking cross-river into the heart of Canary Wharf as it grows and grows.

major sites001

Regular journeys of discovery armed with a pensioner travel pass has enabled me to get up and go.

Well, I have discovered the kind heart of those who worked and lived there.  Like old people do, I took a tumble while alighting from one of the buses which criss-cross the estate.  Instant concern and help from fellow travellers got me upright and dusted me down – even offered to see me home!!  The kindness of a young teaching assistant from George Green School should be specially mentioned as she spotted my travel pass on the bus floor and immediately got off two stops further down its route and ran back to return it to me.  Meanwhile, a kindly street Gurkha polished a nearby street bench for me and kept guard while I recovered.

By chance, this incident took place outside one of the first office buildings on the site, bravely occupied by a firm of solicitors – Littlejohn Fraser at 1 Park Place and a temporary home of the Docklands Business Club which was breathing life into the new business community.  Now it was being redeveloped by Canary Wharf into a 60-storey landmark of striking diamond design which I had been monitoring since site clearance!!

keeping pace001

West India Docks

Aerial photo showing previous proposal for No.5 Park Place

Another aerial picture showing completed building

To the right is Hertesmere House, now also demolished, next to Museum of Docklands – note DLR train at site of Canary Wharf’s grand station.

The artist records construction of Canary Wharf

About RiverWatch returns

Peter Kent shares his Thames riverside studio viewpoint

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