Why? Asked EVERYBODY! when we included Canary Wharf in our weekend plans. Yes – we always try to find some new corner of the city for a walk but … Canary Wharf?… really?
Himself wasn’t exactly overexcited either about the idea of a stroll around a ‘few office blocks’. It wasn’t on my own bucket list to be sure but I must have come across it in some listing or other. Anyway, we’d get a chance to use the new Elizabeth Line (all right – not on the bucket list either!), we’d have a quick look around and grab a bit of lunch.
I thought I ‘d better read up a bit on the place, just in case everyone was right and it was going to be a complete waste of time. And what did I find – the UK’s largest free to visit Public Art Collection!! A 4km Art Trail with over 100 works – well that would certainly give us a focus!!!
From the early 19th century, this was a bustling import/export hub for goods throughout British Territories, the Mediterranean and beyond (including the Canary Islands – hence the name).
The area suffered extensive bomb damage during WW2. With many warehouses beyond repair, as well as the changing needs of ever larger container ships, much trade moved elsewhere and the docks finally closed their gates in 1980.
Plans however, were already underway to redevelop the area. By the end of that decade, major companies were already transferring their business here. While it wasn’t all plain sailing and without controversy at times, the rest, as they say, is history. Roll on to 2023 and this once derelict and abandoned site is home to law firms, banks, media companies and housing complexes all served by retail malls, restaurants, transport links and leisure facilities.
On a February Monday, mid morning, we’d the place not quite to ourselves but not far off it. With a daily work population of some 120,000 we were actually looking forward to the lunchtime rush – Time Square meets Shibuya Crossing with tens of thousands teeming from the office blocks into the squares, parks and malls. Never happened. No thousands – dozens at best. It’s either a ‘Monday thing’ or people are still working from home or everyone here eats at their desks!!
High Rise yes but this is no concrete jungle….
This is very much a work in progress…
In the distance, the city from whence many businesses decamped….
The developers have managed to set aside over 20 acres of common area…
Outdoor furnishings combine functionality with elegance…..
And then, of course, there’s the art…
We spent about 2.5 hours in total here, including a coffee break and a quick lunch. There’s everything to choose from but we opted for a Poke Bowl from Island Poké – one advantage of the absentee workforce was plenty of available seating indoors on a chilly day.
We could easily have whiled away a few more hours – we didn’t get to the shops or the nearby Museum of London Docklands. A guided walking tour would be be worthwhile, I think, for those interested in the architecture, history and development of the area.
It is definitely worth a visit. I loved the architecture and artwork. I don’t feel a need to return any time soon but wouldn’t mind going back in a few years time to check out the ever changing skyline and see if the elusive workforce has reappeared!
Before you go –
Here are a few more ideas for those of you heading to London soon….
Skystation (Peter Newman, 2005) This interactive piece of art allows you to sit and gaze up at the sky, offering a different perspective of the city.
32 thoughts on “LONDON OUT AND ABOUT – CANARY WHARF”
Thanks for sharing this idea. Such an amazing site to see. Anita
There’s certainly plenty to take in on a half day visit – especially for those already familiar with the major attractions in the city. XXXmarie
London certainly has changed since I visited in the 1970’s! AND the dock area today would be a revelation to my great great grandfather, who was killed in a dock accident loading a ship in the 1800’s. Great photos!
This part of the city would certainly be very different nowadays, Therese. And what a strong connection you have to the area, with your great, great, grandfather. You’ve obviously done some research – so one or more of his descendants must have emigrated to Australia at some stage?
It’s an area I used to like to walk around at weekends when I was working in London. I liked the way it looked like a deserted city of the future. I have trouble recognising your photos, I’ll have to think about coming back.
I’d say it’s a landscape that changes year on year. Certainly anyone once familiar with the area should revisit to compare… Worth a quick visit next time you’re in London – you can use the Elizabeth Line which will also be new to you…. XXXMarie
I read about this art exhibit somewhere else so I figured that was why you were going. It’s not somewhere I’ve been and my London trips are far and few between sadly so doubt I will make it to Canary Wharf but I love the name!
The Art Trail gave us a focus – there are indoor pieces also but we didn’t bother hunting down most of those. I love the name also – I hadn’t expected it to be connected to the Canary Islands though. The Canary Islands are not named for the bird but the Latin word for Dog – Canaria. And Canary Wharf is located on the Isle of Dogs – don’t know if that’s relevant….. XXXMarie
Lovely photos of an oft-under appreciated area. I’ve never worked here but oft visited. It’s interesting to see how it has changed in last 20 years. Thank you
We’d nothing to compare it to of course but I’d say anyone once familiar with the area would find the development interesting. Glad you enjoyed. XXXMarie
😍 🥰 😘
Just look at all the wonderful sculptures and statues! Canary Wharf and Docklands may not be at the top of everyone’s London hit list, with locals and tourists alike thinking it is mainly for city workers who work in the skyscrapers. However, scratch beneath the surface of Canary Wharf and Docklands and you’ll discover rooftop gardens, art installations and some of the best shopping spots in London, without the usual queues and hubris. One of my favourite places is Crossrail Roof Gardens – it may be overshadowed by the Sky Garden, which is a jarring and joyous juxtaposition of nature against the sleek skyscrapers of Canary Wharf. Thanks for sharing and have a good day 🙂 Aiva xx
I’ve just looked it up – can’t believe we missed that, Aiva! Might have to go back there after all!!!
There a way too many places to check out in one trip, that’s why I love returning to cities like London 🥰
Especially when you’ve already seen the main attractions that don’t need revisiting….
Lots to see!
There really is, Lissy, once you actually slow down and starting looking – although I suppose we could say that about anywhere! Just think of what each and every one of your lovely NYC neighbourhoods have to offer..
I love Canary Wharf and would never have questioned why you would go there – in fact I would recommend it! There’s some striking modern architecture to photograph, lots of interesting art (and often special exhibitions in addition to the permanent pieces) and good places to eat. If you go again I definitely recommend a visit to the Museum of London Docklands too – an excellent museum!
Good to get an endorsement, Sarah! I wouldn’t be sending first time visitors there – there’s always so much to see and do in London – but for repeat visitors it’s definitely worth checking out I think. I didn’t know anything about the museum so thanks for the recommendation. XXXXMarie
Canary Wharf looks like a wonderful place to spend a few hours! I am so impressed with the vision of the redevelopers. To think this was a derelict area only a few year ago. I enjoyed your post!
What an enormous undertaking! It wasn’t without controversy – I haven’t read up much on it but it was considered a planning and development disaster at times. It seemed to weather that and then of course Covid hit – that must have had a huge effect on the service industries – sandwich bars, coffee shops etc. Our own docklands here in Dublin have seen great redevelopment in the past few decades and like you, I’m so impressed with those who have such vision in long term urban planning. Glad you enjoyed. XXXMarie
This areanow looks interesting enough for a return visit – my last visit was in 2001, and was work related. It really did feel like a high rise ghetto. The art looks wonderful
They’ve put a lot of work into making the place attractive to live in. There were a few baby buggies out and about and toddlers running around the parks which was lovely to see. You’d definitely see a lot of change since 2001… XXXMarie
Canary Wharf looks like an interesting place to explore with all that architecture and art. I enjoyed scrolling through your pictures. Thanks for taking us along on the tour.
Certainly has more to offer than expected. Glad you enjoyed. XXXMarie
Lovely! I really like Canary Wharf and although not on too many tourists’ lists, I think it’s well worth a visit. I’d love to visit the Docklands Museum one day.
You must know London quite well Hannah. I like visiting a particular area and just walking – otherwise we seem to spend a lot of time underground and popping up at the nearest tube station to a museum or theatre or whatever..
Much more to see than I would have imagined
There really is! You’d easily pass a few hours here. XXXXMarie
My friend and I went to this part 10 years ago:) we also enjoyed the ride on the cable car:)
This time last year we were also in London – we followed The Line one day – it’s an art trail. Part of it included the cable car. After a few hours we reached the cable car only to discover it was closed for maintenance or something – We has to retrace our steps and look for a tube station. very disappointing at the time…