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28th and 29th JUNE 2016

AT:

Level 39,
One Canada Square,
Canary Wharf E14 5AB

DOCKLANDS HERITAGE

In the early twentieth century, the Docklands area was in fact far from a Wasteland. In 1936 there were over 400 in industrial firms located in E14 and E3, London, with huge variety from adhesive manufacturers to wool factors, exotic tortoiseshell makers to the heavy duty constructional engineers, Power, Deane and Ransmore in Wharf Road. The area was a thriving pocket of industry and trade compared to the rest of the East of London which was rife with unemployment and poverty.

The inter-war years began to alter the fortunes of the area, with new businesses migrating to the West and North of London although the Port continued to Flourish as international importing and exporting increased.

The impact of the 2nd World War on the Docklands was savage and was the beginning of the end of this prosperous period. Many older 'children' and young men going to war and younger generation being evacuated to the countryside. As an important business centre of the time it was subject to numerous raids in the Blitz that lasted 9 months, with thousands of homes destroyed and many more civilians killed or injured. The population shrunk from 21, 000 to 9, 000, one third of warehouses were destroyed, along with community centres, pubs and churches. Many businesses moved away from the area to survive ir were completely destroyed.

FROM THE 1970s

Post-war construction was late arriving to the Docks and it took three decades for the semblance of a new landscape to develop. The emerging area was quieter and greener, however, a lack of investment and competition from other part of the country meant the Docks were run down and there were great concerns about how to revive the economic fortunes of the Docks and all of the area east of the Tower of London.

A number of governments tried to address the issue:

  • 1971: the London Docklands Study Team is set up under the Heath government to come up with a redevelopment plan.
  • 1973: The Labour government set up the Docklands Joint Committee, comprising the GLC and 5 London Boroughs.
  • 1976: London Docklands Strategic Plan is devised, funded by Public Sector was proposed to utilise existing skills to rebuild the infrastructure and create local jobs. The plan never came to fruition.
  • 1979: Conservative government led by Margaret Thatcher, with Michael Heseltine at her side as Secretary for State for the Environment passed the power to just one agency - the London Docklands Development Agency (LDDC). The LDDC was charged with regenerating the area, initially trough road improvements and clearing sites in order to make the area, that was now a Wasteland, attractive for private investment.

The LDDC set the stage for the future. Over the next 20 years, 4 new areas of work became dominant:-
1. Business and Finance
2. Distribution
3. Hotels & Catering
4. Printing & Publishing

Amidst the boom of the 1980's modern apartment buildings began to appear alongside skyscrapers, the likes of which London had never seen before. In 1987 the innovative Dockalnds Light Railway was opened, followed by the Jubilee line extension in the 1990s.

The contrast between the old and the new was not without controversy as the indigenous population of the area felt neglected amongst the glitz of this new meccas for business. In addition, millions of pounds were invested in the indigenous population, particularly educations and training and later in the 1990's there was evidence that school leaver in the Docklands were now getting jobs in the Wharf.

Today the Wharf is one of the major economic centres of the world.