Photos of Limehouse, Shadwell and Wapping: Art, History and the Summer Sun

Canary Wharf from Narrow StreetImitation cottagesCanary Wharf from ShadwellSunbathing in ShadwellShadwell BasinGlamis Road Bridge
The Prospect of WhitbyThe Wapping ProjectThe best windowSummer gardenRound the backCybermen?
The front door of the Wapping ProjectSt. Patrick's, WappingIconic WappingNew Crane WharfCanary Wharf: Silent SundayThe Space, Isle of Dogs
Inside The Space

Limehouse, Shadwell and Wapping: Art, History and the Summer Sun, a set on Flickr.

This is the 44th set of photos in my ongoing project to photograph the whole of London by bike, and is the second set recording a journey I made, one sunny Sunday in July, with my wife and son from our home in south east London, through the Greenwich Foot Tunnel, up the western shore of the Isle of Dogs, which is infested with high-rise housing developments, and on to Limehouse, Shadwell and Wapping. Here the great wharves that dealt with the imports of Britain’s global trade during the heyday of Empire, and of the London docks, were converted into apartments during the Docklands development programme in the 1980s and 1990s. The first set of photos is here.

Money doesn’t scream, the way it does in Canary Wharf, in the narrow strips of former wharves in Limehouse, Shadwell and Wapping, although obviously most of the wharf living is aimed squarely at the rich, and elements of this are obvious — the matt grey Aston Martin that, for instance, almost ran me over at one point, driven by some young idiot who obviously believed the words of Formula 1 driver Sebastian Vettel: “Matte cars are cool, they come across as a bit aggressive.” Read the rest of this entry »

Sunny Sunday: Photos of the Isle of Dogs and Canary Wharf

HMS OceanConvoys Wharf from the Isle of DogsThe twin cranesDog binLooking west to RotherhitheNew Atlas Wharf
Jefferson, Franklin, EdisonThe Deptford towersRiverside SouthOne Canada Square from Westferry CircusRiver panoramaCanary Wharf beach
Dunbar Wharf at low tideMy favourite buildingsModern life is rubbishOn the waterfront

Sunny Sunday: The Isle of Dogs and Canary Wharf, a set on Flickr.

In my quest to catch up on posting some of the photos that I didn’t manage to post before my family holiday in Italy in August, this set and another to follow record a glorious Sunday in July when, with my family, I cycled from our home in Brockley, in south east London, down to Greenwich, through the Greenwich Foot Tunnel and along the western shore of the Isle of Dogs to Limehouse, and then on to Wapping, where our objective was to visit the Wapping Project, an art gallery and restaurant housed in Wapping Hydraulic Power Station, which was built in 1890 and closed in 1977.

This is the 43rd set of photos in my ongoing project to photograph the whole of London by bike, which is progressing extremely well, despite my inability to post the results to keep up with my photographic journeys, as I have 160 sets still to post, with more on the way on an almost daily basis. Come rain or shine, I am out on my bike, having discovered, after my illness last year, when I gave up smoking after 29 years, that being healthy, and relentlessly exploring this fascinating and sometimes infuriating city I live in, by bike, is the perfect antidote to years of imperilling my health by smoking like a madman and working obsessively on Guantánamo. Not that I’ve given up on Guantánamo, of course, as I still write regularly about the ongoing horrors of indefinite detention for the men still held there, and, just this week, published an exclusive article based on notes from a lawyer’s meeting with Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison, which Shaker wanted to be made available to me. Read the rest of this entry »

Photos of London At Night: From the Olympics at Greenwich to Deptford and Surrey Quays

The Olympic screen at GreenwichBritish BratsThe Olympics at duskA tall ship passes DeptfordA tall ship passes Canary WharfCanary Wharf from old Deptford
Pepys Estate: the Georgian entrance, and Aragon TowerAragon Tower from Deptford WharfDeptford Wharf illuminatedCanary Wharf from Deptford WharfCanary Wharf from Deptford: close-upGreenland Dock at night
Canary Wharf from Greenland Dock at nightThe Shard at night from Greenland DockSurrey Quays station at nightThe towers of Canary Wharf and DeptfordDeptford at nightThe Deptford tunnel at night

London At Night: From the Olympics at Greenwich to Deptford and Surrey Quays, a set on Flickr.

On August 8, 2012, as part of my ongoing project to photograph the whole of London by bike — and also to fully understand, both physically and mentally, the scale of the city and how its various neighbourhoods join together, I cycled down to Greenwich from my home in Brockley, and then along the River Thames through Deptford to Surrey Quays, and back, inland, to Deptford and home.

I was not alone on this journey, as I also took my son Tyler along as a bit of an adventure  — for both of us — and we began by checking out the Olympic screen in the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich, and then cycling through Deptford, partly on the Thames Path along the river, which I first recorded here, through the Pepys Estate (formerly part of Deptford’s extensive docks) to the remaining docks of Rotherhithe —  the South Dock and the colossal Greenland Dock — which are the last of the docks that once covered the whole of Rotherhithe. Read the rest of this entry »

Photos of a Journey Across the Thames on the Olympics Cable Car

Approaching the Royal DocksPeninsula Central - and the car parkCanary Wharf - from the Peninsula car parkTake-off on the Emirates Air LineLooking back at the Olympics cable car terminalAlong the river from the Olympics cable car
The Dome and Canary Wharf from the skyThe River Lea from the Emirates Air LineThe River Lea and the Olympic ParkThe Thames - still a working riverThe Dome and Canary Wharf from the eastThe Olympics cable car prepares to land
Looking south from the Olympics cable carLooking north west along the railwayLooking west along the Lower Lea CrossingThe Royal Docks from the skyComing in to land on the Emirates Air LineThe O2 from the Lower Lea Crossing
The East India Dock BasinThe O2 from the East India Dock Basin

A Journey Across the Thames on the Olympics Cable Car, a set on Flickr.

On August 6, as I explained in a previous article, Jamaican Independence and a Giant Tent: Photos of a Visit to the Olympic Site at the O2, featuring photos and commentary, I cycled along the river from Deptford to Greenwich peninsula with my wife and son, to visit the O2 (recorded in that previous set of photos), and also to travel on the Emirates Air Line, the cable cars across the Thames, which run from North Greenwich, near the O2 (formerly the Millennium Dome) to the Royal Docks. The visit was for fun, but was also part of my ongoing project to photograph the whole of London by bike, which I have been recording here since June.

Intended to transport Olympics visitors from one venue to another, the Emirates Air Line project — named after the Emirates airline company, the biggest sponsor of the cable cars, who provided £36 million in a ten-year sponsorship deal — also provides a useful way of crossing the river at a point where there are few other options — just the Greenwich Foot Tunnel to the west, and the Woolwich Ferry to the east — and it is both remarkable and commendable that bicycles are also allowed. Read the rest of this entry »

Sun, Sky and Property: A Photographic Journey along the Thames from London Bridge to the Isle of Dogs

Tower Bridge from London BridgeOld Billingsgate MarketLions at the Tower of LondonSt. Katharine DocksMatrix IslandHalcyon Wharf, Wapping
Wapping canal18th century schoolchildren, WappingBrewhouse Lane, WappingWapping High StreetCanary Wharf from WappingThe photographer and the fish-eye lens
Limehouse BasinDunbar Wharf, LimehouseThe glories of Dunbar WharfFlotsam and jetsam, Dunbar WharfDundee Wharf apartmentsRiverside South building site, Canary Wharf
The towers of Canary WharfSeacon Tower, Isle of DogsGreat Eastern SlipwayBurrells WharfGreenwich Foot Tunnel

Sun, Sky and Property: Along the Thames from London Bridge to the Isle of Dogs, a set on Flickr.

Regular readers will be aware that, for the last month, I have been posting photos to an account I set up on Flickr, and publicizing them here, adding a new outlet for my creativity, and my perceptions of the world, to the other methods — primarily the written word, but also TV and radio shows, personal appearances and film-making — which I have been using to chronicle the injustice of Guantánamo and the “war on terror” for the last six years, and the horrors of life in Britain under a Tory-led coalition government, which I have been chronicling for the last two years.

Taking photos is a great passion of mine, but one that I largely let slip from 2006, as I began researching and writing about Guantánamo on a full-time basis, until Christmas last year, when my wife gave me a digital camera. I then took photos of my Guantánamo-related visits to the US in January, and Kuwait in February, and began taking photos in London — and on various trips in the UK — on an occasional basis until, in May — on May 11, to be specific — when the sun started shining after roughly six weeks of almost unremitting rain, I decided to start making journeys by bike around London on a regular basis, taking photos of whatever interests me — buildings old and new, rivers, canals, parks and trees, and forgotten corners of this vast city, where the unusual, the unremarked and the abandoned exist beyond the illusions of endless wealth and perfect order conjured up by those in positions of power. Read the rest of this entry »

Docks, Wharves and Water: Photos of a Journey Along the Thames from Deptford to Tower Bridge

Deptford ForeshoreThe sky over Canary WharfRoads to nowhereMooring post, Deptford WharfCanary Wharf from Deptford WharfCanary Wharf at high tide
South Dock, RotherhitheThe marina at South Dock, RotherhitheBoats on Greenland DockGreenland Dock and Canary WharfTrees near Greenland DockOdessa Wharf
Steps down to the riverThe beachcomberCanary Wharf from the HiltonThe Gherkin and the park on the riverThe 18th century teachersSt. Saviour's Dock
Bridge No. 1, Bolina Road, BermondseyBridge No. 2, Bolina Road, Bermondsey

Docks, Wharves and Water: A Journey Along the Thames from Deptford to Tower Bridge, a set on Flickr.

Back in May, when the sun started shining again after long weeks of relentless rain, I found myself unable to stay in my apartment chained to my computer, and took to the roads of London on my bike, with my camera, to take exercise and get fit, to explore this extraordinary city that has been my home for the last 27 years, and to capture London at this strange transitional period in its history — with great wealth still apparent on the one hand, and with deepening poverty on the other, as the Tory-led coalition government’s savage austerity cuts, aimed at the poor and not at the rich, for malevolent ideological reasons, begin to bite.

That first journey — an appetiser — was around Greenwich and Deptford, close to home, and I followed it up with a ride through Nunhead and Forest Hill to Dulwich Park and back. A few days later, on May 16, 2012, I decided to follow the river from Deptford to Tower Bridge and back, mostly along the route of the long-distance Thames Path — or rather, that’s how it turned out, but when I set off I had no firm idea of where I would go or what I would do. Read the rest of this entry »

Street Art, Sunshine and the River: Photos of Deptford and Greenwich

The Church of St. Nicholas, DeptfordGeorgian houses on the Pepys Estate, DeptfordMural, Riverside Youth Club, DeptfordNazi David Cameron - and a squirrel with a bombKilling Fat ChildrenA house with no door
Looking towards Canary WharfDangerous structureGreenwich ruinsGreenwich Olympic siteAccident black spotThe Lord Clyde pub, Deptford
A warrior's bust in DeptfordThe Granary, DeptfordSpeedwell Street, DeptfordPound Shop PlusLittle fluffy cloudsGreenwich Foot Tunnel and the Cutty Sark
Sun on the ThamesDavid Cameron, hunting toffWar is over, if you want itThe Laban Dance Centre and Deptford Creek

Street Art, Sunshine and the River: Deptford and Greenwich, a set on Flickr.

Three weeks ago, I posted my first set of photos of my journeys around London on my new Flickr accounta set I took on May 11, cycling around Greenwich and Deptford, down the hill from my home in Brockley, south east London — when I first began to realise that I had a need for exercise, a need to be outdoors whenever the sun shone in this rainiest of years, and a great desire to explore this vast city that has been my home for the last 27 years, even though I have never visited much of it, and have only partial knowledge of its contours, its hidden corners, and even some of its more obvious glories.

Combined, these various motives have progressively unmoored me from being enslaved to my computer, after six years of pretty relentless blogging, and have opened my mind and my body to the sights and the sounds of London, to the sun and showers, the torrential rain, the fast-changing skies like epic dramas, and also to the pleasures of the back roads, away from the tyranny of cars and lorries, where the unexpected can more easily be found, and where much of the city is silent in the daytime, its former industries replaced by apartments, its workers away — in the City or elsewhere — earning the money to pay for the “luxury” apartments in which, in many cases, they do not spend much time.

Repeatedly, I have found myself drawn to the River Thames and its tributaries and canals, most now flanked by towering new apartment blocks or converted wharves — and to classical compositions and perspectives of buildings and sky, clouds and water. Always, though, I find myself in search of unusual sights, glimpses of less obvious worlds in this city of millions of stories, places where the money has run out, or the standardising waves of gentrification cannot reach. Idiosyncratic places, touched by mavericks, or largely abandoned. Read the rest of this entry »

Rivers at Dusk: Photos of My Journey from Stratford to Canary Wharf

Abbey Mills Pumping StationChannelsea HouseThe footpath to Three MillsUrban wildernessLost in yellowBromley Gas Works
Three Mills LockReflections on the River LeaRiver and bridge reflectionsBridge reflections on the River LeaThe Limehouse CutThe last bend
Limehouse BasinCanary Wharf: the sun on the tower

Rivers at Dusk: My Journey from Stratford to Canary Wharf, a set on Flickr.

This eighth set of my photos of London, on the Flickr account that I set up last month, is part of my ongoing mission to travel the whole of London by bike, taking photos of everything that appeals to me — from the famous to the obscure, the rich, the poor, the natural and the man-made — and is the third and final part of a journey I undertook on July 5, 2012, first of all touring the bankers’ towers and the former docks of Canary Wharf, which I published as The Power of Greed: Photos of Canary Wharf, and then cycling the Lea Valley Walk — along the Limehouse Cut and the River Lea — to Stratford, for a glimpse of the Olympic Park, which I published as In Search of the Olympics: Photos of a Journey from Limehouse to Stratford.

After the alarm of the Olympic experience — far too much building work, and palpable paranoia, or, at least, the presence of a handful of zealous security jobsworths — it was refreshing to get lost in the backwaters of Three Mills Island, just a stone’s throw from the Olympic Park, and then to be beside the River Lea as the sun began slowly to set and to paint the trees and the river in a warm light that had been missing from a day in which the weather oscillated between sharp sunlight and the swift emergence of dark clouds filled with showers. Read the rest of this entry »

The Power of Greed: Photos of Canary Wharf

Canary Wharf viewed from Mudchute ParkKelson House and the Dome from Mudchute ParkThe John M. Rishworth, a 1915 bargeGlengall BridgeThe view across Millwall Inner DockThe black slabs
You can't lose if you don't playDistortionClouds on Harbour Exchange TowerMade of cloudsWatching the bankersWater water everywhere
West India DocksSky of windowsCredit crunchThe Dome from South Quay PlazaEntering Canary WharfBeneath the towers
Centaur by Igor MitorajCentaur - close-upCanary Wharf towersJubilee Park, looking eastJubilee Park, looking westThe heart of Canary Wharf

The Power of Greed: Photos of Canary Wharf, a set on Flickr.

I have long had a horror of the unfettered greed signified by the creation, in Margaret Thatcher’s Britain, of Canary Wharf, even though, initially, this “enterprise zone,” dropped onto Millwall and Poplar, on the Isle of Dogs, like a hostile takeover, seemed destined to fail. When the docks closed in 1980 — and were moved to Tilbury — Thatcher’s government established the London Docklands Development Corporation in 1981 and made the Isle of Dogs an enterprise Zone status the year after. In 1988, Olympia and York, a Canadian company, began the construction work that resulted in the opening of the first buildings, including One Canada Square, the pyramid-topped tower that remains the most iconic building on site.

Ironically, the orgy of financial liberalisation that led to the creation of Canary Wharf had already crashed by the time it opened. Olympia and York went bankrupt in 1992, and it was not until 1995 that a new consortium bought Canary Wharf, soon after becoming the Canary Wharf Group.

In a further demonstration of irony, it was not until New Labour assumed office in 1997 that the newly-revived Canary Wharf really took off, as the author and journalist Owen Hatherley explained in an excellent article for the Guardian in May, entitled, “The myth that Canary Wharf did east London any good.” Read the rest of this entry »

My Photos on Flickr: London At Night – Canary Wharf, Millwall, Greenwich and Deptford

One Canada Square at nightThe view from Canary Wharf at nightCanary Wharf at nightMillwall at nightThe Shard at nightCanary Wharf over the river
The Cutty Sark at nightDeptford Creek at nightEmpty developmentThe ghostly ruinThe Royal George, Tanner's Hill

London At Night – Canary Wharf, Millwall, Greenwich and Deptford, a set on Flickr.

The latest set of photos uploaded to my recently established Flickr account is my fifth set of photos of London, part of an ongoing and recently established project in which I plan to cycle around the whole of London, photographing whatever takes my interest, to record London as it is at this critical juncture in its history — with the country in the grip of a profound recession, and a government responding, suicidally, with savage austerity, all the while making sure that the rich and the super-rich can continue to make obscene and disproportionate amounts of money, untouched by the suffering inflicted on everyone else.

These journeys are also an important project for me personally — a welcome opportunity to stay fit, but, more importantly, a kind of poetic odyssey, grand in the sense of trying to get a personal overview of the whole of this huge city that has been my home for over half my life, much of which I have never visited before, but also much more intimate, in that it allows me, through wandering on a bike, often with no fixed route, to be able to be easily distracted or to be drawn to whatever attracts my attention.

What attracts me, as I have been discovering, is the decaying and the idiosyncratic, the gulf — apparently ever-widening — between the rich and the poor, and how that manifests itself in the built environment, and the nature — the river, the weather, the trees and parks, the seasonal outbursts of organic growth — that stand in contrast to many of the efforts to control the shape and form of the city, and to leave the kind of legacy that, history shows, will sooner or later be swept away. Read the rest of this entry »

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo and We Stand With Shaker. Also, photo-journalist (The State of London), and singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers).
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