Monday, October 18, 2021

Canary Wharf

This is the 5th station I have visited on the newest underground line, the Jubilee. The station was opened in September 1999 as part of the Jubilee extension. The station only serves the Jubilee Line and with over 40 million passengers a year it is the busiest station on the Underground network that only serves one line.
There is no mistaking that this is a Jubilee Line station with its use of concrete, steel and glass on show.
The station shares its name with the Docklands Light Railway station at Canary Wharf but they are not part of the same station. In fact Heron Quays DLR is closer. All three stations are connected underground via shopping malls. The Docklands Light Railway has been operating here since 1987 over ten years before the Jubilee Line opened.

This is one of the platforms which is very long. In fact the station is 300metres long. The doors do not open until the train has stopped at the platform so there is no access to the rails.

As with the previous station this one is also huge. I couldn't imagine how they had excavated so much earth etc. Then I read a little more about its construction and discovered that it is built within the hollow of the former West India Dock using the cut and cover technique which has been used for many other stations.

There are twenty sets of escalators which does seem excessive but from ground level you need to go down two to reach the trains. 
From the ticket hall there are exits and escalators to the shopping malls. I have been here on numerous occasions even worked in this area in the lead up to the 2012 Olympics and I still get confused with the links between the underground, the Docklands Light railway and the shopping malls.

The three entrances into the station are covered with these enormous glass arches the object being to let in as much natural light as possible to the station.

This is the view as you enter the station and as you can see there is a lot of natural light. 
Canary Wharf is located on the Isle of Dogs on the site of the former West India Docks. Along with the City of London it forms  one of the largest financial centres in the world. The 128 acres of a derelict docklands has now been transformed into a new office, retail and residential area. The area was given the name Canary wharf after the Second World War when the Fred Olsen Line used to unload tomatoes and bananas here from the Canary Islands.

On the roof of the station they have created a park with over 200 trees and a raised water channel running through the middle of it.

There are a few sculptures in the park. This is Ascent by Helaine Blumenfeld.

Fortuna also by Helaine Blumenfeld. I read somewhere that this area has the highest number of public art pieces in the UK.

Surrounding the park are all the high rise offices of Canary Wharf.

You exit the station onto a large concourse, surrounded by the office blocks. Ahead you can see the DLR train crossing the bridge on its way into Heron Quays DLR station. What you don't notice from here is the large body of water ahead of you. Walk forward and go down a few steps and this is the view. 

 The Middle Dock of the West India Docks. This was London's first enclosed dock. It was built in 1802 to protect cargo from being stolen from the ships as they awaited unloading. The River Thames was so clogged up with ships that unloading could take weeks. It was decided to build deep water docks by the side of the river and surround them with high walls so that loading and unloading could be done in a secure area. There were three docks built here, the Import (North), the Export (Middle) and the South dock.. Each was half a mile long, 400ft wide and 30 ft deep. The use of new technology and container shipping brought on the demise of the docks and the West India docks closed in 1980. Unlike other docks this one was never filled in and formed part of the new development.  Over the water is the bridge that carries the Docklands Light Railway and hanging from it is another piece of artwork : A beautiful sunset mistaken for a dawn.
Turn right out of the station and you are on Reuters Plaza. Here you'll find 'Six Public Clocks' by Konstantin Grcic. The clocks are based on the Swiss railway clock but here each clock face shows a single and different numeral.

Reuters Plaza leads you to 1 Canada Square. The building opened in 1991 as the tallest building in Europe. It remained the tallest in the UK until 2013 when The Shard was completed. There is no public viewing space in the building. The pyramid top of the building is easily recognised from many viewpoints around London. The building is 55 storeys high.

Turning left out of the station and you walk through this building out onto South Dock.

This is the pedestrian South Dock Swingbridge. I didn't cross over as I wanted to explore more of the area closer to Canary Wharf station.

I walked back through  Reuters Plaza to the other side of Canada Square and on to Crossrail Place passing a dog and a rabbit on the way.

This  kaleidoscope  tunnel takes you to the new Crossrail place and the new Canary Wharf station.

This is a view at the side of the tunnel showing you the new station. The station forms an artificial island in the North Dock of West India Dock. 

This new station has been built for the new Crossrail route, now known as the Elizabeth Line. When the station opens it will be the largest on that line and will connect the Canary Wharf business area with the City of London, the West End and Heathrow airport. It will provide an interchange with Canary Wharf underground station, the DLR station and a link to National Rail stations
The ship like design also acts as a bridge from the Canary Wharf development to Poplar. The 250m long station box is surrounded by the water of West India North Dock and still allows a navigable channel for boats within the dock.
The station is 28m below a five storey mixed use development of retail and leisure facilities. The upper level of the roof top garden is covered with a 310m wooden open lattice roof which lets in the light and rain for natural irrigation. The station should have been opened in 2018 and then 2021 but as yet there is no date for when it will actually be open. However a number of businesses above the station have opened and the public has been able to make use of the gardens since 2017.  

The roof garden is designed to evoke a ship laden with unusual and exotic specimens from around the globe. It celebrates some of the plants that were brought to London from faraway places. The geographic location of Canary Wharf Crossrail station is directly north of Greenwich and places the dock virtually on the Prime Meridian which divides the east and west hemispheres. This position has inspired the planting of the garden into two zones. One half of the garden primarily represents plants from the eastern hemisphere and the other half those of the western hemisphere. The above photos were taken in the western zone and the ones below in the eastern zone. 

On the Poplar side of the station is Billingsgate Fish Market. The market moved to this part of East London in 1982. Prior to that it was located on the banks of the River Thames in the City of London. Billingsgate is the UK's largest inland fish market.

The market is served by almost every port in the UK. Most of the fish arrives by road directly from the coast and arrives at the market in the early hours of the morning. The market is open from Tues to Saturday between the hours of 4am to 8.30am.

I walked back from the new Crossrail station to Cabot Square.
With its fountains, the square is a popular place for workers to sit and enjoy their lunch.

There are a number of sculptures in the square. This is 'Couple on Seat' by Lynn Chadwick.

On the other side of the square is  'Draped Seated Woman' by Henry Moore. This piece of art was originally purchased in 1962 by London County Council to be displayed on an estate in Stepney, Tower Hamlets. In 1997 when the estate's tower blocks were due to be demolished the sculpture was taken to the Yorkshire sculpture park for safe keeping. In 2015 the new Mayor of Tower Hamlets pledged to bring back the sculpture. With funding from the Canary Wharf Group the sculpture was reinstated in its new home in Cabot Square.

Across from the square is this sculpture which is one of my favourites. It is Giles Penny's large bronze sculpture of 'Two Men on a Bench'. They have been sitting here since 1994 just watching the world go by.

I crossed over the North Dock

On the far side of the north dock of West India Quay is the Museum of London Docklands. It is located in an historic Grade II listed warehouse. As the name suggests you can find out all about the area's history from a Roman settlement to the docks' regeneration. Entry is free but you must book in advance.

Next to the museum are numerous bars and eating places.

Walking past the museum you come to this restaurant/bar called the Ledger building. It was built in 1803-4  and was used to house all the ledgers from all the various departments of the docks. It remained in use as Port of London Offices until the 1970s.

When you walk round the side of the building it has this huge plaque attached to the building.
This is the foundation stone for the first warehouse which was built in 1800. It is thought that this plaque was reinstated here in 1982 when Billingsgate fish market moved to Docklands and the first warehouse was demolished.

On the other side of the dock from the museum is this replica of the Hibbert gate, which was the main gate into the West India Docks.

I walked through Columbus Courtyard on my way to the river. This courtyard surrounded by office blocks is often used for art installations. 

Centurione I by Igor Mitoraj.

This is the Columbus Screen by Wendy Ramshaw. It is based on the navigational charts of Columbus.

In the centre of the courtyard is a mini golf course. Clubs and balls were available if you wanted to play. There was also hopscotch for the more energetic.

Often the way in and out of these places is through a building like this one which took me to Westferry Circus. The use of the word Circus here means circle. 
Westferry Circus is a landscaped roundabout.
Wherever you walk there are sculptures and to get a feel of this area you need to be aware of the large number of public pieces of art. Perhaps it also shows how much money is generated in Canary Wharf  being a financial extension to the City of London.

Once across the roundabout I am at the River Thames. This is the Canary Wharf Pier. The boat leaving is a ferry which goes across the river to the Hilton Hotel in Rotherhithe. 

From this side of the river you get a good view of Columbia Wharf. Built in 1864 this was the first grain silo in a British port. At the beginning of WWI the building was used for more general storage with commodities such as tea, coffee, cocoa and dried fruits until its closure in 1976. During redevelopment the fa├žade of the building was kept but the rest was converted into the Hilton Hotel and residential accommodation.  

More new housing developments on this side of the river. The open tower next to this block of flats is actually the outdoor garden space for the flats.

I walked a little further on until I came to the pedestrian swing bridge over the entrance into Limekiln dock. There are historical rights that allow ships into the dock to access warehouse buildings  and therefore this bridge, which was built in 1996 had to be moveable hence the need for a swing bridge. 

I cannot see any reason why a large boat would want to enter the dock nowadays though.
I followed a path by the side of the dock but it was not a public thoroughfare and I had to turn back. 
I walked back along the Thames path and went to look at the other side of Limekiln dock. This area is known as Limehouse, the name dating back to the 14th century because of its connections to lime kilns which were used in the pottery industry that operated at that time in this area. 

This is the other side of the dock.

At the other side of a car park I could see the older buildings that lined the dock.  Although this warehouse has now been repurposed, it still displays its original name.

This is the front of the building on Narrow Street. All the buildings along this part back onto Limekiln dock. Lime burning was the first of the 'obnoxious industries' that grew up downwind of the city. 

Limehouse was home to a number of industries. The obvious ones were ship related such as shipbuilding, sail making and rope works. 
These early 19th century warehouses which back onto the dock were named after the shipbuilders Duncan Dunbar & Sons who ran a fleet of fast sailing ships to India, Australia and North America. The riverside was lined with small warehouses and industrial buildings on narrow plots. They were up to 3 storeys high but not very wide. 
A number of these buildings still exist and although they are no longer used as warehouses they have retained their original doors and cast iron windows giving you some idea of the history of the area.

I made my way back to Canary wharf and the tube station via Canary Place Mall. Although much of what I have seen today is from the  20th and 21st centuries it was good to find some evidence of the old docklands.


  1. I didn't know the three stations were connected by underground walkways and shops. The station roof top garden looks good and very well developed already.
    It really is such an interesting area in spite of most of it being quite new. But it also is such a maze. I would really need maps.

  2. Wow, what a redeveloped area. London has done well in re-using old areas and buildings. But where is everyone? For being a major employment center there didn't seem to be anyone around.

  3. Looks like money is no problem in this area.

  4. What a breathtaking feat of engineering and lovely to know of a park overhead in some portions as well as a patch called Canada Square!

  5. I love public art - espcially sculptures - these are wonderful

  6. ...the underground line is so clean and the statues are lovely.

  7. This is a COMPLETE tour! The tourist authority should be sending you a cheque!

  8. Wow! What an impressive photo walk with you ~ Awesome ! Xo

    Living in the moment,

    A ShutterBug Explores,
    aka (A Creative Harbor)

  9. The stations, the architecture, the rooftop garden...all so impressive. It was nice to learn about the protected docks too. That was a great idea to have these on the sides of the river.
    Thank you for another great tour. :)

  10. Love the sculpture and the soaring arch-style spaces.

  11. Wow what a modern and interesting area.

  12. My mind reels again with all the information. Does any one person understand the whole transport system in the London area, besides you I mean.

  13. Lovely photos and interesting information.


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