LDDC Completion Booklets
Wapping and Limehouse (Dedesignated 31st January 1997)
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Contents

Introduction

Wapping in history
What Wapping was like in 1981
The LDDC's initial response in Wapping
Contact with Wapping residents
1983: LDDC publishes its Development Framework
Extensive consultation
Emphasising the area's unique character
Promoting continuity
Investing in the community
Updating transport

The future for Wapping and Limehouse

Other Completion Booklets
LDDC Monographs
Popular Press Releases
Annual Reports and Accounts

 

 

 

Limehouse in history
Limehouse in 1981
The LDDC's initial response in Limehouse
The opening of the Limehouse Link
Impetus to housing
Conservation and environmental improvements
Investing in the community

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(Note: This Booklet has been reproduced by kind permission of the Commission for the New Towns now known as English Partnerships. It is published for general interest and research purposes only and may not be reproduced for other purposes except with the permission of English Partnerships who now hold the copyright of LDDC publications)

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Introduction

In 1981, the London Docklands Development Corporation (LDDC) was created and charged with overseeing the world's largest urban regeneration project. Its task was to bring land and buildings into effective use, encourage the development of existing and new industry, create an attractive environment and ensure that housing and social facilities were made available to encourage people to live and work in the area.

Wapping 1968The LDDC will complete its remit on 31st March 1998 but has been progressively handing on its responsibilities in the Urban Development Area since 1994. One test for each handover is that regeneration should have become self sustaining. Even though regeneration of the two areas seemed a distant prospect in 1981, Wapping and Limehouse have more than met this criterion.

While Wapping and Limehouse are often linked together, as this brief history shows, their regeneration followed different paths and different timescales. Wapping is largely a story of the 1980s, Limehouse of the 1990s.

In the case of Limehouse, the breakthrough came in 1993 with the opening of the Limehouse Link. Before then, Limehouse had been a victim of traffic clogging up streets that had never been intended for such volumes. In the few short years since the Link took all that traffic underground, Limehouse has become a highly attractive and desirable place to live.

Unlike Limehouse, Wapping did not suffer from through traffic to other areas of London Docklands. On the other hand, one of the many problems Wapping did suffer from in 1981 was the lack of adequate internal roads and communications. Whilst work had started at St Katharine Docks in 1969, and the conversion of riverside warehouses to attractive residences and places of work was already under way, there was no central plan and no investment magnet.

The coming of the docks imposed isolation on Wapping and Limehouse, because docks meant high walls to deter crime. The closing of the docks imposed another form of isolation on the area: that of dereliction and unemployment. Today, isolation is a thing of the past. Wapping and Limehouse are fully integrated into the life of central London, The future is very bright.

Neil Spence and Roger Squire
Joint Chief Executives, LDDC
November 1997

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Wapping in historySt Katharine's Docks 1883

The original Saxon settlement of "Waeppa's people" was probably in the vicinity of today's junction of The Highway and Cannon Street Road. The more recent history and character of Wapping is closely bound up with the Port of London, and in particular with the development that began during the reign of Queen Elizabeth. For example in the 1530s the pub on Wapping High Street which is today known as the "Town of Ramsgate" was called the "Red Cow" in an allusion to the still rural nature of the area. By 1750, the pub was just one of 36 along the High Street alone, serving the needs of the shipyards and wharves that made Wapping one of the busiest parts of London.

By the end of the 18th Century the quays in the Pool of London had become unable to cope with the pressure of shipping, while the owners of the goods being shipped were demanding a solution to endemic pilfering. It was in Wapping that the first enclosed docks in London were opened in 1805, followed by Thomas Telford's St Katharine Docks in 1828. Massive warehouses were built and south Wapping became an island fortress, surrounded by water and high walls - the designer of London Dock, Daniel Asher Alexander, went on to design Dartmoor maximum security prison! The area's isolation led Parliament to authorise construction of a foot tunnel between Wapping and Rotherhithe in 1823. This was finally finished by lsambard Kingdom Brunel in 1843 and converted into a railway tunnel in the 1860s.

While the general reason given for the demise of London's docks is the introduction of containerisation in the 1960s, the docks in Wapping had become outdated a century earlier with the advent of steam power and the consequent building of ships too large to fit into them. For many years, ships unloaded their cargoes onto barges at larger docks downriver, and the barges then ferried them to warehouses in Wapping - an uneconomic and cumbersome system for handling cargo. Not surprisingly, therefore, the docks in Wapping were the first to close in the 1960s. As a result many associated local businesses and industries also closed down.

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Wapping in 1981What Wapping was like in 1981

Wapping presented a very mixed picture in 1981. The Port of London Authority, and subsequent[y Tower Hamlets Council, had started to fill in the docks to avoid the costs of looking after dock estates. Similarly, a large number of 19th and early 20th Century warehouses had been demolished during the 1970s. By 1981 Tower Hamlets Council had made a significant start in regenerating the area with new housing around the former Eastern Dock. It had also made a start to reclaiming the Western Dock and providing a sports centre, open spaces and a health centre.

In 1969 Taylor Woodrow had won a public competition for the redevelopment of the 12 hectare site at St Katharine Docks. The 835 room Tower Hotel was opened in 1973, the year that Ivory House was converted into a mixed development of shops, offices and apartments. The Dickens Inn was opened in 1976, having been built around the relocated timber frame of a brewery discovered accidentally by Taylor Woodrow when demolishing a nearby warehouse.

In spite of these developments, the London Docklands Development Corporation (LDDC) faced a substantial regeneration task elsewhere in Wapping in 1981. The LDDC was vested with a number of large open tracts of land, including Shadwell Basin and Western Dock. However most of the remaining old warehouses along the riverside continued in private ownership.

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The LDDC's initial response

The LDDC was one of the first Urban Development Corporations to be designated under the Local Government Planning and Land Act 1980. Its task was to secure the regeneration of its area by:St Katharine's Dock 1997

  • Bringing land and buildings into use
  • Encouraging industry and commerce
  • Creating an attractive environment
  • Assisting in the provision of housing and social facilities to encourage people to live and work in the area

Far from looking upon the docks as a problem, and far from wanting to fill them in to create yet more land, the Corporation took the view that the unique character of Docklands had to be preserved and enhanced. The creation of an attractive environment would not only benefit the people who lived and worked in the area but it would generate interest from developers, attract investment and bring land and buildings into sustainable use.

In-filling of the docks and demolition of warehouses and other dock buildings was halted. At the LDDC's request, the Department of the Environment reviewed the Statutory List of Buildings of Architectural and Historic Interest in Docklands and scheduled a further 116 buildings. Other initial works included cleaning the exterior of Hawksmoor's St George in the East church on The Highway - the road that Dickens had described in Sketches by Boz as "that reservoir of dirt drunkenness, and drabs". A start was made on street tree planting, and other environmental works were undertaken to start to overcome the air of dereliction which was apparent in Wapping at the time.

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Oliver's WharfContact with Wapping residents

Before addressing the task of encouraging people to work and live in Wapping, the LDDC talked with the existing local communities. In these initial discussions, three concerns were apparent.

First, local people wanted access to the new housing developments which were first proposed when the PIA started filling in the docks. Local people were concerned that new housing would be for sale at prices beyond their reach. They were also worried about the area becoming a dormitory. Many jobs had been lost with the closure of the docks: new local employment was needed. The LDDC responded positively by undertaking to provide homes for rent in new housing developments in and around Western Dock, and to make special provision for priority purchases for local people. It also earmarked new sites for employment uses in the west of Wapping and along The Highway.

The second concern was shopping. Local shops did not provide for everyday needs. Facilities needed to be improved. The LDDC took this concern on board although, despite some small improvements, it was not until 1992 that Safeway opened a supermarket in Thornas More Street.

Another concern was a proposal for a local distributor road through the area. The Corporation modified the plan and built only the section which served specific development sites at the western end of Wapping.

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1983: LDDC publishes its Development Framework

Across the Urban Development Area the LDDC used development frameworks to guide regeneration. An area development framework offers more flexibility than traditional land use planning, as it sets out a series of objectives which can be reviewed as development proceeds and amended to accommodate changes of priorities. Local people can use a framework to check that their concerns have been noted and developers can use it to assess the opportunities.

In early 1983 the LDDC published its development framework, "The Future for Wapping". Public exhibitions were held at which the ideas were explained and people could express their views. The aim was to create a diverse development appropriate to the inner city, but also emphasising its flexibility and openness to change. With over 90% of the existing housing stock in local authority ownership, more private housing was seen as a key to creating a balanced community and to provide choice. In addition, the old disused warehouses along Wapping High Street and Wapping Wall were identified as highly suitable for residential conversion. There was already commercial development, with News International and the World Trade Centre, and the framework anticipated further such development at the western end of the area round St Katharine Docks and along The Highway. The new distributor road was proposed to serve the major development sites and link The Highway and Wapping High Street.

In the framework the LDDC also identified the need for open spaces and the unique opportunity for the creation of a series of linked open spaces between the river at Shadwell Basin and Hermitage Basin site. In the past access to the river had been minimal and deliberately discouraged. Now it was not only to be encouraged, but considered an important principle in future development wherever possible.

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Extensive consultation

As a result of the local consultation and exhibitions additional concerns were expressed about primary school provision, open spaces and the future of the existing Council owned housing estates. The Corporation responded by contributing towards two new primary schools, Hermitage and St Peter's (replacing an existing school) and provided additional funding to enhance existing provision. It also embarked on a programme to provide new open spaces and to refurbish existing ones and a strategy was agreed with the London Borough of Tower Hamlets to improve Council homes.

Wappoing Hight StreetThe LDDC proposed that as much as 40% of all new housing would be offered at "affordable" levels to local people by providing small starter homes, sometimes involving housing associations, and by funding rented accommodation through a cross subsidy from market priced housing. However, the early success of housing sales in Wapping led to a steep climb in land prices, which rose from negative values in 1981 to parity with other central London locations by 1985. House prices increased in line, thus endangering their affordability. The LDDC's solution was to offer local residents interest free loans of up to 10,000 to help them afford new properties, which at the time were averaging between 50,000 and 70,000 for a three bedroom house.

The Corporation sought to encourage housing for rent and entered into an agreement with the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. On a riverside parcel of land owned by the Borough, together with LDDC land at Hermitage Basin, Hermitage Wall and on the riverside, the Corporation proposed developing housing, including 90 homes for rent. This followed the development of initial key sites at Western Dock and Shadwell Basin, which also included rental housing.

The Corporation eventually purchased the Tower Hamlets site and the Borough used the money for new council housing at Hermitage Wall and to improve the nearby Wapping Estate. New homes have been built at Hermitage Basin and on the riverside developers have plans for further housing and a park.

Consultation was extensive across a wide variety of subjects. For example, the development proposals for Shadwell Basin included provisions to protect the sailing activities there. Nevertheless, the East London Marine Venture, the locally based charity responsible for promoting watersports within the community, expressed concerns about the impact of new development on wind conditions for sailing. The LDDC responded by extensive wind testing, which led to redesigned proposals.Shadwell Basin 1985 & 1997

In 1985 the LDDC opened an office in Wapping. In addition to ongoing links with the various tenant groups in the area, Wapping based Corporation staff started a dialogue with the two church leaders of the Anglican and Roman Catholic communities of St Peter's and St Patrick's. These two churches are located in what was seen as the new heart of Wapping, between the existing Wapping Estate and the major new housing areas of Western Dock. Together with other community leaders, a series of projects including the St Peter's Centre, which centred on the heart of Wapping, were developed to forge links between the established and incoming communities.

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Emphasising the area's unique character

What makes London Docklands unique is the water - both the docks and the river Thames itself. Yet before the advent of the LDDC in 1981, access to the waterside was not only discouraged but for much of the area prohibited. The Corporation changed all that. Access to the waterside was opened up and use of the docks as an amenity encouraged. This, together with other improvements, encouraged local people to stay as well as people from outside to move in.

Another source of encouragement for local people to stay was the variety of new housing. Before the arrival of the Corporation, those who aspired to homes with gardens would have had to move out, as many had already done, from London Docklands to the suburbs. Now, they could stay on in Wapping and move into a new home, complete with garden, in a mixed community whose ethos was definitely not suburban.

Employment in Wapping had virtually disappeared during the 1970s and had to be created again. Perhaps the most spectacular form in which this happened was the News International offices and printing works, extended and consolidated with the Corporation's support. The LDDC also encouraged many smaller and less headline-grabbing office and light industrial developments.

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Western Dock CanalPromoting continuity

In regenerating Wapping the LDDC took a great deal of care to maintain continuity between old and new. Diversity was encouraged as always, but in ways which resulted in happy juxtapositions rather than clashes. A strong landscape infrastructure was promoted and designed around a system of canals to link Shadwell Basin with Hermitage Basin, the two parts of the London docks which had not been filled in by the time the LDDC was set up.

The 1.77 million Wapping Wood and Western Docks Canal scheme provided not only a strong visual link through the heart of Wapping but also introduced a pedestrian route, with access to the parks, schools and shopping facilities that would be developed. improvements were also carried out at Wapping Gardens, Waterside Gardens and King Edward VIl Memorial Park, new green spaces created at Wapping Green and a playground built at Helling Street.

London stock brick and slate roofs, both traditional to inner London, were specified by the LDDC. However, the emphasis was not always on uniformity. For example, one aspect of the past which the Corporation was not anxious to continue was council housing design of the 1950s and 60s. The LDDC engaged some of Britain's leading architects to prepare outline designs which were used to promote available housing sites. MacCormac Jarnieson and Prichard designed the housing around Shadwell Basin, which set the standard for new housing in Wapping. The 30 acres of land were deliberately subdivided into smaller plots, in part to promote diversity in design.

Although the LDDC is not a statutory housing authority, it was concerned from the start that tenants of local authority housing should not feel cut off by the development going on around them. The Corporation has spent over 36 million on refurbishing more than half of the public housing stock in the Docklands area, comprehensively where necessary, and elsewhere with environmental improvements, landscaping and external refurbishment.King Edward VII Memorial Park

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Investing in the Community

The Accord agreed with the London Borough of Tower Hamlets in 1988 gave a new formal identity to the LDDC's commitment to investing in Tower Hamlets Docklands. This investment has ranged from major grants to funding for small schemes supporting voluntary and community group initiatives.

Major LDDC grants in Wapping have included 356,000 to the new Hermitage Primary School, 292,000 for St Peter's Primary School, 278,000 to Bluegate Fields Primary School, and 62,000 to works at St Patrick's School and 676,000 to provide a new training unit at Shadwell Adult Education Centre.

The 953,000 LDDC grant which refurbished St Peter's Centre has enabled it to house three different training organisations. Examples such as these, plus the creation of an Access Centre, have transformed training provision in Wapping.

In healthcare, the Wapping Health Centre which had opened in 1981 soon came under increasing pressure as the area's population started to increase.Wapping Health CentreThe LDDC wholly funded a major refurbishment in 1992 at a cost of 445,000, providing attractive accommodation for a GP practice, a dentist's surgery, district and school nurses, health visitors and other community health staff.

The Wapping Community Group and Tenants Social Club now enjoys the use of additional space at the Raines House Community Centre thanks to a grant of 253,000 from the LDDC. Younger residents have benefited from the building of a new youth club at Wellclose Square with LDDC funding, as well as the complete refurbishment of Wapping Youth Club. As for the very young and their parents, LDDC funding has helped with the construction of the Eve Armsby Family Centre and Day Nursery.

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Updating transport

In 1981, much of the basic transport infrastructure in Wapping was already in place, including the East London Line with a station at Wapping, as well as the main London Underground station at Tower Hill. The Highway was and is a main east-west route through the area, with its strategic importance significantly increased by the opening of the LDDC's Limehouse Link tunnel.

The HighwayAccess has been improved with the opening of the Docklands Light Railway in 1987 and its subsequent upgrading and extension to Bank and Beckton. The DLR station at Shadwell provides Wapping residents with easy access to the London Underground network via Bank. The East London Line is being upgraded, with the LDDC contributing to improvements to existing stations. The heart of the Wapping Riverside area now enjoys, for the first time, convenient connections to Tower Hill, Fenchurch Street and Liverpool Street via the 100 Hoppa bus service.

The Corporation has played a major part in improving bus services. Wapping also benefits from the D1and Docklands Express buses which skirt its edge.

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Limehouse in history

In the small area between Commercial Road to the north and the River Thames to the south, Wapping to the west and the Isle of Dogs to the east, Limehouse packs several important historical associations.

China Town, 1927The name itself comes from the lime oasts or kilns established there in the 14th Century and used to produce quick lime for building mortar. Pottery manufacture followed. In 1660, Samuel Pepys visited a porcelain factory in Duke's Shore, Narrow Street, whilst the Limehouse Pottery, on the site of today's Limekiln Wharf, was established in the 1740s as England's first soft paste porcelain factory. During the excavations for the Limehouse Link Tunnel, the dual carriageway road which has transformed access in London Docklands, a pottery kiln was found at Dunbar Wharf.

By the Elizabethan era many sailors had their homes there and by early in the reign of James 1 about half of the 2,000 population were mariners. In the 18th Century, when Limehouse was considered the easternmost end of London, the population numbered 7,000. In 1724 Hawskrnoor's St Anne's Church opened to cater for their spiritual needs, whilst the clock remains to this day, the highest church clock in London.

The well-known London brewer, Taylor Walker, began brewing at the site of today's "Barley Mow" pub in 1830**. This stretch of the Thames was known as Brewery Wharf, whilst from a little further along the embankment the Dunbars, after whom Dunbar Wharf is named, exported Pale India Ale from the Limehouse Brewery in Fore Street to India and Australia. They also exported people: the first voluntary passengers for Australia left from this wharf (the first involuntary ones left from Wapping Old Stairs). Brewing in Limehouse did not cease until 1960, when Taylor Walker merged with lnd Coope.

Shipbuilding, established in the 16th Century, thrived well into the 19th Century. As the age of steam led to bigger ships, the facilities at Limehouse became inadequate. However, local ingenuity found a highly successful alternative: the firm of -T & W Forestt's (sic) built many of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution s lifeboats in Limehouse between 1852 and 1890.

Dunbars Wharf 1900The area's association with London's docks began in 1803, when Commercial Road was laid out through open fields to connect the recently opened West India Docks to the City of London. This was followed in 1820 by the construction of the Regent's Canal and what is now called Limehouse Basin. The Basin provided a navigable route from the Thames to the Grand Union Canal, which had opened in 1814. Later, a connection was made between Lirnehouse Basin and the Limehouse Cut, which had opened in 1770 to provide a link between the Thames and the River Lea.

In 1841 the London and Blackwall Railway was built to transport commuters into the City. Today's Docklands Light Railway (DLR) runs along this route, and Limehouse DLR station, together with much of the track, is built on the original viaduct.

Another association which is very much alive today is with Asia. The Strangers' Home for Asiatics opened in West India Dock Road in 1890, whilst from about 1890 onwards Chinese people working for the Blue Funnel Line started to settle in Pennyfields and Limehouse Causeway, creating London's first and original Chinatown. The resulting opium and gambling dens soon attracted a wider clientele than visiting Chinese sailors, luridly described by, amongst others, Conan Doyle and Oscar Wilde.

Charles Dickens also had a number of Limehouse connections, the earliest being his godfather Christopher Huffam, a rigger, who lived at No.5 Church Row (now Newell Street) and had his sail loft nearby. Dickens would visit him here aged eleven. When he was of more mature years, Dickens spent some time in the pub he called "The Six Jolly Fellowship Porters", almost certainly the historic "The Grapes" in Narrow Street.

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Limehouse in 1981

Limehouse Basin was amongst the first docks to close in the late 1960s. By 1981, Limehouse shared the docklands-wide physical, social and economic decline which led to the setting up of the London Docklands Development Corporation.

Limehouse Basin 1982Access was poor. There were large areas of vacant and derelict land at Limehouse Basin and elsewhere. On the riverside, the conversion of former commercial buildings to new homes had begun. However at the western end of Narrow Street there were a large number of potential development sites, of which the most significant was Free Trade Wharf. Three large council estates dominated the eastern part of the area, the inter war St Vincent's and Roche Estates and the post war Barley Mow Estate: St Vincent's was in a particularly run-down condition. There were conservation areas in Narrow Street and the area around St Anne's Church.

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The LDDC's initial reaction

The key to realising the potential of Limehouse lay in relieving the area of traffic. In 1981, the London Borough of lower Hamlets and the Greater London Council had jointly considered a number of options for tackling the issue including widening the A13 Commercial Road and building a new road through Limehouse, but no action had resulted. At the same time, limited proposals were under consideration for what was to become the Docklands Light Railway.

In November 1982, the LDDC published its Limehouse Area Development Strategy. This built on existing plans for Limehouse Basin, and offered a discussion framework for future development, housing refurbishment and environmental improvements across the whole of Limehouse. It was based on four major projects: Limehouse Basin, Free Trade Wharf, what was then known as the Light Rapid Transit Route (DLR) and the Docklands Northern Relief Road, a road corridor between The Highway and East India Dock across the north of the Isle of Dogs.

However, it was not until the mid 1980s with the abolition of the Greater London Council that the impetus for improvements to the infrastructure was provided. The key to development in Limehouse lay next door in the Isle of Dogs. Initial development plans on the island had been modest: light industrial development and a low rise business park. By 1984, 8 million sq it of potential commercial developmerit was predicted. In 1985 proposals for a 10-12 million sq it development on the 71 acres of Canary Wharf were being considered.

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Route of Limehouse LinkThe opening of the Limehouse Link

The sheer scale of the Canary Wharf proposals, and in due course the rapid implementation of the first phase of development, provided the impetus to the transport improvements which completely altered prospects for Limehouse as well as for the Isle of Dogs.

By the time the Docklands Light Railway opened in 1987, it had to be closed at weekends and in the evenings to be upgraded and extended to meet anticipated demand from existing and committed development. However, the big breakthrough for Limehouse was in road access, and it needed a body with the powers and vision of the LDDC to carry it through.

Road widening proposals were not the answer. The Corporation's 1982 Development Strategy has stated: "if Limehouse is to be successfully regenerated, and its historic character retained, through traffic must be prevented from entering the area and its roads used for local access only." The solution was to be found below the ground.

To minimise the amount of demolition in a residential area a serpentine route under Limehouse Basin linking a number of parcels of derelict, underused and cleared land was selected. This in turn would link with the road corridor across the top of the Isle of Dogs and on through Leamouth to the A13.

The 1.8 km Limehouse Link tunnel, opened in 1993, was designed, planned and built in just over seven years. This compares remarkably well with the average of fifteen years for other major road schemes. The complexity of the engineering task in construction of the Limehouse Link made it, at the time, the second biggest engineering project in Europe after the Channel Tunnel.

The Limehouse Link, combined with traffic management measures on Limehouse Causeway and Narrow Street, has removed the traffic problem from Limehouse. Since 1993, the opportunity has existed to enhance the character of Limehouse and to continue to build on its many attributes.

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Barley Mow 1960's and 1990'sImpetus to housing

Limehouse offers a wide range of housing and extensive open spaces. In and around Limehouse Basin some of London's most attractive flats and houses add a modern flavour to the area's historic associations, whilst on the riverside warehouses have been converted to much sought after housing.

The building of the Limehouse Link directly affected 169 homes, largely at St Vincent's Estate and the Barley Mow Estate. Under The Accord agreed with the London Borough of Tower Hamlets in 1988, the LDDC rehoused people from an additional 296 units and a number of families who were sharing homes. In total 556 households were rehoused. Most of the families were offered new housing association homes, mainly on the Isle of Dogs and some opted for refurbished Council homes. The LDDC also agreed to fund a 35 million package of social, economic and community initiatives to benefit Tower Hamlets residents.

The LDDC has contributed over 10.5 million to the refurbishment of 635 council homes in Limehouse. The comprehensive improvements carried out at the Barley Mow Estate following construction of the Limehouse Link are a model of their kind. The Roche Esate has been completely refurbished helped by an LDDC grant of 3.25 million while Oast and Kiln Courts have seen environmental improvements and the replacement of doors and windows, with a grant of 344,000 from the Corporation. More recently John Scurr House which is just outside the Docklands area, was accepted by the LDDC as a special case and received 642,000 of Corporation funding, including 157,000 towards the cost of decontamination works.

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St Anne's LimehouseConservation and environmental improvements

The Corporation has spent over 3.1 million on conservation projects in Limehouse since 1981. Much of this has been focused on St Anne's Church, which is now in the best condition of all Hawksmoor's churches. A similar amount has been spent on environmental improvements, including the creation of new open spaces and a pedestrian network throughout the area.

The completion of the Limehouse Link provided the LDDC with the opportunity to undertake a number of environmental improvement projects, particularly along Narrow Street and in Limehouse Basin, the latter in partnership with the British Waterways, owners of the basin. Lirnehouse Basin is growing in popularity as a marina, and the Cruising Association has built its headquarters there.

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Investing in the community

The LDDC upgraded and significantly extended Ropemakers' Fields to provide Limehouse with a park at its heart, using land above the tunnel as well as previously derelict land. The cost to the Corporation was 1.3 million. A further 500,000 of Corporation funding went to build a pedestrian bridge and riverside walkway across Limekiln Dock.

Limehouse Youth ClubThe original Limehouse Youth Club, demolished to build the Limehouse Link, was replaced and upgraded by the LDDC at a cost of 1.4 million. As for really young local residents, Limehouse Arches Nursery received 185,000 and a similar sum was spent to build a new annexe at Cyril Jackson Primary School, which also received help with its nursery. Play areas were also funded at Barley Mow Estate (40,000) and St Vincent's Estate (96,000). Although it lies lust outside Limehouse, the 637,000 granted by the LDDC to Wapping Training is an important item to record in Corporation funding for the area.

In healthcare, Gill Street Health Centre, originally opened in 1977, was extended in 1990 in order to have the capacity to handle the growing population of Limehouse. The LDDC contributed 280,000 of the total cost of 390,000.

Church and community centres in Limehouse have also benefited from LDDC assistance. The Barley Mow Veterans Club received 203,000, Limehouse Library 98,000 and Tenants' Meeting Rooms at the Barley Mow and St Vincent's Estates 40,000 each. The Chinese Association of Tower Hamlets and Tower Hamlets Community Transport are among other local beneficiaries of Corporation funding.

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Handing on ceremony, Jan '97The future for Wapping and Limehouse

The opening of the Limehouse Link provides the most dramatic example in Docklands of a major project totally transforming prospects for an individual area. This, together with the many related works planned and carried out by the Corporation, mean that the Wapping and Limehouse district, always one of London's most historic areas, is now also one of London's most attractive quarters.

Part of its appeal, to residents and visitors alike, is its wealth of leisure facilities, many of which are unique to this part of London. They include a thriving watersports centre at Shadwell Basin, parks, cycle paths and riverside walkways and a wide variety of eating and drinking places ranging from historic waterside pubs to London's only purpose-built sports restaurant, Babe Ruth's.

Further planned developments will enhance the area's character, for example, British Waterways' scheme at Limehouse Basin which include over 400 new homes, 200,000 sq ft of offices, shops, a pub or restaurant, creche and museum.

On 31 January 1997 the LDDC handed on its responsibilities for Wapping arid Limehouse to London Borough of Tower Hamlets. The future of the area is secure.


** In October 2010 a reader got in touch to say that this is wrong. Taylor Walker’s brewery was behind the original Barley Mow pub which was opposite The Grapes. And it was there from at least 1746. For more see http://zythophile.wordpress.com/2010/10/04/taylor-walker-the-brewery-name-that-just-wont-die/

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Completion Booklets

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LDDC Monographs published in 1997/98

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Annual Reports and Accounts

As with most organisations the Annual Reports and Accounts of the LDDDC are a good source of chronological information about the work of the Corporation and how it spent its money. Altogether these reports contain more than 1000 pages of information. These have been scanned and reproduced as zip files on our Annual Reports and Accounts page

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