urban75 blog

Exploring London and the River Thames at the Museum of London Docklands at West India Quay

Located in West India Quay – right next to Canary Wharf – is the fabulous Museum of London Docklands, a free exhibition space dedicated to the history of the River Thames and Docklands.

Based around the museum and archives of the Port of London Authority, the museum opened in 2003 in a group of grade I listed early 19th century Georgian “low” sugar warehouses built in 1802.

Covering the period from the first port of London in Roman times to the closure of the central London docks in the 1970s and the massive redevelopment in recent times, the museum offers 12 galleries and a children’s gallery, located actross three floors.

The ground floor cafe space.

The displays are arranged in chronological order, with the exhibition starting from the top floor.

A wonderfully detailed model of the old London bridge.

Parts of the old docklands have been recreated.

The particularly grim gibbet.

The exhibition doesn’t shy away from handling sensitive topics. The slavery display was very powerful.

Painting of Brixton Market from 1988.

The museum was pleasingly quiet when I visited on a Sunday afternoon.

Thames Frost Fair engraving.

Cardboard mock up of the Rotherhithe and Wapping tunnel, built between 1825 and 1843 by Marc Brunel and his son, the legendary Great Western railway engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

Hailed in its day as the eighth wonder of the world, it was the first tunnel in the world to be constructed under a navigable river and is now regarded as one of the greatest engineering feats of the 19th century.

In the atmospheric Sailortown.

Inside the Three Mariners pub.

A warning about ‘improper characters.’

WW2 shelter.

Wartime food from the USA.

I enjoyed the section retelling the community resistance to the redevelopment of the Isle of Dogs, and the subsequent fight for jobs.

Display about the notorious Wapping Dispute of 1984-5.

On until the 2nd November 2014 is the Bridge exhibition, which features rarely seen contemporary and historical artworks, plus photos and film clips highlighting the importance of bridges within London’s landscape.

More info:

Museum of London Docklands [map]
No.1 Warehouse
West India Quay
London E14 4AL


Mon-Sun: 10am – 6pm
Closed 24-26 Dec
Galleries begin to close at 5.40pm