Top Sight Tours Group

28 Jan

A Tourists guide to Canary Wharf

While many people  work in Canary Wharf, and do not usually consider it to be a tourist hub, this historic part of London’s docklands can be enjoyed by tourists as one of London’s hidden Gems! Canary Wharf was once the hub of British Empire – with 1000 ships a month passing through it during its peak in the 19th Century. It’s a perfect historical pit stop for any Top London Traveler

When Visiting Canary Wharf, a good starting point is the arcades and malls under the very centres of the modern Empire. Throughout these malls are beautiful mosaics that tell the story of the Wharf’s heritage and its important role in British history. 

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Much of London’s success in history has revolved around the Thames and the city’s access to water. It wasn’t until the 17th century, however, that Londoners started to seriously use the water access of the East End. In the 1690s, a dock was built at Rotherhithe.

This location worked so well that further docks were built close by, including West India Dock and St Katherine Dock. The Docks attracted workers from all over the country and, indeed, all over the world, making the East End a densely populated area, full of different nationalities and cultures.

Museum of London’s eastern outpost sits in the corner of the North Dock, with 10 permanent galleries covering the history of the Docklands area, including Docklands at War. There’s also a chance to wander through the Victorian reconstruction ‘Sailortown’. These displays are topped up with a few alternating exhibitions throughout the year. This family-friendly museum, situated in an old warehouse, has a café and restaurant, and the Mudlarks Gallery offers somewhere for children aged 8 and under to let off steam and get hands on. A solid programme of events for visitors of all ages offers talks, gallery tours, and craft activities, as well as more unusual events including Christmas craft markets and family raves. The best part is that entry to the Museum of London Docklands is free, and the museum is open every day.

During the Second World War, the docks made the East End a prime target for German bombing raids. If you shut down the docks, you made life difficult for all of the UK and not just London. It is estimated that the Germans dropped around 2,500 bombs into the area, destroying a lot of the dock areas and local housing.


There was some rebuilding work after the war and the docks continued to operate. But, by the 1970s, cargo transportation caused problems that the East End’s docks couldn’t recover from.

The city’s docks were not big enough to deal with container ships and much of London’s industry moved out to ports with deeper water access.


The nerve centre of the historic Canary Wharf in the nineteenth century is of course the old warehouse that once stored bales of cotton, coffee, rum and sugar now is a fascinating museum plotting the course of the area dating back to Medieval and even Roman times.  Face the building and look to the far left to discover the Canary Wharf museum – head inside and learn about the rich and special history of this older but no less important Empire.

Thousands of locals working in the Tower Hamlets area are now employed at Canary Wharf and there is no doubt that the redevelopment has boosted the number of jobs available locally.As the financial centre became established and increased, people needed more homes and development has spread further than originally planned. This has led to some gentrification of other Docklands areas. Many East Enders, however, feel that the redevelopment has had a negative effect on the areas in which they, and their families have lived for years.Canary Wharf is now spreading east, the first expansion of the estate since the 2008 financial crisis. There are plans for 30 buildings at Wood Wharf, including a 57-storey cylindrical residential skyscraper facing the waters of South Dock, designed by Herzog & de Meuron, the Swiss architects behind Tate Modern and the Bird’s Nest in Beijing

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Although Canary Wharf is no longer an active trading port, there is still a large amount of food trading happening in the area. The Billingsgate Market is one of these places. It is the UK’s largest wholesale fish market, with an average of 25,000 tonnes of fish and fish products sold each year. With 98 stands, 30 shops and two cafés, the market offers a wide variety of fish for you to buy. The New “Skyline of London” t’s true that the skyline of this district certainly has a lot to offer. However, the most magnificent building of them all is One Canada Square. Although it is the second tallest building in Britain after The Shard, it is the largest in the country, covering a surface area of over 400,000 square metres. The 236-metre high tower climbs more than 50 floors and has been standing tall in Canary Wharf since 1991. Although the building is unfortunately not open to the public, it is worth paying a visit to look up at its majestic architecture There are daily arrivals from the coast and from overseas, and over 40 merchants trading right next to the Market Hall. There is an urban jungle on the rooftops of Canary Wharf for you to feast your eyes on various plants and enjoy performances in the sun. The Canary Wharf Crossrail Roof Gardens offer a range of free events, workshops and performances for the entire community in the beautiful setting of a roof garden. The garden is a representation of the history and the geography of Canary Wharf. It draws on the district’s heritage from when it was a trading hub and a port. Many of the plants installed in the gardens are native to the countries that were visited by the ships of the West India Dock Company many decades ago.It is a lively battle of who can get their hands on the best fish, and you can witness it all. With an area of over 4000 square metres, the market has a lot to offer for the average fish enthusiast, foodie, or simply an intrigued visitor.




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