London Wiki
Canary Wharf
PostCode District E14
Borough London Borough of Tower Hamlets
OS Grid Reference

Canary Wharf is an area in East London located on the Isle of Dogs and in between the River Thames, in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, centered on the former West India Docks.

Rivaling London's traditional financial center, the City of London, Canary Wharf contains the UK's three tallest buildings with the exception of the Shard: One Canada Square (sometimes known as the Canary Wharf Tower) at 235.1 m (774 ft); followed by 8 Canada Square and the Citigroup Centre, both at 199.5 m (654 ft). However, according to the official Canary Wharf website, One Canada Square is 800 ft (244 m).


HSBC World Headquarters and One Canada Square, from the western end of West India Quay

Canary Wharf is built on the site of the old West India Docks. From 1802 to 1980, the area was one of the busiest docks in the world, with at one point 50,000 employed.

During World War II, the docks area was bombed heavily and nearly all the original warehouses were destroyed or badly damaged. After a brief recovery in the 1950s, the port industry began to decline. Containerisation, a limit of 6,000 long tons (6,096 MT) imposed by the dock gates, and a lack of flexibility made the upstream docks less viable than the Port of London dock at Tilbury, and by 1980 these docks were closed. Many traditional local industries closed, with thousands out of work and the 295 acres (1.2 km2) West India Docks lay derelict, and largely unused.

The project to revitalise the 8 square miles (21 km2) of derelict London docklands began in 1981 with the establishment of the London Docklands Development Corporation by the Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher. Initially regeneration of the area was focused on small-scale, light industrial schemes. This inward investment was encouraged by low rents, and a remission from business rates.

Canary Wharf itself takes its name from No. 10 Warehouse (30 Shed) of the South Quay Import Dock. This was built in 1952 for Fruit Lines Ltd, a subsidiary of Fred Olsen Lines for the Mediterranean and Canary Island fruit trade. At their request, the quay and warehouse were given the name Canary Wharf. The company moved to Millwall Docks, in 1970. Between 1981–89 this warehouse was converted to television studios, known as Limehouse Studios. At one time this was the largest single project within the LDDC. These were sold to Olympia and York in 1988 for £25m to expand their own development at One Canada Square to the west of the Docklands Light Railway.


Canary Wharf Station (Jubilee Line)

Canary Wharf DLR Station

Canary Wharf is a major transport hub for connections to central London and elsewhere.

  • Docklands Light Railway runs services from Canary Wharf DLR station, opened in 1991, and Heron Quays DLR station.
  • Canary Wharf tube station opened on the newly extended Jubilee Line in 2000, providing London Underground services to central London and Stratford.
  • River boat connections from Canary Wharf Pier are managed by London River Services and operated by Thames Clipper. Services include a regular commuter catamaran which goes to Greenwich and the O2 in the east, and to the City of London and Embankment, as well as a frequent ferry service to Rotherhithe.
  • London City Airport is a few miles further to the east and can be accessed by bus, taxi and, since December 2005, DLR.

The sustainable transport charity Sustrans has proposed the construction of a bicycle and pedestrian swing bridge from Canary Wharf to Rotherhithe, and a feasibility study is underway.

Canary Wharf is one of the most important stations on the proposed Crossrail project, which would link the estate with Heathrow in the West and the Thames Gateway in the East. The Crossrail station, if built, will be situated in the North Dock and linked to the underground malls.


The three tallest skyscrapers in Canary Wharf as viewed from Cabot Square: 8 Canada Square (centre-left), One Canada Square (centre), Citigroup Centre (centre-right)

The most immediate impact of Canary Wharf has been to substantially increase land values in the surrounding area. This means that the Isle of Dogs, which had previously been seen as suited only for low density light industrial development, has been up-rated. Projects like South Quay Plaza and West India Quay are a direct consequence of this. More recently, Canary Wharf has opened the path for other developments in East London such as Stratford City and Greenwich Peninsula. It has given fresh impetus to already well established residential construction, especially of owner occupier apartments and townhouses.

At the metropolitan level, Canary Wharf was, and remains, a direct challenge to the primacy of the City of London as the UK's principal centre for the finance industry. Relations between Canary Wharf and the City of London Corporation have frequently been strained, with the City accusing Canary Wharf of poaching tenants, and Canary Wharf accusing the City of not catering to occupier needs.

Canary Wharf's national significance comes from what it replaces: the former docks were, as recently as 1961, the busiest in the world. They served huge industrial areas of east London and beyond. Both the docks and much of that industrial capacity are gone, with employment shifting to the kind of service industry accommodated in office buildings. In this respect, Canary Wharf could be cited as the strongest single symbol of the changed economic geography of the United Kingdom.

Its symbolic importance was demonstrated on 9 February 1996 when the IRA detonated a bomb near South Quay DLR station, killing two people, destroying part of the South Quay Plaza development and damaging several nearby buildings. The bomb ended a 17-month ceasefire.

In 2007, the project made headlines again when the tower at 8 Canada Place sold for £1.1 billion, setting a new record for commercial real estate in London.

Recently, Canary Wharf has gained unwelcome notoriety by banning a demonstration highlighting poor pay for office cleaners. Director Ken Loach, whose film Bread and Roses inspired the march, denounced the ban as "despicable".

External links[]

The website for Canary Wharf is [1] and the history page is [2]

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