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A journey to the Canary Wharf of old used to be best served by car, but its very different now. How else do over 100,000 workers manage to get here every day for work?
Tube: The Jubilee Line serves central Canary Wharf, with passengers disembarking into the magnificent Foster + Partners building.
DLR: However, Canary Wharf and the Isle of Dogs is very well served by the DLR, with stations at Canary Wharf, Heron Quays, South Quay, Crossharbour, Mudchute, Island Gardens, West India Quay and Poplar.
River: The RB1 river bus service links Canary Wharf Pier with Greenwich, Tower Bridge, London Bridge, Blackfriars and Embankment (for Waterloo), to name but a few.
Bus: Coming in from East London, the D3, D7 and D8 will all bring you directly to Canary Wharf, and the 277 heads to Highbury and Islington. There is also a night bus, the N550, from Trafalgar Square.
Airport: Escaping from the city couldn’t be easier with London City Airport just a few stops away on the DLR or a few minutes by cab.
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Canary Wharf has already changed beyond all recognition from when One Canada Square was completed in 1991. (Incidentally One Canada Square is what some mistakenly refer to as Canary Wharf, or Canary Wharf Tower.) But what was once a singular (very) tall tower, it is now flanked by many other skyscrapers.
But if you think Canary Wharf looks impressive now, by 2020 its going to look very different, and by 2025 its going to look different again.
The largest single development is that by the Canary Wharf Group itself. The site formerly known as Wood Wharf has been razed to the ground and will provide a new residential-led, mixed use, waterside community.
The masterplan, designed by Allies and Morrison Architects, will provide over 3,200 new homes, nearly 2 million sq ft of high quality commercial office space, and a further 335,000 sq ft of shops, restaurants and community uses. Estimated completion for the entire project is 2023, however the first of the residential towers, 10 Park Drive, will complete in 2019/2020.
However, prior to 2023, and all located to the south of the Canary Wharf Estate, we will witness the completion of Berkeley’s South Quay Plaza (2020), Galliard’s Maine Tower at Harbour Central (2019/2020), Ballymore’s The Wardian (2019) and LBS’ The Madison (2019).
But that’s not all.
Landmark Pinnacle at 75 floors will become London’s tallest residential building (by number of floors, rather than height), and Hertsmere House near West India Quay will ACTUALLY become Europe’s tallest residential tower at 240 metres. But by then, the Canary Wharf Group will have also completed its 560 unit Newfoundland scheme, on the far west of the estate just past Heron Quays DLR.
Oh, and did we mention the completion of Mount Anvil’s Dollar Bay & Galliard’s Baltimore Tower complete in 2017 too…
And lastly, just a few words for Crossrail. Although Crossrail Place was completed in 2015 the station itself will not open until December 2018. Once open the Elizabeth line (as its now to be called, Ma’am) will take you from Canary Wharf to Liverpool Street in 6 minutes, to Paddington in 17 and Heathrow in 39. Incidentally, did you know that the station itself is 18 metres below water level? Crossrail sits beneath North Dock and the dock was drained in order for building of the station to commence.
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Knowing Canary Wharf as we do, the cry of “there’s nothing to do in Canary Wharf” surely used to be true. But just as surely, it’s not true now. Canary Wharf has become a destination in its own right, its no longer just the place where people come to work.
Boisdale is something of a Canary Wharf stalwart, has outstanding reviews for its modern British cooking, offers a choice of more than 3,000 whiskies, a cigar menu, and not to forget live music, but do book early.
Plateau, on the fourth floor of Canada Place, offers modern French cuisine from fixed price and a la carte menus; all in a stylish setting with views over the towers of The Wharf.
If chicken is your thing then Le Secret Des Rotisseurs at Canary Riverside overlooks the Thames and offers (we know from experience) possibly the best chicken you’ll ever eat.
Tom’s Kitchen serves British favourites and comfort food classics.
Or, if you have a yen for modern Japanese cuisine, head to Roka, where you can watch the robata chefs at work.
However, take a stroll to the south and you’ll uncover some hidden gems on the Isle of Dogs. Manjal specialises in northern and southern Indian cuisine including dosas to die for, whilst the Lotus Floating Restaurant offers great dim sum (and a special menu of authentic Chinese dishes if you ask for it) … but beware of the queues at weekends.
Keep walking south towards Island Gardens and you’ll find The Old Fire Station a bar and bistro which specialises in Turkish cuisine. Reasonably priced and the meze and kebabs are super.
And a final word for Firezza, who surely offer the best take away or delivered pizzas in London.
The Gun on Coldharbour is a favourite with locals, and its full restaurant menu offers upmarket gastropub fare, with oysters as their speciality.
Under new management, and right next to Crossharbour DLR, is The George. A proper pub for proper people, but it also happens to offer great food, a beer garden and conservatory.
In Canary Wharf itself there are watering holes aplenty. Find a dock, look left or right!
Docklands’ Museum of London offers a fantastic insight into the history of Canary Wharf and Docklands and is located at West India Quay.
For grocery shopping there is the UK’s largest Waitrose at Canada Place, but for those with more modest tastes there’s a large Asda superstore in the middle of the Island, very close to Crossharbour DLR.
Billingsgate Fish Market is just to the north east of Canary Wharf and could just as easily be classed as culture as an amenity. Billingsgate is the UK’s largest inland fish market. Open to the public as well as to trade customers, but do get there early as it’s all over by 9.30am.
Chrisp Street market in Poplar, was the first purpose built pedestrian shopping centre and still offers more than 80 stalls from Monday to Saturday, including that Eastend staple pie and mash.
For the more adventurous pop along to the Docklands Sailing & Watersports Centre in Milwall Outer Dock, where you can try your hand at canoeing, sailing and windsurfing.
Or if you’d like to brave the Thames in your boat, pop along to the Poplar, Blackwall & District Rowing Club, believed to be the third oldest rowing club in Great Britain.
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So, we all know Canary Wharf don’t we? Its that bit of London that doesn’t look like London.
To the casual eye, Canary Wharf perhaps appears to have more in common with Singapore, Hong Kong or even Monaco. But for those that live in Canary Wharf, they know that there’s far more to it.
Canary Wharf is an iconic part of London's skyline, and while it surely might be better known as the glass and steel headquarters of London's global financial centre, in the past decade it's also become one of the Capital’s most coveted neighbourhoods. People WANT to buy in Canary Wharf.
The area has been helped by excellent transport links. When the Jubilee line was extended and Canary Wharf station opened in 1999, that’s when it really started to change. All of a sudden London Bridge was 6 minutes away and you could be shopping in Bond Street in 15. And with the driverless DLR now extended all over east London, much of London is very easily accessible.
These days Canary Wharf is not only home to global corporate names like HSBC, Citigroup and Morgan Stanley, its also home to excellent shopping and entertaining options. Sure, Canary Wharf might be missing Michelin stars, but there’s still plenty of tasty treats.
It’s not all hustle, bustle, napkins and diamantes though. Far from it.
Crossrail Place, a recent addition which sits atop what will be the Canary Wharf Crossrail station, is not only home to new shops, restaurants and a great cinema. Pop up on the roof and watch a music or theatrical performance amongst the bamboo of its global garden.
Mudchute Farm, just to the south on the Isle of Dogs, is a lot more than your everyday urban farm. Set in 32 acres of countryside, Mudchute is a community charity, with a working farm, stables, a children’s nursery and a wide range of education activities.
Further south, at Island Gardens, is the Greenwich foot tunnel. Take a stroll through the tunnel and take in the Cutty Sark (ship or pub!), the market, The National Maritime Museum or the Observatory.
To the west is Limehouse and further west to Wapping. Riverside G&T anyone?
To the east is Blackwall and Leamouth, where a high concentration of quality modern apartments meets an ecology park and nature reserve.
To the north is Poplar, the recently renovated Baths and Chrisp Street Market. Proper East London.
Pie and mash anyone?
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So, we all know Canary Wharf is just a load of glass and steel with no history, right?
Here's some lesser-known facts for you.
- No 32 berth of West Wood Quay was built in 1936 for Fruit Lines Ltd, which imported fruit from the Mediterranean and Canary Islands. At the request of the company the quay and warehouse were given the name Canary Wharf, and that’s where the Canary Wharf name comes from. West India Quay and Canada Square got their names from the same principle.
- In 1802, the West India Docks were the world’s busiest shipping port and the heart of the British Empire. These days, you’re far more likely to find that West India Quay has very busy bars, rather than barges!
- If you ever see a bird of prey flying around Canary Wharf, his name is Boey and he’s a Harris Hawk. Boey's job is to keep the pigeons and seagulls away. When he’s not working he’s back at home with his mates in Kent: http://hawkforcefalconry.co.uk/
- Trinity Buoy Wharf, just to the east of Canary Wharf, is home to London’s only lighthouse. Dating from 1864 the lighthouse was used to train lighthouse keepers and lighting trials: http://www.trinitybuoywharf.com/
- Today the lighthouse is home to Longplayer - a one thousand year long musical composition. It began playing at midnight on the 31st of December 1999, and will continue to play without repetition until the last moment of 2999. It was developed by 'The Pogues' Jem Finer: http://longplayer.org/
- Canary Wharf is adjacent to the Isle of Dogs. The Isle of Dogs was first mentioned in Henry III’s papers and it is thought that Edward III kept greyhounds here, hence the name.
- Canary Wharf is home to the largest Waitrose supermarket in the UK: http://www.waitrose.com/bf_home/bf/664.html
- Jubilee Park, above the Jubilee Place shopping centre, is a surprisingly tranquil place to have your lunch.
- Regular cleaning has made the docks water more attractive to various species of freshwater and saltwater fish including flounder, plaice, bream and rudd. The docks are regularly used by aquatic birds and a seal has even been spotted in the North Dock on several occasions (and I’ve actually seen him in the Thames too).
- More than 105,000 people are employed in the Canary Wharf area, but the number is expected to move beyond 200,000 people before 2025.