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The Isle of dogs has gone from a working class area with a docking industry and maritime history, to one of London’s two business “nerve centres,” offering much more than just "business acumen,” to quote Lord Sugar.
It’s not really an island, but it was almost turned into one. The Isle of Dogs was cut off because it sat in a horse shoe-like part of the River Thames, with the East India Docks in the north effectively stopping any supply to the area. This was a problem years ago when they didn’t have modern transport as a solution. It’s now a place with thriving business, top-level jobs and an eclectic mix of accommodation choices that's buzzing Monday to Friday 9am till 5pm and calms down on evenings and weekends.
On a Map
The Isle of Dogs is within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.
History of the Isle of Dogs
Known for being a strong, purpose-built business district these days, Isle of Dogs was once a thriving community for dock workers which began to decline in 70s. The needs of the traditional East End dockers can sometimes be in juxtaposition with the modern bankers when it comes to property but times are changing on this side of London. It’s home to the capital’s second tallest building – One Canada Square - with The Shard stealing its number 1 spot!
Originally, this area was a sparse marshland until the 13th century; a huge flood took place in the 15th century. Urbanisation began in the 19th century. Long drawn out battles between dockers and employees dogged the area for many years. It originally linked with central London on the London and Blackwell Railway; it now links up through the DLR (Docklands Light Railway).
Cost of Living in the Isle of Dogs
The needs of ex-dockers and fishermen still living in the area often clashes with the desires of business people earning lots of money, and in the Isle of Dogs you’ll see social housing, high-rise apartment buildings, new build homes and plush, quaint cottages. Outside of Canary Wharf you can stumble upon areas that will make you think you’re in the countryside, whilst on one side of Kew Bridge you’ll find office buildings, on the other there’ll be pretty little cottages, noughties terraces meet waterside apartments and there are lots and lots of new builds.
In 2017, the average rental price for a two-bed home in the Isle of Dogs was £2,500 per month.
The main form of transport linking Isle of Dogs with the rest of London is the DLR (Docklands Light Railway). Its stops include; West India Quay, South Quay, Poplar, Mudchute, Island Gardens, Heron Quays, Crossharbour and Canary Wharf.
Canary Wharf is the nearest tube stop, on the Jubilee line. Bus routes in the area are served by the numbers 135, 277, D3, D6, D7, D8 and N550.
Head to the Masthouse Terrace Pier for river bus services where you can link up to Woolwich Arsenal, Greenwich, Tower Bridge, Tate Modern, Blackfriars and Rotherhithe to name but a few.
If you’re carbon-conscious, you can get on two wheels and peddle like mad on the Thames Path National Trail and the National Cycle Network Route 1 to link up with the city, the Greenwich Foot Tunnel will get you across the river. Just don’t forget to dismount!
Things to Do
There’s not many places where you can see pieces of music history donated by the likes of Bowie, The Stones and Mick Jagger all under one roof, but in the O2 you can in an exhibition that's dedicated to 60 years of British music.
Harvey Goldsmith’s exhibition includes outfits worn by Mick Jagger and Roger Daltry, bringing history and culture from iconic events like Woodstock. The finale is a projection around the room that celebrates The Sex Pistols, Oasis and The Beatles amongst others.
See details about the O2 below to find out how to get there or get in touch.
Bowling, climbing to the top, catching a live band, tennis and NBA, or even watching Lycra clad WWE superstars grappling in the squared circle; there’s so many things you can do at the O2 Arena. If you aren’t sure what or where it is, then watch the Eastenders opening credits to see where the building formerly known as the Millennium Dome can be found.
If you’re an O2 customer, have a check online because you get some good rewards. This includes 15% off the best thing they offer; Up at the O2, where you get to climb to the top of the humungous arena and marvel at the amazing 360° views come day or night.
Address: Peninsula Square, London SE10 0DX
Telephone: 020 8463 2000
In a converted church in the Isle of Dogs, you’ll find a space dedicated to performing arts. Ran by St Paul’s Art’s Trust, it provides opportunities for new performers and space for events. As well as being able to enjoy or take part in theatre, comedy, dance and music events, the area also provides workshops for all ages.
Address: 269 Westferry Road, London E14 3RS
Telephone: 020 7515 7799
The opening slide image on the website shows you some of the great comedians and acts that have walked the boards at this iconic comedy venue opposite Canary Wharf; Stewart Lee, Sean Locke, Lee Evans, Jack Dee and Bill Bailey are just a few.
They’re happy to organise birthday, hen and stag parties, it’s THE place for alternative comedy this side of London.
Address: 302 Creek Road, Greenwich, London SE10 9SW
Telephone: 020 8858 4581
One Canada Square
Up until 2010, this was the tallest building in the UK, until The Shard smashed that record in 2010. With 50 storeys, this is quite a sight. The stand out feature being the pyramid shaped roof with a flashing light to warn aircrafts of its presence.
Address: Canary Wharf, London E14 5AB
Royal Greenwich has A LOT to see and do. You can sip in the views of the final tea clipper The Cutty Sark, if you’ve got time visit Prime Meridian where all Coordinated Universal Time is based or even scope out the Greenwich Observatory, where GMT began. We covered all in great detail in our Greenwich blog.
Restaurants and Bars
Elephant Royal serves Royal Thai Cuisine in a very authentic setting in the Docklands, just south of Canary Wharf. The restaurant is graced with décor picked and imported from Thailand offering an extensive choice of menus boasting sumptuous Royal Thai dishes.
Address: Locks Wharf St Davids Square, Westferry Road, London E14 3AN
Telephone: 020 7987 7999
Manjal offer dishes inspired by North and South India. Diners can experience properly spiced Indian food and a friendly, warm service. The view looks straight out onto the River and Canary Wharf
Address: 3 Turnberry Quay, London E14 9RD
Telephone: 020 7538 1140
Memsaheb on Thames
Head to the Docklands to visit Delia Smith’s favourite Indian restaurant and enjoy authentic Indian cuisine and views of the O2 and boats on the River. If you’re crazy about curry and go nana for naan then this place is great because the menu has dishes that more experienced curry-lovers might not know. It’s not just an entry-level curry house!
Every weekend, the owner and his team of chefs create an original menu. Take-aways are available with discount for those who collect.
Address: 65-67 Amsterdam Road, London E14 3UU
Telephone: 020 7538 3008
Housed in The Space that we spoke about before you’ll find Hubbub, a café and bar that aims to keep the vagabond essence that was once common-place in The Isle Of Dogs alive. They serve breakfast daily – all day and homemade 10 ounce burgers - sounds like a challenge!
Whether you want food, tea, coffee, beer or wine this place has choice aplenty, to be enjoyed in what looks like a former antique dealers dining room, what’s not to like?!
Address: 269 Westferry Road, Isle of Dogs, London E14 3RS
Telephone: 020 7515 5577
For those with discerning taste in coffee – look no further. Taylor St began due to Aussie siblings Nick, Andrew and Laura despairing about what they felt was a pretty luke warm coffee scene in the city.
For these siblings, coffee was about decadence, richness and attention to detail. You can absolutely guarantee that you will get an incredible cup of coffee here, prepared by highly skilled and painfully trained baristas.
You can find your favourite blend and bean through multiple visits, purchase some beans and attempt to emulate the experience at home – you will fail. It’s a damn site better than a cup of *whisper it* instant coffee though.
Address: Canary Wharf Group, 8 South Colonnade, London, Canary Wharf E14 4PZ
Telephone: 020 7519 6536