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A Short History of Paddington Basin

© 2020 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The Paddington and Grand Junction Canal was built after the success of the Duke of Bridgewater’s canal between Liverpool and Manchester. The Paddington Canal was a 13.5-mile long waterway, which terminated in a four-acre area of water called the Paddington Basin opened for traffic in 1801 to great public rejoicings with bells ringing, flags, and cannons were fired.

© 2020 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

This early excitement was replaced in the 1850s by concern when the Regent’s Canal was opened which led to a deterioration in trade. Around Paddington Basin were built wharves and warehouses dealing mostly with bricks, clay, coal, hay, cattle and vegetables.

© 2020 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

In the late 20th century, there were little need for warehouses and little business on the water and into the 21st century, a major redevelopment took place in the Paddington Basin area. Most of the development was modern buildings which housed small and medium-sized commercial offices for companies like Marks & Spencer. Most of the land north of the canal basin formed Merchant Square which included offices, homes and shops.

© 2020 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The Basin includes a couple of unusual bridges, The Rolling Bridge was conceived by Thomas Heatherwick and The Merchant Square Footbridge (also known as The Fan Bridge).

© 2020 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Merchant Square includes a life-size sculpture in memory of Sir Simon Milton who played a pivotal role in facilitating the regeneration of Paddington Basin. The Paddington Arm and Basin now includes a number of narrow boats and other boats and the water is surrounded by bars, restaurants and cafés.

© 2020 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

There is even a couple of floating restaurants and the area is now given over to leisure which is becoming very popular with people enjoying some peace and quiet next to the water and away from the surrounding busy streets.

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
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A Short Guide to Mudchute Park and Farm on the Isle of Dogs

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

A short distance from the skyscrapers of Canary Wharf is one of the largest city farms in Europe. This strange mix of urban and rural makes Mudchute Park and Farm a unique attraction for visitors.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The Isle of Dogs is one of the fastest growing parts of London with a large number of developments, however this is relatively recent phenomenon. Up to the mid 18th century, the vast majority of the Isle of Dogs was uninhabited and used as pastures for animals.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The large open space where the Mudchute Park and Farm now stands was once grazing land until the mid 19th century when during the building of the nearby Millwall Docks led to the space being used for storage of millions of bricks. After the docks were completed, the area was used to dump the mud that was dredged from Millwall Dock. This mud was transferred from the dock to the field by a pipe leading to the area being called Mudchute. Over time the mud accumulated to create small hills and bumps, but towards the end of the 19th century there was concerns when the mudfield was considered a health hazard and the pipe which was discontinued in 1910.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

After the first World War, the area was used for allotments . At the beginning of the Second World War, the land was used for gun placements to attack the aircraft bombing the docks ( there is an Ack Ack gun in the farm to pay tribute to those who risked their lives). After the war, there were a number of schemes to use the land for housing. However a campaign by local residents and supporters led to the creation of an urban farm in 1977.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Since then Mudchute Park and Farm has developed into one of the largest city farms in Europe covering 32 acres and is maintained largely by local volunteers. The farm and park has worked hard to create diverse environment that attracts all forms of wild life.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Farm animals have been introduced over the years to give visitors a variety of experience, with a strong educational aspect with close ties with local schools and other community groups.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Whilst most visitors come from the local area, the farm and park has increased its visibility to attract visitors from further afield.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Mudchute Park and Farm is one of the hidden gems of London providing a wide range of rural pleasures near to the urban jungle of Canary Wharf.

For more information and tickets , visit the Mudchute website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website
here

Review : Museum of London Docklands in West India Docks

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The Museum of London Docklands is a museum in West India Docks which tells the history of the River Thames and the growth of Docklands.

The museum opened in 2003 in grade I listed early-19th century Georgian warehouses built in 1802 on the side of West India Docks near to the Canary Wharf financial district. Much of the museum’s collection is from the Museum of London and archives of the Port of London Authority,

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The museum includes series of multimedia presentations including videos and houses a large collection of historical artifacts, models, and pictures in a number of galleries. The museum also has a dedicated children’s gallery called Mudlarks, bookshop and cafe.

The museum through a series of permanent galleries tells the story of how the Docklands were created and how they have changed.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The gallery entitled No.1 Warehouse explores the museum building itself which was originally No. 1 Warehouse of the West India Docks. Opened in 1802, the West India Docks were London’s first enclosed dock system.The gallery illustrates how London’s historic docks and warehouses operated.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The Trade Expansion (1600-1800) and London, Sugar & Slavery (1600 – today) galleries consider the effect of global trade and some of its consequences.

City and River (1800-1840), The early 19th century brought great change to London’s river and port. The huge docks complex was just one aspect of the development. New bridges spanned the Thames and the Thames tunnel was completed.

The ever popular Sailortown (1840-1850) gallery recreates the atmosphere of Sailortown, the London district, close to the river and docks, centred around Wapping, Shadwell and Ratcliffe.

The First Port of Empire (1840-1880) and Warehouse of the World (1880-1939) galleries illustrate how London and the docks became the centre of world trade.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Docklands at War (1939-1945) shows how important the docks were for the war effort and how they became a prime target for enemy bombers.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The New Port, New City gallery (1945 – present) recounts the ups and downs of London’s upriver docks after the war culminating in their closure from the 1960s through to the early 1980s. It also shows how Docklands became the site of Europe’s largest regeneration project which was to divide government and local communities.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The Museum of London Docklands is a fascinating free museum in a historic building which tells the remakable story of London’s Docklands. Located near to the Canary Wharf financial district, it is an ideal oportunity to discover how the area became the centre for world trade before it became a centre for finance.

Location : Museum of London Docklands, No.1 Warehouse, West India Quay, London E14 4AL

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website here

A Short Guide to St Katharine Docks in London

St Katharine Docks was one of the commercial docks in London which opened in 1828, the docks were built on the site of the former hospital of St Katharine’s by the Tower which dated back to the 12th century.

The decision to build the docks was controversial with around 11,000 people losing their homes and some 1250 houses demolished. The area was known for centuries for the medieval hospital of St. Katharine was originally founded in 1148 by Matilda of Boulogne and was the recipient of many gifts from kings and queens over the centuries.

Due to its favourable position next to the Tower of London, the decision for redevelopment was confirmed by an Act of Parliament in 1825, with construction starting in 1827. The project was undertaken by famous engineer Thomas Telford and was completed remarkably quickly with the docks opening in 1828.

The docks were designed in the form of two linked basins (East and West), with access to the Thames through an entrance lock. Steam engines designed by James Watt and Matthew Boulton kept the water level in the basins to an acceptable level. The cost of building the docks was estimated to be around two million pounds.

The docks were popular for a time with produce being bought into the centre of London, however as time moved on the inability to accommodate large ships began to limit their commercial success. In the 19th century, St Katharine Docks were amalgamated with the nearby London Docks. In 1909, the Port of London Authority took over the management of almost all of the Thames docks, including St Katharine.

The St Katharine Docks suffered considerable damage by German bombing during the Second World War and the docks were finally closed in the 1960s.

A number of commercial buildings were built in the 1970s including the Tower Hotel, however it was not until the 1990s that wholesale development took place that led to offices, public and private housing, a hotel, shops and restaurants, the Dickens Inn pub and a marina for small to medium-sized boats.

Since the 1990s, St Katharine Docks have become a popular location for those visiting the nearby Tower of London and workers from the surrounding offices.

The redevelopment has paid tribute to the history of the site with some of the old warehouses used for offices and retail. There is a wide range of ships and boats in the marina from superyachts to Thames sailing barges.


Famous boats regularly moored in the docks include the royal barge Gloriana and MV Havengore which is best known for carrying the body of Sir Winston Churchill as part of his State Funeral.

St Katharine Docks is little known to many visitors but offers a fascinating glimpse into London’s maritime and medieval history.

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website
here

A Short Guide to Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Square is a famous public square in Central London, its name commemorates the British victory over the French in 1805. The location has been significant landmark since the 13th century and originally contained the King’s Mews which kept the King’s Hawks. After a fire in 1534, the mews were rebuilt as stables until they were moved them to Buckingham Palace.

In the early 19th century , the site was redeveloped by John Nash and then Charles Barry until Trafalgar Square was officially opened to the public in 1844. Nelson’s Column was not part of Barry’s work and was funded by public subscription, the design selected of a 218 feet 3 inches (66.52 m) column topped by a statue of Nelson and guarded by four lions was not widely admired by the public when it was erected in 1843.

The square quickly became one of the centres of London and became a location for social and political demonstrations, The great Chartist rally in 1848 for social reforms began in the square, later demonstrations in the late 19th century led to social unrest and occasionally violence. In the 20th century, protests about Nuclear weapons and Vietnam in the 1950s and 60s . These were followed anti-apartheid protests in the 1980s and Poll Tax Riots in the 1990s.  More recently, there have been anti-war, climate change and anti austerity demonstrations taken place in the square.

The square is not only used for demonstrations, for many years it was the main focus for New Year celebrations and is used all year round for various festivals and community events. Every year since 1947 , a Christmas tree has been donated to the square by Norway and is erected over the Christmas period.

Although Nelson’s Column dominates the square, there are  fountains designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, four large bronze lions sculpted by Sir Edwin Landseer, there are other statues dotted around the square.

A bronze equestrian statue of George IV by Sir Francis Chantrey,was installed in 1844, General Sir Charles James Napier by George Cannon Adams in the south-west corner in 1855, and Major-General Sir Henry Havelock by William Behnes in the south-east in 1861. One plinth was left empty and in the 21st century, the “Fourth Plinth”, has been used to show specially commissioned artworks.

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website
here

A Short Guide to Piccadilly Circus

Piccadilly Circus is a well known junction and public space located in the London’s West End, it was built in 1819 to connect Regent Street and Piccadilly.

Piccadilly Circus is close to many of the major shopping and entertainment areas in the West End and has been a popular meeting place for Londoners and visitors for a considerable period. In the present day it is chiefly known for the video and neon signs displayed on buildings on the northern side , the Shaftesbury memorial fountain and statue commonly known as Eros and the Criterion Theatre.

The use of electric and neon advertising signs on the goes back to 1910 and have been a feature of the site ever since, these types of signs are relatively rare in London and the area became a bit of an attraction because of this.

At the south-eastern side of the Circus stands the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain, erected in 1892–1893 to commemorate the philanthropic works of Lord Shaftesbury, a Victorian politician, philanthropist and social reformer. The subject of the Memorial often gets confused because people associate the stature with Eros the Greek god of love but its actually the Greek god Anteros and the statue was given the name The Angel of Christian Charity.

Piccadilly Circus has long association with love in its different forms being notorious for a pick up spot for prostitutes in the 20th century. Although surrounded by shops and theatres it has a strangely transient feel where you generally meet people before moving on elsewhere. The endless tide of people have attracted many writers and artists to the area who became inspired by its light and dark attributes.

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website
here

 

Review: National Maritime Museum in Greenwich

The National Maritime Museum is located within the historic buildings that form part of the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site and is run by Royal Museums Greenwich which comprises of the Royal Observatory, Cutty Sark, National Maritime Museum and Queen’s House.

Greenwich has been the home to a naval-based art gallery since the early 1800s, however the idea for a National Maritime Museum goes back to the 1920s, when a public appeal was launched to develop a ‘national naval and nautical museum’. Sir James Caird purchased the A.G.H. Macpherson Collection of over 11,000 maritime prints, along with ship models and many other items, to help begin the Museum’s collection.

Over a decade later, the National Maritime Museum was opened by King George VI in 1937 and now holds some of the most important items in the world on the history of Britain at sea, including maritime art, cartography, manuscripts, official public records, ship models and plans. In the last ten years, more gallery spaces have been added and a new library and archive has been developed.

Highlights of the ground level area are the remarkable collection of figureheads from the late 17th century until the early 20th century, the stern gallery of HMS Implacable, a full size Type-23 frigate propeller and the lavish 20 metre The state barge built for Frederick, Prince of Wales and launched in 1732.

On the ground level is the Jutland 1916 gallery which was opened to mark the centenary of the Battle of Jutland, the largest sea battle of the First World War.

Also on this level is J.M.W. Turner’s largest painting of The Battle of Trafalgar, 21 October 1805, which is one of the highlights of the museums art collection and the Voyagers gallery which tells the story of Britain and the sea and Maritime London.

Moving up to other levels, there are series of galleries and displays including the Nelson, Navy, Nation gallery which explores the life and times of great British hero Horatio Nelson and the history of the Royal Navy and British people from 1688–1815. One of the highlights is the actual uniform Admiral Nelson was wearing when he was fatally wounded at the Battle of Trafalgar.

Visitors can find out about Britain’s maritime trade with Asia in the Traders: the East India Company and Asia gallery and find a moments peace in the beautiful Baltic Exchange Memorial Glass gallery which commemorates World War I dead.

The museum has opened four new galleries from September 2018, Tudor and Stuart Seafarers uncovers stories of adventure and piracy, ambition and greed. Polar Worlds discover the challenges of extreme environments. From Arctic and Antarctic exploration to the impact of climate change on human lives. Pacific Encounters voyage to the world’s largest ocean and hear hidden histories of exploration and exploitation. Sea Things explores more personal connections with the sea with a series of personal stories.

The museum attracts many children and families with its AHOY! children’s gallery and you can enjoy food and drink in the Parkside Café and Terrace which features the popular Yinka Shonibare’s replica of Nelson’s HMS Victory in a bottle.

The National Maritime Museum is one of the top free museums in London and is often visited by those who wish to explore the many delights of historic Greenwich. The museum has in recent years worked to show their remarkable objects in a way that they illustrate particular stories and events. This very popular museum has been innovative in the way it uses historical objects and multimedia to tell the fascinating story of Britain’s maritime past.

For more information and tickets, visit the National Maritime Museum website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website here