Wednesday, 6 May 2015


Ornamental lake at East India Dock
 This post was originally published on my blog Drawing my way round London on 22 September 2013.

This weekend I was supposed to be selling my artwork at a gallery in Stoke Newington. I was very disappointed when the event was cancelled at the last minute and I found I was left with time on my hands and nowhere to go. So rather than mope around the house I decided I would jump on the 277 bus and stay on it until the last stop on the route.

I regularly use this bus route travelling north to Highbury and Islington and I have wondered for a long time where the bus goes, when travelling south, after Canary Wharf. And now I know.

The River Lea or Lee is London's second river after the Thames. It was very important for industry, hence all the docks, and became more-or-less redundant when we stopped being a manufacturing nation. The River Lea originates in the Chiltern Hills roughly north-west of London and Leamouth is the point where the River Lea joins the River Thames.

I think that my hope of getting off the bus at exactly where the two rivers meet was a bit ambitious but I was close to it. The bus route ends at East India Dock by an ornamental pond and the sketch above shows part of it. The only clue remaining of its original purpose is an impressive Victorian brick wall defining the perimeter of the docks. I imagine that this area was redeveloped in the early 1980's because the architecture within the dock area is looking very dated. There is one vast hotel and some shiny office blocks with strange detailing on the outside that are reminiscent of Tibetan temples. There was a fad for this kind of thing about 30 years ago.

Since it was the weekend I pretty much had the place to myself. While I was sitting on my bench drawing the view the silence was almost eerie especially as the dock is right next to a busy road with traffic thundering up and down it day and night. I did get to wondering what kind of businesses have their offices here. Whatever they do I expect their staff will be hunched over computer screens or having meetings in break-out areas in contrast to the manual labour of loading and unloading ships which arrived from ports in far flung places around the world. How times change.

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