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Heritage - 50: Orchard Place (Leamouth), London E14, Trinity Buoy Wharf and the Goodluck Hope

Updated on February 2, 2019
alancaster149 profile image

Alan visited the site in the summer of 2018, including Michael Faraday's tiny workshop.. This page is the outcome of his impressions

Saving lives is an industry

Coat of Arms, Trinity House, Tower Hill London EC3 - within sight of the Tower of London
Coat of Arms, Trinity House, Tower Hill London EC3 - within sight of the Tower of London | Source

Begin at Canning Town Station on the Docklands Light Railway:

New residential developments have sprung up, and still spring up around the mouth of the River Lea where it meets the Thames. The way back into history has begun
New residential developments have sprung up, and still spring up around the mouth of the River Lea where it meets the Thames. The way back into history has begun | Source
A bus ride away from the busy business hub of Canary Wharf - almost unrecognisable to someone like me who last worked there (based in Canada Tower) 1994... history begins with the approach to the Thames Iron Works, birthplace of a famed football club
A bus ride away from the busy business hub of Canary Wharf - almost unrecognisable to someone like me who last worked there (based in Canada Tower) 1994... history begins with the approach to the Thames Iron Works, birthplace of a famed football club | Source

On a sunny Friday afternoon in mid-May I went to take in a new experience in Dockland.

I made my way from Canning Town station on the Jubilee Line, passed Canning Town's Docklands Light Railway (DLR) station and headed across the narrow waterway that led to the new City Island development and on to the Goodluck (sic) Hope.

Turned a corner to pass a parked D3 route bus and ahead was a first reminder of the area's history. Let me introduce you to the colourful past of this corner of London E14 near the Isle of Dogs (very close to Canada Square which I could see across the waterway that divided Canary Wharf from the Goodluck Hope) ... er, bear with me I'll explain everything in due course.

Onto the scene...The shipyards

One of several shipbuilders located around the mouth of the River Lea, Samuda Brothers Limited
One of several shipbuilders located around the mouth of the River Lea, Samuda Brothers Limited | Source
Thames Ironworks - ever heard of them? Does 'Irons' ring a bell? How about 'Hammers' then? Close. This was where West Ham United started out as a works team. The 'Hammers' link was in riveting, a skill superseded by welding. A false economy
Thames Ironworks - ever heard of them? Does 'Irons' ring a bell? How about 'Hammers' then? Close. This was where West Ham United started out as a works team. The 'Hammers' link was in riveting, a skill superseded by welding. A false economy | Source
"Somebody shut the door, be a good lad -. there's a draught in here!"
"Somebody shut the door, be a good lad -. there's a draught in here!" | Source
The 'other' industry - whale oil production. A descendant of the shadowy James Mather carried on the family business and now...
The 'other' industry - whale oil production. A descendant of the shadowy James Mather carried on the family business and now... | Source
...Let's go in, I'm sure nobody will mind...
...Let's go in, I'm sure nobody will mind... | Source
...surprise, surprise! What was once a factory - the crane's still there - is now the approach to a salesroom for the City Island development and if you want in, the units are selling like hotcakes
...surprise, surprise! What was once a factory - the crane's still there - is now the approach to a salesroom for the City Island development and if you want in, the units are selling like hotcakes | Source

Trinity House, the society whose aims are the safety of seafarers - professional or amateur alike - took up the wharf in 1803 that bears their name

The site they occupied is at the River Thames end of Orchard Place. Workshops were established for the production of channel marker buoys and as a mooring for their buoy-laying vessel. In the mid-19th Century a pair of lighthouses was built to research the security and constancy of light emitted by lighthouse lamps. The most famed lighthouse experiment scientist was Michael Faraday who invented a form of clearing residual gases produced by the massive oil lamps, that often obscured the beams.

By 1910 a hundred and fifty engineers, platers, riveters, chain testers, carpenters, pattern makers, painters and office personnel were employed at Trinity Buoy Wharf. The wharf's responsibilities touched every lighthouse, lightship and channel marker buoy between Southwold in Suffolk and Dungeness on the coast of East Kent..

In 1988 Trinity Buoy Wharf found itself the subject of compulsory purchase by the London Docklands Development Corporation (LDDC), and by 1996 a centre for arts and crafts was established by Urban Space Management.

If you have ever used an Ordnance Survey map to go walking, scrambling or climbing you will have made an indirect link with Trinity Buoy Wharf. All land altitudes are worked out from a benchmark in Newlyn, Cornwall. This is in the form of a brass bolt in the pier wall. It shows the mean (average) sea level and the Newlyn Ordnance Datum superseded a datum on the River Mersey at Liverpool Docks. There is an even older one at Trinity Buoy Wharf, situated on the lower wall of the wharf.

The Corporation of Trinity House

In 1514 Henry VIII granted a Royal Charter to the 'Guild, Fraternity or Brotherhood of the most glorious and undivided Holy Trinity, and of St Clement in the parish of Deptford Strand'.

The Guild was a company of mariners who maintained the pilotage of ships in English waters. A coat of arms was awarded as well as a headquarters building, Trinity House, which name they bore. the building can be seen at Trinity Square - close to Tower Hill Underground station - near the Tower of London. Nearby is a memorial garden dedicated to British and Allied merchant seamen lost during WWII. The Corporation is ruled by the Master (an honorary title. at the time of writing borne by Anne, the Princess Royal) and thirty-one Elder Brethren.

From 1604 until 1987 Trinity House was the authority for the licensing of river pilots on the Thames. In 1566 Trinity House was given authority 'to set up so many beacons, marks and signs for the sea whereby the dangers may be avoided and escaped and ships the better come into their ports without peril' (sic). In 1609 its first lighthouse was built at Lowestoft in Suffolk. By 1837 Trinity House was responsible for all lighthouses in England, as well as manufacturing and maintaining navigation buoys at Trinity Buoy Wharf.

Wherever you are the O2 is there with you - a venture shelved by the Tories, taken up and failed under Labour and skyrocketed to success after being sold off...

Seen from the erstwhile dry dock basin...
Seen from the erstwhile dry dock basin... | Source
... Across new development where once slums bred hard-working, had-drinking men, resolute womenfolk and wayward youngsters
... Across new development where once slums bred hard-working, had-drinking men, resolute womenfolk and wayward youngsters | Source
... And from Trinity Buoy Wharf. A scene of commerce - and entertainment beyond
... And from Trinity Buoy Wharf. A scene of commerce - and entertainment beyond | Source

Shipbuilding and Repair at Orchard Place, 1803-1987

Orchard Place was surprisingly important in the history of British shipbuilding, as home to the yards of Perry, Wigram & Green, the Samuda Brothers, Ditchburn & Mare and the Thames Ironworks. Many smaller yards could also be found scattered around the mouth of the River Lea.

The last ships built on the banks of the Thames were launched early in the 1900s. From then on the building of large vessels was taken over by northern yards already in operation on the Tees, Tyne, the Clyde, Merseyside and in Belfast. Repairs went on at Orchard Place until the London Graving Dock sold its yard to Shell Marine in the 1970s.

Dreadnought-type battleship HMS 'Thunderer' was the last vessel to be launched from the slipway of the Thames Ironworks in 1911 (*the company's amateur football team would one day make its mark as West Ham United Football Club (WHUFC), nicknamed 'Hammers' or 'Irons' after their shipbuilding origins).

A massive caisson gate remains of the London Graving Dock, one of a pair of dry docks on the riverbank side of Orchard Place. The caisson gate is hollow, and at high tide would open and be filled with water, to close again. Water from the dock was drained to work on ships' hulls. On the foreshore are wooden planks where ships were launched beam-on into the Thames.

Reminders of the past... A walk with history by the board

...About the public houses...
...About the public houses... | Source
The Thames Plate Glass Company...
The Thames Plate Glass Company... | Source
...An age of iron and steam...
...An age of iron and steam... | Source
"A little education is a dangerous thing", someone said once. No education could be even more dangerous. Hands up, who can spell their name? At least you can, many who went into the trenches couldn't.
"A little education is a dangerous thing", someone said once. No education could be even more dangerous. Hands up, who can spell their name? At least you can, many who went into the trenches couldn't. | Source

[A series of illustrated panels, mounted on the walls on the approach to the wharf marks the history of the Orchard Place district. Aspects covered are shipbuilding, trade, education of minors from 1874, public houses or 'watering holes', poverty - 'Bog Island' - and the Thames Plate Glass Company as well as 'The Hope' and 'Orchard Place' itself]

A word to the wise about the name 'Goodluck Hope' (sic)..

The northern part of the peninsula was known as 'Goodluck Hope' that belonged to the manor of Stepney. There were grazing meadows as well as a fishery, cooperage (barrel and cask-making), and a large house known variously as 'Handlebury', 'Hanbury' or 'Handle Hall', demolished by 1804 and no pictures have been found that depict the structure.

'Goodluck Hope', contrary to expectation, has no link to the modern concept of 'Hope'. It is an Old English word that denotes a piece of land amid fen, marsh or bog. like the word 'holm' used in the East and North of England meaning island or eyot. The 'Goodluck' part of the name has never been explained. A panel like the others along the road explains the history of the area and its rural origins near the mouth of the River Lea that formed the boundary between the counties (once kingdoms) of Middlesex to the west and Essex to the east respectively.

James Mather

Although a partner of Samuel Enderby, on of the most important figures in the British whaling industry, Mather was a relatively unknown quantity. In 1775 he bought the decommissioned Royal Navy vessel HMS 'Endeavour'. She had been Captain Cook's command before his ill-fated last Pacific voyage aboard HMS 'Resolution', another shallow keeled Whitby 'Cat'.

'Endeavour' was renamed 'Lord Sandwich' and employed in trade before being employed as a troopship to take soldiers to put down a 'colonial merchant rebellion' that flared up into the American War of Independence. Mather also hired store ships for the Royal Navy for the duration of the war. Another of Mather's vessels, the 'Prince of Wales' was later used for the transportation of convicts to Australia (since it was no longer possible to dump our convicts on the Americans).

Trinity Buoy Wharf now...

Navigable sea lanes marked out, lights bobbing on unsteady waters, lighthouses dotting the coast - on land and offshore, raging seas threatening to engulf keepers now a memory. It's all automated
Navigable sea lanes marked out, lights bobbing on unsteady waters, lighthouses dotting the coast - on land and offshore, raging seas threatening to engulf keepers now a memory. It's all automated | Source
Turn the corner - hey, no wonder you can't get a cab these days, they're on top of buildings! A black cab to decorate the flat roof of a e-opening cafe/restaurant...
Turn the corner - hey, no wonder you can't get a cab these days, they're on top of buildings! A black cab to decorate the flat roof of a e-opening cafe/restaurant... | Source
This lighthouse is a museum piece, only open to the public at weekends (my great-grandad Joseph Balcombe's family were lighthouse keepers at St Leonards near Hastings. He ran away to join the cavalry, no flashing lights for him!)
This lighthouse is a museum piece, only open to the public at weekends (my great-grandad Joseph Balcombe's family were lighthouse keepers at St Leonards near Hastings. He ran away to join the cavalry, no flashing lights for him!) | Source
Look to your right at "Container City #1" - #2 is behind. There are several pieces of unusual art around (the wharf now houses an artists' colony and school, the Parkour Academy
Look to your right at "Container City #1" - #2 is behind. There are several pieces of unusual art around (the wharf now houses an artists' colony and school, the Parkour Academy | Source

Headless nudes, communications science... is there a connection? It's all about how we see the world around us...

Outside the Parkour Academy, this well-endowed young woman lost her head to the sculptor - sorry, welder. He's an artist all the same...
Outside the Parkour Academy, this well-endowed young woman lost her head to the sculptor - sorry, welder. He's an artist all the same... | Source
Unlike Michael Faraday, whose link with the world around him was unquestioningly prosaic. Pebbles cover the floor of his 'laboratory' here on the wharf
Unlike Michael Faraday, whose link with the world around him was unquestioningly prosaic. Pebbles cover the floor of his 'laboratory' here on the wharf | Source
A reminder of Mr Faraday's good works. It might well be his epitaph, it was certainly a great deal of his life's work
A reminder of Mr Faraday's good works. It might well be his epitaph, it was certainly a great deal of his life's work | Source

The area is currently in a flux

Redevelopment goes on apace around the peninsula, although access to the wharf is stil open to the general public - as it needs to be for its inhabitants, restaurant staff and students of the Parkour Academy, as well as deliveries of material and supplies to the restaurant and academy. Visitors are welcome to wander around, although consider the access of those employed or studying at the wharf as well as that of delivery personnel. Take your time, take in the surprises that abound (I've deliberately omitted some exhibits for you to discover for yourself on a visit or online.

The spirit of adventure will not be dampened by formality...

An island of history linked to an ongoing legacy:

Wall map of developments - history and future...
Wall map of developments - history and future... | Source
How the land lies - Leamouth and London City Island
How the land lies - Leamouth and London City Island
London City Island development - a look ahead to a new era
London City Island development - a look ahead to a new era | Source
London East rail connections - TfL (Overground, Underground, DLR)
London East rail connections - TfL (Overground, Underground, DLR) | Source

© 2018 Alan R Lancaster

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    • alancaster149 profile imageAUTHOR

      Alan R Lancaster 

      13 months ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      Hello Lawrence, he spent a lot of time down here on his research and development. The whole place oozes history, well worth a visit if you're in London some time skates on lad.soon. The developers have moved in and there's been a lot of neighbouring demolition, so get yer skates on lad. Great view of the O2 Stadium in Greenwich across the river from the wharf.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 

      13 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Alan

      Thank you for the tour, the Michael Faraday exhibition sounds intriguing.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      13 months ago from UK

      Thanks. That's a good idea. Maybe one day I'll make it down there.

    • alancaster149 profile imageAUTHOR

      Alan R Lancaster 

      13 months ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      Hello Liz, enjoy your visit? If you can enlarge the pictures of the wall plates on your laptop/pc you'll be able to read the elements of the wharf's history I didn't include in the write-up. They're as interesting to read about. Alternatively you could pay a visit down here and look around for yourself - better than the pictures!

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      14 months ago from UK

      Fascinating article, packed full of interesting information and great illustrations. It felt like I was doing the walk with you.

    • alancaster149 profile imageAUTHOR

      Alan R Lancaster 

      14 months ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      Hello again Chris. It's all about recycling in London and the rest of the UK these days. There's money about for new building, like the 'Shard' and the 'Walkie-Talkie' (a building that resembles an old-style mobile phone, you know - the 'brick'- with lots of glass around it that reflects the sun down (and has done damage to parked cars).

      Mostly though, it's old warehouses and (former Huguenot) weavers' workshop-cottages in the East End around Bethnal Green.

      Pay a return visit some time, cheers.

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 

      14 months ago from Dallas, Texas through August 23, 2019.

      I appreciate how some cities utilize historic structures for studios, restaurants and other businesses that draw in the public. The real history can be shared as people enjoy the new shops and eateries. This is an interesting introduction to some significant history and geography.

    • alancaster149 profile imageAUTHOR

      Alan R Lancaster 

      14 months ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      Get about, don't you. There are some Hub Pages on here - scroll down the Profile page - about the area over the Moors, along the Coast between the Tees and Scarborough, inland around the Dales across to Malham Cove and Gordale Scar, Upper Wharfedale, Wensleydale, Swaledale, Teesdale (including Richmond, Leyburn, Middleham, and Coverdale, up to Kielder Water, Hadrian's Wall, Bamburgh and across to the northern Lakes. It's all there, including Canny Yatton and Roseberry Topping (Odinsberg - do you know the story about the Northumbrian princess who took her son to Roseberry Topping because a seer predicted he would drown. She fell asleep from her exertions and when she awoke he'd drowned in a pool nearby. She was so grief-stricken she leapt in the pool. They were buried at Osmotherley - "Oswy-by-his-mother-lay").

      Savour the read. Stop off in Chop Gate (Bilsdale) at the Buck Inn for a good meal some time if you haven't already. I tasted their fare when staying near Helmsley at Laskill.Farm, latterly Laskill Grange. They've got a good range of beers and ales, and do some great sweets.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      14 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      Interesting to know the origins of these names. Our grandson will be working in Pickering doing piano tuning. We go to Whitby because our daughter lives in Great Ayton. We were just there last March in time for that snowstorm.

    • alancaster149 profile imageAUTHOR

      Alan R Lancaster 

      14 months ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      The name's Alan, by the way Mary, and you're right there are some quaint names in this part of the world. Then again everybody's got some quaint names tucked away in quiet corners.

      In my part of the world, there's an Ugglebarnby near Whitby, and a Sigglesthorne further west. Not far from Pickering there's a Wombleton, and in the Dales there's a Swinithwaite (a clearing where pigs were kept back in the old days - a 'thwaite' was a clearing in Old Norse). Lots more different ones elsewhere, like Pratts Bottom in Kent. .

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      14 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thanks alancaster. We know Canada Tower well and we have used the subway well last time we were there. I just love the names in this place.

    • alancaster149 profile imageAUTHOR

      Alan R Lancaster 

      14 months ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      Mary, feel free. From Central London take the Central Line to Stratford Station and change for the Jubilee Line. Alight at Canning Town and turn right out of the station, passing Canning Town's DLR station. Cross the bridge and turn right again, follow the public path around the peninsula, keeping Canary Wharf to your right (see Canada Tower over the tops of the other office blocks) and go right once more from City Island to Orchard Place past the D3 bus stop. You'll see the Samuda building on you left and the Thames Ironworks building on your right. Go through the steel gate and up the steps, turn left to see where the dry dock was. Retrace your steps and turn right past the Thames Ironworks building, follow the road round past the Whale Oil processing building to Trinity Buoy Wharf (see the red and white buoy on your left). Turn right at the end and Bob's yer uncle! You're there.

      On your way back, under the flyover, take the D3 to Canary Wharf and look around. I used to work there until 1994 at the Telegraph (12th-14th floors, Canada Tower), and it's changed a helluva lot in the intervening twenty-four years. Take a look at the Crossrail Station, it's a bit like a small Kew Gardens!

      Enjoy the trip.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      14 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      It would be interesting to take your hub and use it to do a tour of the area. We do spend a few days once in a while in London and this area would be interesting to explore.

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