Heritage - 50: Orchard Place (Leamouth), London E14, Trinity Buoy Wharf and the Goodluck Hope
Saving lives is an industry
Begin at Canning Town Station on the Docklands Light Railway:
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
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 It shows the mean (average) sea level and the Newlyn Ordnance Datum superseded a datum on the River Mersey at Liverpool Docks.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...
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
[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.
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...
Headless nudes, communications science... is there a connection? It's all about how we see the world around us...
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:
© 2018 Alan R Lancaster