18 October 2011
Despite several concerted efforts by RDA’s, successive local Governments and private developers, the Royal Docks have laid largely dormant since they shut to commercial traffic in the 1980’s. The Royal Docks have long since been a buy word for regeneration failure and planning contradictions. Despite being a stone’s throw from the capitals financial centre and the construction of London City Airport and the Excel trading centre, much of the areas brown field sites have remained undeveloped.
There has been some residential development at one end of the docks but the legacy of the areas industrial past still looms over the new developments in the form of often unpleasant smells emanating from some local industrial plants.
So what may you ask is worth blogging about in the Docks! Well, everything and it’s kind of hard to know where to begin and that is where the Docklands Community Boat comes in………
The Docklands Community Boat was devised by local people and is managed by volunteers from the surrounding community, who are all passionate about Newham’s waterways, sharing their history and helping to shape their future. They were excited by the rapid changes that are now happening in and around the docks and felt that a community boat project that enables people to explore this world was the best way forward.
DCB recently launched its Victoria Dock tours and took over 600 passengers in its first weekend of trading. The 45 minute guided tours take people back to when the docks were very first built, navigating them through 150 years of history, pointing out buildings and relics from the docks trading past and concluded by providing behind the scenes views of the many new developments and exciting projects that are in the pipeline. Highlights included close up views of the; 32 million pound Siemens Sustainability Centre, the foundations going in for London’s first cable car to span the Thames, the hidden world of pontoon dock, the massive Spillers Millennium Mills and early construction of the new floating pontoon and 21st century pleasure gardens that will all be opening within the docks for summer 2012.
The River Princess is a 80 capacity passenger boat that provides; heritage tours of the docks, classroom space for cross curricular field studies, boat handling training as part of its volunteer program and is also available for corporate, community and private hire.
For bookings, further information about the Docklands Community Boat or to find out when the next heritage tours are taking place, visit www. gasworksdock.org.uk
Simon Myers CEO, Gasworks Dock Partnership
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