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West India Docks

Once the largest dock in the world, a majority of the trade undertaken by the British Empire went through here.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in London
Maritime Greenwich
An old fishing and naval town on the banks of the Thames steeped in royal history and full of exceptional architecture.
Canary Wharf
Now the financial center of London, but once docks for the trade of the vast British Empire which expanded across one-fifth of the world at one point in time.
The Dixon
The historic, Grade II building was erected between 1902 and 1905 as the Magistrates Court and police station for over a century. It reopened in 2018 as a boutique hotel.
Shakedown Coffee
The hotel’s homage to coffee and the roastery it has built in a former cell attest to the former prison, and the coffee the cops used to pass between cells to inmates while swapping stories.
John Butler Dixon
The hotel takes its name from its famed architect, who designed over 200 police buildings in London. Despite the expanse of his work, no pictures remain of the architect.
Courtroom Bar
The old courtroom now serves as The Dixon’s bar and is renown for its espresso martini, though its artwork and architecture are equally captivating.

Related Tours

Private Walking Tour - Trade and Empire; History of Canary Wharf and the Docklands
The Canary Wharf area has a rich story of development and innovation, which this tour unfolds for the visitor. From the initial ground-breaking development of the West India Docks, through the area’s development as an enterprise zone to today’s harmonious mix of enterprise, art and landscape.

  • Commence your tour at Reuters Plaza, and learn about London's public transport system 
  • Learn about biodiversity at Jubilee Park 
  • Uncover Blackwall Basin - part of the docks complex, now reused for floating homes 
  • Enjoy the sounds and smells of  the Billingsgate Fish Market 
  • Take in gorgeous views at Crossrail Place Roof Garden, used as a performance space 
  • Learn about the docks and their importance at the Import Dock Warehouses 
  • Visit the Museum of London Docklands to uncover this historical time of development 
  • Recount stories of the WI Docks at the Ledge Building and Dedication Plague 
  • Discover (and witness) development at the Riverside by Canary Wharf Pier 
  • Conclude at Cabot Place via Westberry Circus, where a recent sculpture by Henry Moore stands
History 

When they opened in 1802, the West India Docks was London’s first commercial docks complex. It revolutionised trade and ushered in prosperity and growth. Much of this enterprise has survived and the tour takes in a number of important sights such as the great warehouse complex on the Import Dock – in its day the world’s biggest public development – and the Blackwall Basin, now a haven for floating homes.

After the Docks closed in 1980, the area became the flagship Enterprise Zone for London’s new Docklands scene. The tour includes aspects of that development, such as the area’s first new apartment block, a City market which moved here and is still flourishing, and the light railway that enabled the area to grow.

Development 

Today the area presents many aspects of modern development. It is a place of enterprise still, yet in the modern mould. New building projects are set within areas which maintain the ecological balance through the use of greenery, encouraging wildlife. Art is encouraged too, with important sculptures by a variety of artists a prominent feature of the development.
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