Thursday, March 29, 2007

Sketching Victoria Park and the Hertford Union

This was originally published as Sketching East London in Making a Mark on 3rd May 2006. Given the quantity of East London sketches I've done since then I've changed the title plus added some new links.
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I am trialling Julie Oakley's exercise and sketch routine mentioned in yesterday's thread "Drawing the UK Countryside" I know I'm not going to be able to manage a daily routine but I thought I'd give it a go. (See note below)

So armed with Moleskine and a mechanical pencil I set out. We have a network of canals and a network of parks where I live which are wonderful for walks - so I've got one of each.

First the Hertford Union Canal Top Lock - sketched from the Footpath Bridge. The canal and bridge were both opened in 1830. It runs alongside Victoria Park and is now a branch of the Regent's Canal and is part of the Grand Union system.

The next sketch is of a London Plane Tree and rugby posts in Victoria Park. The park was created in 1842 and is of considerable historical interest being the first Victorian park to be owned by the public and designed for recreational use.

(Note: Julie Oakley's walking and sketching efforts in the Hertfordshire countryside around her home have been prodigious and her blog "One Mile From Home" won my "Get off your blogging bottom and sketch" award at the end of 2006. She's still walking and sketching - as of yesterday she was up to Walk 337. I'm afraid I dropped out long ago but am a faithful reader. Check out Julie's blog for sketch views of rural Hertfordshire - complete with small child and dog.)

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Green Bridge

The Green Bridge and Mile End Park
8" x 10", pencil and coloured pencil

copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Continuing the theme of sketches from London, the next few posts will be about sketches of areas in East London. This is an extract from one first posted on Making a Mark 0n 29 April 2006.
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This sketch (which took maybe 15 minutes and was then coloured from memory using coloured pencils when I got home) is of one of our local millenium projects - except it's in the background of this sketch. We have a "green bridge" which goes over the main road from Essex and the east of England into the City of London. It connects up two bits of Mile End Park which is a long linear park which runs most of the way from the formal and traditional Victoria Park down alongside the Regents Canal nearly as far as the River Thames. (Mile End Park was the temporary home of Rachel Whiteread's "House" which won the Turner Prize in 1993.......and the Anti-Turner Prize!).

The base of the Green Bridge is tiled in vivid green tiles but its underneath is actually brilliant yellow. The reason it's "green" though has nothing to do with the tiles - as it also has a walkway and grass and trees growing on top! You can see a nice photograph of it by Bob Stuart here. I was sat on the wall of the round pond bit on the left and was looking over to the right of the photo.

The 'modern' landscaped area within Mile End Park also seemed to hold some attractions for school students who doubtless were on a free period from school!

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Canary Wharf Sky 31st january 2007

Canary Wharf Sky from Greenwich 31st January 2007
8" x 10" pencil and coloured pencil in Moleskine sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Otherwise known as the supermarket shop can wait! I'd put off the big supermarket shop for as long as I could - but had a spot more procrastination while sketching about 50 feet to the right of the Prime Meridian (which put me into the Eastern Hemisphere!) at the top of Greenwich Hill and next to the Old Royal Observatory, the home of Greenwich Mean Time.

I'd wrapped up well but it was still very cold and I need to remember to bring something to sit on as cold stone is very, very cold!

As I commented earlier in the blog, the Canary Wharf Sky series will mostly be small works of the skies I can see above Canary Wharf from my home but that it would also include some larger works. I'm minded to do some very large drawings from where I sat yesterday of the view. Maybe on a regular basis throughout the year? Maybe once a month?

It was very odd doing the sky and the buildings but from another perspective. I also noticed that the very blue bit of sky was very high - like a strip across the sketch - just like we all used to draw sky when we were little. Also that many of the higher buildings were in an aqua glass material which made them much less intrusive - which I'd never really thought about before.

This sketch shows both sides of the River Thames. Nearest to me is the large green space at the bottom of the hill in Greenwich Park. On the far left (in shadow) is the National Maritime Museum which is the largest maritime museum in the world - very good for keeping small boys, dads and granddads occupied! Then the pale stone building is the Old Royal Naval College next to the River. This is where I sketched the skaters on the ice rink that I sketched on Boxing Day.

Beyond that is the River Thames - which you can see between the towers of the naval college. On the other side of the Thames is the Isle of Dogs and the East End of London - which is where many of the docks used to be. The skyscrapers are built along side the wharves in the Canary Wharf Area. In the far background are the hills of north London. Off the page to the left the Thames continues into the city of London and the West End and to the right is the Millennium Dome - and my eco-friendly supermarket - a "bastion of scientific innovation".

Note: If any of you have kids or grandkids and they like stars, astronomy or are interested in time get them to check out the Royal Observatory and National Maritime Museum websites - they're rather good. You don't get "How to make your own comet" on every website you visit! Plus there's a good set of e-learning resources for the different key stages. and some games, quizzes and art activities.

This post was first published on "Making a Mark" on February 1st 2007.

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Monday, March 26, 2007

From Bankside to the City of London - the view from Tate Modern

St Paul's Cathedral from Tate Modern
8" x 10"pencil and coloured pencils in Moleskine sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

This last week (see note at end) I've sat in the Tate Modern at Bankside twice and sketched the view it offers of the City of London on the north bank of the River Thames. Both sketches are as completed on site in about 45 minutes using a very basic sketching kit.
  • On Tuesday I had lunch next to the window in the 7th floor restaurant and watched the tidal river retreat as I drew St Pauls Cathedral (and the cranes). It's currently undergoing stone cleaning and has a rather horrendous plastic covering at one end.
  • Yesterday I sat a little further along next to the window in the Friends Room on the 6th floor - with Shirley (of Paper and Threads) - and this time drew the former NatWest Tower and the Gherkin (30 St. Mary Axe) - and yet more cranes. Later on, as I walked down Cheapside - going east from St Paul's I began to realise why I could see so many cranes! They seem to be completely redeveloping this area.
The Nat West Tower And the Gherkin from Tate Modern Friends Room
8" x10" pencil and coloured pencils in Moleskine
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Note for Shirley - I've just found out that the former NatWest Tower has a bar called Vertigo 42 at the top (currently being refurbished)! Maybe we'll go for broke on aerial views on your next visit?

PS I may not post tomorrow as I'm out at two more exhibitions - this time with Vivien Blackburn. We're going to see the Pastels Society Exhibition at the Mall Galleries and Renoir's Landscapes at the National Gallery.

Note re Tate Modern - take from 'The Building' section of their website:
By about 1990 it was clear that the Tate Collection had hugely outgrown the original Tate Gallery on Millbank.....Tate Modern was created in the year 2000 to display the national collection of international modern art (defined as art since 1900).....An immediate problem was whether the modern art gallery should be a new building or a conversion of an existing building, if a suitable one could be found. As a result of extensive consultations, particularly with artists, it was decided to search for a building to convert. When the building that is now Tate Modern presented itself, it appeared something of a miracle. It was a former power station that had closed in 1982, so it was available. It was a very striking and distinguished building in its own right, by the architect Sir Giles Gilbert Scott. It offered all the space that was required. Not least, it was in an amazing location on the south bank of the River Thames opposite St Paul’s Cathedral and the City of London. Plans were almost immediately formulated to build a footbridge to link the new gallery to the City. The fact that the original Tate Gallery was also on the river made a satisfactory symmetry, and meant that the two could be linked by a riverboat service.
Note: This is another post relating to travels with my sketchbook which was originally posted to Making a Mark on March 2nd 2007. An index for all London-oriented blog posts is being developed for and will be posted as a summary in the side column of this blog.

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

10th International Sketchcrawl - the results

As previously indicated here is the first of previous posts relating to travels with my sketchbook. This is a copy of the text and images originally posted to Making a Mark last July. I'm going to develop an index to all the London-oriented blog posts which will then be posted as a summary in the side column.
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Yesterday was the 10th International Sketchcrawl. I participated as part of a small London Group, most of whom were linked to the Association of Illustrators. These are my sketches (minus the people I sketched on the tube at the beginning and end of the day!

I travelled from to Southwark Cathedral (our agreed meeting place) via the District Line, Monument Tube and London Bridge - so all of this is about 30 minutes from my home in London.

I produced 5 sketches in total, 3 large (double page spread in my black hardback Daler Rowney sketchbook) and two small (double page spread in the Moleskine). I used a pen with sepia ink, pencil and coloured pencils. If you click on any of the sketches you can see a larger version.

In order the sketches are:
- a fish, poultry and game stall stall in Borough Market (which was established at the foot of London Bridge in the 1200s (completed 1.35pm) The market has stalls belonging to suppliers from all over the UK. This particular stall belongs to the Furness Fish, Game and Poultry Supplies who are based in Ulverston in Cumbria.

Borough Market has gained prominence as a place where the true foodies shop. (my small haul was limited to vine tomatoes, chestnut mushrooms and salade de mache)! Jamie Oliver reputedly shops there and a number of films have been filmed in and around the market including Bridget Jones Diary, Lock Stock and two Smoking Barrels and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

- the view standing at the southern end of London Bridge looking east. From left to right are: the Tower of London, HMS Belfast, Tower Bridge - with 1 Canada Place at Canary Wharf in the background. (completed 2.25pm)

I was really fighting the wind at this point and was holding on to everything as I had to stand up to see this (which due to the disability in my feet is not at all easy!) and rest the sketchbook on the parapet of the bridge. Then of course I was also a minor attraction and free tour guide for all the visitors to London!


- the scene outside the main entrance to Southwark Cathedral - with the amazing magenta pink fold up seats (completed 3.20pm). Met up again with the rest of the sketchers - including Chi Chi who has run into major tube problems. Swopped notes and agreed we all needed to do this again - probably in the same area as we only began to scratch the surface. Some sketchers then went off to watch the footie.

- Not being a huge footie fan, I continued to sketch. The next sketch is of the the scene at Wright Brothers, an Oyster and Porter House in one of the roads which borders Borough Market. It was completed at 4.20pm - just after the England versus Portugal match kicked off. Take a look at the link - little did I know what I was sketching - plus it has recipes!

- Finally, the scene from the side of the Thames looking towards Southwark Bridge and St Paul's Cathedral beyond. Completed at 5.35pm - at which point I headed back home - and got home just in time for the penalties. Need I say more?

We saw the modern replica of Golden Hind (but decided to leave it for another day!) and I didn't make it to the Globe Theatre or Tate Modern - although that would be feasible in a complete day of sketching.

All in all, a good day's sketching despite the extreme heat (for London). It was even more satisfying to get back home and find that lots of people were posting their sketches in the International Sketchcrawl Project that I started on the Wet Canvas website (for link see below). It was especially pleasing to see people producing sketches who had never sketched either from life and/or in public before my recent sketching class. Well done to all of them. It was even more satisfying to hear that many of them also had huge fun doing the sketchcrawl! :)

Links:
Sketchcrawl Forum (This is
where details about all local sketchcrawl activities are posted + photos and sketches after the event))
Wet Canvas 10th International Sketchcrawl Project Discussion Thread - 30+ participants sketching all over the world -
Wet Canvas International Sketchcrawl Gallery of the sketches here
Sketching for Real - my sketching class

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Sketching at night by the Thames

St Pauls and the Silver Birches - a study
pencil in Moleskine
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Have you ever tried drawing at night? I've done it a couple of times recently when down at Bankside as there are great views (and lights) and, of course, the shapes and values all change from the daytime.

The interesting thing about sketching at night is that you can't see much detail whereas the big shapes are so much more obvious. It's becomes more a question of how to crop big shapes than trying to find something with interesting design potential within the context of a very busy skyline with lots of detail.

The only drawback at this time of year is it's so cold! I want to know where I can buy a pair of trousers with a thick thermal layer in the bottom bit so anything I sit down on doesn't feel quite so cold! As it is although my top half was snug my rear gets frozen in about 10 minutes flat so my strategy is to sketch very fast - absolutely no more than 10 minutes and ideally only five.

So on to my recent sketches:

The study of St. Paul's Cathedral eliminates all the detail that one tends to get distracted by at day and renders the buildings round about into a very submissive role. No doubt about which is the biggest most imposing building round here!

The study for St Paul's and the Silver Birches (above) was done sat on one of the benches outside Tate Modern. There's a great view at night of the Cathedral masked by the avenue of silver birches which are planted either side of the paths up to the Tate from the Thames Path next to the river. The birches are underlit - stonking great big lights coming up through the planting so the light effects are stunning (if a bit OTT 'designed'). The only thing I had to do was ignore the great big enormous fat column for the big overhead lights which had been plonked down exactly where it shouldn't be for that view. Some people have no sense of aesthetics! ;)

The Bridges is a curious and very quick sketch. I got a big surprise while sat at the top of a flight of (very, very cold) stone steps next to the reinstated Globe Theatre (thank you Sam Wanamaker). I need to go back when it's warmer and with a camera to try a longer sketch and to also capture an effect which made this view quite magical.

I'd been particularly attracted to the pattern made by the bridges and the foreshore againt the night sky. A boat came past and its bow created massive waves - and all the shadows in the water suddenly started to become very crazy and very graphic and completely mesmerising. I know what I saw but couldn't capture it. I need to be able sit there for longer than 10 minutes at low water at night and wait to get more than one boat coming past so I can study the effect and maybe try and get photos of it - although in my experience these rarely do justice to such effects.

I googled to see if I could find some examples of other people's drawings of night and had no luck. What I got instead was lots of night class drawings, drawings by insomniacs, lottery drawings at night and references to something Nathanial Hawthorne wrote! Obviously not a lot of people draw the nightime at night!

Anybody with any idea of any websites which have good images of drawings done of night at night please post them in the comments section!

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Taking a line for a walk - from Le Havre to Rome




Paul Klee once explained that "a drawing is simply a line going for a walk". In the summer of 2000, Christopher Lambert drew a straight blue line between Le Havre and Rome on a map of Europe when eighteen months short of his 70th birthday. He then set off with his all leather Brasher walking boots, a small rucksack, a couple of pens, some watercolour pencils and a sketchbook journal. 1,075 miles and 71 walking days later he arrived in Rome having taken a page each day to sketch and write about what he saw on his trip.

This is the hardback facsimile version of his sketchbook. As a concession to his handwriting, there is a thin typescript margin containing two lines of summary text about each day - as he says his writing gets a bit cramped at times!

Lambert developed a taste for long distance walking when, on his retirement, he walked 440 miles along five ancient footpaths across southern Britain to his new retirement home in Devon. For the Millennium he thought he'd like to try one of the pilgrim routes across Europe. Consequently, in July 2000 he set off carrying a pilgrim's passport - a letter of brotherly greetings in Latin from the Anglican Provost of Portsmouth Cathedral to Pope John Paul in the Vatican in Rome. On his trip he averaged just over 15 miles each walking day overall, although this inevitably varied along the route across France, through Switzerland, down through northern Italy and the 'thigh' of Italy to Rome. En route - and along his straight line - he visited Honfleur, Fontainebleau Forest, the Canal de Bourgogne, Dijon, Lausanne and from there along the ancient pilgrimage route, the Via Francigena, through the Grand St. Bernard pass across the Alps to Aosta, Lucca and Siena before reaching Rome.

What particularly appealed to me about this book is his habit of doing daily sketches while travelling - a habit I developed on my two USA trips last year (see RH column for more details). I also identified with his approach to sketching. He uses pen and ink to sketch, followed by coloured pencils to indicate values and form and something of local hues. The book contains over 240 illustrations of a huge variety of 'views', buildings, people, flowers, insects and the butterfly which sat on his hand one day while he drew (see below - page 52 Col du Grand St Bernard)



Pages 85 and 85 Lucca
"Taking a Line for a Walk"
copyright Christopher Lambert - used with permission

His working life as an architect is evident in the ease with which his eye takes in and quickly absorbs the key features of complicated architecture. I loved the way he tells himself off when he's done something overly complicated - giving himself injunctions to simplify. Overall, despite what he says below, his style is very pleasing - being loose and unfussy. Some of the very simplest sketches have the greatest impact.
"The sketches had priority - to the extent that I would often make myself late departing from a place because I just had to record it....I wanted to shake off my architectural topographical style and in a few flicks of the pen and pencils capture the essence of a thing or place, but it very rarely happened. Nevertheless these small drawings became my footsteps as the miles elapsed and the pages filled...."

His habit of sketching over meals is also one with which I'm very familiar. I even suspect, given the nature of his sketches, that we might share the same habit of table hopping to find the table which offers the 'right' view. Which is not always the best view but rather is the one which lends itself best to sketching.

His meditations on walking, his surroundings and the impact that a long walk has on an individual are both interesting and powerful reminders to reflect on life at something less than 4 miles an hour. It's a book which more than repays any attempt to read his handwriting - which is not so difficult once you get used to it. This is a book that I can particularly recommend to all those accustomed to travelling to many destinations at top speed and who may not be acquainted with the benefits and "the inevitability of gradualism"! ;)

In conclusion, I'd highly recommend this book for anybody wanting to keep a sketchbook journal of a trip. Those visiting places along this route will also get an insight into life outside a car and the rhythm of life which occurs when walking everyday on a very long walk.
"The illustrations have a wonderful vividness and the text has a gentle undercurrent of humour.......It's the kind of book that you can pick up time after time and feel yourself wandering through the byways of France and Italy, hearing the sounds and smelling the fragrance of the hedgerows and fields around and about, or imagining yourself sitting outside in a village square enjoying a glass of wine" Sir Chris Bonington
NOTE: In future: the new revamped version of this blog will contain reviews of various books relevant to individuals travelling with a sketchbook. I'm anticipating this will include:
  • the published sketchbooks of other artististic travellers
  • 'how to sketch' books
  • good travel guides for an area
  • maps I've found useful in the past
Since I have bookshelves weighed down with the above it should mean I can avoid the stop/start frequency of a blog which is just about trips!

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Shad Thames, Tower Bridge and the Pool of London

Shad Thames, Guy's Hospital Tower, Tower Bridge and the Pool of London
from the Thames Path.
pencil and coloured pencil in double spread of daler rowney black hardback sketchbook

copyright Katherine Tyrrell

This is the view from the Thames Path just to the east of Wapping Pier Head. From the left it features: Shad Thames, Guys Hospital Tower, the buildings along Tooley Street (south of the river between Tower Bridge and London Bridge), Tower Bridge, HMS Belfast, the Post Office Tower and - in the foreground - various boat landings and the discharge of one of the undergound rivers into the Thames.

It was bright and sunshiney and blowing a gale while I did this - hence it's rather undeveloped format. I was hanging on to the rail to avoid being blown away and cursing the fact that I'd forgotten (yet again) to put bulldog clips into my backpack. I think I need bulldog clips for my brain cells at times as I so often forget them. If I'm sensible I'll do what I usually do and attach some on a permanent basis to this sketchbook. I added some coloured pencil to the sketch when I got back home.

The location was so good that I fully intend to go back and there and do this one again when the weather is rather kinder.

Now for some details of the buildings and shapes in the sketch.

Thames Path
The Thames Path opened in 1996 and is about 184 miles long. It is a National Trail following the length of the River Thames from its source near Kemble in Gloucestershire to the Thames Barrier at Charlton. This section is on the north side of the river, south of Wapping High Street.

Shad Thames
This is the low block on the extreme left of the sketch. This is name of a street east of Tower Bridge on the south side of the River Thames. It runs west to east, The name is corruption of St John at Thames, a reference to the Knights Templar of the Order of St John who owned land locally.

In Victorian times, Shad Thames included the largest warehouse complex in London. Completed in 1873, the warehouses housed huge quantities of tea, coffee, spices and other commodities, which were unloaded and loaded onto river boats. In the 20th century the area went into decline, and the last warehouses closed in 1972.

However, Shad Thames was regenerated in the 1980s and 1990s, when the disused but picturesque warehouses throughout the area were converted into expensive flats, many with restaurants, bars, shops, etc. on the ground floor. Most notable in this regeneration was designer and restaurateur Terence Conran, who opened a number of now well-known riverside restaurants including Pont de la Tour, the Blueprint Cafe and the Butler's Wharf Chop House. Numerous other restaurants, cafes, bars and shops have also sprung up. Shad Thames' artistic character has encouraged a variety of other businesses to move to the area, such as architects, small art galleries and wine merchants; the thriving local property market means that there are also many estate agents. (Wikipedia / Shad Thames)

When I first came to London, my boyfriend and I were both very interested in the conservation of historic buildings and significant architecture and historical geography. We used to go for walks down Shad Thames which at that time - in the late 70s - was extremely grim and depressing, verging on derelict. The input made by the council, Terence Conran and other developers has made an astounding difference. This is the place to go if you want to eat and gaze at Tower Bridge. But I'm saving comments on the restaurants for a book!

The Design Museum is one of the world’s leading museums of modern and contemporary design and is located just off the left of the page - in a modern building in the part of Shad Thames which had to be cleared for development.

Guy's Tower

Guys Tower is the shape sticking up on the left. Guy's Hospital was founded in 1721 and in 1974 it added the 34 storey Guy's Towerto its site to the east of London Bridge and south of London Bridge station. At 143 metres (469 feet) high, it's the tallest hospital building in the world, and the 11th tallest building in London. I've been to many a function in the suite at the top of Guy's Tower and the views from there are simply amazing. I've even stood right on the very top - but that's another story!

The Pool of London
The Pool of London lies between London Bridge to just past Tower Bridge (more or less where I was standing for my earlier sketches). It is one of the most historic parts of the Thames riverside. Settlements on its banks go back to Roman times. You can read more about its history and what happened in the different historic periods here.

Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge, in the centre of the sketch, is close to the Tower of London which gives it its name. It is an iconic symbol of London but is sometimes mistakenly called London Bridge, which is actually the next bridge upstream (going west). It's the boundary between the Upper and Lower parts of the Pool of London. It was built due to pressure for a bridge east of London Bridge and adjacent to the expansion of population to the east of the City of London and around the Pool of London. It opened on 30 June1894 after eight years of construction. Its central section opens up to let ships through. The bridge lifting/opening dates and times can be found here - along with the name of the ship which will be going through.

Tooley Street
George Orwell (the author of 1984) sampled life as a tramp in Tooley Street in 1930 and then wrote his notes up in the Bermondsey Library and published his book based on these - "Down and Out in London and Paris". Tooley Street used to be my route home when I used to work near London Bridge.

HMS Belfast
HMS Belfast is the shape sticking up just beyond Tower Bridge. It's a Town Class Cruiser launched in 1938 and has been a museum ship permanently moored next to Tower Bridge since 1971. Great fun for small boys!

BT / "Post Office" Tower
The BT / Post Office Tower, a very slim, very tall telecommunications hub, can be seen popping up on the horizon on the right of the sketch. I was a bit surprised to see it there - but I've noticed before it pops up when you're not epecting it! ;). This could be to do with the fact that apparently until the mid 1990s it was an official secret and never actually appeared on any map! I'm sure there must be a word for phenomena like that!

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Monday, March 19, 2007

Wapping: the Pier Head and the Old Custom House

The Old Custom House, 3 Wapping Pier Head
pen and sepia ink and coloured pencil
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

For my next sketch, I walked down Wapping High Street past Wapping Station (the other end of the Thames Tunnel), the "Town of Ramsgate" and Wapping Old Steps to Wapping Pier Head just east of St Katherine's dock and the Tower of London and south of what used to be the London Docks. My two sketches of Wapping Pier Head show (top) No. 3 Pier Head - the Old Custom House and (below) the East side of the Pier Head.

Wapping Pier Head
pencil and coloured pencil

copyright Katherine Tyrrell

The Georgian houses at Wapping Pier Head are probably the best Georgian dwellings overlooking the River Thames in the whole of London. They certainly come with a hefty price tag anytime one comes on the market - which isn't very often.

The large houses were originally built around 1812 for officials of the London Dock Company. They now form, in effect, a square - with the river being the southern edge and Wapping High Street being the northern edge. Running through the middle used to be the original lock entrance to the London Docks - hence why one of the houses (No 3 in the drawing below) was the Custom House for the London Docks - where officials examined all goods being imported through the Docks.

By the 1930s however the lock had become far too small for the size of the ships operating then and the lock was filled in later in the 1960s - at which point the whole of the London Docks were used for new housebuilding which was a priority after the amount of bomb damage in the area during the second world war. The lock is now a garden between the two terraces of fine houses.

The East London Postcard Company website) has several images of the Thames and the docks.
A couple of websites (Wikipedia and Exploring East London) provide a lot more information for people wanting to find out more about Wapping. It's probably been one of the most 'transformed' areas of London - from the excavation for the London Docks to the intense bombing of the second world war to the infill of half of the docks and its regeneration during the back end of the twentieth century which I used to be involved in many many moons ago.

Wapping also has its quirky and somewhat infamous past. For example, Wapping used to be the site of 'Execution Dock', where the Admiralty executed pirates and other criminals active on the water by hanging. Since the Admiralty only had jurisdiction over the water/sea, their gibbet had to be constructed below the low water mark (ie in the water) which meant that the bodies of executed men would be left dangling until they had been submerged three times by the tide. The gibbet can still be seen on the foreshore in front of the Prospect of Whitby Pub at the other end of Wapping High Street. One of the people who like visiting the pub was Judge Jeffries, the hanging Judge. However he was recognised, caught and then hanged at the Tower because he stopped in a nearby ale house - doubtless for a 'swift half' - before his planned escape to the continent and from retribution. In more modern times, Fortress Wapping was the nickname given to the Murdoch's News International Printing Plant, built on the infilled docks after vacating Fleet Street. Many is the time I drove down The Highway past the plant, the strikers and the police during the big (and violent) Wapping Dispute/strike in 1984/5 which changed the print industry in the UK forever.

You don't get information like this with every sketchbook blog you read! ;)

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