Thursday, April 25, 2024

Ornamental Canal

Ornamental Canal, Wapping
Looking along the Ornamental Canal towards The Shard.

Just to the east of St Katherine Docks and Marina you will find Hermitage Basin, a small oasis amid a now residential area. This basin is all that is left of the London Docks, which were filled in for redevelopment in around 1983.

Ornamental Canal, Wapping
The old walls of the London Docks.

To keep the history of the London Docks alive a canal was designed, that would link Hermitage Basin to Shadwell Basin. This canal was not designed for river traffic and so was built as an ornamental reminder of bygone times.

Ornamental Canal, Wapping
Not navigable, but full of wildlife. 

The former dock walls were used as features along the Ornamental Canal, which would pass alongside Tobacco Dock, the only warehouses to survive the redevelopment, as it made its way in a north-easterly direction towards Shadwell Basin.

Tobacco Dock and ships
The Tobacco Dock warehouses were built in 1812.

As the canal nears Shadwell Basin it passes beneath Wapping Woods, so the towpath leads you up through this wonderful little park, before rejoining the canal near Shadwell Basin.

In Hermitage Basin you can see a sculpture entitled 'Rope Circle', by Wendy Ann Taylor, who has her studio in the old pumphouse at the end of the basin (pictured below).

Rope Circle by Wendy Ann Taylor
'Rope Circle' by Wendy Ann Taylor.

Every Saturday Wapping Docklands Market is open at Brussels Wharf, Shadwell Basin, and offers baked goods, food stalls, artists and live music. 

Wapping Docklands Market
A small but delightful little market.

Failing that, there is always 'The Prospect of Whitby' pub, which is just around the corner, with its secret garden and riverside views.

Prospect of Whitby
One of London's great riverside pubs.

The Ornamental Canal is only 3/4 of a mile (1.2 km) in length, making for a lovely and tranquil place to walk for people of any age or ability. 

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