Formerly over 85% of the area was home to some of the largest docks in the world. These docks handled timber and foods from Canada, Scandinavia, and the Baltic until the shipping industry adopted the container system for cargo transportation, and the docks could not accommodate the size of the vessels that were required.
The shipping ceased at the start of the 1970s and most of the docks were filled in. In the 1980s the London Docklands Development Corporation began the redevelopment of the area with over 5,500 new homes.
Currently, this is a growing residential area comprising modern high rise apartments, 1980s houses and older blocks of flats.
The largest development site in London is in Canada Water. This £2 billion project includes land occupied by the Surrey Quays Shopping Centre, Surrey Quays Leisure Park, and SE16 Printworks. It will provide over 3,500 homes, offices, shops, restaurants, a three-acre park, leisure centre and a new campus for Kings College London. There are also plans for London’s first pedestrian and cycle bridge to be constructed connecting Rotherhithe to Canary Wharf.
Rotherhithe’s name was first recorded in 1105 and there have been docks and shipyards here for centuries. The Pilgrim Fathers’ Mayflower ship left Rotherhithe for America in 1620.
Brunel’s pioneering Thames Tunnel of 1843 is still used by the London Overground and his engine house has become a museum.
The Surrey Docks were bombed by the Luftwaffe in September 1940 during the Blitz creating the most intense fire in Britain as the timber burned for days.
The Scandinavian link is demonstrated by Norwegian and Finnish churches and the Norwegian Government in exile was here during the Second World War.
Leisure & Amenities
Places to go and things to do:
- Brunel Museum
- Canada Water Library & Culture Space
- Sands Films for film and music events
- Surrey Docks City Farm
- Surrey Quays Leisure Park – cinema, bowling, restaurants
- Surrey Quays Shopping Centre
- Canada Water Studios
- Surrey Docks Watersports Centre
- Riverside walks
- Russia Dock Woodland
- Southwark Park
Eating and drinking ideas:
- Canada Water Cafe
- Hawker House (Street Feast)
- Leadbelly’s Bar & Kitchen
- The Mayflower Pub
- The Midnight Apothecary Cocktail Garden at the Brunel Museum
- The Salt Quay pub
- The Watchhouse Cafe
- The Yellow House restaurant & bar
There are good transport links: on the Jubilee line it is one stop to Canary Wharf or 10 minutes to Westminster and on the London Overground it is 10 minutes to Shoreditch High Street.
- Canada Water Underground station – Jubilee Line & Overground
- Rotherhithe station – Overground
- Surrey Quays station - Overground
- Greenland Pier – River Bus
- Canada Water bus station for buses to south London and north to the City.
- For road traffic, there is the south side of the Rotherhithe Tunnel.