Museum of London Docklands

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From Roman settlement to the development of Canary Wharf, this 200 year old warehouse reveals the long history of the capital as a port through stories of trade, migration and commerce.

Venue Type:

Museum

Opening hours

daily 10am-6pm

Closed: 24-26 December

Admission charges

FREE

Getting there

By DLR: West India Quay
By Tube: Canary Wharf
By Bus: D3, D7, D8, 277, N50, D6, 15, 115, 135

The entire collection of the Museum of London Docklands is a Designated Collection of national importance.

The collection consists of objects reflecting the social history of the Thames and London's port, including archaeological finds, works of art, scale models, contemporary tools and many miscellaneous items that would have been traded through the port.

Collections also include the Sainsbury Archive, a collection of documents, artefacts and photographs relating to the history of the food retailing company founded by John James and Mary Ann Sainsbury in 1869.

Collection details

World Cultures, Weapons and War, Trade and Commerce, Social History, Maritime, Inland Waterways, Industry, Archaeology

Key artists and exhibits

  • William Ware
  • Designated Collection
Exhibition details are listed below, you may need to scroll down to see them all.

London, Sugar & Slavery

  • 1 November 2014 — 1 November 2018 *on now

In the setting of this historic sugar warehouse, the London, Sugar & Slavery gallery reveals how London’s involvement in slavery has shaped the capital since the 17th century, and challenges what you think you know about the transatlantic slave trade and long-held beliefs that abolition was initiated by politicians.

Key artefacts in the gallery are the surviving papers of Thomas and John Mills, who owned plantations in St Kitts and Nevis, providing us with glimpses into the lives of both the enslaved and the slaver.

In the gallery you can experience an immersive sound and light show which is projected on the gallery walls every 20 minutes. The experience encourages you to consider enslavement and freedom both in terms of the transatlantic slave trade and what they mean for us all today.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly

Website

http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/docklands/whats-on/permanent-galleries/london-sugar-slavery/

First Port of Empire: 1840 - 1939

  • 1 November 2014 — 1 November 2018 *on now

With the advent of steam power, the volume of trade flowing through London massively increased. More trade meant more docks. Ships were becoming larger as wooden ships gave way to iron. Between 1855 and 1886 a series of new dock complexes were built on both banks of the river.

The gallery explores the life of the docker, with exhibits such as the massive Stevedores' banner commemorating the 1889 Dock Strike. Other subjects include the arrival of the first dock police force
the building of the Great Eastern, one of the world’s largest ships
and the Princess Alice disaster - the worst maritime disaster in British history. Paintings and photographs and film bring the richness of the stories to life.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly

Website

http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/docklands/whats-on/permanent-galleries/first-port-empire-1840-1939/

City and River 1820 - 1840

  • 1 November 2014 — 1 November 2018 *on now

The first half of the nineteenth century brought great change to London's river and port. A huge docks complex was built on the Isle of Dogs, new bridges spanned the Thames and a tunnel was dug beneath it. The scale of London's commercial activity grew massively and all those changes are examined in this gallery.

The gallery also examines the whaling trade. At one time London had the largest fleet of whalers in the world and the display includes a selection of nineteenth-century harpoons, a pot for boiling whale blubber to extract the oil and some timber from a nineteenth century whaler.

This was also an age of engineering, with the demolition of the old medieval London bridge and its replacement with a splendid new one designed by John Rennie. Marc Isambard Brunel went further by constructing the first Thames tunnel between Wapping and Rotherhithe. The gallery includes models and original drawings of what was the world's first tunnel under a navigable waterway.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly

Website

http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/docklands/whats-on/permanent-galleries/city-and-river-1820-1840/

Number 1 Warehouse

  • 1 November 2014 — 1 November 2018 *on now

The Museum of London Docklands is housed in one of only two remaining warehouses erected on the north quay by the West India Dock Company. Originally built in the 1800s by wealthy merchants and slave plantation owners, these magnificent buildings once held great cargoes of sugar, rum and coffee.

Each storey of the building was originally a different height – dictated by the nature of the cargo to be stored. The ground floors were designed to store two tiers of hogsheads of 'clayed' sugar. The upper floors stored a single tier of the heavier hogsheads of muscovado sugar, while the top floors held the lighter cargoes such as coffee, cocoa, cotton and pimento.

The other warehouses were destroyed during the Second World War in September 1940. After the closure of the West India Docks in 1980 the building became derelict. In 2000 work began on restoring and converting the Grade I-listed building for use as a museum.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly

Website

http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/docklands/whats-on/permanent-galleries/number-1-warehouse/

Warehouse of the World 1840 - 1939

  • 1 November 2014 — 1 November 2018 *on now

Between 1840 and 1939 the sheds and warehouses that lined the river housed every conceivable commodity: spices, drugs, grain, sugar, meat, fruit, coffee, cocoa, tea, wines, spirits, tobacco, shells, furs, feathers, leather, skins, hide, timber, paper, jute, wool, oriental carpets and more.

This gallery gives a flavour of that cornucopia of goods. It features a tobacco weighing station, a recreation of a bottling vault and exhibits about the tobacco, timber, grain and sugar trades.

There is also a 'cabinet of curiosities' packed with commodities. An interactive touch-screen explores the more exotic of these - ivory, turtle shells and ancient curios. An opium pipe, ingeniously hidden in a section of a sailor's bunk, hints at a darker side of overseas trade.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly

Website

http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/docklands/whats-on/permanent-galleries/warehouse-world-1840-1939/

New Port New City 1945 - Present

  • 1 November 2014 — 1 November 2018 *on now

The museum's final gallery focuses on the changes that have transformed the look and feel of this part of East London over the last 60 years.

Beginning in the post war period, the gallery recounts the ups and downs of London's inland docks, culminating in their closure in the 1960s and 1970s. The traumatic events brought physical dereliction, job losses and severe social strains on local communities.

The turbulence continued as Docklands became the site of the largest regeneration project in Europe. The gallery looks at the process of regeneration through the eyes of community activists and developers. The Canary Wharf development and Docklands Light Railway both feature with uniforms, posters, models and ephemera enriching the story of the massive redevelopment.

The development of Docklands over the past 200 years has mirrored the shifting patterns of British trade and economy. Where ocean-going ships delivered people and products from all over the world to London, multinational corporations now work moving money and goods electronically. New port, new city.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly

Website

http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/docklands/whats-on/permanent-galleries/new-port-new-city-1945-present/

Mudlarks Children's Gallery

  • 1 November 2014 — 1 November 2018 *on now

The Mudlarks gallery at the Museum of London Docklands is an interactive play area for children and their parents. Divided into different zones, Mudlarks provides a lively addition to the more traditional galleries, allowing children and their parents to let off steam while continuing to learn about London's port, river and people.

Younger children can explore the soft play area with its DLR train and giant props, while older children can get to grips with hands-on interactives that bring the history of London's Docks to life. Have fun digging for treasure and damming a river in the Foreshore Finds area, try cargo lading in Tip the Clipper, explore the Victorian Docks in Docklands Playtime and see if you can lift the sacks in Lift and Shift.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly

Website

http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/docklands/whats-on/permanent-galleries/mudlarks-childrens-gallery/

Docklands at War 1939 - 1945

  • 1 November 2014 — 1 November 2018 *on now

The docks were an obvious target for Hitler's air force and late in the afternoon of Saturday 7 September 1940, the Luftwaffe launched a massive daylight raid on London. Ninety consecutive night time raids followed. A collection of stunning paintings by William Ware (1915 - 1997) illustrate the intensity of the Blitz on London's docks.

Other exhibits explore the Port's role in the Dunkirk rescue, and secret projects such as construction of the Maunsell Forts
Pipe Line Under The Ocean and the huge breakwaters for the Mulberry Harbours. The gallery contains a life-size replica of a Port of London Authority (PLA) shelter constructed during the war. The PLA built two hundred of these shelters and they saved the lives of many people.

One of the Museum's most treasured possessions is a flag that flew from the bow of one of the first landing crafts to reach France during the D-Day landings on 6th June 1944. It was found among the effects of George Sluman, a former waterman who was coxswain of the craft.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly

Website

http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/docklands/whats-on/permanent-galleries/docklands-war-1939-1945/

Sailortown: 1840 - 1850

  • 1 November 2014 — 1 November 2018 *on now

The Sailortown gallery is a full size reconstruction of the dark, winding streets of Victorian Wapping. The gallery attempts to recreate the contemporary description of the area as "both foul and picturesque". The area was a maze of streets, lanes and alleys. Its inhabitants catered to the needs of sailors of all nationalities alighting in London.

In 1852, the reverend Thomas Beames wrote of the area around the docks:

"Go there by day and every fourth man you meet is a sailor… Public houses abound in these localities… fitted up with everything which can draw sailors together… in a third class of house were professional thieves … they were evidently preying upon the drunken sailors whose ill luck had led them to places where they were little acquainted."

Those brave enough to enter Sailortown will find an alehouse, sailors' lodging house, chandlery, wild animal emporium, and much more.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly

Website

http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/docklands/whats-on/permanent-galleries/sailortown-1840-1850/

Trade Expansion and Legal Quay: 1600 - 1800

  • 1 November 2014 — 1 November 2018 *on now

The formation of trading companies such as the East India Company, Muscovy Company and the Africa Company allowed the British Empire to expand commercially across the world. All had their roots in London.

This gallery also explores the 'Legal Quays' established by Elizabeth I in 1558, for the collection of customs dues on cargoes.

Other displays explore the building of London's first wet docks at Rotherhithe for the whaling trade
the landing of East India cargoes at Blackwall
shipbuilding and related industries.

There are displays about visitors from overseas such as Pocahontas and Prince Lee Boo. A touch-screen journey to China aboard the East Indiaman Falmouth introduces the concept of world trade, navigation and the perils of merchant voyages. A dramatised video shows business being conducted inside a typical 18th-century London coffee house.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly

Website

http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/docklands/whats-on/permanent-galleries/trade-expansion-and-legal-quay-1600-1800/

Thames Highway: AD43 - 1600

  • 1 November 2014 — 1 November 2018 *on now

This gallery explores the early ports of London, from the arrival of the Romans in AD43 to the historic ports of Norman and medieval London excavated at Billingsgate and Lower Thames Street.

Artefacts and documents concerning these early riverside trading settlements are displayed, and visitors are invited to interact with archaeologists at a series of multimedia points – introduced by Time Team's Tony Robinson – located in the gallery. The gallery has been designed to support National Curriculum studies in Science, Geography and History.

A spectacular feature of the gallery is a 1:50 scale model of Old London Bridge, the first stone structure over the Thames. One side of the model illustrates the state of the bridge and its buildings at around 1450, the other – hidden until visitors pass through into the next gallery – shows the bridge in all its Tudor glory.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly

Website

http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/docklands/whats-on/permanent-galleries/thames-highway-ad43-1600/

Soldiers and Suffragettes: The Photography of Christina Broom

  • 19 June — 1 November 2015

Broom is widely considered to be the UK’s first female press photographer, beginning her photographic career at the age of 40, in 1903, when she published her first news photographs as postcards.

This major exhibition, the first entirely dedicated to her, will feature a cross-section of her impressive work including many photographs that have previously been in private collections and never-before-seen on public display. These will be joined by original glass plate negatives, postcards, and objects which build a fuller picture of Broom’s character and her career, including personal possessions, letters, event passes, autograph books, notebooks and cuttings books.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly

Website

http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/docklands/whats-on/exhibitions-displays/christina-broom/

Resources listed here may include websites, bookable tours and workshops, books, loan boxes and more. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all.

Harry's Story

http://www.museumindocklands.org.uk/English/Collections/CollectionsOnline/SainsburyArchive/Activities/Harry/

This on-line book describes through pictures a typical day in the life of a delivery boy working for Sainsbury's in 1912.

Storytelling - The Sailor's 1000 stories

http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/English/EventsExhibitions/Events/eventDetails.htm?eventID=1880

Maritime themed stories at the London Museum in Docklands for children 3 years and upwards, and their families. Story sessions last 60 minutes.

How to obtain

Email info.docklands@museumoflondon.org.uk for extra details.

Getting there

By DLR: West India Quay
By Tube: Canary Wharf
By Bus: D3, D7, D8, 277, N50, D6, 15, 115, 135

Museum of London Docklands
No. 1 Warehouse
West India Quay
Hertsmere Road
London
Greater London
E14 4AL
England

Website

www.museumoflondon.org.uk/docklands

E-mail

Box office

info@museumoflondon.org.uk

Telephone

Box office

020 7001 9844

Recorded Information line

020 7001 9844

All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.
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