New Docklands Environment And Leisure
In 1980 an environmental campaigner named Ian sharpe, formed a green group called 'Wapping recycling Group' in response to growing public concern about the environment, their first success was to convince the local Council to introduce their first recycling units in the Borough.
The massive new development of Docklands was causing concern over the loss of important local heritage sites, 'Public rights of way', walkways, and Public stair access to the Thames, this massive construction program had paid scant attention to local sensitivities as many historic sites were being bulldozed to make way for new developments.
Meetings were hurriedly initiated by 'Docklands Forum', (later known as the 'London Thames Gateway Forum'), then the leading Community group for all communities along the Thames Gateway region.
By 1990 we had strengthened our local environment campaigns to protect local heritage sites from developers, we were determined to uphold the principals laid down in AGENDA 21 .
One of our first campaigns was to try and save the historic 'first settlers Monument' at Leamouth from being bulldozed for a new development.
In 1997 the 'LEA Heritage Group' was launched to replace 'New Deal' so as to avoid any confusion with New Labour's youth policy.
In 1998, local Businessmen led by ex LDDC supremo Reg Ward, invited 'LEA Heritage' to support their idea for a 'waterscape city' they met together with Council leaders to discuss their plans to stimulate tourism, enhance the environment, preserve english heritage, and create new facilities. Blackwall and the Lower Lea Valley area
Blackwall Stairs had been used as the main embarkation and arrival point for migrants and immigrants right up to their closure in 1932, trod by England's most illustrious Seamen , Sir Francis Drake, Admiral Nelson, Frobisher, Captain Cook, Noblemen and Women, embarking on their epic voyages of discovery, yet these old stairs leading down to the Thames at Blackwall had been left rotting and in dis-repair.
A 'Barratts' housing' development for residential development was due at Leamouth where a decimated 'First Settler's Monument' stood, it had been dedicated to 3 liitle ships of brave merchant seaman who, in 1607, faced unknown hazards to cross the Atlantic and create the first English settlement of Jamestown in the New World.
The original settlers Monument had been moved several times before it finally settled in its current location at Leamouth, it had been vandalised, and the site was earmarked for a residential housing development. 'Lea Heritage Group' hastily convened a meeting with the Director of Barratt's Housing Developers to try to preserve this historic Monument.
When Barratts became aware of the significant history of this Monument they responded positively, in late 1997 Virginia's leading Archaeological team APVA were invited to the Leamouth site to meet with 'Barratts' and the 'LEA Heritage Group'. all met to discuss a plan to save and restore this important historic monument.
The group was confronted with a badly vandalised 'first settlers monument' a burnt out Motor Cycle lay across its base and it had been stripped of its original plinth Mermaid, the original plaque had been removed to the local museum in Docklands for safe keeping, really sad to find this important historic feature in such a poor state.
After the meeting with Barratt's, their Director immediately decided to act to restore the 'first settlers monument', this important development site at Leamouth was renamed 'Virginia Quay'.
On September 23rd 1999, President Clinton's Ambassador to Britain, the rt Hon Philip Lader came to unveill the newly restored 'First Settler's' Monument at a special dedication ceremony..
CREDIT WHERE ITS DUE:
Ordinary people from all walks of life had joind in a community campaign to save an important historic site which could have been lost forever to the excesses of development, the result showed what can be achieved when you care enough to get involved in helping your local Community.
The 'Docklands Forum' had been an umbrella group for local communities to voice their concerns, often in the presence of visiting MPs, business people, and other important dignitaries.
They had helped to reverse poor decisions taken by local Authorities, Government planners, developers and others affecting the local community, it was the sensible way to achieve healthy progress for a sustainable future and a better environment.
All Community volunteers merit our deepest gratitude and respect, their unselfish dedication has helped to regenerate a long deprived area of East London and the Thames Gateway over recent years.
We dedicate this website to the sterling work of all volunteers World-wide and hope it can help make a positive contribution to peaceful change in a World confronted with challenges, their extraordinary efforts to help others has made community volunteers extra-ordinary people.
In the 80s we worked closely with our local Council Neighbourhood in Wapping, together we launched an annual 'environment action Day' for our local school Children, this event was taken up Borough-wide and became an annual 'action week' for all Schools in the Borough of Tower Hamlets. We then helped 'Mudchute Farm' to win a British Telecom award of £23,000 with our joint application for 'the seedling project', an idea by Mike Barraclough for a green education centre where local School Children could be taught about the living Environment, taking part in planting, growing, harvesting, etc.
FREE PENSIONERS BOAT TRIPS
In 1995, on behalf of the Pensioners, Ian sharpe (environment) and Lt.Com. Len Crickmar R.N. a time-served Waterman, got together with other ex-servicemen and Pensioners to launch The 'Pensioner's Boat Project', they were aware that a large majority of elderly and retired people enjoyed river trips. This was proved when, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the ending of World War Two, the heroic little Dunkirk ship 'Kingwood' was hired to give over 400 London Pensioners a splendid Day of free trips on the Thames.
ONE OF THE HAPPIEST DAYS
Many were to describe this event as 'one of the happiest Days in years' Our campaign worked tirelessly to raise money from leading Trusts, Businesses and local Authorities and from 'News International', Richard Branson's 'Virgin group', who recognised the importance of this event, and many small donors, Yet, despite huge support and popularity, many years on we are still a waiting for this dream to materialize, an application to the lottery in 1996, supported by a majority of London Borough Leaders plus many significant organisations and Trusts failed to provide funds for a permanent pensioners boat for the elderly and the disabled Citizens of London?
RECENT LOCAL HISTORY:
In recent years, concern has grown about the adverse effects on Public health of increasing levels of traffic pollution in our Cities, yet Local Authorities and Government are still failing to address these problems adequately, the lack of efficient integrated Public Transport means that more people use their cars, not good for the environment.
The creation of more traffic lights and road humps cause hold-ups and snarl-ups, resulting in increased levels of pollution, the cost to Public health and the NHS is enormous as communities work tirelessly to reverse these destructive effects on their environment.
This great City of London must become a people friendly City, not just for the Olympic Games, but a place where people can safely access Walkways, Canals, visit Historic sites, Buildings and Monuments and be able to relax in surroundings free from traffic and noise.
A HUGE SUCCESS
During the 80s, Margaret Thatcher's Conservative Government set up the London Docklands Development Corporation to re-develop Docklands, Bob Mellish, an ex Labour MP from Rotherhithe, and Reg Ward with his vision for Docklands, were put in charge, it took just 8 remarkable years to transform a barren wasteland into a massive commercial infrastructure which proved to be a huge economic success.
SOCIAL INVESTMENT MAKES SENSE TOO
Credit must be given to Bob Mellish and Reg Ward for creating a successful Commercial and Business infra-structure in Docklands, but Reg Ward privately admitted later that he had wanted to do more for local Communities and tourism, but under Margaret Thatcher's Government the need for social investment in communities was not considered a priority.
FOCUS FOR INVESTORS
Docklands has become a focus for investors, with Canary Wharf dominating the skyline at its heart. Big names have helped to boost the local economy, creating many new jobs, etc. and steep rises in property prices as many wealthy people moved to Docklands to snap up new luxury developments along the Thames.
The London Docks survived the brunt of Hitler's blitz in World War Two and served the Country well until the early 70s. when London Docks closed, it had provided full employment and bolstered the local economy, helping a diversity of trades to flourish and providing local people with plenty of work opportunities and spending money in their pockets, etc. it meant that the local area could prosper, so theatres, cinemas, cafes, clubs, etc.were always full and in demand.
Constant industrial disputes led to the eventual closure of the London Docks, the old industries along the River Lea and Thames having provided work for years soon died out and local people became unemployed queing up at the Labour Exchange.
By 1971 East London had become a depressed and miserable place to live, with high levels of unemployment, poor housing conditions, increasing rents, etc. many able and skilled people left to seek their fortune elsewhere. About The LEA
THE DOME DIDN'T FAIL:
In 1999, the Labour Government having introduced a new regeneration strategy for the Thames region, were determined to construct the Millennium dome, hoping to revive the fortunes of this area, so it was implemented despite many objections, the critics who were equally determined to see it fail. The new Jubillee line extension, did not change negative attitudes even though big investors had invested millions, the early closure of the Dome proved to be premature despite its failings as the '02' later proved.
A NEW PHOENIX AROSE
Despite the early closure of Greenwich's remarkable Dome, a new plan was devised to re-kindle it with new investment from Meridian Delta and AEG thereby stimulating the local economy once more, there was little doubt that this huge investment would regenerate those parts of the economy which had missed out during the Docklands boom, the '02' was re-born.
Many potential investors now realise the economic opportunities in East London, attitudes have changed towards ethical investment, helping to preserve local heritage and enhance the environment for local Communities and visitors alike, new investment prepared the way for the 2012 Olympic Games, with the creation of visitor facilities, people from all over the World are coming to see East London with its remarkable history and peoples, there is no better way to bring renewed friendships and a sustainable and healthy future to these shores.
Business is not the only potential for regeneration, Blackwall, Greenwich and the Tower of London will always attract visitors from around the World, a visitor friendly environment helps to rekindle the local economy and regenerate the whole of the Thames Gateway.
East London has suffered some of the highest unemployment figures in the Country and also has a high proportion of disabled and elderly people, more visitors can ensure the economic well-being of this area well into the future.
The London Borough of Tower Hamlets is unique amongst Boroughs having a magnetic appeal for overseas visitors, its past as a great International trading Port has made it a focus for World trade, it was once able to provide ample facilities for visitors from abroad and must do so again, there has always been a welcoming tradition here.
LONDON IS A WORLD CLASS CITY
Today theTower of London still remains one of the greatest attractions on Earth, this multi-cultured Borough with its many diverse trades, eating places, and shops has an abundance of important historic sites, monuments, and buildings that attracts visitors from many Countries. The Lottery Commission is investing money in the heart of London, far too long this great historic City's remarkable links to the rest of the World were neglected, the City of London has a unique experience of trading with the World its historic Commonwealth of Nations has links to a multi-cultural diversity across the Globe, an assett yet to be fully realised.
TRADE GALORE, BUT....:
The diversity of many small trades and businesses are one of the big attractions for visitors here, but to encourage them we must tackle the scourge of London traffic pollution which prevents many visitors from fully enjoying their shopping experience, there is a real need to seperate the pedestrian from the vehicle altogether. All big Cities are cursed with traffic and noise pollution, it damages health and destroys the quality of life for everyone, here is a challenge that must be addressed by new and adequate Public transport, more safe cycling lanes and traffic-free shopping precincts for the new Millennium, so that locals and visitors can relax and enjoy this exciting City even more in the 21st. Century.
It is vital that Cities are made people friendly, able to provide ample green open space, enhanced air quality and an improved environment, these must be top priorities, more accessibility to Public spaces for visitors in busy City centres, with extra benches and seating, far more greenery and trees, not only in Parks, but along Highways to consume dangerous C02 emissions, the priority must be to reduce pollution from traffic and replenish oxygen levels, providing 'breathing lungs' for our City London deserves to have facilities that compete with any City in the World.
Local Authorities must ensure that shoppers and tourists are allowed easy traffic free access to our famous landmarks and Street Markets like Petticoat Lane, Roman Road, etc. We ask that Local Authorities to start work promptly to improve inner-city shopping precincts
RIGHT FOR THE VISITOR:
Tower Hamlets has always been a major International trading Borough, it needn't be one of the most deprived Boroughs in the Country, it has the resources to play a leading role in the regeneration of the Thames Gateway, most of its people should certainly expect to enjoy a large share of success and prosperity in the future.