London Docklands?
December 3, 2006 10:16 AM   Subscribe

What's wrong with East London and the Docklands?

Some of you may remember me from my earlier questions, such as "How is Cambridge", and "Where should I live in London".

Well I'm back. I'm in London (as of Wednesday), and looking for a place to live.

I hoofed it to the neighborhoods everyone talked about. Nothing really did it for me. The apartments seemed nice, but I've always wanted to live in a really funky style place, full of charm, something akin to a converted warehouse or loft.

Think classic san francisco apartment.
I took some advice and headed down towards Canary Wharf, since it's a VERY fast shot up jubilee line to hit oxford circus where I work.

I stopped at Rothirth(Sp), and walked along the thames. And discovered that some of those flats with the thames views are just amazing. The area is curious to me and I'm unsure about safety as well.

I then went to wapping. And Loved it. Once again, Not a clue as to safety, or honestly, prices, but those funky converted warehouse places are just great to me.

Canary Wharf was next, which I also liked. Sure it's not funky loft, but instead it's that high rise uber sleek nagel painting modern high rise apartment buildings. It almost felt like downtown chicago with all of the water and strong winds.

So the question is this..

What's wrong with these areas? I know the history of Wapping, and the history of the docklands in general, but more specifically..

Is wapping a dangerous part of town? How about the apartments right off of the thames?

Why is Canary Wharf so cheap? Dangerous?

Any other places that I can find a large loft apartment with quick access to the tube? I sorta hate the DLR so I'd like to avoid that.

Oh yeah, Jubilee line rush our should be minimized because I'd be heading into the city, against the major traffic.
posted by Lord_Pall to Home & Garden (15 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Jubilee is awful during the work rush hours, IMHO.
posted by k8t at 10:22 AM on December 3, 2006

If you're into nightlife, or even life, do make sure you visit the places you mentioned at the weekends to check it's not too completely dead for your tastes.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 10:22 AM on December 3, 2006

"How about the apartments right off of the thames? "

I live in Whitechapel, and walk to and from work in Canary Wharf pretty much any day it ain't raining. I was curious as well, and priced out a few flats along Narrow Street; it seems like you're going to pay anywhere between a £100K to £250K premium in that area for a view of the river. Seriously. Flats on the non-river view side trade at a sharp discount.

"Why is Canary Wharf so cheap? Dangerous?"

I think the relative discount in Canary Wharf has more to do with the lack of life outside of business hours than anything else. Crime? I doubt it, given all the Investment Banks and cameras.

I'd recommend that East End, but you'd have to either have take the DLR - maybe two stops, Shadwell to Bank (if you can tolerate it) - or just walk to Aldgate or Liverpool Street.

There are still many loft / warehouse conversions under construction here. And it's pretty damn cheap as well.
posted by Mutant at 10:42 AM on December 3, 2006

I was around the dockands a lot in the 1980s when it was being developed (I was shooting a photo project for my degree). The problem with the area wasthat the new developments feel like they have landed there from outer space. They have no connection with the surrounding area, no connection with the community and no infrastructure. They were built by people out to make a quick profit by selling apartments to commuters. I haven't been back for some time, but I doubt it has changed that much.

I would agree with Rhino: definitely go there out of work hours and get a feel for the place. When I was shooting around canary wharf, the place would turn into a ghost town around 5:30pm on weekdays, and weekends were great for getting architectural shots, because you could take long expsure shots of buildings and *nobody* would walk or drive past....
posted by baggers at 10:43 AM on December 3, 2006

Response by poster: I was out there this morning, so 9am on a sunday to get a feel for them.

When you say "warehouses being converted "there".. where is "there"?

I'm looking to let, not buy.

Honestly, local activities aren't that important if it's a 20 minute hop into the city. That said, I definitely prefer wapping to canary wharf, I'm just not sure if either of them are cursed, or haunted or something given how people react when you mention it...
posted by Lord_Pall at 10:59 AM on December 3, 2006

They're considered sterile and boring. Canary wharf itself can be quite pricey for what you get..

The area around Canada Water is nice (Rotherhithe) - also across the river in Limehouse is a bit more upbeat. I personally currently live in the Bow Quarter development, which certainly has character in bucketloads (converted matchstick factory). Going a bit further out north will get you some really rather spiff conversions at very reasonable prices, but the commute starts going up (good example - if only 'twer nearer a tube line!).
posted by Mossy at 11:23 AM on December 3, 2006

Stepney City is one development that's close to where I live in E1 and has a web site.

If you walk about the 'hood you'll see other buildings, some with advertisements on the front (that's how I know this one), others not so heavily marketed. While the developer of Stepney City seems to be selling flats, I have seen for let signs on the front.

The East End haunted you say?

Well, considering all the Plague Pits around here, I'm sometimes surprised the dead don't reach up through the earth and grab at me some dark night when I'm out on the piss.
posted by Mutant at 11:28 AM on December 3, 2006

It's Rotherhithe, just so you know.

A friend of mine lived near Canary Wharf over a summer. She said it was nice enough, but a bit soulless and dead.

That 20 min into town will turn into a bit more when you add time to wait for the next Tube/DLR, and travel at both ends. I was somewhere once where the nearest decent pub was "just" a 20 minute hop away, and when I was tired, there was no way I was willing to put up with it if I didn't have to. This meant I did a lot less socializing than I would have otherwise. You know yourself best though.

I talked to a retired policeman a couple of weeks ago who used to do a lot of work in the Isle of Dogs. He's pretty amused that it's now such a sparkling corporate zone considering how shady it used to be.
posted by grouse at 11:29 AM on December 3, 2006

Wapping has always been 'out of the way'. Look at its geography. During the 18th-19th century, it used to be a den of such total iniquity that St Katharine's Dock (before it burnt down) didn't even technically have law enforcement.

Nowadays it's just a bit difficult to get to/from, although the upgrade of the East London line should help in about five years' time.
posted by randomination at 12:31 PM on December 3, 2006

Watch out for the flight paths from London City Airport. They come very low above the Shadwell/Limehouse/Poplar area.
posted by cillit bang at 12:47 PM on December 3, 2006

You might be interested in Studio 28 (flash intro warning) in Seven Sisters. It's an old textiles factory converted into live/work spaces (so they're advertised anyway).

It's a completely different area of London, but you'll find you'll get more for your money there than anywhere near the City. Plus it's only ~20mins to Oxford Circus on the Victoria Line.
posted by influx at 2:38 PM on December 3, 2006

nothing's wrong with east london and docklands. a lot of the developments there are indeed inspired by us loft living. wapping on the river can be quite expensive i guess. anywhere can be dangerous, so i wouldn't flag that as a major issue. if you want to be on the jubilee line (from your post i can't understand, do you or not?), maybe investigate its northern approaches: st johns wood, swiss cottage, finchley road. no river views but the proximity of great parks, which docklands has not. or, closer to river, south side, the area around the tate gallery; or greenwich.
posted by londongeezer at 7:55 PM on December 3, 2006

Response by poster: I definitely DO want to be on Jubilee, or some other equivalent to getting to Oxford Circus.

I like the developments everyone listed, but they seem to all be for sale, not for let :(.
posted by Lord_Pall at 11:31 PM on December 3, 2006

Response by poster: Oh yeah, live/work spaces are VERY appealing to me right now. Hell, even rough and tumble in-the-city artist studio style places with silly high ceilings.
posted by Lord_Pall at 11:32 PM on December 3, 2006

Rotherhithe / Canada Water / Surrey Docks is cheap. I liked living there. It's unusually white for inner London (having grown up there that sort of freaked me out) but nothing particularly weird apart from that. And unlike most of your other queried areas, it's bluddy grate for night buses.

Bow Quarter's nice but uncheap.

I'd never live anywhere in E14 (including Canary Wharf) because the whole island's a ghost town outside of office hours.
posted by genghis at 2:49 PM on December 4, 2006

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