An East to West India via Poplar Walk

Route & what to see

One of the attractions of Docklands is the juxaposition of new and old, evident on this 3 mile walk. The route begins at East India and finishes at West India Quay - both DLR stations. There is the option of viewing Trinity Buoy Wharf and the route can be extended by following the Canary Wharf Estate walk [click here]. The Museum of London Docklands is sited on West India Quay. There are plenty of places for refreshments near the finish. Look for heritage plaques as you walk around [more info].

From East India DLR Station go down to street level and walk southwards through housing (signposted Virginia Quay).
The meridian is marked in the footway. To the right are views of the ventilation shafts of the Blackwall Tunnel by Terry Farrell (1960s) and the Reuters building by Richard Rogers (1989). These occupy the site of the Blackwall Yard.

Continue through to river and go left.
There is a monument to the first settlers of America in 1607.

Continue to East India Dock Basin.
This Bird Sanctuary is part of the River Lee Project.

Cross the entrance to the basin and walk round anti-clockwise. Exit into Orchard Place

To view Trinty Buoy Wharf
Go right along Orchard Place.
Trinity Buoy Wharf was established in 1803 as workshops and storage for navigation equipment. The current lighthouse was built by James Douglass in 1864 for developing equipment and training purposes. Michael Faraday worked in the adjoining roof space. In 1875 the works expanded westwards to a site previously occupied by Green's Shipyard. The wharf was modernised between 1947 & 1966 but closed in 1988. It was then purchased by the LDDC and leased to Urban Space Management in 1996. The site now provides accommodation for various art activities, some in adapted transport containers. There are a number a information panels and a moored lightship. Cafes & toilets available. [

Return along Orchard Place, go under the Lower Lea Crossing then left. Cross and follow river to right. Cross and take the path behind the garage (through car park). Cross Leamouth Road
The old gateway of the bombed Blackwall Pepper Warehouses (1807-21 by S P Cockerell) was re-sited by the LDDC. Beyond are east walls of the import dock.

Continue ahead. Go to the left then right along Saffron Avenue.
This goes alongside a fragment of the former Import Dock which was used for the construction of Mulberry Harbours in WWII. There are a number of sculptures in the complex.

Continue ahead through Clove Crescent with its water features. At the end go to the right past Tower Hamlets Town Hall to the metal figures.
Ahead is the former Financial Times Printing Works by Nicholas Grimshaw (1988-95).

Go through the adjacent passage and the opening in the wall.
The approach road to the Blackwall Tunnel is below. You can detour to the right to view a replica plaque at the corner.

Return through the wall and follow this around.
This was rebuilt in 1833 by James Walker. There is some artwork by local schools.

Exit at the SE corner (Naval Row)
To the left is the Grade II Hydraulic Power Station of 1857, extended in 1877. The original machinery by William Armstrong & Co was replaced in 1925.

Go right along Naval Row
The Steamship pub was built in 1885.

Continue along Poplar High Street.
On the right is Robin Hood Gardens, designed by the Smithsons in 1966-72.

Go right into Bazely Street.
This street is named after an early rector of All Saints Church but was formely known as Bow Lane. The Greenwich Pensioner pub was built in 1827. Houses opposite are of the 1830s.

Go left along Montague Place
Number 6 has its original door.

Right at Newby Place
All Saints Church designed by Charles Hollis was built in 1820-3 along with the rectory opposite. The site was purchased from Mrs Ann Newby (hence Newby Place). The church was repaired in 1951-3 after incurring substantial damage from a V2 rocket during WWII. The crypt, which had been used as an air raid shelter, was cleared and converted to a parish centre in 1989. The large churchyard with Neoclassical railings and granite gatepiers was made into a public garden in 1865 and relandscaped in 1999 with Heritage Lottery funding.

Go left along East India Dock Road
All Saints DLR station was formerly Poplar on the North London Railway of 1852 which served Blackwall Pier. Poplar Baths (now closed) were opened in the 1930s. The statue on the frontage is of George Green, a Blackwall shipbuilder. The fire station was built on the site of the Bath Street Chapel of 1868. Opposite is Chrisp Street Market and the Ideas Store (2003). Tower Hamlets College now occupies the former George Green School of 1883 (founded in 1828).

Go left down Woodstock Terrace.
The houses were built in the 1850s. The land to the right was acquired by the East India Company in 1628.

Go through the gate on the right to view St Matthias old church.
This was originally the Poplar Chapel planned in 1639 but not built until 1654 (during the Commonwealth). It was under the control of the East India Dock Company until 1866 when it become St Matthias Church. It was encased in ragstone by W M Teulon in 1870-6 when the bell tower, porches and chancel were added. It was closed in 1976 and restored in 1990 by the LDDC for community use.

At the end of Woodstock Terrace go right along Poplar High Street.
On the corner the Gothic style building was built in 1869 for the Poplar District Board of Works. Opposite the Vietnamese Pastoral Centre was formerly a youth club. Meridian House was the Chaplin's House for the East India Company's almshouses, designed in 1801-2 by Henry Holland. The house later served as the vicarage for St Matthias. Opposite the former Poplar Central Library of 1894 and School of Marine Engineering & Navigation of 1902-6 are used by Tower Hamlets College.

Take the entrance into Poplar Recreation Ground opposite.
This was created by the Poplar Board of Works in 1866.

Follow the path around to the left and exit into Hale Street. Go to the right along this street.
Pope John House was built as a seaman's institute in the 1890s by Sir Arthur Blomfield. It was taken over by the Commercial Gas Company in the 1930s.

Go left at the end of this road along East India Dock Road
Number 133 was built as a seaman's home by George Green in 1839-41. Beyond is the Queen Victoria Seaman's Rest.

Left at Wade’s Place
Malam Gardens on the left has cottages provided by the gas company for its workers. Old gas street lamps remain.

At the end go left along the High Street then take the path to the right just beyond the Workhouse towards Poplar DLR station.
The Workhouse leisure centre of 1999 commemorates the Poplar Workhouse of 1817 (rebuilt 1866). Some of its buildings survived on the site until 1960.

Go up the steps/lift and use the footbridge to cross Aspen Way. Go down to street level and follow the signs to West India Quay station.
The Museum of London Docklands is sited to the right along West India Quay.

A footbridge from here gives access to Canary Wharf. 2010

Reference sources
Discover London Docklands A-Z Illustrated Guide by S K Al Naib
Dockland Heritage published by the LDDC
Buildings of England - London 5: East by Cherry, O'Brien & Pevsner
Trinity Buoy Wharf has a history booklet available on site

[booklist] [places to visit] [historic ships] [public transport] [walks list]