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Area guide for Canary Wharf

Canary Wharf overview

What's it all about?

Canary Wharf is an iconic part of London's skyline and, while it might be better known as the glass and steel headquarters of London's global financial centre, in the past decade it's also become one of the Capital’s most coveted neighbourhoods. After the glitch that was the property crash of the early 1990s, the transition from derelict ex industrial docks to a thriving business and residential quarter is complete. The area has been helped by excellent travel links – the DLR and Jubilee Line takes you into the City and West End in 10 to 15 minutes, and are two of the most salubrious modes of public transport in London. Canary Wharf and its surroundings are now home not only to billion pound businesses, but also a rapidly growing number of professional residents. These locals enjoy a world class selection of restaurants, shops and bars, many of which have waterside locations and fantastic views. It’s not all hustle and bustle, though. Mudchute Farm, just down the road, will keep the kids entertained for hours, and there are several local schools. New residential developments on the Isle of Dogs have opened this area up to a wide range of buyers, from City professionals to young families and first time buyers. With more development to come, and the arrival of Crossrail in 2018, this area is set to become even more diverse.

Fact file

  • No 32 berth of West Wood Quay was built in 1936 for Fruit Lines Ltd, which imported fruit from the Mediterranean and Canary Islands. At the request of the company the quay and warehouse were given the name Canary Wharf.
  • At 770 feet One Canada Square held the record for the tallest building in the UK until the completion of The Shard at 1,014 feet, in 2012.
  • From 1926, when the railway closed, to 1987 when the DLR was built, the only public transport accessing the island was buses.

Architecture and property 

The urbanisation of the Isle of Dogs took place in the 19th century after the construction of the docks. The island was connected to the rest of London by the London & Blackwall Railway, and in 1902 the ferry to Greenwich was replaced by a foot tunnel, and Island Gardens park was opened. The docks closed progressively during the 1970s, closing the chapter on the area's industrial past. Today another type of industry booms here, and although much of the land was cleared to make way for Canary Wharf's signature skyscrapers, many renovated warehouses still recall the past. Indeed, they've become a benchmark for open plan design and loft living. 

Property here consists mainly of apartments, with some spectacular penthouses and riverside developments with fabulous views across the Capital. Combined with a mix of modern townhouses, a few surviving Victorian terraced houses, Edwardian cottage estate type houses and former council flats provide a range of choices.

For house price information please visit the sold data tab.

Going out

Eating: Boisdale of Canary Wharf has outstanding reviews for its modern British cooking and offers a choice of more than 3,000 whiskies, as well as a cigar menu. The Plateau, on the fourth floor of Canada Place, makes the most of its fantastic views and offers modern French cuisine from fixed price and a la carte menus. For some spice, those in the know head to Aniseed to sample modern Indian cooking – book early as the small number of tables fill up quickly. If you have a yen for modern Japanese cuisine, head to Roka at Canary Wharf, where you can also watch the robata chefs at work.

Drinking: The Gun on Coldharbour is a favourite with locals, and its full restaurant menu offers upmarket gastropub fare, with oysters as their speciality. The Cat & Canary offers a more traditional venue for a pint and a homemade burger and has enviable views across the water.

Culture: Top of the list of places to visit is the London Museum Docklands, which has exhibitions focusing on the history of the area. It also offers the chance to take an evening guided ‘ghost walk’ around Docklands. There is a Cineworld multiplex cinema at West India Quay, and a quick trip on the DLR brings you within walking distance of the Greenwich Picturehouse. For culture vultures, The Space on Westferry Road offers a programme of theatre and dance, together with creative writing workshops, and the Hubbub cafe and bar

Local amenities

  • Canary Wharf shopping centre has a wide range of shops and boutiques, from Accessorize to Zara. For grocery shopping there is a Waitrose in the centre plus an Asda superstore just a short hop south in Crossharbour.
  • Billingsgate Fish Market is just up the road in Poplar and is open to the public as well as to trade customers – get there early though, as it’s all over by 9.30am. The Chrisp Street market, also in Poplar, was the first purpose built pedestrian shopping centre and still offers more than 80 stalls from Monday to Saturday.
  • The library at the Idea Store at Canary Wharf itself offers legal advice, job support, a knitting club as well as a whole host of activities for kids.
  • For those seeking a bit of exercise, the Tiller Leisure Centre in Tiller Road has a swimming pool, large gym and offers a wide range of classes. While the Canary Riverside Health Club, run by Virgin Active, offers a state of the art gym and breathtaking views down the river. 
  • Just up the road towards Mile End is Revolution Karting – London's fastest track.
  • For a taste of the coast right in the heart of Docklands, head for the Docklands Sailing & Watersports Centre, where you can try your hand at canoeing, sailing, windsurfing and powerboating.

Green spaces

The jewel in the crown of this area’s green spaces is Mudchute, comprising 32 acres of countryside and a city farm with more than 100 animals. The land was saved for public use after a campaign to stop a high rise block being built in the 1970s, and since has been run as a charitable organisation that hosts a range of activities for all ages.

Canary Wharf on the river

Famous for being one of London’s top business districts, Canary Wharf also offers plenty for those wanting to unwind after a long day at work. Restaurants are scattered around the water’s edge, including pleasant eateries such as Le Secret Des Rotisseurs and The Gaucho. Those who still have energy to burn can visit the Docklands Sailing and Watersports Centre, which offers a host of activities, including sailing, windsurfing, kayaking and power boating courses.

Find out more about the perks of living on the river here

Changing times

Two new towers received planning permission from Tower Hamlets in 2014 – South Quay Plaza and Arrowhead Quay will bring around 1,500 new homes onto the market. 

Transport

Tube: The Jubilee Line serves Canary Wharf, with passengers disembarking into the magnificent Foster + Partners building, opened in 1999.

DLR: All of Canary Wharf and the Isle of Dogs area is well served by the DLR, with stations at Canary Wharf, Heron Quays, Crossharbour, West India Quay and Poplar. 

River: There are regular river bus services between Canary Wharf Pier and Greenwich, London Bridge, Chelsea Harbour, Vauxhall, Embankment and Blackfriars piers.

Bus: Coming in from East London, the D3, D7 and D8 will all bring you directly to Canary Wharf, and the 277 heads to Highbury and Islington. There is also a night bus, the N550, from Trafalgar Square.

Getting away: Escaping from the city couldn’t be easier with London City Airport almost on the doorstep, offering flights to many major European destinations, as well as easy access to New York .

Education

For younger children, Bygrove Primary and Manorfield Primary are situated in nearby Poplar, and Canary Wharf College on East Ferry Road takes pupils from ages four to 18. There is also the Stephen Hawking School, very slightly further afield in Limehouse, which specialises in teaching children with profound and multiple learning difficulties.

Please see our schools tab for more information on schools in this area.

 

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Did we miss something? If you have any local expertise to improve our area guide, then please email us at areaguides@kfh.co.uk

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