East India

East India, Tower Hamlets

A Docklands Light Railway station built on part of the site of the East India Docks in eastern Blackwall

Hidden London: Stylish office blocks and sculpture at the corner of Saffron Avenue and Nutmeg Lane

In 1803 the suc­cess of the new­ly opened West India Docks prompt­ed a group of mer­chants involved in trade with the East Indies to pro­pose a sim­i­lar scheme at Black­wall. Con­struc­tion took three years and filled a 60-acre site. Brunswick Dock, which had opened in 1790, became the export dock, with an entrance basin to its east and a larg­er import dock to its north. At the same time East India Dock Road was built as a branch of the Com­mer­cial Road, to pro­vide a link with the City.

Decline had already set in when the docks suf­fered tremen­dous dam­age dur­ing the blitz. The export dock nev­er reopened and was replaced by Brunswick pow­er sta­tion in 1956. The import dock was repaired but con­tainer­i­sa­tion and oth­er changed cir­cum­stances ren­dered it increas­ing­ly obso­lete and it was grad­u­al­ly filled in from the late 1960s. Only the entrance basin and sec­tions of the dock wall now remain.

In 1989 part of the site of the import dock became the Finan­cial Times print works, which has since been con­vert­ed into offices and a BT switch­ing cen­tre.

Brunswick pow­er sta­tion has been replaced by a lux­u­ry apart­ment com­plex. Oth­er areas have been laid out with water fea­tures and impos­ing office blocks in the char­ac­ter­is­tic Dock­lands style. Tow­er Ham­lets town hall is locat­ed at Mul­ber­ry Place, on Clove Cres­cent.

Near the Reuters building stood the Brunswick Hotel, once renowned for its whitebait dinners. In the 1860s it became a hostel for emigrants to Australia. The Brunswick was demolished in 1930.

New streets here have been named after the spices that once constituted a major proportion of the East India Docks’ imports.

Postal district: E14
Population: 14,859 (East India and Lansbury ward, 2011 census)
Station: Docklands Light Railway, Beckton branch (zones 2 and 3)