Canary Wharf

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Canary Wharf in Tower Hamlets, London, England, is a large business development on the Isle of Dogs, centred on the old West India Docks in the London Docklands.

Rivalling London's traditional financial centre, The Square Mile, Canary Wharf contains the UK's three tallest buildings: One Canada Square (commonly known as the Canary Wharf Tower or simply Canary Wharf) at 235.1 m; and the HSBC Tower and the Citigroup Centre joint second tallest at 199.5 m. [1]


[edit] History

Canary Wharf, seen from a high-level walkway on Tower Bridge

Canary Wharf is built on the site of the old West India Docks on the Isle of Dogs. From 1802 to 1980, the area was one of the busiest docks in the world, with at one point 50,000 employed. Canary Wharf itself takes its name from the sea trade with the Canary Islands, whose name comes from the dogs (Latin canis) which the Spaniards found there, producing the linguistic coincidence of trade between the Dog Islands and the Isle of Dogs.

During WWII, the docks area was bombed heavily and nearly all the original warehouses were destroyed or badly damaged. After a brief recovery in the 1950s, the port industry began to decline. Containerisation and a lack of flexibility made the central London docks less viable than out-of-town sites like Felixstowe and Harwich, and by 1980 the docks were closed.

Thousands were out of work and a huge area of the Docklands lay in ruins - a testament to the changing world economy.

The project to revitalise the eight square miles of derelict London docks began in 1981 with the establishment of the London Docklands Development Corporation by the government of Margaret Thatcher. Initially redevelopment was focussed on small-scale, light industrial schemes and Canary Wharf's largest occupier was Limehouse Studios, a TV production company. Canary Wharf can be seen from Dartford Crossing.

[edit] The Idea of Canary Wharf is born

Image:Canary Wharf HSBC.jpg
HSBC World Headquarters and One Canada Square, viewed from the western end of West India Quay
Image:Reuters Plaza.jpg
Canary Wharf in the evening

In 1984 the restaurateurs, the Roux Brothers, were looking for several thousand square feet of space to prepare pre-cooked meals. The late Michael von Clemm, chairman of Credit Suisse First Boston (CSFB) and also chairman of Roux Restaurants, was invited for lunch by the London Docklands Development Corporation (LDDC) on the boat Res Nova moored alongside Shed 31 at Canary Wharf, to promote the idea of this food packaging factory being based on the Isle of Dogs.

Von Clemm came from Boston and when he looked through the porthole at Shed 31, a simple brick-concrete infill, he commented that it reminded him of the warehouses in Boston harbour which had been converted into back up offices and small business premises. Reg Ward, at the time LDDC Chief Executive, remembers him suddenly leaning back and saying: "I do not know why we do not go for a shed like 31 as a 200,000 sq ft back up office."

This led on to discussions at CSFB's offices, during which their American property adviser G Ware Travelstead, raised his hand and said: "We're asking ourselves the wrong question. Of course we can take Shed 31 and convert it into a back up office, but we have spent the last five years courting at the Court of the City of London for a new site for a new configuration of building without success. The question is: 'Can we move our front office to the Isle of Dogs?"

This idea came from a basic need. The Big Bang deregulation of financial services in London had radically changed the way merchant banks operated. Instead of the small, corridor and office based buildings occupied in the traditional square mile, the demand was now for large floor-plate, open plan space which could be used as a trading floor. The Corporation of the City of London had been resisting such development, preferring instead to conserve its historical architecture and views. So banks like CSFB had spent years trying without success to locate suitable space close to the financial heart of London.

At the meeting, Travelstead's idea provoked dissent. Reg Ward, however, agreed with Travelstead and pointed out that Citibank had successfully moved into mid-town New York and had also moved from the central business district in Hong Kong, drawing other users with it. (Eventually it would do the same in Docklands, constructing its own building, Citigroup Center at Canary Wharf).

So Von Clemm and Travelstead decided to take this idea on, committing CSFB to both fund and occupy the new development, and persuading another US Bank with the same issues about space, Morgan Stanley, to join them.

Travelstead managed to persuade the LDDC and the Government of Margaret Thatcher that a new financial services district of ten million square feet, located at the old West India Docks, was viable. He was the first to propose a single main tower, which later became One Canada Square. He proposed building the project as part of a consortium led by his own company The Travelstead Group, together with CSFB and Morgan Stanley. He also brought in Canadian developer Olympia and York, who had recently completed the World Financial Center and Battery Park developments in New York.

However, Travelstead was unable to fund his project and in late 1986, CSFB and Morgan Stanley pulled out of the consortium, effectively pulling the plug. However, they remained interested in occupying the development if someone else were to build it.

On 17 July 1987, Olympia and York Canary Wharf Investments and the LDDC signed the Master Building Agreement for a 12.2 million sq ft (1.2 million sq.m.) £3 billion international financial centre. The price paid for the 20 acres (8 ha.) of the 71 acre (28.75 ha.) site which the LDDC owned was equivalent to £1 million an acre of which £8 million was payable in cash and £12 million was represented by the developer's commitment to various site works of public benefit.

[edit] Local opposition to the development

The idea of a new financial services district was not popular with local residents or their representatives on the Isle of Dogs. Residents' groups including the Association of Island Communities led by individuals such as Ted Johns did not feel that they had been part of the consultation process and did not see that local people would gain any benefit from the development. The expectation was that the development would provide no local jobs or transport improvements.

During a bitter campaign against the LDDC's plans, the residents made their voices heard and gained concessions. One memorable stunt took place at the ground-breaking ceremony for Canary Wharf. With dignitaries and government ministers in attendance the developers were launching their plans. Local campaigners released a herd of sheep from Mudchute Farm into the audience, followed by thousands of live bees. The result was chaos, but again the concerns of local residents had stolen the limelight.

Other campaign tactics used during the 1980s included the brief Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) by the Isle of Dogs, with Ted Johns installed as President, and the roads onto the island blocked for one week.

In 1997, various residents living on the Isle of Dogs launched a lawsuit against Canary Wharf Ltd which reached the House of Lords(Hunter v Canary Wharf [1997] AC 665). They sued for private nuisance because the tower caused interference with television signals from the BBC transmitter in Crystal Palace until a relay transmitter was built to overcome these problems. The court found against the appellants (Hunter and others) as private nuisance generally lies for things emanating from a land, not the blocking of something.

However, over the course of the development relations with the local community have improved and more than 3,000 local residents now work at Canary Wharf.

[edit] Phase One: 1988-1991

Image:Canary Wharf Station.jpg
Docklands Light Railway station and entrance to underground station

Construction of Canary Wharf began in 1988, with phase one completed in 1991. Critically, Olympia and York agreed to meet half the cost of the proposed Jubilee Line extension, seen as vital to the long-term viability of the project. When topped out in 1990, One Canada Square became the UK's tallest building and a powerful symbol of the regeneration of Docklands.

The other buildings completed in Phase one include those around Westferry Circus and Cabot Square, and two either side of One Canada Square, now housing the Financial Services Authority and Reuters.

[edit] Property market collapse

The world property market collapsed in the early 1990s, and Olympia and York filed for bankruptcy in May 1992, with over 20 billion dollars in debts. Tenant demand evaporated and Jubilee Line work had not started yet, leaving the development accessible only by the under-specified Docklands Light Railway. The scheme went into administration.

One Canada Square stood with its top half in darkness, symbolic of the difficulties that had befallen not only Canary Wharf, but also the entire UK commercial property market.

[edit] Rescue and recovery

In December 1995 an international consortium, backed by the former owners of Olympia & York and other investors, bought the scheme. The new company was called Canary Wharf Group, which listed on the London Stock Exchange and later rose to become one of the UK's largest property companies. At the time Canary Wharf came out of administration, its working population was around 13,000 and well over half the office space was empty.

However, recovery in the property market generally, coupled with continuing demand for high floor-plate grade A office accommodation, slowly improved the level of interest in the estate. A critical event in the recovery of Canary Wharf was the much-delayed start of work on the Jubilee Line, which the government wanted ready for the Millennium celebrations. In 1998 the Financial Services Authority moved to Canary Wharf, signalling a shift in the centre of gravity within the financial services sector.

From this point on tenants and workers began to see Canary Wharf as an alternative to traditional office locations. Not only were the remaining phases completed, but new phases were built.

[edit] Phase Two: 1997-2002

Phase two of Canary Wharf consisted of the construction of the HSBC Tower and Citigroup Centre headquarters buildings, followed by Heron Quays.

From 15,000 in 1999 just before the opening of the Jubilee line, its working population in 2004 had risen by more than 300% to 63,000. Around this time Canary Wharf Group, the scheme's owner became, briefly, the UK's largest property company.

In March 2004 Canary Wharf Group plc was taken over by a consortium of investors led by Morgan Stanley using a vehicle named Songbird Estates. Songbird is now listed on the London Stock Exchange's AIM rather than on the Main Market.

[edit] The present day

Canary Wharf viewed from Shad Thames
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Canary wharf on a autumn evening

Canary Wharf tenants include major banks, such as Credit Suisse, HSBC, Citigroup, Lehman Brothers, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, and Barclays, law firms such as Clifford Chance, as well as major news media and service firms, including The Daily Telegraph, Reuters, the Daily Mirror and the Naseba Group. It has also gained more tenants from the public sector including the Financial Services Authority and 2012 Olympic Games organisers LOCOG and the ODA.

At the end of 2006 the official number of people employed on the estate was 82,000 of which around 25% live in the surrounding five boroughs. Increasingly Canary Wharf is becoming a shopping destination, particularly with the opening of the Jubilee Place shopping mall in 2004, taking the total number of shops to more than 200 and increasing employment in retail to around 4,500. About 500,000 people each week shop at Canary Wharf.

[edit] The future

Plans are well underway for Canary Wharf to more than double in size again. Planning permission has been granted for the Riverside South development of two towers designed by Richard Rogers Partnership (constrution is to begin in spring 2007) and in 2006 the company announced that State Street Corporation, KPMG, and Bear Stearns had signed deals to move to new HQ buildings on the estate. The new State Street and Bear Stearns buildings are currently under construction with work expected to start on the KPMG headquarters shortly.

Following these three buildings Canary Wharf still has planning permission under the old enterprise zone for two additional buildings of approx 15 stories - one next to KPMG's new HQ on Canada Square and one next to State Street at Churchill Place. Additionally there is planning permission for two large towers and a mid-rise building at North Quay, although this site will have to wait until the Crossrail project is completed. This would leave Heron Quays West as the last undeveloped part of the main Canary Wharf estate, for which plans for another two skyscrapers have been drawn up, but these are unlikely to be built until both Riverside South and North Quay are completed.

Along with the development of the 7 million sq ft Wood Wharf project to the east, in which Canary Wharf is a partner (with Ballymore and British Waterways) and neighbouring future sites, these represent another potential 15 million square feet of development.

The SkyscraperNews website describes some of the new building projects underway with a 3d Google Earth model. The number of people working in Canary Wharf is set to rise to 90,000 by 2008 (CWG estimate), 100,000 by 2012 (CWG estimate) and to 200,000 by 2025 (according to the Mayor's London Plan).

Around Canary Wharf, there is also significant commercial and residential development in other Docklands areas such as Silvertown Quays, Greenwich Peninsula, and on the Isle of Dogs at Arrowhead Quay, Crossharbour and Millharbour.

[edit] Transport

Canary Wharf is connected to central London via the Canary Wharf DLR station, opened in 1991, and the extension of the Jubilee Line to Canary Wharf tube station in 2000. A river boat service from Canary Waterside connects Canary Wharf to central London and Greenwich. Heron Quays DLR station is also nearby. London City Airport is a few miles further to the east and can be accessed by bus, taxi and, since December 2005, DLR.

[edit] The significance of Canary Wharf

Canary Wharf is not just an office scheme. It has had impact at the local level, at the metropolitan level and, to a lesser extent, at the national level.

The most immediate impact of Canary Wharf has been to substantially increase land values in the surrounding area. This means that the Isle of Dogs, which had previously been seen as suited only for low density light industrial development, has been up-rated. Projects like South Quay Plaza and West India Quay are a direct consequence of this. More recently, Canary Wharf has opened the path for other developments in East London such as Stratford City and Greenwich Peninsula. It has given fresh impetus to already well established residential construction, especially of middle class owner occupier apartments and townhouses.

At the metropolitan level, Canary Wharf was, and remains, a direct challenge to the primacy of the City of London as the UK's principal centre for the finance industry. Relations between Canary Wharf and the Corporation of London have frequently been strained, with the City accusing Canary Wharf of poaching tenants, and Canary Wharf accusing the City of not catering to occupier needs.

Canary Wharf's national significance comes from what it replaces: The former docks were, as recently as 1961, the busiest in the world. They served huge industrial areas of east London and beyond. Both the docks and much of that industrial capacity are gone, with employment shifting to the kind of service industry accommodated in office buildings. In this respect, Canary Wharf could be cited as the strongest single symbol of the changed economic geography of the United Kingdom.

Its symbolic importance was bleakly demonstrated on February 9, 1996 when the IRA detonated a bomb at South Quay DLR station, killing two people, destroying the South Quay Plaza development and damaging several nearby buildings. The bomb ended a 17 month ceasefire.

Recently, Canary Wharf has gained unwelcome notoriety by banning a demonstration highlighting poor pay for office cleaners. Ken Loach — whose film Bread and Roses inspired the march — denounced the ban as "despicable".

[edit] Trivia

[edit] See also

[edit] Canary Wharf Pier

Canary Wharf Pier is located at the Canary Riverside, providing regular commuter river boat services to Greenwich in the east and the City of London and the West End of London in the west on the commuter service, and a shuttle service to the London Docklands Hilton in Rotherhithe.

[edit] Canary Wharf (soap opera)

Canary Wharf was also a short running soap opera on L!VE TV, a British Cable television channel. It used the channel's premises there as sets.

[edit] External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:

Preceding Pier London River Services Following Pier
Greenland Dock   Commuter Service   St Katharine's Pier
Hilton Docklands   Hilton Service   terminates here

Canary Wharf, London
One Canada Square | HSBC Tower | Citigroup Centre | One Churchill Place | 10 Upper Bank Street | 40 Bank Street | 25 Bank Street | 1 Cabot Square | 5 Canada Square | 33 Canada Square | 10 Cabot Square | 25 Cabot Square | 25 North Colonnade | 20 Canada Square | 50 Bank Street | 20 Bank Street | 20 Cabot Square | 30 South Colonnade | 11 Westferry Circus | 1 Westferry Circus | 17 Columbus Courtyard | 20 Columbus Courtyard | 15 Westferry Circus | 7 Westferry Circus

Transport Links: Canary Wharf DLR | Canary Wharf Tube | Canary Wharf Pier | Heron Quays DLR | London City Airport | South Quay DLR

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Canary Wharf

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