Des res Docklands


As I sat on board my Contessa 32 enjoying the Indian summer sun which dappled the waters of St Katharine’s Dock it occured to me that a London dock would once have been a very odd place to take a teenage daughter and her friends to for a birthday party.

Time was when muggers, prostitutes and beggars wandered these cobbled streets. Wapping Stairs had a gibbet on the tideline so that hanged criminals could be symbolically dipped in three high waters. Crows pecked at the dried blood on London Bridge’s parapets, congealing there from the severed heads stuck on pike staffs as a warning to other ne’er do wells.

Now the old warehouses and dock houses are multi-million pound homes where people like TV presenter Janet Street-Porter; film director David Lean and even tabloid columnist David Mellor live.

The girls thought it was cool to sip bitter mochiatto in the rotunda of Coffee Republic, but soon got bored. This was a dreaded dockside. They wanted some gore, maybe a beheaded pirate, or at least a shoeless child to feel sorry for. So we had to cross the river to the London Dungeon and join a 100 yard queue.

Seems we would still fill a Coliseum given half a chance.