Canning Town

Canning Town is a district in east London, England. Historically part of Essex, it has formed part of the London Borough of Newham since 1965. It is located in the area of the former Royal Docks on the north side of the River Thames, and is the location of Rathbone Market. Despite being a neighbour to many affluent London Docklands developments, Canning Town remains among the 5 per cent most deprived areas in the UK, with many long term residents suffering from poor health, low education and poverty.

The area is undergoing significant regeneration as of 2012. According to Newham Council: "The Canning Town and Custom House Regeneration Programme includes the building of up to 10,000 new homes, creation of thousands of new jobs and two improved town centres. This £3.7 billion project aims to transform the area physically, socially and economically."[2]

Canning Town
Royal Victoria Dock - with Canary Wharf and the Millennium Dome in the background - - 1168534

Royal Victoria Dock
Canning Town is located in Greater London
Canning Town
Canning Town
Location within Greater London
Population30,806 (Canning Town North and South wards, 2011)[1]
OS grid referenceTQ4081
London borough
Ceremonial countyGreater London
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townLONDON
Postcode districtE16
Dialling code020
EU ParliamentLondon
UK Parliament
London Assembly


Victoria Docks 1872
Map c1872, showing Victoria Docks, now Royal Victoria Dock, Bow Creek and the Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Company.
Canning Town and Royal Victoria Dock 1908
Map 1908, showing Canning Town to the north of Royal Victoria Dock and Silvertown to the south of the dock.
Bidder Street 1891
Bidder Street in 1891, one of the oldest parts of Canning Town. The Bidder Street area is now an industrial area
West Ham B Power Station
The West Ham Power Station, also known as Canning Town Power Station, next to Bow Creek on Tucker Street in 1973

Prior to the 19th century, the district was largely marshland, and accessible only by boat, or a toll bridge. In 1809, an Act of Parliament was passed for the construction of the Barking Road between the East India Docks and Barking. A five span iron bridge was constructed in 1810 to carry the road across the River Lea at Bow Creek. This bridge was damaged by a collision with a collier in March 1887 and replaced by the London County Council (LCC) in 1896. This bridge was in turn replaced in 1934,[3] at a site to the north and today's concrete flyover begun in smaller form in the 1960s, but successively modified to incorporate new road layouts for the upgraded A13 road and a feeder to the Limehouse Link tunnel, avoiding the Blackwall Tunnel. The abutments of the old iron bridge have now been utilised for the Jubilee footbridge, linking the area to Leamouth, in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, on the western bank of the Lea.

Worker's homes Canning Town 1850
The first workers' homes built in Canning Town around 1850.

The area is thought to be named for the first Viceroy of India, Charles John Canning, who suppressed the Indian Mutiny about the time the district expanded. The population increased rapidly after the North London Line was built from Stratford to North Woolwich, in 1846. This was built to carry coal and goods from the docks; and when the passenger station was first built it was known as Barking Road.[4] Speculative builders constructed houses for the workers attracted by the new chemical industries established in the lower reaches of the River Lea, and for the nearby Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Company and Tate & Lyle refinery.[5]

The opening of the Royal Victoria Dock in 1855 accelerated the development of the area[3] creating employment and a need to house dock workers and their families. New settlements around the dock developed, starting with Hallsville, Canning Town and Woolwich, and later the areas now known as Custom House, Silvertown and West Silvertown. The new settlements lacked water supply and had no sewage system, leading to the spread of cholera and smallpox.[6] The casual nature of employment at the docks meant poverty and squalid living conditions for many residents,[5] and in 1857 Henry Morley wrote about the area:

"Canning Town is the child of the Victoria Docks. The condition of this place and of its neighbour prevents the steadier class of mechanics from residing in it. They go from their work to Stratford or to Plaistow. Many select such a dwelling place because they are already debased below the point of enmity to filth; poorer labourers live there, because they cannot afford to go farther, and there become debased. The Dock Company is surely, to a very great extent, answerable for the condition of the town they are creating. Not a few of the houses in it are built by poor and ignorant men who have saved a few hundred pounds, and are deluded by the prospect of a fatally cheap building investment."[7]

The industries around the dock were often unhealthy and dangerous. As trade unions and political activists fought for better living conditions and the dock area became the centre of numerous movements with Will Thorne, James Keir Hardie and other later becoming leading figures in the Labour Party. [6] Thorne and others worked and gave speeches at Canning Town Public Hall which had been built in 1894 as the population grew in the southern part of the borough. From the late 19th century, a large African mariner community was established in Canning Town as a result of new shipping links to the Caribbean and West Africa.[8] In 1917 50 tons of TNT exploded at the Brunner Mond & Co ammunition work in Silvertown, causing the largest explosion in London's history and damaging more than 70,000 buildings and killing 73 people.[6] (see Silvertown explosion)

In the 1930s the County Borough of West Ham commenced slum clearances.[5] New houses, clinics, nurseries and a lido were opened. Silvertown ByPass and Britain's first flyover, the Silvertown Way, were built along with other new approach roads to the docks. Canning Town was heavily hit by the bombings in World War II and Canning Town Council's plan to rebuild the area focused on a reduction of the population, transferring industry and the building of new housing such as the Keir Hardie Estate, which included schools and welfare services.[6] In the early hours of 10 September 1940, a bomb hit South Hallsville School where up to 600 local refugees were accommodated. At least 200, mainly children, were killed or injured. Many bodies were never recovered.[9]

The slum clearances and the devastation of World War II, destroying 85% of the housing stock, led to the preponderance of council estates that characterise the area today.[5] Post-war housing schemes followed the urban planning principles of the garden city movement. As demand for housing grew the first high rise buildings were built in Canning Town in 1961. In 1968 Ronan Point, a 22-storey tower block in Newham, collapsed and most of the tall tower blocks built in the area in the early 1960s were eventually demolished or reduced in size.[6]

Slum housing

Note to the Poor on Cholera 1848 West Ham
Notice to the poor on cholera, 1848. From the minutes of the West Ham Board of Guardians. States amongst others: "The Guardians are prepared to issue "CERTIFICATES" to the Poor generally, entitling them to Medical Relief gratuitously, should "CHOLERA" break out, or its symptoms prevail in the Neighbourhood."
Little Tommy Lee sewer
The Little Tommy Lee sewer, an open sewer in Canning Town, c.1888

Victorian era

In 1857 Henry Morley published a detailed description of the area in Charles Dickens' Household Words entitled "Londoners over the Border", writing:

" the law there is one suburb on the border of the Essex marshes which is quite cut off from the comforts of the Metropolitan Buildings Act;-in fact, it lies just without its boundaries, and therefore is chosen as a place of refuge for offensive trade establishments turned out of the town, - those of oil boilers, gut spinners, varnish makers, printers ink makers and the like. Being cut off from the support of the Metropolitan Local Managing Act, this outskirt is free to possess new streets of houses without drains, roads, gas, or pavement."[7]

Describing the slum housing conditions and its effect on the health of local residents, Morley wrote:

"Rows of small houses, which may have cost for their construction eighty pounds a piece, are built designedly and systematically with their backs to the marsh ditches; or three yards of clay pipe "drain" each house into the open cess pool under its back windows, when it does not happen that the house is built as to overhang it... In winter time every block becomes now and then an island, and you may hear a sick man, in an upper room, complain of water trickling down over his bed. Then the flood cleans the ditches, lifting all their filth into itself, and spreading it over the land. No wonder that the stench of the marsh in Hallsville and Canning Town of nights, is horrible. A fetid mist covers the ground... the parish surgeon... was himself for a time invalided by fever, upon which ague followed. Ague, of course, is one of the most prevalent diseases of the district; fever abounds. When an epidemic comes into the place, it becomes serious in its form, and stays for months. Disease comes upon human bodies saturated with the influences of such air as is breathed day and night, as a spark upon touchwood. A case or two of small pox caused, in spite of vaccination, an epidemic of confluent small pox, which remained three or four months upon the spot."[7]

Morley also describes efforts to improve the housing conditions in the area:

"Two years ago, when application was made by more than a tenth of the rate payers of the parish of West Ham for an inquiry into the sanitary condition of the district, with a view to bringing it under the conditions of the Public Health Act, Mr Alfred Dickens was the civil engineer sent by the general Board of Health as an inspector. His report and the evidence at his inquiry is before us as we write, and it dwells very much upon the state of Canning Town and Hallsville. We learn from this report that the area of the ditches in the parish amounted to not less than one hundred and fifty acres, according to a surveyors book upwards of thirty five years old, and that area has been increased by side cuttings at the railway and new cuttings of open sewer. Disease had cost the parish six hundred pounds in the year previous to the inquiry. There was then, of course, as now, no drainage or paving in Canning Town; the roads in winter were impassable; but the inhabitants were paying (for what they did not get) an eighteen penny rate under the Commissioners Act, not for works done in accordance with it, but "for the expenses of the act". Also, although the parish did not take charge of their roads, they were paying a highway rate for the parishioners elsewhere. One horrible detail in Mr Dickens report has, happily, to be omitted from our sketch. Two years ago, there was in Hallsville and Canning Town no water supply. Good water is now laid on. In all other respects, the old offences against civilised life cleave to the district. The local Board of Health which the inhabitants of the parish sought and obtained, whatever it may have done for Stratford, seems to have done nothing for Hallsville, unless it be considered something to indulge it with an odd pinch of deodorising powder."[7]

Alfred Dickens highlighted the severe overcrowding suffered by many of the slum inhabitants as a result of landlord charging high rents and households relying on casual work.[10]

20th century

The 1890 Housing Act made the local council responsible for providing decent accommodation and in the 1890s some of the first council houses were built in Bethell Avenue. However, many of the terraced houses built during the late 19th Century were little more than slums and cleared by the council in the 1930s. The council replaced the terraces with the first high rise blocks.[11]


According to Newham London Borough Council, Canning Town and Custom House are among the five percent most deprived areas in the UK. Residents suffer from poor health, low education and poverty. 17 percent of the working age population have a limiting long-term illness, 17.5 percent claim income support and 49.7 percent of 16- to 74-year-olds have no formal qualifications.[12]

Regeneration project

The consultation and governance mechanism of the currently ongoing regeneration project is underpinning by a partnership between councillors, residents, local businesses and other "partners".[12] According to Newham council:

"The views of residents and businesses is central to the development and delivery of the regeneration initiative and developers will be expected to continue with extensive community consultation and engagement as part of their remit."[12]

Newham council is currently attempting to encourage "re-interpretations" of London's established street and housing forms. The council has identified terraced housing as such housing form, stating that it "continues to have enduring popularity with all types of residents including families and children".[12]

The area is at the western end of the Thames Gateway zone and is currently undergoing a £1.7 billion regeneration project, which includes:

  • demolishing 1,650 homes and building 8,000 new homes
  • creating 500,000 square metres of floor-space in a revitalised town centre
  • providing community facilities, including a library, a health centre
  • undertaking improvements to primary schools

The Olympic Uniform Distribution and Accreditation Centre, which was located in Canning Town, was due to be demolished and replaced with a new industrial estate as part of the Olympic Legacy programme.[13]

Politics and local government

The area falls within the parliamentary constituency of West Ham.

In May 2006, voters in the Ward of Canning Town South returned three members of the Christian Peoples Alliance (including Alan Craig) as their elected Councillors. This was highly unusual in what is regarded as the rock-solid Labour borough of Newham. Labour regained the seats in 2010. In 2018 Labour held on to the seat with three councillors- Rohit K Dasgupta, Alan Griffiths and Belgica Guana[14].

Rock and sport

Thames Ironworks F.C., the works team of the nearby Ironworks, went on to become West Ham United F.C. after turning professional.

The Bridge House, a public house named for the 1887 Iron Bridge, was at 23 Barking Road – now demolished. The venue operated during the 1970s and 1980s and was host to The Police, Depeche Mode, Jeff Beck, Billy Bragg, Alexis Korner, Modern Romance, Sham 69, Lindisfarne, The Cockney Rejects, Iron Maiden, Remus Down Boulevard and many other notable acts.[15] A venue bearing the name The Bridge House 2 was opened in Bidder Street in more recent years.[16] Also on Barking Road, the former public house The Royal Oak (now an estate agent) had a boxing ring on the first floor. Amongst others, the boxer Frank Bruno trained there.

Transport and locale

Nearest places
Nearest rail

The nearest London Underground station is Canning Town on the Jubilee line. It is also an interchange with the Docklands Light Railway.

Star Lane DLR station is situated in Canning Town North, on the junction of Manor Road and Star Lane, for trains running on the Stratford International branch. Royal Victoria DLR station is situated on Victoria Dock Road at the Royal Docks, for trains on the Beckton branch.

As of January 2016, all stations are in Zones 2/3.


  1. ^ "Newham Wards population 2011". Missing or empty |url= (help); |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  2. ^ 2QU, London Borough of Newham, Newham Dockside, 1000 Dockside Road, London, E16. "Canning Town and Custom House regeneration". Missing or empty |url= (help); |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  3. ^ a b West Ham: Rivers, bridges, wharfs and docks, A History of the County of Essex: Volume 6 (1973), pp. 57-61 accessed: 29 May 2008
  4. ^ West Ham: Transport and postal services, A History of the County of Essex: Volume 6 (1973), pp. 61-63 accessed: 16 January 2008.
  5. ^ a b c d West Ham: Domestic buildings, A History of the County of Essex: Volume 6 (1973), pp. 50-57 accessed: 17 January 2008.
  6. ^ a b c d e "The Royal Docks – a short history". Royal Docks Trust. Retrieved 28 June 2010.
  7. ^ a b c d Henry Morley Londoners over the Border, Household Words – Volume XVI (1857)
  8. ^ Geoffrey Bell, The other Eastenders : Kamal Chunchie and West Ham's early black community (Stratford: Eastside Community Heritage, 2002)
  9. ^ "Blitz: The bombs that changed Britain". 20 November 2017. Retrieved 23 November 2017.
  10. ^ "Conditions in Canning Town in Victorian Times". Archived from the original on 29 August 2008. Retrieved 23 November 2017.
  11. ^ "Housing in Canning Town in Victorian Times". Archived from the original on 21 August 2008. Retrieved 23 November 2017.
  12. ^ a b c d "Canning Town and Custom House regeneration". Newham Council. 2009. Archived from the original on 16 December 2010. Retrieved 2 December 2010.
  13. ^
  14. ^ "Your Councillors by Ward". Newham Council.
  15. ^ Terence Murphy The Bridge House, Canning Town: Memoires of a Legendary Rock and Roll Hangout (2007)
  16. ^ "Bridge House 2". Retrieved 3 March 2018.

External links

2010 Newham London Borough Council election

Elections to Newham London Borough Council in London, England was held on 6 May 2010. This was on the same day as other local elections and the general election to the UK Parliament.

The whole council, including the directly elected Mayor, was up for election for the first time since the 2006 election. The Labour Party won all 60 seats on the borough council, with support for the Respect Party, who had come second in 2006, collapsing from 23% to 3%. Both Respect and the Christian Peoples Alliance lost all of their seats.

Canning Town station

Canning Town is a London Underground, Docklands Light Railway (DLR) and London Buses station in Canning Town in London, England. It is designed as an intermodal metro and bus station. On 11 November 2015 the Mayor of London announced that it would be rezoned to be on the boundary of Travelcard Zone 2 and Travelcard Zone 3. Until 1873 it was known as Barking Road.

Dennis Stratton

Dennis William Stratton (born 9 October 1952 in Canning Town, East London, England) is a guitar player who is best known as a former member of the British band Iron Maiden from December 1979 to October 1980.

Docklands Light Railway

The Docklands Light Railway (DLR) is an automated light metro system opened in 1987 to serve the redeveloped Docklands area of East London, England. It reaches north to Stratford, south to Lewisham across the River Thames, west to Tower Gateway and Bank in the City of London financial district, and east to Beckton, London City Airport, and to Woolwich Arsenal south of the river.

The system uses minimal staffing on trains and at major interchange stations; the four below-ground stations are staffed to comply with underground station fire and safety requirements. Similar proposals have been made for the Tube.The DLR is operated under a franchise awarded by Transport for London to KeolisAmey Docklands, a joint venture between transport operator Keolis and infrastructure specialists Amey plc. It was previously run for over 17 years by Serco Docklands, part of the Serco Group. The system is owned by Docklands Light Railway Ltd, part of the London Rail division of Transport for London. In 2017/18 the DLR carried 119.6 million passenger journeys, down from 122.3m the previous year. It has been extended several times and further extensions are under consideration.

ExCeL London

ExCeL (Exhibition Centre London) is an exhibitions and international convention centre in Custom House area of Canning Town, East London. It is located on a 100-acre (0.40 km2) site on the northern quay of the Royal Victoria Dock in London Docklands, between Canary Wharf and London City Airport, and is located within the London Borough of Newham.

Holy Trinity Church, Canning Town

Holy Trinity Church was a Church of England parish church in Canning Town, east London. Its origins were in the Plaistow and Victoria Docks Mission, set up to serve the growing area of Hallsville by the vicar of St Mary's Church, Plaistow and Antonio Brady. It initially worshipped in the National School on Barking Road until the permanent church opened in 1867, with a parish formed for it the following year by parts of St Mary's and All Saints. Its advowson was initially vested in the bishop, but transferred to the Lord Chancellor in 1886 to allow the benefice of Holy Trinity to be supplemented from revenues from All Hallows Church, London Wall.

The church was badly damaged by bombing in 1941 but re-opened the following year. In 1948 it was closed and later bought by West Ham Borough Council, which demolished it and built flats on the site. A war damage payment to it instead went towards the construction of St Erkenwald's Church, Barking, opened in 1954. The parish survived until 1961, when it was mostly merged into that of St Matthias' Church, Canning Town, whose vicar had administered it in the interim, though some of it passed to St Cedd's Church, Canning Town.

Jeremy Kyle

Jeremy Kyle (born 7 July 1965), is an English television presenter, radio personality, journalist and writer. He is best known for hosting the tabloid talk show The Jeremy Kyle Show on ITV since 2005. He hosted a U.S. version of his eponymous show, which ran for two seasons starting in 2011.

London Buses route 69

London Buses route 69 is a Transport for London contracted bus route in London, England. Running between Walthamstow Central and Canning Town stations, it is operated by Tower Transit.

Perry Fenwick

Perry Fenwick (born 29 May 1962) is an English actor. He is known for portraying the role of Billy Mitchell in the BBC One soap opera EastEnders, a role which he has played since 1998.

Poplar and Canning Town (UK Parliament constituency)

Poplar and Canning Town was a borough constituency represented in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It elected one Member of Parliament (MP) by the first past the post system of election.

Prince Regent DLR station

Prince Regent DLR station is a station on the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) in the Docklands area of east London. The station was opened on 28 March 1994 and provides access to the eastern end of the ExCeL Exhibition Centre and ICC London. The station signage is subtitled 'for ExCeL East'.

There is a small bus station adjoining the station with buses to Plaistow and London City Airport.

The station is located on the DLR's Beckton branch, between Custom House and Royal Albert stations. It is in Travelcard Zone 3.

During major exhibitions at the adjacent Excel Centre an additional DLR shuttle service operates between Canning Town and Prince Regent stations, to supplement the normal Tower Gateway to Beckton service. The trains shuttle reverse on a crossover well to the east of the station, within sight of the next station at Royal Albert.

Royal Victoria DLR station

Royal Victoria Station is on the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) in east London. It opened on 28 March 1994 and is named after the nearby Royal Victoria Dock.

It is on the DLR's Beckton branch, in Travelcard Zone 3.

National Rail's North London Line ran parallel with the DLR between Canning Town and Custom House stations until the Stratford to North Woolwich section closed on 9 December 2006. Its tracks passed close by the DLR platforms, but there were no North London Line platforms. However, this station is near the former Tidal Basin station on the Eastern Counties and Thames Junction Railway.

During 2009, as part of the Canning Town DLR flyover and the new DLR line from Canning Town to Stratford, an engineers' siding was added to the Victoria Dock Road side of the station.On 1 June 2009 the Beckton branch was diverted onto the new flyover, which crossed the Woolwich branch and the branch to Stratford International. The flyover was constructed as part of the 3-Car Capacity Enhancement Project to serve Canning Town high-level DLR station. (See main article Docklands Light Railway extension to Stratford International.) It is 330 metres long, and is formed from a number of different structures connected by a continuous reinforced concrete deck cast in situ. In addition, it allows DLR services from Canning Town towards Woolwich and Beckton to depart from any eastbound DLR platform.

St Cedd's Church, Canning Town

St Cedd's Church was a Church of England church between Newham Way, (front, original access, was Beckton Road at time of building) and Chadwin Road, (access after the development of the Newham Way in the 1960s) in Canning Town, east London, dedicated to Cedd, evangelist to Essex, in whose ceremonial county the church falls. Opened as a brick hall in 1903-1904 as a mission of St Andrew's Church, Plaistow, it had a mission district assigned using parts of the parishes of St Andrew's and St Luke's in 1905. That mission district was turned into a separate parish in 1936, for which a new redbrick church was completed in 1939. Part of the former parish of Holy Trinity Church was assigned to St Cedd's in 1961, though the latter is no longer an Anglican church. Fire damaged in 1995, it was restored and re-opened in 2007 to house the London Ghana Seventh-day Adventist congregation

St Gabriel's Church, Canning Town

St Gabriel's Church, Canning Town was a Church of England church in Canning Town, east London. It originated as an undedicated iron church between the river Lea and the railway to the north of the Barking Road, on the site later used for the brick-built permanent church of St Gabriel's, consecrated in 1876. Initially a mission of All Saints Church, West Ham, it was given a parish of its own three years after the consecration, using parts of those of All Saints, St Mary's and St Andrew's. It was damaged by the London Blitz and demolished around 1955, with its parish split between St Matthias and St Luke's in 1961.

St Luke's Church, Canning Town

St Luke's Church, Canning Town or St Luke's Church, Victoria Docks is a Church of England church, originally housed in a building on Boyd Road in the Royal Docks area of West Ham in east London.Planned by Henry Boyd, vicar of St Mark's Church, Silvertown, St Luke's was consecrated in 1875, with a parish split off from St Mark's. It is in neo-Gothic architecture imitating the medieval Early English style and has a flèche rather than a tower. It later took on St Matthew's Church, Custom House (previously a mission of St Mark's itself). It also created a mission church of its own, the Church of the Ascension (1887–1905), a mission to lascar seamen from 1887 and a mission in Ford Park Road by 1890.

It was badly damaged in 1940 during the London Blitz, though services continued in a garage and then in the church hall. Temporary repairs to the church in 1949 were followed by permanent reconstruction by 1960. The area was also redeveloped in the postwar period as the Keir Hardie Estate, meaning that in 1961 the parish of St Matthew's Church, Custom House and parts of the parishes of Holy Trinity and St Gabriel's were added to that of St Luke's. Deconsecrated in 1985, threatened with demolition in 1993 and closed in 1997, it is now a community centre and health centre. The parish still exists and now worships at a modern building on Ruscoe Road.

St Matthias' Church, Canning Town

St Matthias' Church is a Church of England parish church in Canning Town, east London. The modern building comprises a chapel, community rooms and a home for residents with disabilities.

Star Lane DLR station

Star Lane is a Docklands Light Railway (DLR) station in Canning Town, east London. Located on the Stratford International extension of the Docklands Light Railway between Stratford and Canning Town, it opened on 31 August 2011.

Tidal Basin railway station

Tidal Basin railway station was a railway station near the Royal Victoria Dock, Canning Town, London, on the Eastern Counties and Thames Junction Railway. It opened in 1858, and was between Canning Town and Custom House stations. The station was damaged by bomb damage during the Blitz in 1941 but remained open until closed in 1943 as passenger numbers had fallen resulting from the area suffering from severe bombing damage and never reopened. The area was heavily redeveloped following the War, and today no trace remains; its approximate location is south east of Tarling Road (formerly Alice Street), east of the present day footbridge. Royal Victoria DLR station is located approximately 300 yards east.

It was located between Canning Town station to the west and Custom House station to the east.

Windsor Davies

Windsor Davies (28 August 1930 – 17 January 2019) was a Welsh actor who performed in many films and television shows between 1964 and 2004. Between 1974 and 1981 he played the part of Battery Sergeant Major Williams in the sitcom It Ain't Half Hot Mum. His deep Welsh-accented voice was heard extensively in advertising voice-overs.

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