East India Dock Basin
Enhancing the southern most site for wildlife and residence
East India Dock basin is the southern most site and a gateway to the rest of the Lee Valley Regional Park. A joint vision with London Borough of Tower Hamlets has been developed and seeks to enhance they last remaining dock from the East India Trading Company.
History of the site
East India Dock Basin is the largest remaining part of the early 19th century East India Docks complex. Owned by Lee Valley Regional Park Authority it has been identified as a site to be enhanced to fulfil its potential as a heritage resource and nature reserve.
The East India Company was founded in 1600 and came to be a powerful trading company that essentially established British rule in India during the 18th and 19th centuries. The company docked at Blackwall for many years and in 1804-06 a large dedicated dock was built by engineers Rennie and Walker for the company’s trade. The East India Company had sole use of the docks until 1833 when they were disbanded and from then on the East India Docks were used for all trades. The dock Basin was gradually extended and new locks built, but the 20th century saw the decline of the London docklands and the East India Docks closed in 1967. The Import and Export Docks were gradually filled in and now house residential and office blocks. The Basin was turned into a nature reserve by the London Docklands Development Corporation and has been in the ownership of Lee Valley Regional Park Authority since 1998.
Situated opposite the O2 arena with superb vista’s along the River Thames the Basin currently consists of an open area of water surrounded by historic dock walls and a Grade II listed lock into the River Thames. The site also maintains a salt marsh, reed bed and areas of woodland.
The site is significant for several reasons. It has particularly high significance for the local community, who value it as a quiet haven away from city life. It is also important as an ecological site with a rare urban reed bed and riverside group of trees that attract a variety of flora and fauna. The site is important because of its historical associations with the East India Company, links with the development of the London docks and with other historic events. It is significant as the largest surviving portion of the once much larger East India Docks. The ecological and historical aspects of the site are an important source for learning and education.
Silting of the Basin is having a negatively effect on the wildlife attracted to the site. There are a lack of visitor facilities on site which is hampering the use of the site, particularly by schools groups. The presentation and interpretation of the site is average. The Basin is subject to increased development on neighbouring sites
In early 2020 following pressure from developments around the site, the Authority and London Borough of Tower Hamlets formed a partnership to look at how improvements could be made to the basin. A shared vision was developed which laid out the aspirations for the site and drew on recent consultations with local residents. This shared vision was published in June 2021 and can be read here: Shared Vision.
The shared vision and Conservation Management Plan outline a range of opportunities to improve the site. Key areas are:
Addressing the siltation
Restoration of the dock gates
A solution to reduce or stop further siltation
Improved entrances and way-finding
Better visitor facilities, including toilet provision, a covered area or a café
Enhanced amenities would improve the offer for schools groups, volunteer opportunities and draw general visits from members of the public
Funding options for this project including a Heritage Lottery bid are being explored and we hope to develop a full feasibility study on this exciting project during 2021.
Head of Projects and Funding Delivery Lee Valley Regional Park Authority said:
“We are very excited to be seeking to progress this project and pleased to be working with Tower Hamlets in partnership to deliver key improvements to this valuable open space in the borough.”
On 11 September 2021, East India Dock Basin hosted two events as part of Open City Festival. Please see the attached document with details about the event and feedback from visitors.
This page will be updated with further information as we have it.