Before the nineteenth century the Isle of Dogs was fit only to pasture cows and sheep. While London expanded to become an industrial metropolis, the Island remained rural. Its peace was disturbed only slightly by the opening of the West India Docks in 1802. Then Margaret Lauretta, Countess of Glengall, inherited her father’s land on the Island.
But what to do with it? This low-lying marshland needed exceptional development by an exceptional developer.
In 1842 William Cubitt – with Euston Station and Covent Garden Market to his credit – signed the first of three agreements to develop the Countess’s land. He envisaged a mixed development of housing and industry.
Riverside industry embraced shipbuilding and fertiliser, paint mixing and oil storage. Inland, housing gave opportunities to all sorts of people to increase their investments. Later it would help develop a plan to spread the vote more widely.
Stories of bankruptcy, flooding and a terrible explosion lurk behind today’s placid estates of late twentieth-century private housing.
Most of the original development has disappeared to post-War development and changes in the economy. But we take in a representative selection of surviving buildings to tell the story of how Cubitt Town woke the sleepy Island.
Details – Cubitt Wakes the Isle of Dogs
Please go to What’s On? to see whether this tour is currently on offer, and for booking details.
MEET: In front of Jack Dash House, 2 Lawn House Close (on the corner of Lawn House Close and Marsh Wall) – the nearest station is South Quay Docklands Light Railway Station.
Duration: Two hours (approximately).
If you have any questions about this walk, please contact me
Picture of William Cubitt sourced from Wikimedia Commons; map courtesy of Ordnance Survey