Google+ London Architecture Blog: Week 17/13 Feature #10 Museum of London in Docklands

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Week 17/13 Feature #10 Museum of London in Docklands

Museum of London in Docklands
Museum of London in Docklands
Architect: George Gwilt & Son, 2003 conversion by Purcell Miller Tritton
Date Completed: 1802, 2003
Location: West India Quay, London E14.

The former warehouse buildings which house the Museum of London in Docklands line the northern edge of the West India Quay and were built in 1802. The conversion into the museum was designed by Purcell Miller Tritton Architects and was completed in 2003. The museum is part of the larger Museum of London (headquarters in the City of London) and the warehouse building is Grade I listed.

Robert Milligan, a wealthy merchant, led a group of businessmen to plan and fund the construction of the West India Docks and the first warehouses were constructed in 1800-04. The primary purpose of the docks was to enable goods such as sugar, rum and coffee to be imported from the West Indies and then distributed around the country. This is described in further detail inside the museum's 'London, Sugar and Slavery' gallery.

Painting of the docks in 1802.

Extensions were built in the 1860s and as industry grew during the 19th century, the docks became the heart of international imports and exports from around the world. The Port of London Authority acquired the docks in 1909 and during the Blitz during WWII, much of the docklands was bombed including some of the West India Quay. The docks began to decline during the 1960s due to the creation of the shipping container and the gradual reduction of manufacturing in the local area. This led to their closure in the 1980s and the land being transferred to the government.

West India Quay was redeveloped as part of the Docklands regeneration project during the 1980s and is still accessible today for boats, including military vessels. The warehouse buildings have been retained and other new developments for hotels, apartments and shops as well as infrastructure have been added. Other neighbouring warehouse buildings to the museum were converted by Franklin Stafford Architects.

The museum is situated second from the end of a row of warehouses which step down from five storeys to three at the western end. The buildings are constructed from London stock brick and Portland stone. The museum retains the original lifting and loading equipment above the entrance. To either side are windows and doors at ground floor level which look out onto a plaza which surrounds the docks. The 'Floating Bridge' by Future systems, 1996 links the two sides of the Docks and leads into the Canary Wharf development.

West India Quay

Inside the museum, the original timber has been retained and exposed in the structure, floor and ceiling. This is then complimented by steel staircases and services running around the building. The entrance level is open plan with a reception desk directly in front of the main doors and a large spacious café beyond containing exposed brickwork to the rear and side walls. From here, the galleries begin on the first floor and form a path around the building which traces the history of the Docklands and gives detailed information about significant events, developments and people.

Click here for the Museum of London in Docklands website.

No comments:

Post a Comment