London has many unique districts, but perhaps not many could compare to the utter randomness of Trinity Buoy Wharf, an enclave on the Thames with one of the best views of the 02 you could hope to see.
The wharf boasts London’s only remaining lighthouse, the worlds longest running piece of music, a real bonafide American Diner and a really nice smattering of art.
Historically the area has always been isolated, although just a short distance from Canary Wharf the people who lived around there were cut off from the rest of the world on account of the swamp and marsh that distinguished the area. It’s location on the Thames eventually leading to development with a lighthouse, dock and maintenance facilities for the many ships of the Thames being based there. Yet despite this development for many years it would have been easier to travel by river than it would by land, with the marsh and the river often combining to create some rather grim conditions for the residents.
Nowadays, getting there still requires a little bit of effort although even then it’s still just a short 15 minute walk from East India DLR station. The walk itself is not bad and itself a journey through time first passing Virginia Quay from where the first settlers of the American colony of Jamestown set sail and then through the remnants of the old East India Dock, now an RSPB nature reserve.
The Wharf today is packed full of art! From the moment you pass one of the old wharf buoys marking the entrance to the area, to the series of metal sculptures decorating the rather unique container city and the sound of Longplayer, the World’s longest running musical instrument.
Longplayer in particular is rather intriguing, a series of bronze bowls humming away conducted by a master computer, guaranteed not to play the same sequence of sounds for a thousand years. It’s location at the belly of London’s Lighthouse is an intriguing one, not least because longplayer can best be heard from the old lighthouse beacon itself as the sound hums through the building and acoustically culminates at the top.
For food, the wharf offer a couple of options, a converted container cafe continues the theme of turning old shipping containers into workable spaces. Further down, the Fatboys Diner offer visitors the opportunity to sample the experience of a real American Diner at some reasonable prices.
It’s certinaly not the sort of place you’d expect to find, so close to the city. It has a unique vibe and a real arty feel. It’s individuality perhaps as a result of it’s isolation throughout so much of it’s history. Nowadays that isolation is superficial but it still feels like a world away.
Gallery of Trinity Buoy Wharf