Why St Katharine Docks is a must-visit London area!

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It’s incredible how London always reveals new hidden gems that you never imagined existed! I’ve discovered a tranquil haven just steps away from the bustling Tower Bridge.

Today, DOYOUSPEAKLONDON takes you on a peaceful stroll through St Katharine Docks, right in the heart of the city!

St Katharine Docks: a rich history

St Katharine Docks took their name from the former hospital of St Katharine’s by the Tower, built in the 12th century, which stood on the site. 

The area has become iconic as Central London’s unique marina, offering a quiet oasis next to the hustle of bustle of the touristic attractions nearby, like the Tower of London or Tower Bridge. But it was a bustling commercial dock from 1828 to 1968. 

The Thomas Telford-designed dock (named after Scottish engineer Thomas Telford who built it) opened in 1828. It was once among the busiest ports in the UK, celebrated for its handling of luxury goods such as sugar, rum, spices, perfumes, wines, and tea.

The construction of warehouses close to the waterfront allowed for swift unloading of imports like tea from India and wool from Australia, New Zealand, and the Falkland Islands, significantly speeding up the storage process. 

The dock’s trading prosperity started to decline only when trading monopolies weakened and competitive pricing became essential for sustaining business.

St Katharine Docks’ revival in the 20th century

After the area was heavily bombed during the Blitz (1940-41), leaving it in ruins, St Katharine Docks were officially closed in 1968. 

However, in 1973 the Tower Gaunt Hotel, built in place of some of the old warehouses, created an attraction with great views of the city, and opened the docks up to public interest once more. 

Since then, the docks have evolved into a vibrant social hub near The City.

Notable boats regularly moored in the docks, like currently this sailing boat named Gladys
Ivory House, a 19th-century structure in St Katharine Docks

St Katharine Docks: a vibrant social hub today

The area has become a sought-after destination featuring contemporary office spaces, upscale residences, a selection of boutique shops, and a multitude of restaurants offering you a wide range of food options, from quick snacks to fine dining. 

It’s a real pleasure to stroll along the quays and through the passages. The waterways give you some really cool views and different angles. And it’s the perfect place for boat-spotting!

The Dickens Inn, originally a warehouse in the docks, was converted into a pub in 1976 by Cedric Charles Dickens, the grandson of author Charles Dickens. He expressed that his grandfather would have appreciated the Inn, given that his literary works are rich with characters and scenes intimately connected to the area.

The area also hosts big exhibitions, like The Princess Diana exhibit, in Dockside Vaults, which is open daily until 2nd September 2024. 

And every Friday, the Docks hosts the popular World Food Market, serving some of the capital’s best street food.

I went to St Katharine Docks twice in the last few months, observing the area in different weather conditions. Whatever the climatic conditions, the place always arouses the same enthusiasm: it’s a perfect hidden gem in the heart of London!

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I hope you’ve enjoyed discovering the iconic St Katharine Docks. If you’re planning a visit to the area soon, I’d love to hear about it on DOYOUSPEAKLONDON!


To go further:

St Katharine Docks: 50 St. Katharine’s Way, London E1W 1LA

St Katharine Docks website

The Dickens Inn opening hours:

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday – 12pm – 10pm
Thursday, Friday – 9am – 11pm
Saturday – 9am-11.30pm
Sunday – 11am -10pm

Address: Marble Quay, St Katharine’s Way, London E1W 1UH

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