Brits’ love affair with tea looks unlikely to be slowing down any time soon. So it’s probably no surprise to hear there’s an annual National Tea Day this April (apologies if it’s an important part of your calendar already…).
This year, St Katharine Docks will be hosting a celebration of the mighty cuppa with a tea dance. Following the success of their first tea dance last year, the Docks will be marking National Tea Day, which coincides with the Queen’s 91st birthday. The Ragroof Players will be hosting two tea dances, featuring vintage music from the 1920s to the 1950s, glamorous costumes and stunning dance displays. People of all ages and abilities are invited to join in one of the two-hour participatory tea dances.
Meanwhile, Tom’s Kitchen will be serving Canton tea and homemade lemonade accompanied by a selection of sandwiches, scones and cakes for those feeling peckish between 12-7pm. The Friday World Food Market will also be on site with stalls serving foods with a British twist from 11am-3pm.
- The National Tea Day Tea Dance is on 21 April 2017, with tea dances taking place at 12-2pm and 5-7pm. At St Katharine Docks, 50 St Katharine’s Way, E1W 1LA. Nearest station: Tower Hill or Tower Gateway. For more information, visit the St Kats website.
For a guide to what else is on in London, click here.
To find out about the history of St Katharine Docks, click here.
Situated on the east side of Tower Bridge is a little oasis of calm. Where the boat and pedestrian is king and cars are firmly out of sight and mind. Many tourists don’t even know there’s a relaxing place to eat, shop and drink just moments from the Tower Of London. Over 180 years after it was opened, St Katharine Docks is still hosting boats, as well as being a place to live and be entertained.
The River Thames has always been of huge importance to trade and business in London. After all it is the river that helped the Romans decide where to set up camp and found Londonium. The access to the sea via the Thames estuary made it an attractive prospect. Although we don’t use the river half as much as generations of Londoners before us, the waterways of the capital remain a big draw with tourists and locals for scenic reasons to escape the frenetic city.
The name St Katharine dates back to a Medieval church and hospital, which was founded on the site in the 12th century. Over the years, the population swelled with around 3,000 people living in St Katharine’s, which had its own court, school and almshouses by the late 18th century. However, with the country’s world trade booming, there was growing demand for more docks to add to the ever-expanding Pool of London. In 1825, the 23 acre site was earmarked for development, with the church, hospital and slum houses all cleared to make way for the new dock. Around 1,250 houses and tenements were pulled down, leaving 11,300 inhabitants seeking new accommodation elsewhere.
Scottish engineer Thomas Telford (1757–1834) worked with architect Philip Hardwick (1792-1870) on the docks. Telford created the docks themselves in two basins with a lock to the Thames, while Hardwick designed the buildings and warehouses. At the time, theft was a huge problem for trade companies due to the pattern of workers manually lifting cargo from the boat and transferring it on land to the warehouses a short walk away. The new purpose-built docks meant the boats could be brought right up to the buildings with the cargo lifted straight from the vessels to storage. Out of the 23 acre site, just over 11 acres were used as wet docks. The first stone was laid in May 1827 with 2,500 men building the Docks, which officially opened on 25 October 1828. Also on site was the Dockmasters’ House by the lock, which still stands today.
St Katharine Docks soon became popular for sugar, rum, tea, spices, perfumes, ivory, shells, marble, indigo, wine and brandy, arriving from Europe, Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. Today, one of the only existing warehouses is named Ivory House – a nod to the former docks’ trading history. Despite bringing in a speedy new way to unload ships, it wasn’t long before St Kats found itself being outdated by the Industrial Revolution. Cargo ships were getting larger and simply couldn’t be accommodated at St Kats. In September 1921, explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton (1874-1922) set off from St Katharine’s in his steamship Quest for his last Antarctic voyage. Read the rest of this entry
With speedboats and tourist cruisers the dominant vessels on the River Thames these days, it’s not often Londoners get the chance to see some classic boats. However, this September as part of the Totally Thames festival, St Katharine Docks will be playing host to the Classic Boat Festival.
Docking at central London’s only marina, 40 sail and power vessels will be on display over the weekend of 12-13 September 2015. Visitors will be given the chance to get up close with boats from a bygone era by chatting to the owners and even stepping on board.
As well as the nautical action, there will be plenty of waterside entertainment, including live music from the National Youth Jazz Orchestra Academy, the Sea Shanty Singers and the Dutch Marine Rowing Band. There will also be food and river related stalls and a national maritime museum gallery exhibition. When you fancy a bite to eat, there’s a huge choice of waterside restaurants, including Tom’s Kitchen, Bravas Tapas and White Mulberries.
Totally Thames is a month-long river-related events taking place on the 42-mile stretch of the River Thames. Among the activities taking place are the Royal Greenwich Tall Ships Festival, The Great River Race, walks, archaeological explorations, live music and many more activities.
- St Katharine Docks Classic Boat Festival takes place from 12-13 September 2015 between 11am-5pm. St Katharine Docks, 50 St. Katharine’s Way, Tower Bridge, E1W 1LA. Nearest station: Tower Hill or Tower Gateway (DLR). For more information, visit the St Katharine Docks website or Totally Thames.
For a guide to what else is on in London this month, click here.
Nautical, but nice! Get up close with the yachts and crew ahead of the Clipper round the world yacht race
It’s nearly time for one of the toughest contests of the year – the famous Clipper round-the-world yacht race. And with the big event kicking off in London this Sunday, what better way to celebrate than with a week of nautical fun at St Katharine Docks. The Clipper race features crews of amateur sailors from 40 nationalities racing under the command of professionals.
Ahead of the Clipper launch, the race village will be open for a week (22 – 29 August). Visitors will chance to visit some of the 70ft racing yachts taking part in the Clipper race on the daily free boat tours. There will also be free model yacht racing and Q&A sessions with the crew. From 27 – 29 August there will be paddle boarding sessions, featuring free 30 minute tasters at 11am and 11.45am, following by afternoon classes and yoga paddle boarding (£25 per hour). African drummers, Chinese Lion Dancers and more will be providing the entertainment.
On 30 August, the fleet of 12 yachts will take part in the departure ceremony before parading out of the Docks through Tower Bridge to commence their 40,000 mile trip. At 1pm, the teams will appear on stage for the official departure ceremony, before the fleet departs St Katharine Docks at 2.15pm. At 3.30pm the fleet parades through Tower Bridge into the Upper Pool, before it parades back through Tower Bridge down river at 4pm.
- The race village will be open from 22-29 August, before the race starts on 30 August 2015. Takes place at St Katharine Docks, 50 St. Katharine’s Way, Tower Bridge, E1W 1LA. Nearest station: Tower Hill or Tower Gateway (DLR). For more information, visit the St Katharine Docks website.
For a guide to what else is on in London this month, click here.