Cities – Wapping, London

Cities – Wapping, London

Wapping, London

Situated close to the City and London Bridge, Wapping has changed a great deal over time. Its proximity to the river means it has always been home to sailors, dockers and their families, as well as immigrants from other countries who arrived and never left.

Before the Second World War, much of Wapping consisted of cramped terraced streets, many of whose inhabitants worked in the docks. The area was heavily bombed during the war and many lives were lost. As a result of bomb damage new estates and tower blocks were built, but these soon developed social problems including crime and decay.

In 1981 the London Docklands Development Corporation was set up to improve the area’s housing and transport links and to regenerate the area. Although controversial, most people believe the scheme was a success, in particular the Docklands Light Railway, which connects the City to the Docklands airport and provides vital links to local people.

By the mid-1980s the area began to change again as new industry arrived and exclusive new homes were built along the river. If you go to Wapping today you can still see some of the old terraced streets, high rise blocks, and expensive new apartments, all adjacent to each other. Although adjacent to the Square Mile, this is still one of the poorest areas in the UK.

Wapping is close to the A13, one of the main routes into London, and has long suffered from heavy traffic, leading to safety issues and pollution. In 2003 London introduced a ‘Congestion charge’, which meant that anyone who drove into the centre had to pay a fee. Wapping is outside the zone, and some people now use the area to park their cars before travelling on into London.