When the estate was first built, these docks were still in commercial use. Modernisation, and the deeper docks required by container-based shipping, caused their closure in the mid 60s. They lay unused for over a decade, before they were rebuilt and repurposed as part the program of investment in the estate in the 1980s. Today, the former docks house an extremely well secured marina (where a number of London’s wealthy keep the boats when they’re not not in use) and a watersports centre, in use by the local school as well as a number of major sporting organisations.
Those paying close attention might note that the marina sees a slightly higher than normal number of transient overnight stops.
The Old Printworks
In its heyday, several major newspapers made us of the Redriff print works – the Daily Mail, the Evening Standard and the Metro were all printed or distributed through here, the the print works provided a significant source of local employment until 2012, when the printing was moved out of London. At present, the only printing work that remains here is the Redriff Evening Herald, who have also moved their offices in the same building just two years ago.
The Herald aside, the other buildings that make the print works complex have been converted for a variety of uses. Co-working office space, galleries and event space have taken over the area, which in recent years has played home to fashion shows, product launches, digital conference and electronic music festivals in area’s major nightclub, simply called “The Printworks”.
Stone’s Laundrette and Dry Cleaners started out as a simple, normal laundrette – ten or so industrial size washing machines and a few dryers, that people could drop in and use for a fee, or use the optional drop-off and-collect service.
But that drop-off-and-collect service proved popular. Astoundingly popular, in fact – apparently, people really liked the quality of the service and cleaning that Michael Stone and his daughter provided, enough to allow them to expand to larger premises, hire some more staff, and add the facilities for dry cleaning, as well. (While retaining a dozen of so self-service machines.) These days people from across London come to use Michael’s services, and he’s had to expand to a couple of units in an industrial space on the edge of the old Printworks, and he’s even got a couple of contracts with some of the big service linen providers to hotels.
Weirdly, though, when he tried to open a new facility off the estate in Marylebone to save some of his customers a journey, it was a dismal flop – people claimed that they did a better job in the Redriff facility, even thought Michael swore he’d overseen the work personally, and that it was identical in every respect.
But however big the service side of his business gets, Michael and his daughter can still be found staffing the serve-yourself side of the business most of the time – that’s where they started out, and the business they clearly prefer, and certainly the rest of the business doesn’t seem to be hurting for having been delegated to other staff most of the time.
The Dog’s Home
The Redriff Dog’s Home is a good deal less famous than it’s counterpart further up the river in Battersea, but if you ask any of the volunteer staff that work there, they would tell you that they that’d because the Redriff home is doing harder work. Redriff Dog’s Home specialises in the rehabilitation and rehoming of abused animals – particularly those animals that have been bred for violence. Whenever illegal dog fights are broken up in London, or the police arrest the kind of scrap merchant that has trained particularly bloodthirsty guard dogs to roam their yard at night, it’s Redriff Dog’s Home that takes in the unwanted and the unloved.
Sadly, it’s not like they find a much warmer reception, as the Dog’s Home has been the subject of ongoing noise complaints for most of the last decade, as well as the occasionally mostly-spurious complaint about them being dangerous for public safety. The matter may be about to come to a head in the near future, as the Association is rumoured to be gearing up for an actual lawsuit that would force them to relocate out of the area.
At the point where the river bends sharply to the south, defining the eastern edge of the peninsula, stands one of the oddest public sculptures in London – a life-size bronze statue of a gibbet surmounted by ram’s skull with impressively curled horns. What makes this perhaps odder still is that the statue is a recreation of the two different things that once stuff upon this site, to mark the spot known as Cuckold’s point. There are a variety of stories about how the spot got it’s name, but the one that seems to have stuck is a story of King John having been much taken with a local millers wife, and awarding the man land in the area in exchange for his not raising any objection to the King and his wife leading him to wear a cuckold’s horns.
These days, the site marks the start point for the procession that begins The Horn Fair and The Lantern Parade.
Quebec Builder’s Merchants
Named in an odd sort of tribute, this builders merchants is located on part of the site of the old Quebec Deal Yards – “deal” being the name for the Scandinavian timber that was the area’s major through the area prior to the second world war. The Quebec Yards were bombed during the first night of the Blitz, and over a million tons of timber went up in the single most intense fire ever seen in Britain.Paragraph
Local legend has it that the fire was so hot, the devil himself came to watch the blaze, and that he sometimes returns to the site on the anniversary of the bombing, hoping that history will repeat itself.