Next autumn JTP will become the first permanent occupier of London Dock, an exciting new cultural quarter in Wapping by St George.
We will be using our unique approach of Understanding, Engaging and Creating to shape our future workspace in the historic Pennington Street Warehouse, a key building in the London Dock masterplan which has been closed to the public for 200 years. In the coming weeks we will take a closer look at each stage of this process through a series of news articles.
The first in our London Dock series focuses on the process of understanding and takes a look at the rich history of the London Dock and Pennington Street Warehouse.
The London Dock site was previously occupied by News International and was home to The Times, Sunday Times, The Sun and the News of the World for almost 30 years. Prior to this, the area has always had a strong maritime association, but changed radically in the 19th Century when the London Docks were built.
The London Dock was one of the first enclosed commercial docks in London and specialised in fortified luxury commodities such as ivory, spices, coffee and cocoa as well as wine, spirits and wool, for which warehouses and wine cellars were constructed.
The London Docks occupied a total area of about 90 acres, consisting of Western and Eastern docks linked by the short Tobacco Dock. The Western Dock was connected to the Thames by the Hermitage Basin to the south west and Wapping Basin to the south. The Eastern Dock connected to the Thames via the Shadwell Basin to the east.
The Eastern and Western basins were filled in during the 1970’s and Spirit Quay and Tobacco Dock remain, linking The Thames to Shadwell Basin.
Street view of the Pennington Street Warehouse
Pennington Street Warehouse is located to the northern edge of London Dock. The Grade II listed building was constructed in phases between 1804 and 1806, and the warehouse is the only substantial building of many that were built during that time to survive.
The two-storey brick structure, 315m in length, is one of the largest surviving Georgian warehouses in London and was designed by the Dock’s surveyor, engineer Daniel Alexander.
Interior view of the historical warehouse
The warehouse is built of stock brick with a timber roof, and was designed for the storage of imported goods held in bond, including spirits stored in the vaulted lower level. It became known as the ‘rum warehouse’.
Apart from the partial reconstruction of the roof following WWII bomb damage, the warehouse was largely unaltered when the Dock closed in 1969. When News International acquired the Dock site for its new print works in 1979, the building was retained and converted for offices and the extensive services required by the print works.
The building is unique in that the Pennington Street elevation is one of the last archetypal and distinctive streetscapes left in the Docklands, whilst the vaults are without comparison in London today.
In the next of our London Dock series we will look at the collaborative process which will shape JTP’s new workspace and the final vision for our new studios.
Panoramic interior view of the warehouse today
Images courtesy of the Port of London Authority Archives, Museum of London Docklands.