The Silverton

Far East Consortium Dragon Boat Race generates charity funds

Docklands Sailing And Watersports contest raises money for the East End Community Foundation

A team competes in the Far East Consortium Dragon Boat Race, flailing paddles at the waters of Millwall Outer Dock
Teams competed on the waters of Millwall Outer Dock on the Isle Of Dogs

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The developer behind Consort Place on the Isle Of Dogs hosted an event this month at the Docklands Sailing And Watersports Centre to raise much-needed funds for local charities. 

Far East Consortium (FEC) – which recently welcomed the first residents to Aspen, the tower at the heart of its scheme – organised a Dragon Boat Festival on the waters of Millwall Outer Dock this month.

Teams from the developer and its partners – including Knight Frank, NHBC, Hawkins Brown, Dorsett Hospitality International, The Media People, Dex Construction, TP Bennett, Kohler, McBains, JRL, HTA and BB7 – did battle on the water with paddles and sweat, for glory, medals and a trophy.

Consultancy firm WSP won the day, with its team – Stroke Of Genius – topping the podium. All proceeds from the event will go to the East End Community Foundation (EECF), which gives grants to charities across the local area.

Two dragon boats race in front of Far East Consortium's Aspen At Consort Place tower in east London
The teams competed in front of FEC’s Aspen At Consort Place Tower (centre)

grants for good causes

“FEC is a patron of our Life Chances Campaign, which means it has committed £60,000 so far and is hopefully going to come on board to support this for the next three years,” said EECF campaign director Sally Bateson.

“It’s all about creating lasting change.

“We’ve been looking to raise more money so we can give bigger grants over longer periods of time to support the grassroots organisations we work with who don’t have the resources or profile to find the funds themselves.”

Image shows a woman with brown hair in a green dress – CEO of the East End Community Foundation, Tracy Walsh
Tracy Walsh, CEO of the East End Community Foundation

where the Far East Consortium money goes

EECF CEO Tracy Walsh added: “We focus on youth unemployment and wellbeing, pension poverty and isolation and digital inequality – we put a lot of money into these areas.

“For example, with unemployment, young people might feel like big organisations aren’t for them but they will go to a less glamorous youth club next door.

“We’re funding a person to tackle the problem in those settings.

“We are also providing money for a lot of holiday programs to aid wellbeing – giving young people food, physical activity and safe places to be.

“With pension poverty, we’ve invested about £80,000 to train front line workers to help older people claim benefits that they are entitled to.

“It’s been nine months and we’ve already seen £400,000 of money go to people who are eligible for it.

“There’s millions of pounds of unclaimed Pension Credits and we thought we should do somthing to help people get it.  

“On digital equality, we’re now working in primary schools to help connect low income families.

“They get 12 months free broadband, a laptop and training on how to stay safe online and help their kids with homework.

“We’ve connected more than 600 so far and we want to boost that figure by 200 by the end of the year.

“In Tower Hamlets we were just shocked by how many homes don’t have any digital connection – it’s around 50,000.

“We’ve got the highest level of child poverty in the UK here and the highest level of pension poverty. If organisations all do their own thing, the impact can be diluted.

“What we’re saying with Life Chances is that if we all work together, it’s easier to make a difference and also easier for the charities, who only have to apply to one funder rather than dealing with lots of different ones.”

Image shows a man in a black baseball cap and T-Shirt with orange Far East Consortium logos – it's Bruno Almeida Santos, FEC's development director
FEC development director Bruno Almeida Santos at the even

Far East Consortium: a question of values

Far East Consortium development director Bruno Almeida Santos said the company’s involvement with the EECF and donating to its Life Chances Campaign was really about the business’ core values.

He said: “We’ve been trying to arrange this event for three years, so we’re very pleased that it’s happened and that we could attract these organisations to see the work of the foundation.

“Hopefully we can make this a tradition, especially as it’s a dragon boat race and we’re a Hong Kong developer.

“It’s very important for us as a company to support the EECF. I think some organisations do things as a tick-box exercise but we want to do way more than that.

“This isn’t about our obligations to an S106 agreement, but actually contributing to the foundation, including the joy of losing to the children who were racing as part of one of the teams.

“You know, when you see the smiles on their faces, that you’re making a difference because it’s a day they will never forget.

“Hosting it at the Docklands Sailing And Watersports Centre was a case of the stars aligning.

Racers relax with barbecue and drinks at Far East Consortium's Dragon Boat Race on the Isle Of Dogs
Teams enjoy a well-earned break at Far East Consortium’s Dragon Boat Race at the Docklands Sailing And Watersports Centre

“It’s one of the best settings to view Aspen – our flagship development in London – from and to bring everyone together here. 

“It’s been under construction for five years and it’s been a challenging scheme with the pandemic, but we’ve managed to crunch the numbers and overcome the issues. 

“I think a lot of that has actually been on the human side, with people working together to resolve the problems.

“It’s been about communication and working together and this is about celebrating that as well as supporting those around us.

“Actually being on the ground with the EECF means you get a completely different experience – you get to see the outcome of that support and we’re really, really happy about that.

“We’ll have to do the race again with even more people.”

In addition to hosting a raffle, all proceeds raised on the day, including ticket sales have gone towards the foundation’s work.

“The day also provided plenty of scope for networking and team building for participants.

“It felt really great,” said Lovisa Claesson, graduate consultant at WSP and a member of winning team “Stroke Of Genius”. 

“To be honest we all worked within different areas of the business, so didn’t really know each other before the contest. But we got the women in the front and the men following.”

10 people pose in celebration of winning the Far East Consortium Dragon Boat Race
Winning team Stroke Of Genius

key details: Far East Consortium’s Aspen At Consort Place

Homes at Aspen At Consort Place by Far East Consortium – just off Marsh Wall – are available now. Prices start at £550,000.

The EECF is also based on the Isle Of Dogs and offers a wide range of ways for companies to get involved with good causes locally – including supporting its Life Chances campaign.

Find out more about the development here

Find our more about the work of EECF here

Read more: East Bank director Tamsin Ace on collaboration in Stratford

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- Jon Massey is co-founder and editorial director of Wharf Life and writes about a wide range of subjects in Canary Wharf, Docklands and east London - contact via jon.massey@wharf-life.com
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University Of Sunderland grants Jonathan Ganesh honorary degree

Docklands Victims Association co-founder and president recognised for his supportive works

Images shows a man, Jonathan Ganesh, flanked by a woman and another man all in academic gowns, smiling at the camera
Jonathan Ganesh, centre, is presented with an honorary fellowship by University Of Sunderland chancellor, Leanne Cahill and vice-chancellor David Bell

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It was Friday, February 9, 1996.

In Germany, a group of physicists had just managed to create a single atom of the superheavy element Copernicum for the very first time.

They’d fired zinc particles at a piece of lead in a particle accelerator to synthesise the substance, which lasted just 0.24 milliseconds before its radioactive decay. 

With an international team, the breakthrough was a triumph of collaboration and cooperation – an expression of the extraordinary things humans can achieve when working together for the good of the species.

Image shows members of the crowd clapping at the university's graduation ceremony
The ceremony took place at Southwark Cathedral

a tragedy in Docklands

But that same day is remembered in east London, throughout the UK and beyond for a very different reason.

At just after 7pm, the IRA detonated a massive bomb on the Isle Of Dogs at South Quay, killing two people, injuring more than 100 and causing £150million of damage.  

For Jonathan Ganesh, a law student and promising boxer, who was working as a security guard in the area at the time, it changed everything.

But despite suffering life-altering injuries and the challenges of recovery, the east London resident has been determined to forge something positive from his horrific experience.

As co-founder and honorary president of the Docklands Victims Association (DVA) he’s been a tireless champion for those affected by that atrocity.

He’s also been heavily involved in offering support to and standing in solidarity with all those affected by acts of terror around the world.

Constantly looking to help those around him, more recently he accepted a Pandemic Response Medal for his work as an NHS responder, delivering food and medication to local residents.

On Wednesday, June 12, the University Of Sunderland In London, which is based at South Quay, awarded Jonathan an honorary fellowship at its graduation ceremony in Southwark Cathedral – recognising his work alongside the achievements of hundreds of students collecting their degrees. 

A University Of Sunderland In London student in a mortar board and gown celebrates receiving her degree
The University Of Sunderland In London also awarded hundreds of students degrees at the event

praise from the University Of Sunderland

Vice chancellor of the University Of Sunderland, Sir David Bell, said: “We are delighted to honour Jonathan in this way and this is truly an inspirational moment for us as an organisation.

“We know, for people who become victims, it’s hard to rebuild their lives.

“But Jonathan is the most wonderful example of someone who has not only done that, but has actually helped to support literally thousands of people to rebuild their lives through the work he has done, not only in this country but around the world.

“I hope our graduates will follow his example and do things that will make the world a better place.” 

South Quay has gone on to great prosperity with office blocks and some of the tallest residential towers in London rising on the strip of land directly opposite Canary Wharf.

Apt then, that one of the organisations now based there is making this award.

University Of Sunderland In London students celebrate by throwing their mortar boards in the air at Southwark Cathedral
Students celebrate receiving their degrees at the event

a fitting tribute

“I’m quite overwhelmed, actually,” said Jonathan after the ceremony.

“This award from the University Of Sunderland In London is a fitting tribute to all of the victims – especially Inam Bashir and John Jeffries, who lost their lives.

“This is recognition for me but also for the DVA and the work we do in Tower Hamlets and globally.

“This has been a day I’ll never forget. I’m happy to receive any awards, but this is something special. 

“We plan to do a lot more work and help as many people as we can here and around the world.

“We successfully managed to secure a pension for the IRA’s victims from the Government as it was unfair to leave these people with no financial support when those from other countries such as America were receiving money.

“It’s very touching for the university to recognise us locally and that what we do has global reach extending out from here.”

Image shows Alan Hardie and Jonathan Ganesh celebrating his honorary fellowship
Jonathan Ganesh with University Of Sunderland In London director Alan Hardie, left

the University Of Sunderland In London’s full citation

Before an assembly of students, their relatives, staff and guests, University Of Sunderland in London director Alan Hardie gave the following address:

Chancellor, vice-chancellor, and distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, I am privileged to present Jonathan Ganesh for the conferment of an Honorary Fellowship.

Our honorary guest today was born in Westminster in the late 1960s to an Irish mother, who worked as a chef, and a human rights lawyer father from Sri Lanka.

Jonathan spent his early childhood in County Limerick, leaving him with a deep connection to Ireland.

At the age of seven, he moved back to the UK, settling in the Docklands area.

Following his father’s ethos that “no education is ever wasted”, in the mid-1990s, Jonathan was studying law at college while working as a security guard in South Quay.

On February 9, 1996, though, Jonathan’s life changed forever as a result of the horrific IRA bombing of the South Quay Plaza building – which he described as “like being hit by a meteorite”. 

Despite facing life-altering injuries and a daunting mental and physical recovery, Jonathan was determined “to turn something bad into something very good”. 

Coming together with fellow survivors and their relatives, the need for ongoing support for bombing victims was clear and, in spring 1996, the Docklands Victims Association was formed.

For nearly 30 years, as the association’s honorary president and co-founder, Jonathan has led efforts in supporting and providing resources for victims and those affected by terrorism, in London and worldwide. 

The association has also lobbied government leaders to keep the rights of victims of terrorism on the agenda, as they can too often be forgotten once the media limelight fades. 

As a long-term Docklands resident, Jonathan remembers the South Quay area in the 1990s when it was mainly deserted docks.

Since then, he has witnessed its transformation into a commercial hub.

With the University Of Sunderland In London’s opening, in 2012, being praised by Jonathan for “enhancing the area’s social fabric and helping it thrive further”.

With a strong desire to support his local community during the pandemic, Jonathan became a volunteer NHS responder in 2020, collecting patients from hospital and delivering food and medication to local residents, which included fellow victims of terrorism. 

In recognition of these efforts, Jonathan received a Pandemic Response Medal in September 2023 – to which he can now add an Honorary Fellowship from the University Of Sunderland In London.

Chancellor, vice-chancellor, and distinguished guests, I present Jonathan Ganesh for an Honorary Fellowship.

Find out more about the university here and the Docklands Victims Association here

Read more: East Bank director Tamsin Ace on collaboration in Stratford

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- Jon Massey is co-founder and editorial director of Wharf Life and writes about a wide range of subjects in Canary Wharf, Docklands and east London - contact via jon.massey@wharf-life.com
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Ben Goldsmith set for CrimeLandTown preview at The Pen Theatre

Affectionate spoof of mob movies is set for month-long run at JustTheTonic for the Edinburgh Fringe

Image shows a smiling man with blue eyes and red hair in a black and white check jacket and white T-shirt in front of Billingsgate Fish Market's red brick buildings
Comedian Ben Goldsmith, also founder and director of Goldsmith Communications

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Like many involved in the murky world of organised crime, Ben Goldsmith leads a double life.

By day, he’s founder and director of Goldsmith Communications – a public relations consultancy specialising in serving tech and venture capital clients.

But, by night, he can be found indulging his other passion – trying to make people laugh.

“Comedy is never a fork in the road decision – as a kid you know you’re a bit of an idiot and that plays out at school,” said Ben. “You just have it in you.

“I was used to teachers telling me off – that we should be getting on with maths rather than telling jokes.

“But my A-Level theatre studies teacher, Coral Walton at Monk’s Walk School in Welwyn Garden City, just thought it was great – that I was good at these things and she encouraged me.

“I don’t come from a family of performing people and it was Coral who, as a director at the local theatre, told me I should audition for a play she was putting on.

“This was never on my radar and I thought: ‘No way’ – it just wasn’t cool at 16.

“But she insisted and even drove me to the audition.

“I got the part and then, up until the age of 21, I did a bunch of acting stuff alongside university, where I worked on student papers and got into the world of journalism and PR.”

Comedian Ben Goldsmith mock-punches himself in front of an air vent to promote his show CrimeLandTown
Ben plays all the characters in his show CrimeLandTown

a move into comms

Ben’s career in communications then took over, seeing him move through various roles including running the PR operation for Canary Wharf’s tech community, Level39.

But he remained interested in the performing arts and especially comedy.

“Every August I’d go to the Edinburgh Fringe and I loved it,” he said. “It was like my perfect theme park, seeing comedians I liked and discovering new performers.”

After five years concentrating on his career, an encounter with Graham Dickson’s improv show at the festival sparked something in Ben and he returned to London, enrolled on a comedy class and started performing again.

“For years I did improvisation alongside my work,” he said.

“When I was 27 I set up Goldsmith Communications and the comedy was incredibly helpful because, when you’re setting up a business, every day is completely new and you have to adapt to it.

“The other brilliant thing about improv is that there are no lines to learn, so it fits in if you’re busy. It’s a huge part of my life – I met my wife through comedy.”

Ben narrows his eyes and peers at teh camera with his mouth half open
Ben Goldsmith says his show is an affectionate spoof of mob movies

Ben Goldsmith on his love for mob movies

The success of his PR business means Ben has a bit more freedom now to once again pursue comedy and he’s indulging another of his passions – Mafia movies – in a move away from improv.

“I’m making a show and taking it up to Edinburgh, which is massive,” he said.

“I took a piece called Steve’s Last Day to the Prague Fringe, which was all about a copper’s final shift with all the action taking place in the village hall.

“I did it six times and it went down really well, but I decided to put it aside because I knew what I really wanted to do.

“I’ve always loved mob movies.

“The characters are so much larger than life – they’re such a bunch of goofballs – so you can play with those stereotypes.

“I’ve been working on CrimeLandTown for the last year or so, building it up and presenting it as a work in progress.

“If you enjoy Mafia movies, you’ll enjoy the show.

“The idea is the audience is involved in what’s happening – you’ll always be a part of what’s going on.

“You might be part of a heist that one of my characters is leading, or guests in a club.

“You’ll meet mob bosses, the FBI and a bar singer who gets in too deep, then wants to clear his name.”

Comedian Ben Goldmsmith raises a finger in a mock salute while making a funny face
CrimeLandTown will have several previews in London before transferring to Edinburgh

playing all the parts in CrimeLandTown

For Ben, the show is a labour of love, poking fun at a genre rich in tropes and silliness, but from a place of respect.

Playing all the parts himself, it’s structured as a series of sketches that all combine to tell a story of wise guys and dodgy accents.

“I describe it as an affectionate spoof,” he said.

“People are familiar with these movies, which are often a bit like a high wire act because while they are about serious topics, many of them are also super funny.

“If you’re parodying anything, it’s important to work out what people already know – if you’re a nerd about those things, you’ve got to be aware how geeky you are.

“I’ve watched the movies and the TV shows, so I know what will be familiar to people who like the films, but hopefully a lot of the stuff will be funny to those who are not so familiar.

“In the show, the main character – a bar singer who always wanted to be a wise guy – sees the impending heist as a chance to live his dream of becoming a mobster.

“We’ve all had dreams and made compromises, so this guy takes a singing job in a mob-adjacent industry – then gets his chance to become part of it and it all ends one way or another.

“Of course, people who like the genre don’t want to see me take the piss out of them.

CrimeTownLand just aims to celebrate the funny things about them. “

Ben Goldsmith wears a pair of sunglasses and makes a silly face in Canary Wharf while promoting his new show CrimeLandTown
Ben says, like those in organised crime, he’s always wanted to push against the everyday

Ben Goldsmith on transgressing

“When you watch a mob movie, everyone in it is rejecting the conventional,” said Ben.

“They’re living outside the legal norms and everyone is transgressing. There’s a thrill in that.

“Personally, I’ve always wanted to push against the everyday too.

“Comedy is funny when people are trying to skewer the world and look at everything from a sideways perspective.

“Being at Level39, I was around a lot of business founders and it dawned on me that many of them just wanted to kick the crap out of the nine-to-five and do their own thing. 

“Similarly, people doing comedy want to see what’s out there and then to try and bend or break it, just like the characters in mob movies.

“Starting my own business totally changed my life.

“It’s now given me the time and the bandwidth to create shows and do these festivals.

“There’s a lot to do, but it works if you plan things.

“I know a bunch of comedians who are working and went into it without a safety net, but I needed to have the security of having the career side sorted.

“Right now I just love that I’m able to do it.

“When I first went up to the Fringe I didn’t know anyone who was performing.

“I wasn’t doing improv and my local theatre days were behind me.

“However, the people I met up there ultimately put me in the position to make this show now. Compared to others, it’s tiny – a 60-person room for 24 days in August.

“But hopefully it will be a step on the way to the next thing, whatever that is. 

“Either way, it’s been a dream to take a show to Edinburgh – it’s worth a go and it might just pay off.

“After the Fringe, I’d love to take it to more places round the neighbourhood.

“I’m keen to keep going because it’s just a really fun thing to do.”

So, you’ve got the dates. Just remember, don’t forget about it.

our thing

Ben Goldsmith’s CrimeLandTown will be performed at The Pen Theatre in South Bermondsey on July 11, 2024, at 7pm. Tickets cost £8.30.

Ben Goldsmith will also be performing his show at Watford Pump House on July 20, 2024, and Aces And Eights in Tufnell Park on July 25, 2024, before taking it to the Edinburgh Fringe at JustTheTonic from August 1-25, 2024.

Find out more about the show here

Read more: East Bank director Tamsin Ace on collaboration in Stratford

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- Jon Massey is co-founder and editorial director of Wharf Life and writes about a wide range of subjects in Canary Wharf, Docklands and east London - contact via jon.massey@wharf-life.com
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The Upper Lofts are unveiled at Canary Wharf’s 8 Harbord Square

Open-plan, top-floor apartments go on sale at New York-inspired Wood Wharf residential building

Image shows the view from a terrace at 8 Harbord Square, overlooking The O2 and Greenwich Peninsula
The Upper Lofts sit on the top floor of 8 Harbord Square

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The residential properties contained on the lower levels of 8 Harbord Square are a brave, bold statement.

Presented almost completely open-plan (you do get walled off bathrooms), they recall Docklands’ warehouses with more than a nod, stylistically, to the red-brick structures of New York’s Meatpacking District.

But while the flavour is of industrial buildings cleverly converted for residential use, the 11-storey tower is newly built, meaning it comes with none of the hassle or dodgy bodges that can plague refurbishment projects.

Instead, the exposed concrete ceilings, black metal framed windows and cast iron radiators are all carefully thought-through design statements contained within a thoroughly modern structure.

Image shows a space dressed with a green sofa, marble table and various green and blue soft furnishings
The apartments offer a completely open-plan design with industrial details

Capping the whole thing off, developer Canary Wharf Group has now launched a pair of apartments on the building’s top floor.

The Upper Lofts, both priced at £1,950,000, feature internal living space of 1,400sq ft and feature wrap-around terraces of more than 1,000 sq ft. 

Properties feature fully-fitted kitchens with stainless steel units and counter tops as well as Siemens appliances.

Bathrooms come with free standing baths, double basins and black-framed, walk-in showers.

Image shows a stainless steel kitchen in one of The Upper Lofts at 8 Harbord Sqaure with a marble table and breakfast bar in the foreground
The 8 Harbord Square homes come with fully fitted stainless steel kitchens

a singular offering at 8 Harbord Square

Canary Wharf Group director of residential sales, Melanie Conway, said: “The expression ‘one-of-a-kind’ is sometimes overused, but in this instance, The Upper Lofts represent ‘two-of-a-kind’ apartments not seen before in London. 

“Their positioning within 8 Harbord Square and the wider Canary Wharf estate gives them views of iconic surrounding landmarks, which previously you would only have seen from some of our tallest residential buildings.

“With vast wrap-around terraces and totally open plan living spaces, they have been designed to take advantage of these views and the natural light that floods the spaces, giving residents the most incredible sunrises and sunsets. 

“8 Harbord Square marks the final building in our residential portfolio on the estate, meaning it’s the last opportunity to own a piece of the Wharf’s rich history and to be a part of the incredible transformation that has taken place here.”

Image shows chairs and coffee tables in The Upper Lofts show apartment
Residents are free to configure and dress their apartment however they like

an emerging neighbourhood

Part of Canary Wharf’s Wood Wharf development, 8 Harbord Square is the final building in Canary Wharf Group’s scheme to feature homes for private sale.

Further residential projects will fall under its wholly-owned subsidiary Vertus, which boasts an extensive portfolio of homes to live in via all-inclusive rental deals.

Wood Wharf itself is rapidly becoming established as an area to visit with restaurants such as Dishoom, Hawksmoor, MMy Wood Wharf, Emilia’s Crafted Pasta and Roe attracting a steady stream of visitors.

Third Space recently opened a new site locally, adding Hot Yoga, Reformer Pilates and a new 20m swimming pool to its Canary Wharf offering, while creative companies such as Qube, Vow Studio and Broadwick also now call the neighbourhood home.

The Cube, a competitive socialising experience is set to open nearby, while Harbord Square itself now boasts a vet, GP surgery, convenience store and a sports hall and gym complex for residents to investigate. 

Image shows a terrace at 8 Harbord Square with views of the Canary Wharf skyline in the background
The Upper Lofts feature wrap-around terraces with views over London

key details – 8 Harbord Square

The Upper Lofts at 8 Harbord Square are both priced at £1,950,000.

Other properties in the 82-apartment building start at £770,000 for an 801sq ft home or £990,000 for 1,037sq ft. 

Find out more about The Upper Lofts here

Read more: How Third Space has expanded its offering at Canary Wharf

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- Jon Massey is co-founder and editorial director of Wharf Life and writes about a wide range of subjects in Canary Wharf, Docklands and east London - contact via jon.massey@wharf-life.com
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Cody Dock set to create heritage centre for Newham on the Lea

Grant of £1.6million will see historic boat refurbished and used as the roof of a glass-walled structure

Computer generated image shows a glass walled structure with a blue and red boat as its roof - Cody Dock's planned heritage centre
An artist’s impression of the new heritage centre at Cody Dock

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The Cody Dock project has many facets to it.

Central to its plans are the twin aims of returning what was an abandoned industrial wasteland to community use alongside efforts to boost and study the local ecology.

But there’s also Gasworks Dock Partnership’s mission to preserve and celebrate Newham’s rich heritage – a project that recently received a massive shot in the arm.

In 18 months’ time, walkers along the River Lea cutting through Cody Dock will find a singular structure in front of them. 

Beside the rolling bridge and The Growing Space – now used to rear much of the project’s plant life – a new heritage centre will be created.

Lighting Up The Lea has won a £1.6million grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, which will see a glass walled pavilion built on the site covered by a rather unusual roof – a former Welsh lifeboat.

The vessel is not, however, just a convenient lozenge of timbers and iron to protect visitors from the elements.

It boasts a remarkable, historic link to Newham, making it perhaps the most appropriate of structures to help protect the history of the area.

Image shows two men with red hair in front of the mahogany panels of the Frederick Kitchen at Cody Dock
Simon Myers, left, with son Tom who is leading the restoration of the boat at Cody Dock

arrival at Cody Dock

“Just before the Olympics in 2012, we were approached by a bunch of West Ham football fans who knew that the club was going to move to the London Stadium in Stratford,” said Simon Myers, Gasworks Dock Partnership and mastermind of the Cody Dock project. 

“They knew the club originated at the Thames Ironworks, which once owned land at the mouth of the River Lea when its managing director, Arnold Hills, helped found a football club to help improve the health of its workers.

“The fans had bought a boat that had been built by the company, thinking that the London Legacy Development Corporation would agree to use it as part of a museum next to the new stadium dedicated to the history of West Ham and the Ironworks.

“However, they weren’t successful in securing funding or a site – even though it was a good idea – and they approached us initially just to store the boat.

“Years passed and nothing really happened except a second boat turned up that in an even worse state than the first.

“Eventually they offered them to us for scrap.”

Image shows the Frederick Kitchen, a stripped down wooden boat sat on supports, as work continues
The Frederick Kitchen, part of the way through her restoration

scrap, or something else?

However, Simon and the team were not about to simply discard the craft. Instead, a plan was slowly hatched to show off at least one of the craft in all its glory and preserve it for future generations.

“My thought was that, if we’re going to do something with these boats, it’s because we want to tell their story,” said Simon. 

“It’s not about getting them in the water – we’ve got plenty of boats here for that. So why not restore one, turn it upside down and use it as a roof of a structure with glass walls?

“That way people will get to see the exterior of the boat from outside and the interior when inside.

“You’ll have this beautiful cathedral ceiling and see all of the internal structure.”

The Frederick Kitchen, named in honour of a former lifeboat master, is not just an elegant architectural solution.

Having won funding to carry out a feasibility study – a precursor to the £1.6million award – the Gasworks Dock Partnership engaged in an extensive programme of research into her history.

It turns out, she may have been the very last vessel to leave the Ironworks, which closed in 1912.

A computer generated image of people in a glass-walled building with the boat as its roof
An artist’s impression of the interior of the heritage centre

an important history

“There’s a glass plate image owned by the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich that shows her sitting in a dry dock all by herself in 1913,” said Simon. 

“We think she may have been the last to leave – we do know she was one of a string of five boats that weren’t finished when the works closed, although she was completed and became a Watson class lifeboat stationed at Beaumaris from 1914 to 1945.

“The closure marked the end of major shipbuilding on the Thames.

“Her hull is made from Honduran mahogany with a steam-bent interior frame of oak with a keel of solid iron that runs along her entire length and weighs as much as the rest of her put together.

“She’s really the pinnacle of timber shipbuilding – designed at the crossover between pulling and sailing vessels and motorised craft, so she has some adaptations including an encased propeller to avoid it being fouled by nets and rigging, which wouldn’t want if you were engaged in a rescue.

“A few years after she was launched, new technologies came in with the use of plywood and then fibreglass and plastic.

“She was the last of her kind.”

A crane holds the former lifeboat as she is moved to a special shed for refurbishment works
The boat is brought into a special shed, ready for refurbishment

a grant for Cody Dock

The full grant will be used over three years, with 18 months to prepare the ground for the new structure and restore Frederick Kitchen to her former glory – the latter project being headed up by Simon’s son, Tom.

The money will also cover a rolling programme of events centred around Newham heritage  with the space eventually used to host quarterly exhibitions.

“For a long time now, in addition to the ecology, which is really special, we’ve felt that one of the selling points of this area is the heritage of the Lea,” said Simon.

“One of the things that’s always struck us is that, apart from the House Mill, Newham doesn’t have any museums – certainly not ones that reflect the wider heritage of the area.

“There’s such a rich seam of history here, whether it’s the Lea as a boundary between the Danes and the Saxons or how the land on the east bank was part of Essex rather than London and all the implications of that.

“Then there’s the arrival of industry, which saw the local population increase from 4,000 to around 250,000 in about 50 years.”

Two people work on the woodwork of the Frederick Kitchen
Tom supervises as renovation work continues

a rich seam of exhibitions

“Frankly we would need an Amazon-size warehouse to cover all the heritage we have and we reckon we could go for 30 years without repeating a topic with quarterly exhibitions in our multi-functional, multi-purpose structure,” added Simon.

“The likes of West Ham and Tate & Lyle have fantastic archives that are not on show to the public so it would be amazing to feature pieces from those collections.

“We have so many plans. It will take 18 months to restore the boat and we’ll be re-landscaping the site of the building at the same time.

“We’ll be doing outdoor exhibitions for Lighting Up The Lea during that period as well as working with the community and participants on our education programmes to gather more stories and local history.

“When our heritage programme launches, our plan is that one quarter will be dedicated to ecology, one to social heritage, one to industrial heritage and the last to miscellaneous aspects of history.”

Image shows a general view of Cody Dock on the River Lea under a rainbow with a toothed rolling bridge made of iron and a large wooden sculpture of a figure
Cody Dock boasts myriad facilities including a rolling bridge

key details – Cody Dock

The Cody Dock project has a wealth of opportunities for volunteers to get involved, with activities including the restoration of the Frederick Kitchen, cleaning up the River Lea and studying the area’s ecology. 

Find out more about the project here

Read more: How Third Space has expanded its offering at Canary Wharf

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- Jon Massey is co-founder and editorial director of Wharf Life and writes about a wide range of subjects in Canary Wharf, Docklands and east London - contact via jon.massey@wharf-life.com
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Leah Sams shoots and launches fashion collection in Canary Wharf

The artist, illustrator and founder of Power Of Women recently unveiled her clothing designs

Image shows a selection of brightly coloured dresses and shirts on a rail from Leah Sams' Paradise Collection
Leah Sams has launched The Paradise Collection in Canary Wharf

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Leah Sams’ Paradise Collection from Power Of Women perhaps typifies the changing face of Canary Wharf.

It’s tech, it’s fashion, it’s illustration, it’s female-led and it’s been created and launched on the east London estate. 

Having swapped theatrical costume and set design for art and illustration during the pandemic, Leah found success selling digital works as non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

The move into tech came after her husband Jack also changed career, leaving the performing arts world to fight fires and discovering his colleagues’ passion for crypto assets.

“He showed my artwork to them, which is very female-orientated and empowered, and these burly men were saying they would buy it,” said Leah, who moved to the UK from Malaysia to study theatre arts at university.

“That was the rabbit hole that started my career in the digital art world.

“At the time I started selling NFTs it was a very male space – less than 10% were female collectors or artists.

“I launched a very female-focused collection of works and they sold out within three hours and made more money than I did in a whole year selling on Etsy. 

“At the time a lot of artists saw it as a way to make a living, often for the first time as digital creators.”

Image shows artist, illustrator and Power Of Women founder Leah Sams, a dark haired woman in glasses with gold earrings wearing one of her orange dresses
Artist, illustrator and Power Of Women founder Leah Sams

Leah Sams – the power of tech…

Leah’s success led to an exhibition at Adidas’ flagship London store as well as collaborations with the likes of Manchester City FC.

Much of the hype has gone out of the NFT market.

But Leah is certain the tech that makes it work – an immutable record of the provenance and authenticity of a work stored on a blockchain to identify the owner of a piece – will continue to become an increasingly important part of our digital world.

“A lot of the people who came into NFTs to make a quick buck have all left,” said Leah, who lives on the Isle Of Dogs.

“But what you’re left with is interesting people building interesting things, and that’s great, because it’s now easier to sift through and find amazing pieces.

“The is definitely not perfect, but the people who are working with this technology truly believe that it is going to be part of our everyday lives.

“When we first had the internet, there a lot of sceptics and all sorts of companies building websites, but from that emerged the likes of Google and Facebook and all these goliaths.

“Provenance and authenticity are very important in the traditional art world, so having a public, digital record of works that cannot be changed is going to be really useful.

“The future is that NFTs will be rebranded – the technology will be there but in the background and it’s really important with regard to things like copyright that artists understand where the world is heading. 

“At the moment we’re seeing cryptocurrency, AI, blockchain and NFTs all intermingling.

“It’s a really exciting space to be in because it’s the precursor to things that come next.”

Image shows a picture of a woman in eastern clothing by artist Leah Sams
Leah’s is an artist creating digital work, prints and now clothes

thinking differently

“Right now, just as in the traditional art world, there are a few artists making a mint in the digital space,” said Leah.

“Others are diversifying their income, but NFTs have significantly changed people’s attitude towards digital art – that it should be respected and people should be paid fairly for it.”

The launch of The Paradise Collection and Leah’s move into fashion, however, has more to do with a desire to keep creating than to find fresh markets for the things she makes.

“As we had a bit of money to invest, I thought we could just do the same old thing or we could do something different,” she said.

“This felt like it was a different iteration of what I’ve been working towards.

“All of my artwork has had a concentration on representation, culture and diversity – fashion has also been a huge part of that because of my history in theatre and costume.

“I’ve also always been drawing fashionable women, so this has been a dream since I was a kid, to be doing something with clothes.”

a learning curve

“A friend of mine in the NFT space – Shreya Bhan – who started her career in fashion said that, when I was ready, we could do something together,” added Leah.

“She’s guided me through it and it’s been fascinating to see the correlation and some similarities with the work I was doing in costume with the pattern cutting elements, use of silhouettes and how fabric falls on the body.

“Lots of people have bought my artwork, but there’s something different in buying an wearing a garment to something that lives on a screen or a wall as a print.

“I feel like my customers are wearing my pieces and that’s quite a responsibility to have, which is why it’s been a long process to fine-tune and curate the collection.

“Designing on fabric is very different from working on an iPad – it’s been a huge learning curve.

“I started off with a budget and  had to figure out how to create a diverse line that worked financially but was also an extension of a brand that had only existed as artworks before.

“Now it’s coming into the physical world, how do you represent it and how do I link it back to my art?” 

Image shows a pink shirt with green foliage print, available from Power Of Women for £75
Pink Berry Unisex Shirt, £75 from The Paradise Collection

Leah Sams – The Paradise Collection

Comprising unisex shirts, wrap dresses and tiered dresses, The Paradise Collection features three vibrant prints on cotton as well as colourful designs on a trio of silk scarves.

But, tying in with Leah’s wider brand, there’s more to the pieces than their physical existence.

“Each piece has a chip that I’ve sewn into it, which can be scanned with a phone,” said Leah.

“I hope I will always make sustainable collections and the point of the chips is that people can own the garment on the blockchain, see where it’s come from, what it’s made of and how to care for it.

“But it’s also have a connection to me – the person who’s made it, so that it means more than something you buy from a big brand.

““It’s been a dream since I was a little girl to design my own clothes.

Image shows a phone scanning a chip in one of Leah Sams' garments
Garments all contain chips that owners can scan for more information, including care instructions

“To be able to launch my own collection of garments, 20 years on, is both surreal and empowering. 

“Every aspect of this collection from the colour of each button, to the digital experience that comes with each garment, has been designed with love and care. 

“I hope that anyone who wears a Power of Women garment will feel like they are wearing a piece of art.

“I think what’s also important is that I can always update the digital experience any time.

“It feels personal that people can have a connection to me via the Web3 space where The Paradise Collection was born – what I’ve created so far and all the work I’ve done to make that happen.”

Image shows a turquoise dress with a chilli plant print from The Paradise Collection
Turquoise Chilli Tiered Dress, £95 from The Paradise Collection

an east London creation

“I chose to launch the collection at Grind in Canary Wharf’s Market Halls because it’s where I do a lot of my drawing,” said Leah.

“I have a studio at home on the Isle Of Dogs, but this is where I choose to get away from that. 

“Since creating Power Of Women in the Web3 space, I’ve met a few London artists, so we have sketching and coffee gatherings and it felt really right to have our launch party there.

“I also wanted to showcase that there are creators here.

“The Canary Wharf community is enriching and the more we can showcase that, the more we will all benefit from it.

“All of the professional shots for the collection were done at The Vow Studio in Wood Wharf. It was the perfect location to do that and taking everyone for lunch locally after was just lovely.

“There’s something about birthing this collection here because there is an entrepreneurial aspect to doing that – Canary Wharf has a corporate reputation but there’s also a residential side to it that’s more community based.

“Launching here and celebrating all the people who have worked just felt really right.

“I get where the estate’s reputation comes from but I think things have shifted. It’s more of a place to hang around now and it’s very exciting.

“I love the buildings and all of the greenery.

“I have been very unapologetic about my art and I don’t want to be apologetic about my fashion.

“I’ve created pieces that are bold and colourful and I hope people will look at them and thing they’re something a bit different.” 

Image shows a red and green silk scarf with a crab print, part of Leah Sams' Paradise Collection with a price of £25
Crab Silk Scarf, £25, from The Paradise Collection

key details – Leah Sams

The Paradise Collection from Power Of Women by Leah Ibrahim Sams is available to buy online with prices starting at £25.

Leah’s other artworks including NFTs can also be viewed and purchased via this link

Find our more about Leah Sams’ Paradise Collection here

Image shows a woman wearing an orange and blue wrap dress falling to below her knees from Power Of Women
Orange And Blue Jungle Wrap Dress, £105 from The Paradise Collection

Read more: How Third Space has expanded its offering at Canary Wharf

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- Jon Massey is co-founder and editorial director of Wharf Life and writes about a wide range of subjects in Canary Wharf, Docklands and east London - contact via jon.massey@wharf-life.com
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Magician Ben Hart gears up for astonishment at Wilton’s Music Hall

Illusionist prepares to dazzle audiences at a pair of London dates at the Wapping venue in July

Image shows magician Ben Hart, a man with short dark hair covering one eye with a brightly coloured peacock feather
Magician Ben Hart began performing magic as a child

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As he’s a magician, it is – of course – impossible to completely trust anything Ben Hart says.

It’s a grey day in London when I call him on a cruise ship in Mykonos where he’s performing.

He assures me the weather is equally crap off the Greek island.

Maybe it is, maybe he just wants to make me feel better.  

Making people feel things is Ben’s trade.

At 16 he was awarded The Magic Circle’s Young Magician Of The Year in 2007, having started practising tricks as a kid.

One of 300 members of the organisation’s Inner Magic Circle, his career since leaving school has seen him perform all over the world.

He’s been a finalist on Britain’s Got Talent and America’s Got Talent: The Champions as well as teach the likes of Tom Cruise close-up illusions for the latest Mission Impossible.

He’s set to appear at Wilton’s Music Hall in his latest show, Jadoo, with performances on July 15 and 16, 2024.

While we chat about his return to London, he casually mentions he’s just been helping Russell Crowe and Rami Malek accrue skills.

These have been used in their forthcoming movie Nuremberg, for a scene where US military psychiatrist Lt Colonel Dougals Kelley shows Hermann Göring a coin trick.

Images shows a man in a white shirt with sand running through his fingers from an unseen source above
Ben aims to astonish his audiences

Ben Hart – teaching the teacher

“I really enjoy teaching other people,” said Ben.

“Part of my work is consulting, and it wouldn’t be possible for me to be a performer if I wasn’t still teaching because the process really teaches me.

“These people are titans – I’ll be showing them a simple piece of magic and suddenly I’ll see something I didn’t expect – weaknesses or strengths that I can incorporate into my own work.

“With movies, I’ve been really interested in when people blink.

“Actors rarely do it because their faces can take up so much space on a screen that movement can be a big statement that might not be necessary.

“In my own work I’ve realised that I blink all the time – even when I’m doing something sneaky, which is a bit of a tell.

“That’s the kind of lesson you learn. Then, when I’m designing work for other magicians, their creativity informs what I’m doing in a symbiotic way.

 “Any artist has to collaborate at some level.

“By tradition, magic is very solitary and that’s detrimental to it as a form.

“By collaborating, I’ve broken down some of the self-inflicted barriers I’ve made for myself.”

Image shows Ben with his fingers steepled, surrounded by light bulbs
Magician Ben Hart says he finds it easier to interact with an audience when there’s a script

Ben Hart – an outsider

Nevertheless, Ben paints himself as a an outsider.

On the cruise ship he tells me he goes for breakfast with his cap pulled down: “The audience is a bit too captive.

“There’s nothing worse than being famous and having an audience that can’t leave.

“They just want to chat but, like any performer I rely on my scripts and I don’t like environments where I can’t do that”.

It’s part jest, but also part truth.

He paints a picture of a man “trapped” by his own talent and early success – at once fascinated by the research and plagued by the ideas for tricks that will take years to realise or perhaps will never be performed.

Should we take him at face value, or is his apparent honesty all part of the patter?

Image shows Ben Hart with symbols painted on his hands running sand through his fingers
Ben says he aims to unlock people’s sense of wonderment through his performances

why magic is a painful process for Ben Hart

“Making new work can be quite a painful process,” he said.

“What happens is, you think of an impossible idea – anyone can do that – and then you do research to see how you can edge yourself closer to that becoming a trick.

“That process for me now takes longer and longer – it can be years.

“There’s usually no light bulb moment.

“A magic trick is a synthesis of compromises – magic is not possible, so you have to make accommodations and work out how the audience can see them as I want.

“It’s also a process that’s difficult to talk about, because the magician’s canvas is the bit nobody sees – that they shouldn’t even be aware of.

“My job is to host an evening of entertainment – all of my choices are about making sure the audience’s experience is amazing.

“I’m not interested in how hard it is to fool them, it’s more about getting them to a place where they can go on the journey.

“I’m like a tour guide who can take them somewhere where they might be able to experience something amazing. 

“As a magician I want to reveal to the audience a feeling of astonishment which is already inside them.

“Everyone knows we’re capable of feeling wonderment, but it’s infrequent that we get to do it. I create this environment.”

That’s exactly what audiences at Wilton’s can expect when Ben takes the stage, albeit with limited props.

Image shows Ben wearing a white suit jacket with his wrists crossed in shadow play
Ben says he insisted on performing at Wilton’s Music Hall as it’s his favourite venue in London

a special venue

“It’s really one of my favourite venues in the whole world,” said Ben.

“I’ve been lucky enough to perform all over the place, but having a venue that’s old and full of atmosphere is incredible – I really love it.

“It’s also a very good venue for magic in terms of audience sight lines.

“Because it’s so stripped back, there can’t be any feeling that there are people hiding anywhere.

“My show is rooted in storytelling and I hope the magic I do has a bit more power behind it than people might have experienced before.

“I have stripped back all the cheesy Paul Daniels stuff. 

“There are no sequins – I don’t insult the audience’s intelligence by getting them to think that a box is empty or anything like that.

“Coming at it from a contemporary stance, I’ve managed to create the kind of magic show you might have seen 100 years ago, but you would seldom see now.

“Almost everything I do depends on objects borrowed from the audience, so they know they’re legitimate – not fakes. 

“I think magic is an incredibly direct and creative form.

“I can get a gasp of amazement from an audience within 60 seconds of the show starting and that’s amazingly efficient theatre.

“The audience goes on a sort of magical rollercoaster during the show – it’s like a theme park level of emotion.

“An object you thought was there, isn’t, or that something isn’t what you thought it was.

“Magic is a kind of mind-hacking, really playing with people’s perceptions and how they remember things – it’s fascinating stuff.

“It reminds us that you can’t trust everything in the world.

“Magicians can hold a lot of emotional power, which can be neglected.

“We need to remember we’re all living in an illusion and this is a magical thing.”

creating new tricks

As for the future, Ben says he has at least 10 tricks that he’s continuing to slave over, although that number just represents the ones where there’s a chance of completion.

“There are loads of things I’d love to do in front of an audience,” he said.

“Most are miles away from being finished.

“I’ve also got a list of stuff I’ve been working on since I was a kid, which I don’t think will ever be performed.

“I’d especially love to do a version of an old Indian street magic trick called the Mango Tree Illusion.

“A seed is planted and – over the course of a 30-minute show – it grows into a tree, complete with fruit.

“The magician then cuts the mangoes off so people can see they’re real.

“The traditional secret is to swap out the trees when the audience isn’t looking.

“There have been many takes on it and I’ve been working on mine for years but whether I’ll ever solve it, I don’t know.”

key details: Ben Hart at Wilton’s Music Hall

Ben Hart: Live is set to be performed on July 15 and 16, 2024, at Wilton’s Music Hall in Wapping.

Both shows start at 7.30pm and last 90 minutes plus an interval.

Tickets start at £12.50.

Find out more about the show here

Read more: How The Body People brings movement to East Wick And Sweetwater

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- Jon Massey is co-founder and editorial director of Wharf Life and writes about a wide range of subjects in Canary Wharf, Docklands and east London - contact via jon.massey@wharf-life.com
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Little Nan’s moves to a bigger and better location in Deptford

Owner and granson, Tristan Scutt talks about opening 2.0, Flat Butcher and Aunties Ballroom

Image show Aunties Ballroom at Little Nan's 2.0 with a comedy gig in full swing under a disco ball in the shape of an anchor
Little Nan’s new space includes Aunties Ballroom, seen here in full swing

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Tristan Scutt is surrounded by his brain at Little Nan’s 2.0 and he’s all the happier for it.

He first opened Little Nan’s Bar 11 years ago as a pop-up tribute to his late Little Nan Jojo.

Using her furniture and crockery for the decor, he took over a pop-up space behind The Bunker Club in Deptford Broadway.

Success blossomed as customers fell for cocktails in teapots, a wealth of knick knacks and Tristan’s genuine passion for ’80s and ’90s memorabilia.

Then, after several locations, he found Little Nan’s a home at Deptford Market Yard.

Three it’s spent the last eight years occupying as many as four richly decorated railway arches.

Now, however, a fresh chapter has started.

Having endured three years of precarious leases and a reduction in space, following the arrival of new managing agents, Tristan has taken the decision to move on – well, actually just up the road.

Head along the railway line from the existing bar down Resolution Way and, just beyond Villages Brewery, a new wonderland has been created.

Under much larger arches, Tristan has created essentially four venues in one. 

Image shows Little Nan's owner and grandson Tristan Scutt, a man with a pierced chin in a dark blue shirt decorated with playing cards
Little Nan’s creator Tristan Scutt

four venues in one

“First of all there’s Little Nan’s 2.0, which has Flat Butcher above it – a space that can be hired, inspired by Pat Butcher from EastEnders,” said Tristan.

“Then there’s the Grown Grandkids Play Den with air hockey, table football and arcade games.

“Aunties Ballroom is on two levels with a custom-made glittering anchor to celebrate Deptford.”

If that sounds a lot, it’s because it is.

Four times bigger than the Deptford Market Yard space (and with four extra toilets), Tristan has one setting when it comes to interior design and that’s just to go for it.

Everywhere there are display cabinets packed with things.

Fabrics and colours clash amid a riot of leopard print, neon and fake ivy.  

Image shows entry to a brightly lit bar with animal print rugs and neon signs inside
The entrance to Little Nan’s 2.0 in Resolution Way, Deptford

extreme maximalist kitsch at Little Nan’s

“It’s an expression of extreme maximalist kitsch,” said the founder and grandson who has an MA in fine art from Goldsmiths.

“Our decor is nostalgic – there are a lot of nods to Deptford history including the anchor plus cabinets filled with memorabilia and toys. 

“It’s a reference to Deptford Vintage Market, where many of the items were sourced.

“It’s also a celebration of local stores from back in the day like Abstracticus, the Second Time Round shop in Lewisham Way and Aladdin’s Cave.

“I hope it’s somewhere people will feel at home.

“They’ll have seen what we can do over the road and here we can do even more of it and on a longer term basis.

“Anything too empty scares me.

“Our AirBnB holiday home is like this in Weymouth and my flat is like this in Deptford – this is really how I live.

“When I look back at photos of the original pop-up I think it was a little simpler – perhaps I was worried 11 years ago how people would feel.

“Now it’s just: ‘Go for it’.

“I love stuff, I’m a massive EastEnders fan and I’m addicted to Deptford Market, so this is a great reason for me to trawl all the local shops and the stalls to fill the venue.”

Image shows a room at Little Nan's 2.0 filled with ornaments, toys and vintage furniture
Little Nan’s 2.0 is packed with toys, vintage furniture and memorabilia

pleasing the customers at Little Nan’s

“Our cabinets are obviously full of things I like, but I’m also always looking at and listening to what our customers are into,” added Tristan.

“Initially all our cocktails were named after members of the Royal Family.

“Then I realised not everyone was quite as big a fan of the Windsors as I was, so we changed things.

“We have got rid of our Prince Andrew, although we still have a Prince Harry, which dates from before the whole book thing.

“It feels nice to have created these new venues. It’s been a mad couple of months and we’ve had some great guys doing the build.

“My mate, Matt Sargent, has made all the fabrics and then I’m responsible for the rest of the decor.

“Weirdly, it’s been a calming process. 

“I think after what has been a stressful couple of years this has wound up being such a great move for us.

“You always have to turn stuff into positives and, perhaps, this was the kick we needed to find a better space.

“That’s why it feels great. We’d never have been able to do what we’ve done here in our original units.”

Image shows actor Pam St Clement who played Pat Butcher in EastEnders visiting the venue
When Pam St Clement (Pat Butcher) visited Little Nan’s

Little Nan’s 2.0 is up and running

Excited to welcome guests, Tristan has been slowly opening sections of the new venue while the build has been going on.

This is partly, I suspect, because he can’t resist sharing the new spaces.

Extended facilities go deeper than the bathrooms and entertainment areas.

2.0 will have room for a proper kitchen and there are plans to invite chefs in for pop-up collaborations in due course. 

While Aunties Ballroom can be set out as extra hospitality space, it also lends itself to performances beneath the rich satins, silks and quilts that coat its walls. 

“We’ve now had our first event there – a comedy night called Your Friend And Mine hosted by poet and comedian Jack Scullion, which went really well,” said Tristan.

“We especially want the ballroom to be multi-purpose.

“There’s no static furniture so we can have it set up in so many different ways. It can be used for performances or decked out with tables and chairs.”

Image shows a lit cabinet filled with playing cards, toys, records and a bust of Pat Butcher in the style of Queen Victoria
Little Nan’s 2.0 is filled with nostalgic items including a bust of Pat Butcher as Queen Victoria

whole venue hire

“Here, all of our spaces can be opened up and used as one or sectioned off,” said Tristan.

“People can hire the whole thing or, for example, we might have Little Nan’s open and a workshop up in Flat Butcher. 

“I’m excited to see how people use the space over the summer and how it evolves. 

“It’s the start of a new chapter and I think we’re really ready for it. It’s 11 years since Little Nan’s started and it feels good to be doing this in Deptford.

“We’d been looking for a new space for a while. It’s been an opportunity to really think about what we’re doing after 11 years of Little Nan’s.

“Before the eight years in Deptford Market Yard, we’d done the pop-ups.

“Our new location is a nod to everything we’ve done before.

“It’s all that we have learnt about how to put on really good events for customers’ birthdays, hen-dos and other celebrations.

“That’s what we’ve done under these two huge arches.

“With the move, we wanted to have somewhere we could really spread our wings and express what we want to do and that’s what we’ve done.

“We know our customers love our outdoor space and we have that here as well, but we have so much more inside too.

“I’m really excited to see people come in.”

With things in a fluid state as the venue gets fully up and running, the best place for updates is Little Nan’s Instagram feed, which can be found @littlenansbar.

Stay tuned for news of opening hours and future events.

Image shows a richly decorated space with different coloured fabrics and cabinets of 80s and 90s objects
Aunties Ballroom is on two levels and can be configured in many different ways as there is no fixed furniture

key details

Little Nan’s 2.0 is located in Deptford’s Resolution Way.

Hours are subject to change as things get under way, but the venue is currently open Fridays and Saturdays from 5pm-12.30am.

Find out more about the new site here

Read more: How The Body People brings movement to East Wick And Sweetwater

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- Jon Massey is co-founder and editorial director of Wharf Life and writes about a wide range of subjects in Canary Wharf, Docklands and east London - contact via jon.massey@wharf-life.com
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Why Kidbrooke Square shared ownership homes offer security

NHG Homes senior sales executive Daniel Jennings talks value at the south-east London development

Images shows a computer generated scene of Kidbrooke Square, four blocks of brick-clad flats around a central square with a red tiled building
An artist’s impression of how Kidbrooke Square will look when finished

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Daniel Jennings is perhaps NHG Homes’ most potent asset in marketing shared ownership properties at its Kidbrooke Square development.

The senior sales executive is on something of a personal mission to spread the word about what’s available to prospective buyers, having seen the benefits for himself.

He said: “Before my current role, I was a sales account manager for big tech companies in America.

“I did very well, winning awards and becoming the firm’s top salesperson worldwide.

“About four-and-a-half years ago, my now wife and I bought a shared ownership property from an affordable housing provider.

“That was a three-bed in the Beckenham area, with underground parking.

“I’m from west London, so I came all the way over to the south-east of the city, where the value for money is amazing – there’s the greenery, the parks and it’s away from the hustle and bustle.

“I realised how much not having that had affected me, so I wanted us to live where we could walk around and feel the fresh air.

“We couldn’t believe that a three-bed was affordable – it was a dream to us.

“Buying a home that’s 1,000sq ft in London gave me an appreciation for shared ownership as a product.

“We were planning to get married, wanted to start a family and so we moved into the three-bed. But then the pandemic happened and I got made redundant straight away.

“We’d moved in December 2019 and I can remember thinking how lucky we were to have lockdown in this beautiful property.

“I decided I wanted a role where I could make a difference.”

Image shows a man with glasses in a white shirt with a beard, Daniel Jennings, a senior sales executive for NHG Homes
NHG Homes senior sales executive Daniel Jennings

working for NHG Homes

“I wanted to help other people feel like I had, so I thought I’d try to get my feet wet, joined NHG Homes and sold seven properties in my first two weeks,” said Daniel.

“Since then, I’ve been promoted and now, when I talk to buyers, I don’t really have to sell.

“I just show them what we have, talk about my experiences with shared ownership and how I felt when I bought into it.

“Then we talk about pros and cons options and what makes sense for them, what their goals are and what’s right.

“We really try to focus on them as people and try to find something that works.

“This includes thinking about location, commutes to work, the safety of the neighbourhood and whether there’s enough light and space.

“We even look at which way a property faces and whether the buyer is a morning or an evening person.” 

Image shows a show home at Kidbrooke Square with wooden floors and comfortable furnishings. The room is an open-plan living area with a kitchen
A show home at Kidbrooke Square’s Borsberry House

what’s on offer at Kidbrooke Square

Kidbrooke Square itself isn’t exactly without attractions.

The development, which includes a mix of tenures, is located on the doorstep of Kidbrooke station.

This is ideal for rapid connections to Lewisham (for Canary Wharf and the DLR) or direct trains into the City. 

The scheme features a concierge service, residents’ gym facilities and private podium gardens.

It also boasts landscaped grounds, plans for a cafe in what’s currently the marketing suite and its own dedicated bus route. 

Further benefits include being close to Berkeley Homes’ extensive regeneration of the Ferrier Estate, which has seen many local amenities arrive in the area. 

These include shops, a pub, a cafe and the playgrounds and the extensive spaces of Cator Park

Greenery nearby is something of a theme.

Kidbrooke Green Park, Manor House And Gardens, Blackheath Common, Greenwich Park and Charlton Park are all within a 15-minute bike ride or half-hour walk of NHG Homes’ new properties.

Then there are the homes themselves.

These feature balconies or winter gardens, open-plan living areas with wood effect flooring, fitted kitchens with Zanussi appliances and porcelain tiling in the bathrooms. 

All come with high quality sound proofing, air filter technology plus communal heating and hot water systems.

They make for a compelling proposition in comparison to the prospect of renting privately.

Image shows a modern fitted kitchen with white units and Zanussi appliances
A kitchen in a show home at Borsberry House

security in shared ownership

“Shared ownership means buying a home for life,” said Daniel.

“You can do what you want, no-one’s going to kick you out.

“You can put your pictures up, paint your walls and there won’t be any difficult conversations with landlords about rents going up.

“Being a tenant can be tough.

“By the time you see a property and call, it can be let, or you have to make a decision on the spot when you see it.

“With shared ownership there are so many options.

“Take someone earning £40,000 or £45,000.

“If they put down a £9,000 deposit, 10%, they can get a one-bed and then feel comfortable with their income and paying their bills each month.”

Image shows a computer generate scene of lawns and flowerbeds between blocks of apartments
An artist’s impression of open space at Kidbrooke Square

escaping tenancy with a home at Kidbrooke Square

“Most people who are renting are sick of sinking their money into paying someone else’s mortgage,” said Daniel.

“With shared ownership, you’ve got equity that you can build on and what you’re paying in rent, which is capped, is going to a good cause – it supports communities by building more affordable housing.

“Then, if you want to sell your share, you’ll get support from us and the fees will be cheaper than an estate agency.

“Most people – I’d say around 80% or 90% – who buy a shared ownership home are first-time buyers although you don’t have to be.

“That means we exercise patience – we know they will want us to talk them through everything and really break down all the elements of how it works.

“People have a lot of questions about how rent increases happen and why service charges can change.

“But these things can seem scarier than they actually are.

“I’m able to use my personal experience to show them that my rent, for example, might have risen £60 a month but a property in the private market might have gone up £300 or £400.

“That helps calm people when they have that understanding.” 

Image shows a show home bedroom at Kidbrooke Square with a bed, desk, chair and brightly coloured art on the walls
One, two and three-bedroom homes are available at the scheme

key details

Shared ownership homes at Kidbrooke Square start at £91,875, £113,125 or £158,750 for 25% shares in a one, two or three-bedroom apartment respectively.

Monthly costs for the above are estimated to be £1,344, £1,550 and £2,042 including mortgage payments, rent and service charge.

Find out more about shared ownership homes at the development here or call 020 4579 2974

Read more: How The Body People brings movement to East Wick And Sweetwater

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- Jon Massey is co-founder and editorial director of Wharf Life and writes about a wide range of subjects in Canary Wharf, Docklands and east London - contact via jon.massey@wharf-life.com
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Third Space Wood Wharf boosts east London club’s fitness offering

Studios for Reformer Pilates and Hot Yoga plus a new 20m swimming pool add to Canary Wharf’s already unbeatable health and fitness facilities

Image shows a bright turquoise swimming pool surrounded by light brown limestone times at Third Space Wood Wharf
Third Space Wood Wharf boasts a new 20m swimming pool and spa area

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Third Space Canary Wharf is already at the top of the fitness tree when it comes to facilities.

On its own, the Canada Square club offers a vast array of workout spaces, studios, machines and equipment.

There’s a pool, a climbing wall, a crossfit-inspired strength and conditioning space and a combat area with a boxing ring.

Nothing else on the estate comes close. And the facilities are only half the story.

The studios and gym floor are home to hundreds of classes each week, all included in the monthly fee.

This means members can indulge in everything from spinning to sound baths, HIIT sessions or weightlifting.

Image shows Colin Waggett, CEO of Third Space wearing a white shirt with floral detail round the collar
Third Space CEO Colin Waggett

unveiling Third Space Wood Wharf

But with the opening of Third Space Wood Wharf club, that offering and capacity has received a massive boost – essentially beating an already unbeatable proposition because access is included with membership of the Canary Wharf club as standard.

Expansive new studios mean Hot Yoga and Reformer Pilates classes are now available at for the first time on the estate.

There’s also a fully equipped training space and a swimming pool at the 15 Water Street location, which is spread over two floors above Tribe hotel and Dishoom.

“When I joined, we had four clubs and three brands – it was abundantly clear that the right one to grow was Third Space, which brought together serious business and lifestyle propositions,” said Colin Waggett, Third Space CEO.

“It had a brilliant name too, so the initial challenge was to bring those four locations, which included the former Reebok Sports Club in Canary Wharf, under the Third Space name.

“Having achieved that by 2017, we started to look at new sites including one near Fenchurch Street and then Islington.

“We were gradually building and we started looking at Wood Wharf in 2018.

“It’s been a long time coming, but that’s reflected in the quality of what we’ve created here.

“We decided that for Canary Wharf and Wood Wharf we would only have one membership so people don’t have to make a choice between the two sites.

“If you buy into one club, you get access to both.

“By doing that, it’s made it easier to get the proposition right at Wood Wharf.”

Image shows the new club's main gym area including a bright red track for training on
The new club features a large, well-lit multi-functional training area

the Third Space Wood Wharf proposition

“It provides something different to the main Canary Wharf site – more of a country club feel with the pool and spa,” said Colin

“We’ve also got a massive, multifunctional training space.

“Then, over the last five years Reformer Pilates and Hot Yoga have become ever more popular and that’s why we’ve built those studios.

“The former, especially, is having a big moment and, had we not built the Wood Wharf club, we’d have put facilities into our Canada Square site. 

“We have to watch the big trends and change our space allocation in both clubs over time to reflect them.

“Right now that means less cardio activity and fewer cross trainers but more racks for weightlifting and greater space for our mind and body offering with Yoga, Pilates and sound baths.”

Image shows Third Space Wood Wharf's Hot Yoga studio with black rubber yoga mats on a wooden floor
Third Space Wood Wharf has a dedicated Hot Yoga studio

growing from experience

Colin knows a thing or two about keeping abreast of developments in the industry.

Having joined Fitness First in 2004 as chief financial officer, he was running the company a year later and presided over its growth from 250 locations in 10 countries to 500 in 25, expanding into the Middle East, south-east Asia and Australia. 

Striking out on his own, he founded studio fitness concept Psycle in 2012, which included a branch in Canary Wharf’s Crossrail Place albeit before any trains were running.

While on that journey, he met the owners of Reebok Sports Club, who were acquiring Third Space and ended up joining the company as CEO in 2015.

While the pandemic meant pausing plans for expansion, the brand is now very much back on track with sites in Battersea, Wimbledon and Clapham 

“Next year we’ll open three or maybe four clubs – which could make seven in two years – and that’s a lot,” said Colin.  

“These are all sites we signed four years ago so we’ve known they were coming and we’ve been preparing for them.

“Our business is property and people. The property side happens very slowly, the design, construction and the rest of it.

“The people side can happen quite quickly – we usually need a team of 50 or 60 people to open a club.

“About half to two thirds of them are already working in one of our clubs.

“It’s all about getting the skills and culture right, which is what we spend time preparing for.”

“It’s always a challenge but that is what we’re here for.

Image shows Reformer Pilates machines in a room with a wooden floor. The machines are cream with black plastic details
The Reformer Pilates studio features equipment for group sessions

keeping that quality

“Preserving the quality we have at our existing clubs is a complete obsession with new openings,” said Colin.

“Our mantra is we get better as we get bigger – so we work really hard to ensure that’s the case. 

“The golden rule when opening a new club is always to promote internally. Our heads of department will be two-thirds internal as well.

“The things we’ve been investing in, knowing these openings have been in the pipeline, are recruitment, training and education.

“We have a significant team of master trainers who are out there recruiting instructors and training them up to the standard we want them to be at.

“We’re in the fortunate position of being able to recruit the best.

“Our Canary Wharf and Islington clubs both have what we call  Academy Teams, which are gateway jobs for people looking to become personal trainers.

“Our smaller clubs also help because that network provides career pathways which help us fulfil that mantra of being better.”

Image shows a Third Space trainer helping a man with is boxing technique
Third Space Canary Wharf already has a wealth of facilities including a fully equipped combat area

evolving the Third Space Canary Wharf site

With the Wood Wharf launch well underway, the refurbishment of the Canary Wharf club is itself an ongoing mission. 

The space formerly used for The Pearson Room is set to be repurposed as a mind and body space to cater for the upswing in demand for Yoga and sound baths, while the existing studio will likely be filled with more Reformer Pilates machines to accommodate larger classes. 

It’s all part of a carefully curated mix that’s designed to give frequent users the best deal possible.

“We’re great value if you come regularly and terrible value if you don’t,” said Colin.

“We don’t have membership contracts. If people want to leave, for whatever reason – life’s got in the way, they’re too busy – then they should leave feeling good about us.

“Our aim is to never let people down, but to recognise that some will cease training.

“One in five of our new members is actually someone returning to us.

“For all the things available to you, our price per day or per visit is extremely good value.

“It’s about an investment in something, a good use of time.

“We’re aimed at people who are prioritising their fitness and want good experiences – members who are trying to get the most out of life in busy London.

“We meet their demands as these change and evolve.

“With a master trainer in charge of each area of fitness, they’re always looking at our programme to see what’s performing, how it can be improved or refreshed – a bit like changing a menu at a restaurant.

“You want to keep your favourites, but you want new attractions too.”

Image shows Third Space master trainer Clare Walters hosting a sound bath in a Yoga studio
Sound baths are increasingly popular across Third Space’s clubs

new thinking at Third Space

“One of the things we’re doing more of across our clubs is focusing on that whole spa experience with saunas, plunge pools and hydrotherapy,” said Colin.

“At one time it was thought they just felt nice but increasingly there’s a real purpose to spending that time, whether for the physical or mental benefits you get from them.

“Sound baths, for instance, are curiously absorbing and a really nice treat.

“If you’re training at a high intensity, adding in softer programming to a club gives our members greater value.

“The ambition is that one day every one of our clubs will close with a session.

“People can then train in the morning and come back at the end of the day for what’s essentially 45 minutes of meditation – that would be wonderful.

“Wood Wharf itself has quite a different vibe to our other clubs – it’s beautiful to look down on the water and the streets below from the third floor.

“Some people will prefer to train there or just come for specific classes while mainly using Canary Wharf. It could just be where the mood takes them on the day. 

“The club generates more capacity for us and, now that it’s open, we’ll be doing more to sell the two offerings together.”

need to know

Club membership at Third Space Canary Wharf, including access to Third Space Wood Wharf currently costs £217 per month.

Group access for the brand’s clubs (excluding Mayfair and Islington) costs £245. 

Find out more about the new club here

Read more: How The Body People brings movement to East Wick And Sweetwater

Read Wharf Life’s e-edition here

Subscribe to our free Wharf Whispers newsletter here

- Jon Massey is co-founder and editorial director of Wharf Life and writes about a wide range of subjects in Canary Wharf, Docklands and east London - contact via jon.massey@wharf-life.com
Subscribe To Wharf Life