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A miscellany of events in the history of the LDDC.  Many are drawn from the pages of the Corporation's newspaper Docklands News a few bound sets of which were fortunately preserved for future study. The page will be added to as time permits.  Suggestions and contributions for this page will be warmly welcomed.
1982 - An early Aviation Venture
1982 - "LDDC unnecessary but make it work"
1982 - First housing for sale
1982 - A Light Railway for Docklands
1983/84 - 1983/84 - Powerboats in the Royals
1985 - Canary Wharf development announced
1986 - Skillnet launched
1986 - Limehouse Link
1987 - Reg Ward leaves LDDC
1988 - Increasing investment in the community
1988 - London City Airport demonstrates the BAe 146
1988 - Teleshopping
1988 - Tower Hamlets Accord Signed
1990 - Preparing for the end
1998 - How the Docklands communities benefited
2011- Reg Ward
2013 - Paul Reichman dies
2014 - Lennie Hendrie dies

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1982 - An early Aviation venture Human Powered Phoenex Aircraft

Fred To has sent us some photos of his 1982 flights with a human-powered aircraft in one of the LDDC's lorry parks on the Isle of Dogs.

Known as Phoenix, the aircraft was an experimental inflatable made entirely out of Polyester film which varied in thickness between 6 and 23 microns. The wingspan was 102 feet and the propeller was 18 feet in diameter. its all up weight was only 105lbs. The aircraft could be folded up and transported on top of a family saloon car as illustrated in the photo below which shows the team members posing beside the car and aircraft. 

Phoenix Team with Aircraft on Car Roof Fred obtained permission from the LDDC to use one of the sheds in the docks and to test fly the aircraft in the lorry park outside.  The first flights were achieved on the 28th March 1982. This was reported in the New Scientist, the Daily Telegraph and Flight International magazine. 

In 1992 Fred was asked by a Swiss company to work for them on inflatable aircraft development. "This came as a direct result of the flights at London Docks" writes Fred "as I was the only person with the experience . I stayed in Switzerland for 7 years working on inflatable aircraft research and have just returned to the UK. I hope you will enjoy these photos. I thought this could be an interesting part of London Dockland's history considering the fact that there is a City Airport now."

Here are some more pictures of the Phoenix - click the thumbnails to see larger versions of each photograph:

Phoeniex ready for test flight Fred T with Phoenix in LDDC Shed Phoenix in flight Phoenix taking off for the first time


Click here for an item about the Airport

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1982 - "LDDC unnecessary but make it work"Article:  LDDC unnecessary but make it work

The local boroughs (Tower Hamlets, Newham and South) fought hard to prevent the setting up of LDDC but in the end, following hearings by a Select Committee of the House of Lords, the Government prevailed and the Corporation was established on 2nd July1981.  

Taking stock the Boroughs came to the conclusion that while the Corporation was unwelcome they should nonetheless work with the new agency for the benefit of the area. The Leaders of all three Boroughs responded to an invitation to join the LDDC's Board.  

The article opposite, taken from the first (January 1982) edition of the LDDC's newspaper Thames Mirror (the forerunner of "Docklands News") records the view of Paul Beasley, the Leader of Tower Hamlets Council.  Click on the thumbnail to see the article full size (82k).

For more Information see the LDDC's Monograph: Learning to Work and Live Together - The LDDC and the Local Communities

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1982 - First housing for saleArticle:  Savage Gardens housing scheme

One of the earliest LDDC moves was to persuade a consortium of 6 volume house builders to build 610 homes for sale at Savage Gardens in Beckton.  The Corporation was keen to widen the housing tenure mix in Docklands - in 1981 more than 90% of the housing stock was social housing for rent.  But would there be a demand in Docklands for homes for owner occupation?  The object of the Savage Gardens scheme was to test the market - the participating house builders felt they were taking a considerable risk. The scheme was a huge success and the race was on to prepare more sites for homes for sale.  By the end of the LDDC's life the tenure balance was much closer to the London average.

The article opposite reports the 1982 opening of the Savage Gardens scheme by the then Secretary of State for the Environment, Michael Heseltine, MP.  The event was punctuated by protests by groups demanding more homes for rent.  Click on the thumbnail to see the article full size (99k).

For more Information see the LDDC's Monograph: Housing in the Renewed London Docklands - A Major Contribution to Capital Living.

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1982 - A Light Railway for Docklands?Advertisement: "A Light Railway for Docklands" (143050 bytes)

A light railway connecting the Docklands with the City was probably the LDDC's earliest aspiration, one it pursued with great vigour.  This advertisement, from the May 1982 edition of Thames Mirror, invites residents to see public displays of the proposals for the original railway and to submit comments. Costing 77m, the construction of the original railway (linking Tower Hill with Island Gardens on the Isle of Dogs with a spur to Mile End) started in 1984 with completion three years later in 1987.  

By that time the proposals for Canary Wharf had multiplied the requirement for public transport and almost at once the new railway, now known as the Docklands Light Railway (DLR),  was closed overnight and at weekends to allow the station platforms to be extended to take longer trains.  And soon work started on extending the railway westwards to link with the London Underground at Bank. This was completed in 1991 and 1994 saw the opening of the an eastwards extension through the Royal Docks to Beckton. By the end of its life the LDDC, by now the owner of the railway, had successfully promoted another extension from the Isle of Dogs southwards under the River to Lewisham.  This opened in November 1999.  

Work starts early in 2003 on a new extension from Canning Town to London City Airport and onwards to North Woolwich and there are proposals to carry this extension under the River to Woolwich Arsenal.  At Canary Wharf and Canning Town the DLR links with the new Jubilee Line Extension, another rail project for which the LDDC lobbied long and hard.  The DLR is now owned by Transport for London.

Click on the thumbnail to see the article full size (144k).

For more Information see the LDDC's Monograph: Starting from Scratch - The Development of Transport in London Docklands and the DLR's website

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1983/84 - Powerboats in the Royals

Peter Bowen has written drawing attention the Powerboat Grand Prix held in the Royal Victoria Dock in 1983 and 1984.  This must "surely have done much to put the Royal Victoria Dock on the map for many people. I worked on both grand prix, clearing the dock and making it safe and accessible for the event. There was certainly nothing else happening there at the time and the whole area had not been touched since the dock's closure. I really think these events should be mentioned in your history."

The cutting opposite is taken from the September 1984 edition of Docklands News.

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1985 - Canary Wharf development announcedArticle: Canary Wharf development announced

The Canary Wharf scheme marked a step change in the regeneration of London Docklands. All at once the scale of the regeneration task was multiplied requiring massive investment by LDDC and other agencies in the Docklands infrastructure including an upgrading of the  original Docklands Light Railway, just then being completed, and its extension into the City. Canary Wharf was also a key component in the decision to build the Jublilee Line Extension. 

The proposals originated from a consortium led by G Ware Travelstead of First Boston Real Estate.  The article opposite, from Docklands News, was among the first news items about the scheme.  Later the project was taken over by the Canadian developers Olympia and York who signed the Master Building Agreement with the LDDC. Click on the thumbnail to see the article full size (158k).

For more Information see the LDDC's Monograph: Attracting Investment Creating Value - Establishing a Property Market in London Docklands

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1986 - Skillnet launchedArticle LDDC launches Skillnet

It was a key LDDC priority that Docklands residents should benefit from the increasing number of new employment opportunities flowing into the area as regeneration gathered pace.  It was clear, though,  that many would need new or enhanced skills and that this would require more and better facilities locally for education and training.  To secure facilities of the right quality and at the right time required substantial LDDC expenditure in addition to that of the the agencies normally responsible for these services.   There were many initiatives of which Skillnet, run in partnership with the local education authorities, was one of the earliest and most long lasting.  This May 1986 article from Docklands News marks the launch of the new service.  Click on the thumbnail to see the article full size (77k).

For more Information see the LDDC's Monograph: New Jobs and Opportunities - The Employment Strategy of the LDDC and Learning to Work and Live Together - The LDDC and the Local Communities

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1986 - Limehouse LinkAerticle "New road from the Isle of Dogs

This article from Docklands News unveiled locally the tunnel project which came to be known as the Limehouse Link.  It was the LDDC's greatest and most difficult engineering project. Replacing  the GLC's earlier proposal for a Docklands Northern Relief Road, the new road was the first critical link in the new Docklands Highways which eventually linked The Highway in the west with the  A13/A406 junction at Beckton at the eastern end of the LDDC's area. The other new or improved roads in the system were Aspen Way, the Lower Lea Crossing, North Woolwich Road, the Connaught Crossing, Royal Albert Way and Royal Docks Road.  Also included were the tunnels in the East India Dock Link - the eastbound bore of this is only now being connected to the A13 at Canning Town. Click on the thumbnail to see the article full size (117k).

For more Information see the LDDC's Monographs: Laying the Foundations for Regeneration - Engineering in London Docklands and Starting from Scratch - The Development of Transport in London Docklands

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1987 - Reg Ward leaves LDDCArticle about the departure of Reg Ward, the LDDC's first Chief Executive

This article in Docklands News in October 1987 announces the retirement of the LDDC's first Chief Executive, Reg Ward.  Many of the key components of the new Docklands owe their existence to his vision, including the Docklands Light Railway, London City Airport, the Docklands Highways and Canary Wharf.  A recession intervened to prevent the realisation of his grand vision for the Royal Docks but some of his ideas were picked up later including the concept of an Exhibition Centre on the north side of the Royal Victoria Dock where ExCel opened in 2000. 

Reg went on to work as a consultant on a number of important regeneration schemes around the world.  Now in his 70s he is working still.  His most recent project was a a major regeneration scheme in St. Kitts in the West Indies. Although his work in Docklands is much acclaimed around the world it has attracted no honours - his vision and energy were altogether too much for the Department of the Environment although in later years it liked to bask in the success of this world renowned example of urban regeneration.

Click on the thumbnail to see the article full size (64k). See also our Popular Press Releases and LDDC People Pages

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1988 - Increasing investment in the communityArticle "The challenge facing Docklands"

By the mid-1980s the Docklands were firmly on the regeneration map and it was time to give added priority to the social and community infrastructure and so ensure that more of the benefit flowed to local people.  In March 1987 the Corporation set up the Social Facilities Programme Unit with a brief covering community facilities; education and training; health and welfare; tourism, arts and leisure and water sports and recreation.  With the appointment the following year of Michael Honey as the LDDC's Chief Executive the SFPU was absorbed into a new Community Services Division with a huge increase in staff and resources and a wider brief including social housing.  This shift in emphasis is recorded in this report opposite of a speech by Michael Honey in August 1988. Until 1990 the work of this Division was probably the Corporation's key priority.  Thereafter, following the departure of Michael Honey, the work continued but as part of a more balanced programme of regeneration. 

Click on the thumbnail to see the report full size (80k).  Below is a 1998 article summarising the Corporation's work for the benefit of local communities.

For more Information see the LDDC's Monograph: Learning to Work and Live Together - The LDDC and the Local Communities and Housing in the Renewed London Docklands - A Major Contribution to Capital Living.

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1988 - London City Airport demonstrates the BAe 146

Article "Flight of the Quiet Jet" (101559 bytes)

The proposal by Mowlam PLC (in association with Brymon Airways) to build a Docklands airport was first put to the LDDC in November 1981, just 4 months after the the Corporation was set-up.  The plan envisaged an airport in the Royal Docks - between the King George V and Royal Albert Docks - for use by STOL (short take-off and landing) aircraft (principally the DeHavilland Canada Dash-7) which would provide short-haul services for business users.  It took nearly four years to secure planning permission from the Secretary of State so that work on the Airport did not start until 1986.  By July 1987 the runway was ready for the first landing and services started in October with a Royal opening the following month.

By mid-1988 the Airport was anxious to expand its services using a wider range of aircraft, epecially the British Aerospace 146 - the so-called "Whisper Jet".  This article reports the demonstration of the BAe 146 for local residents in July that year.  The Airport's application to use other types of aircraft, and to extend the length of the runway, was approved by the Secretary of State in 1991 and BAe 146 flights started in March 1992.

By 1998 the Airport annual passenger flows had reached more than 1.3 million and among the last planning applications to be received by LDDC was one from the Airport seeking a doubling of the cap on the number flights each year.  This was in fact determined by the London Borough of Newham who in July 1998 gave permission for 73,000 flights per annum.

Click on the thumbnail to see the report full size (105k).

For more Information see the LDDC's Monograph: Starting from Scratch - The Development of Transport in London Docklands and also the Airport History page at www.lcacc.org/history where there is a wealth of historical material including video clips of the key events.

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1988 - Teleshopping

Today it is by no means unusual for customers to order their grocery shopping online for delivery by the supermarket. But in 1998 the concept had scarcely been thought of. So when the LDDC teamed up with ASDA, the Manpower Services Commission and the London Borough of Tower Hamlets to offer a computer based home shopping service for the elderly and the disabled, with the clients ordering themselves via adapted televisions using teletext software, it was really at the cutting edge of technology. For full details see the LDDC's 1988 press release (.pdf - 347kb) announcing the launch of the project by the Duchess of Kent.

The scheme was very popular and was soon rolled out into other areas including the London Borough of Newham where, following a pilot in 1990/91, it was announced in another LDDC release that the scheme would operate across the whole Borough.

The scheme prospered and operated profitably but sadly it was discontinued when ASDA, as part of a wider recovery plan, decided to limit its operations to ordinary retailing.

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1988 - Tower Hamlets Accord SignedArticle about the signing of the LDDC/Tower Hamlets Accord (146432 bytes)

The signing of the Accord was a key event in the history of the Corporation.  In return for a package of social, economic, community and housing projects Tower Hamlets Council agreed to co-operate in the building of the Limehouse Link and a other transport projects. The Accord included provision for a joint housing unit to advise and consult with tenants displaced by the Limehouse Link and to implement the choices made by them for re-housing. 

The Accord follows a similar agreement entered into some months earlier with the London Borough of Newham - the so-called "Memorandum of Agreement".  There was no such formal agreement with the London Borough of Southwarkl.

Click on the thumbnail to see the article full size (143k).

For more Information see the LDDC's Monograph: Learning to Work and Live Together - The LDDC and the Local Communities and Housing in the Renewed London Docklands - A Major Contribution to Capital Living.

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1990 - Preparing for the end Article "LDDC Prepares to Exit Docklands"

Just over half way through its life LDDC began to prepare for its demise.  A Completion Team was established charged with the task of logging the Corporation's many assets and liabilities and packaging them for disposal to successors.  It was decided early on that the Corporation should withdraw from its area by stages thus dividing the huge completion task into more manageable pieces.  This programme of "de-designation" started with Bermondsey Riverside on 30th October 1994 and continued with Beckton (31st December 1995), Surrey Docks (20th December 1996), Wapping and Limehouse (31st January 1997), the Isle of Dogs (10th October 1997) and the Royal Docks (31st March 1998). The Corporation then ceased operations and was finally wound up on 30th June 1998.  Even with the benefit of hindsight it is generally acknowledged that the huge amount of time and effort devoted to the withdrawal process ensured it was very successfully achieved with very few problems left for successor agencies to deal with.

Click on the thumbnail to see the article full size (85k).

Top of Page How Docklands  communities benefited from LDDC

1998 - How the Docklands communities benefited

The LDDC is often criticised that it did not do enough to improve the social and community infrastructure or to support community development. In April 1998 Docklands News published a special edition to mark the end of the LDDC's work.  Included was this article which oulines the Corporation's expenditure on the community infrastructure and on community support. It is a more impressive record than many observers realise.

Click on the thumbnail to see the report full size (259k).

For more Information see the LDDC's Monograph: Learning to Work and Live Together - The LDDC and the Local Communities and the LDDC's Regeneration Statement

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2011 - Reg WardSadek Article

It was with great regret that we heard on Thursday 6th January 2011 of the death of LDDC's first Chief Executive, Reg Ward. So much of what the London Docklands are today is a direct result of Reg's huge vision for the area. He was much loved by all who worked for him in those heady days and he will be greatly missed. The attached article by Jackie Sadek in the Estates Gazette says is all. It is a matter of huge regret to all those who worked for Reg that while the Government has been keen to take the credit for Docklands today they have steadfastly refused any kind of honour for Reg whose vision for the area has been largely delivered - strange when MBE's seem to be freely handed out for much lesser achievements.

Click on the thumbnail to see the report full size (432k). See also this Reg Ward page where we have gathered together many of the tributes to a great man.

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2013 - Paul Reichman

The developer of Canary Wharf, Paul Reichman, sadly died on 25 October 2013 aged 83 - click here for an obituary broadcast by the BBC

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2014 - Lennie Hendrie

Sadly we have to report to report the death of Lennie Hendrie aged 54 years.


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