Canary Wharf

Canary Wharf

Skyline of Canary Wharf, viewed from the west at night.
Canary Wharf
Canary Wharf shown within Greater London
Population 73,390 (Millwall, Blackwall and Cubitt Town, East India and Lansbury and Limehouse wards 2011 Census)
OS grid reference TQ375802
London borough
Ceremonial county Greater London
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town LONDON
Postcode district E14
Police Metropolitan
Fire London
Ambulance London
EU Parliament London
UK Parliament
London Assembly

Canary Wharf is a commercial estate and locality in between Poplar, Millwall and Limehouse on the Isle of Dogs in Greater London, in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. It is one of the main financial centres of the United Kingdom, along with the City of London, and contains many of Europe's tallest buildings, including the 2nd-tallest in the UK, 1 Canada Square.[1][2]

Canary Wharf is 97 acres (39 hectares) and contains around 16,000,000 square feet (1,500,000 m2) of office and retail space. It comprises many open areas, including Canada Square, Cabot Square and Westferry Circus. Together with Heron Quays, West India Quay and Wood Wharf forms the Canary Wharf Estate.


Canary Wharf is located on the West India Docks on the Isle of Dogs.

West India Dock Company

From 1802 to the late 1980s, the Canary Wharf Estate was apart of Millwall, Limehouse and Poplar and was one of the busiest docks in the world. After the 1960s, the port industry began to decline, leading to all the docks being closed by 1980.[3][4] West India Docks was primarily developed by Robert Milligan (c. 1746–1809) who set up the West India Dock Company.

Port of London Authority

West India Dock was by this time owned by the Port of London Authority in 1909. Canary Wharf itself takes its name from No. 32 berth of the West Wood Quay of the Import Dock. This was built in 1936 for Fruit Lines Ltd, a subsidiary of Fred Olsen Lines for the Mediterranean and Canary Islands fruit trade. The Canary islands were so named after the large dogs found there by the Spanish (Gran Canaria from Canine) and as it is located on the Isle of Dogs, the quay and warehouse were given the name Canary Wharf.[5]

London Docklands Development Corporation

After the docks closed in 1980, the British Government adopted policies to stimulate redevelopment of the area, including the creation of the London Docklands Development Corporation (LDDC) in 1981 and the granting of Urban Enterprise Zone status to the Isle of Dogs in 1982.[4]

The Canary Wharf of today began when Michael von Clemm, former chairman of Credit Suisse First Boston (CSFB), came up with the idea to convert Canary Wharf into a back office. Further discussions with G Ware Travelstead led to proposals for a new business district and included the LDDC developing a cheap light metro scheme, called the Docklands Light Railway to make use a large amount of redundant railway infrastructure and to improve access.

The project was sold to the Canadian company Olympia & York[6] and construction began in 1988, master-planned by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill with Yorke Rosenberg Mardall as their UK advisors, and subsequently by Koetter Kim. The first buildings were completed in 1991, including 1 Canada Square, which became the UK's tallest building at the time and a symbol of the regeneration of Docklands. By the time it opened, the London commercial property market had collapsed, and Olympia and York Canary Wharf Limited filed for bankruptcy in May 1992.

Initially, the City of London saw Canary Wharf as an existential threat. It modified its planning laws to expand the provision of new offices in the City of London, for example, creating offices above railway stations (Blackfriars) and roads (Alban Gate). The resulting oversupply of office space contributed to the failure of the Canary Wharf project.

Canary Wharf Group

In December 1995 an international consortium, backed by the former owners of Olympia & York and other investors, bought the scheme. The new company was called Canary Wharf Limited, and later became Canary Wharf Group.

In 1997, some residents living on the Isle of Dogs launched a lawsuit against Canary Wharf Ltd for private nuisance because the tower interfered with TV signals. The residents lost the case.[7]

Recovery in the property market generally, coupled with continuing demand for large floorplate Grade A office space, slowly improved the level of interest. A critical event in the recovery was the much-delayed start of work on the Jubilee Line Extension, which the government wanted ready for the Millennium celebrations.

In March 2004, Canary Wharf Group plc. was taken over by a consortium of investors, backed by its largest shareholder Glick Family Investments[8] and led by Morgan Stanley using a vehicle named Songbird Estates plc.

Tallest buildings

This table lists completed buildings in Canary Wharf that are over 60 metres tall.

Ranking by heightImageNameHeightFloorsCompletion dateNotes
1One Canada Square235771501991The second-tallest completed building in the United Kingdom, the tallest being The Shard. Designed by Cesar Pelli, it was the tallest building in the United Kingdom upon completion in 1991. Multi-tenanted; occupiers include The Bank of New York Mellon, the CFA Institute, Clearstream, EEX (European Energy Exchange), Euler Hermes, the International Sugar Organization, Mahindra Satyam, MetLife, Moody's Analytics and Trinity Mirror.[9]
2 Newfoundland Quay 220 722 60 2019 Residential tower. [10]
38 Canada Square200655422002The joint fifth-tallest completed building in the United Kingdom. Occupied by HSBC as its world headquarters.[11]
425 Canada Square200655422001The joint fifth-tallest completed building in the United Kingdom. 25 Canada Square and 33 Canada Square together form a single complex known as the Citigroup Centre. Primarily occupied by Citigroup as its EMEA headquarters.[12] Other tenants include Gain Capital, 3i Infotech, Lehman Brothers (in Administration), Crossrail, Instinet, Munich Re, MWB Group, FIS, Interoute and Wells Fargo.
5One Churchill Place156513322005Occupied by Barclays as its world headquarters.[13] Currently the eighth-tallest building in the United Kingdom, it was originally planned to be 50 stories in height, but was scaled down to 31 after the 11 September attacks.
640 Bank Street153502332003Multi-tenanted; occupiers include Allen & Overy, ANZ Bank, China Construction Bank, Duff & Phelps, Saxo Bank and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.[9]
725 Bank Street153502332003Occupied by JP Morgan Chase as its European headquarters since 2012.[14]
810 Upper Bank Street151495322003Occupied by Clifford Chance as its world headquarters.[15] Other occupiers include FTSE Group, Infosys, MasterCard, Deutsche Bank and Total.[9]
925 Churchill Place130426232014The building houses the European Medicines Agency from early 2014 and Ernst & Young from 2015.
101 West India Quay108354362004Floors 1–12 are occupied by a Marriott Hotel.[16] Floors 13–33 house 158 apartments.
1133 Canada Square10534418199933 Canada Square and 25 Canada Square together form a single complex, see above for details.
121 Cabot Square89292211991Occupied by Credit Suisse.[17]
135 Canada Square88288162003Occupied by Bank of America Merrill Lynch.[9]
1425 Cabot Square81265171991Occupied by Morgan Stanley. Morgan Stanley also occupies the nearby 20 Bank Street as its European headquarters.[18] The architect was Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.
1525 North Colonnade80262151991Occupied by the Financial Conduct Authority as its headquarters.[9] The architect was John McAslan and Partners.
1620 Bank Street68223142003Occupied by Morgan Stanley as its European headquarters. Morgan Stanley also occupies the nearby 25 Cabot Square. It was designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.

Corporations and agencies

Canary Wharf contains around 16,000,000 square feet (1,500,000 m2) of office and retail space, of which around 7,900,000 square feet (730,000 m2) (about 49%) is owned by Canary Wharf Group.[19] Around 105,000 people work in Canary Wharf,[20] and it is home to the world or European headquarters of numerous major banks, professional services firms, and media organisations, including Barclays, Citigroup, Clifford Chance, Credit Suisse, EY, Fitch Ratings, HSBC, Infosys, J.P. Morgan, KPMG, MetLife, Moody's, Morgan Stanley, RBC, Deutsche Bank, S&P Global, Skadden, State Street, and Thomson Reuters,[21] and hosts two European Union agencies; European Medicines Agency[22] and European Banking Authority[23]



West India Quays and Poplar Dock are two marinas that are used as moorings for barges and private leisure river crafts and is owned by the Canal & River Trust.[24][25]


A local public library, called Idea Store Canary Wharf, is in Churchill Place shopping mall and run by Tower Hamlets Council which opened on Thursday 16 March 2006 as part of the Idea Store project[26] and is the borough fourth Idea Store.[27]


Canary Wharf hosts two multiplexes (cinemas), one on West India Quay run by Cineworld.[28][29] and another at Crossrail Place called Everyman Cinema.[30]


Canada Square

Canada Square is one of the central squares at Canary Wharf. It is a large open space with grass, except during the winter when it is coverted into an ice rink. The square is named after Canada, because the original developers of modern Canary Wharf, Olympia & York, wanted to reflect their heritage. Underneath the square is Canada Place shopping mall.

Westferry Circus

Westferry Circus is on the west side of Canary Wharf. It is a garden at ground level, and below is a roundabout allowing traffic to flow through. The garden is enclosed by bespoke hand-crafted ornamental railings and entrance gates by artist Giuseppe Lund. The area has a long history, dating back to 1812, when the Poplar and Greenwich Roads Company operated a horse ferry between Greenwich and the Isle of Dogs. It operated on the West Ferry and East Ferry Roads, which the names survived. Westferry Circus was chosen as the name for the roundabout and park by virtue of its proximity to Westferry Road.

Cabot Square

Cabot Square is one of the biggest squares at Canary Wharf, with a large fountain at the centre. The inner perimeter has additional fountains covered by trees. The square has large cirular glass ventilation holes to allow gases to escape from the underneath car park. The square is named after John Cabot and his son Sebastian, who were Italian explorers who settled in England in 1484.

Churchill Place

Churchill Place is an area on the east side of Canary Wharf. It is named after Winston Churchill.

Columbus Courtyard

A small square on the west side of Canary Wharf. Named after Christopher Columbus who was the Italian navigator who discovered America. The first phase of Canary Wharf was completed in 1992, 500 years after Columbus' discovery and was a tribute to his achievements.

Chancellor Passage

A passage way south of Cabot Square. Named after Richard Chancellor who sailed with Sir John Willoughby from Greenwich on their voyage through the White Sea to Moscow.

Wren Landing

Small area north of Cabot Square. Leads to North Dock footbridge towards Port East. Named after British architect Christopher Wren.


The Canary Wharf developers played a pro-active role in improving transport links, which they recognised as essential to the success of the project.

Beginning in 1985, they proposed extension of the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) to Bank, and upgrading of frequencies and capacity. The DLR now serves four stations in the area: West India Quay, Canary Wharf, Heron Quays and South Quay DLR stations with two additional stations located close by just beyond the district, Poplar and Blackwall DLR stations.

In 1988, they proposed construction of a second rail line to Docklands, which ultimately became the Jubilee Line Extension. After the Jubilee Extension opened in 1999, Canary Wharf began to actively promote Crossrail, as a new station on Crossrail's Elizabeth line will serve the area. It's due to be open in December 2018.


London City Airport in Silvertown is linked to both Canary Wharf and the City of London via the Docklands Light Railway, and an interchange to the London Underground. London City Airport DLR station is situated immediately adjacent to the terminal building, with enclosed access to and from the elevated platforms. The Vanguard helipad serves a parcel service by helicopter to Heathrow Airport.[31]

London Buses

Canary Wharf is served by several London Buses routes, including route 135 connecting the estate with Old Street and Crossharbour and the 24 hours route 277 to Highbury via Bow, Hackney Central, Dalston from Crosshabour via Millwall and also the D prefix network serving the London Docklands with the D3 running between Bethnal Green and Leamouth via Wapping and D7 between Mile End and Poplar while the D8 from Crossharbour to Stratford via Bromley-by-Bow and the night route N550 between Trafalgar Square and Canning Town and has been since its beginning, which has been vital in the continuing development of the estate.

Docklands Light Railway

The Docklands Light Railway (DLR) is an automated light metro system that has three stations in Canary Wharf. Heron Quays Station, one of the first stations to be built in the Canary Wharf Estate, was first opened in 1987. The station has two platforms in use, is in Travelcard Zone 2, and is on the Lewisham branch, between Canary Wharf and South Quay. The station was moved 200 metres south (to fit inside the new buildings) and a longer platform was built at this new site to accommodate three-unit trains planned as part of the DLR Capacity Enhancement; the station re-opened on 18 December 2002.

While Canary Wharf Station had been part of the original DLR plans, but the station was not ready when the DLR opened in August 1987. It was originally planned that the station would be similar to the original station at Heron Quays, with 2 small platforms either side of the tracks. The station is located on the DLR between Heron Quays station and the West India Quay station, in Travelcard Zone 2.

London Underground

Canary Wharf Underground station is a 2 platform station designed by Norman Foster and opened in 1999 as part of the Jubilee Line Extension from Charing Cross to Stratford. Canary Wharf station has increasingly become one of the busiest stations on the network, serving the ever-expanding Canary Wharf business district.

The station was used as a location for some scenes of Danny Boyle's 2002 film 28 Days Later and its sequel 28 Weeks Later, which was mostly based in Canary Wharf.

National Rail

Canary Wharf railway station began construction in May 2009 and will be completed in 2017 (due to officially begin operating in 2018) as part of the £15 billion Crossrail project. The station will be served by the Elizabeth line and will have 2 platforms and will be in Travelcard Zone 2.

London River Services

The Canary Wharf Pier is a London River Services pier on the River Thames located to the west of Canary Wharf, close to Narrow Street, Limehouse.


Cycle Superhighway CS3 between Tower Gateway and Barking passes to the north of Canary Wharf near Westferry station and the National Cycle Route passes to the west on the Thames Path.


Canary Wharf has been reported since 2017 as part of the Pokémon Go augmented reality game to being the home for the most wanted Pokémon gyms in London including Canary Wharf DLR station and Montgomery Square.[32]

Canary Wharf Group published an official Pokémon map for PokéStop's and Pokémon Gyms, the managing director for retail Camille Waxer said in 2016 that Pokémon Go has serious potential to attract new audiences to the area, particularly food and drink outlets are seeing an increase in footfall. [33]

See also


  1. "Heron Tower becomes tallest building in The City". BBC News. 21 February 2010. Retrieved 11 November 2010.
  2. "United Kingdom list of tallest buildings". Retrieved 12 January 2009.
  3. West India Docks (1803–1980) (Port Cities) accessed 22 July 2008
  4. 1 2 "History". Canary Wharf Group. Archived from the original on 23 June 2006. Retrieved 11 November 2010.
  5. The West India Docks: The buildings: warehouses, Survey of London: volumes 43 and 44: Poplar, Blackwall and Isle of Dogs (1994), pp. 284–300. Retrieved 22 July 2008
  6. "The Development of Transport in London Docklands – Part I: The Chronological Story". LDDC history. 17 July 1987. A New Era: the Coming of Canary Wharf. Retrieved 12 January 2009.
  7. The court found against the appellants (Hunter and others) as private nuisance legislation generally concerns "emanations" from land, not interference with such emanations. "Hunter and Others v. Canary Wharf Ltd./Hunter and Others v. London Docklands Corporation" Archived 10 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine. House of Lords Session 1996–97. Retrieved on 23 March 2009.
  8. "Glick family in late move over Canary Wharf battle". The Independent. 2 January 2011. Archived from the original on 2 January 2011.
  9. 1 2 3 4 5 "Who's Here". Canary Wharf Group plc. Archived from the original on 29 April 2012. Retrieved 13 November 2010.
  10. "Canary Wharf to get first residential building". The Daily Telegraph. 16 March 2014. Retrieved 27 July 2014.
  11. "Contact us". HSBC Holdings plc. Retrieved 13 November 2010.
  12. "£16bn cross-London project to take four floors in Canary Wharf tower". Property Week. 6 June 2008. Retrieved 13 November 2010.
  13. "Corporate enquiries". Barclays Bank PLC. Archived from the original on 29 March 2010. Retrieved 13 November 2010.
  14. Canary Wharf Group plc – Estate Map Archived 1 April 2011 at the Wayback Machine.. (13 May 2010). Retrieved on 2013-07-12.
  15. "United Kingdom". Clifford Chance. Archived from the original on 15 August 2010. Retrieved 13 November 2010.
  16. "Contact Us". Marriott International, Inc. Retrieved 8 March 2011.
  17. "Contact Us". Credit Suisse. Retrieved 13 November 2010.
  18. "Morgan Stanley in the United Kingdom". Morgan Stanley. Retrieved 13 November 2010.
  19. "Higher occupancy lifts Canary Wharf's Songbird". Reuters. 22 March 2007. Retrieved 11 November 2010.
  20. "Canary Wharf boss sees future in creative campus". Retrieved 3 March 2014.
  21. "China to invest in Canary Wharf". China Economic Review. 31 August 2009. Retrieved 11 November 2010.
  22. "European Medicines Agency -".
  23. "European Banking Authority".
  24. "West India Docks".
  26. "Idea Stores - Case study".
  27. "Idea Store - Canary Wharf".
  29. "Cinema Listings - West India Quay".
  30. "Cinema Listings - Everyman Cinema".
  31. Weiss, Richard. "DHL Speeds Deliveries With Heathrow-Canary Wharf Helicopter Run" Bloomberg, 21 January 2015. Archive
  32. "10 things you didn't know about Canary Wharf". SACO.

Further reading

  • Kevin D'Arcy (2012). London's 2nd City: Creating Canary Wharf. Rajah Books. ISBN 0955670624. 
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