Sunday, 28 February 2016

London's Wapping District: A Great Place to Hang in London

Wapping is not one of London's districts crammed with tourists, and that is one of the best things about it. One can stroll about unimpeded by the gawking crowds at the nearby Tower of London and have the gawking to oneself. But there are other good things as well. Wapping was once a bustling port area dominated by wharves and warehouses and trades catering to the seafaring world: chandlers, inns, pubs, dosshouses, and doxies. 

Wapping was heavily bombed in World War II and the docks, unable to handle the large ships of the late 20th century, closed in the 1960's. The area was largely derelict until major redevelopment began in the 1980's. Wapping is now a rather fashionable place, especially near the waterfront, what with the marina, restaurants, and shops of St Katherine's Docks nearby, and its proximity to the financial districts of the City and Canary Wharf. 

The low taverns and brothels may be gone along with the ships and sailors, but the layout of the streets, the warehouses, and a few pubs retain some of the feel of those days. Many of the warehouses have been converted into apartments. The cranes that once hauled goods from ships often remain on the buildings, reminding one of their former purpose. Old stairs lead down to the river at various points along the waterfront. They were used by watermen who ferried people across the river or to ships, and were known as "watermen's stairs." 

The waterside is also home to several inviting pubs with good views of the river. Two of them The Prospect of Whitby and The Town of Ramsgate, claim to be the oldest pubs on the river. 

The Prospect of Whitby boasts the longest pewter bar in Europe and an upstairs room named for Samuel Pepys, the famous 17th century diarist, who used to frequent the place. Another pub, The Captain Kidd, is named for the famous alleged pirate who was hanged nearby at Execution Dock in 1701.

The Prospect and the Captain Kidd both feature hanging ropes outside, to get you in the right mood for celebration.

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