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8 July, 2021
News Story

100 Years of the Royal Docks

This week marks the Centenary of the Royal Docklands. We look back at the history of the docks and how the area – and our work – has changed.

On July 8th 1921, the third and final dock of London’s Royal Docks was officially opened by King George V. Since our establishment in 1962, the Royal Docks have been a central part of history. This week we look back at some of the memories from former employees who remember the seafarers staying at Anchor House, and interview some of the organisations which are based in the Royal Docklands today.

In 1962, Your Place was established to provide temporary accommodation to out-of-work seafarers coming in and out of the nearby docks. Some of our former employees remember these dates fondly. Here is what they had to say:

“If they were on leave or on a ship, they’d come in a have a look around, see what they wanted if they were actually on leave I suppose they had places to go or family to see, but it was a good place for them to come because then they could just let their hair down and really enjoy themselves.”- Kathy

“It was marvellous to run into people you hadn’t seen for years. There were people who walked into Anchor House for a limited period, before they joined their next ship or they’d be on a ship in the Royal Docks” – Les

As London’s industrial landscape changed and the London Docks closed, the number of seafarers staying with us dropped, and so in the 1990s we began operating as a residential centre for people experiencing homelessness. In the years since, we have changed in many ways and now support hundreds of people without a place to call home each year, but we will always value our foundations.

Today, the Royal Docks is London’s only Enterprise Zone – special areas of opportunity where business rates are reinvested back into the area to support economic growth. Residential, commercial and retail developments are springing up along the Royal Docks now. Here’s what some business owners and organisations have to say about the redevelopment and how much the area has changed.

Nicola from Little Hudson Café, which opened in September 2019, said, “The regeneration of the area has definitely been positive. There’s such a strong sense of community… it feels like a nice local area where you get to see your neighbours all the time! For young children growing up in the area, there are things to do now too. There’s even a community centre, with soft play for the kids. And whereas it used to be really quiet around the Royal Docks, there’s a real buzz about the area now.”

Linda Strachan, from Newham Swords Fencing Club, said, “I have seen, over the decades since the sixties to now, the area has really grown in diversity. At our fencing club, we have kids from families originating from every continent – amongst our members, there are 57 different languages spoken. The diversity of the borough is a really positive thing. It’s allowed people to get an insight into other communities. The kids who come to our club really learn to appreciate other cultures and other people’s point of view.”

Andrew Warburton, Corporate Partnerships Specialist at Your Place said: “Your Place has acted as a beacon of hope to those experiencing homelessness in Newham for many years, and our organisation has seen many changes happen in our local area, including the significant regeneration of the Royal Docks region. There remain huge numbers of people needing our help in the borough, and we are now engaging with increasing numbers of fantastic local businesses based at the Royal Docks and beyond who are keen to support the work that we do.”

If you’re a local business in the Royal Docklands region and would like to get involved with our charity, we’d love to hear from you!

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