In Medieval times, the Isle of Dogs was known as Stepney Marsh and in the 13th Century was drained to support meadows and pastures as well as cornfields. During the reign of Henry VIII the King kennelled his dogs in the area and used to keep his dogs here.
In the late 1500's, the Port of London was alive with activity, trade was expanding and Docklands became a point of departure for merchant ships - in 1620 the Mayflower set sail from Rotherhithe on it's historic trip to America.
In 1802 the West India Docks opened and were considered to be the country's greatest civil engineering structure of its day. The Port of London continued to grow for many years and by the 1930's it carried 35 million tons of cargo, worth approximately £700m carried by 55,000 ship movements and served by more than 10,000 lightermen.
As with most of East London, The Docklands experienced heavy bombing during the Second World War and many of the buildings had to be rebuilt. Of course with the huge uplift in traffic through the docks, the buildings were upgraded in size during the post war refit. The 1960's saw the peak for the docks when over 60 million tons of cargo was handled.
New technology and the arrival of larger container ships meant that the Thames was no longer a viable option for cargo logistics and the coastal ports became the favoured alternative. During the 1970's there was massive disinvestment in Docklands as businesses closed or moved away with the progressive closure of the dock system.
Between 1966 and 1976 the five London Docklands boroughs lost 150,000 jobs. This represented 20% of all jobs in the area. This can be compared to 2% for the whole of Great Britain.
The London Docklands Development Corporation (LDDC) was created by the local Government Planning and Land Act 1980. Its job was to secure regeneration by bringing land and buildings into use, encouraging industry and commerce, creating an attractive environment, and assisting in the provision of housing and social facilities to encourage people to live and work in the area.
Speaking of the plight of London Docklands in 1981, the Environment Secretary Michael Heseltine said:
"The area displays more acutely and extensively than any area in England the physical decline of the urban city and the need for urban regeneration. IT represents a major opportunity for the development that London needs over the last twenty years of the 20th Century: new housing, new environments, new industrial developments, new architecture - all calculated to bring these barren areas back into more valuable use."
In 1982 the Isle of Dogs became an Enterprise Zone which offered tax allowances to both investors and developers and the Docklands that we know today started to take shape.
In 1988 the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) opened, as did the City Airport and the master building agreement was signed between Olympia & York and the LDDC for a 12.2 million sq. ft. development at Canary Wharf.
At the outset Canary Wharf's future hung in doubt. At one stage the site was going to have to be sold off. However, Instead of simply selling off the development, the creditors decided to continue investing in the project, brining the project out of administration in 1993.
While construction continued, the Wharf attempted to lure new tenants with rents offered as low as £1 per square foot and generous rent free periods. The American bank, State Street, was the first to make the bold move into the estate and occupancy rates began to rise with the pied piper effect. It began to attract new high-profile tenants, including Credit Suisse and The Independent. The working population at the complex swelled to nearly 13,000 as occupancy rates reached 75 percent by 1995.
The opening of the Jubilee Line for the Millennium celebrations made estate more accessible to those in the west, thus making a career in the area more of an option for the City's employees.
In 2001 HSBC and Citigroup relocated their Global headquarters into two bespoke towers on the site and Canary Wharf's battle with the Corporation of London gathered major momentum.
Today the Docklands has a thriving business community supported by the Docklands Business Club which constantly promote inter company business. This society has proved invaluable to a number of start up companies in the area and is growing by the day.
The properties are in huge demand, not only by Canary Wharf workers, but by domestic and international investors alike. Thames-side properties are growing in popularity and prices are starting to rival those of the West End.
The next fuel to ignite the Docklands market will be the construction of the Wood Wharf development, to the east of the Canary Wharf estate. This will provide further commercial and retail space to accommodate the strong demand.
The Canary Wharf estate boasts a vast array of shops, bars and restaurants which can be found at www.mycanarywharf.com .
The area offers a number of pubs and bars overlooking the Thames which offer excellent menus, wines and real ales. Off Prestons Road on a side turning, you will find The Gun, a gem of a pub with a generous terrace overlooking the Thames.
In the heart of the island is the Puzzle Bar which is located adjacent to Glengall Bridge and is a two storey bar that serves simple, quick, but good quality fodder. This bar is favoured by the younger professionals as it tends to show a majority of the televised sports events.
Limehouse, which is commonly known as the village of the Docklands features various styles of pubs and bars catering to all tastes. The three riverside pubs; Booty's, The Grapes and Gordon Ramsey's The Narrow are all of excellent quality.
Those who haven't visited the Docklands for a number of years are advised to take a trip over here. The whole vibe of Canary Wharf and its surrounding areas has stepped up a gear. The cleanliness of the Docklands and the obvious future potential make it one of the most popular choices for buyers in London at the moment.