Bow Creek Lighthouse
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lighting trials for Trinity House
Trinity Buoy Wharf, in the London Borough of
Tower Hamlets, is the site of London's only lighthouse, by the confluence of the
River Thames and Bow Creek, at Leamouth. The lighthouse no longer functions, and
is the home of various art projects such as Longplayer. It is sometimes known as
Bow Creek Lighthouse.
In 1803, the site came to be used by The Elder Brethren of Trinity House, and
the seawall here was reconstructed in 1822, built by George Mundy of Old Ford.
The site was used as a maintenance depot, and storage facility for the many
buoys that aided navigation on the Thames; and the wharf for docking and repair
The original lighthouse was built by the engineer of Trinity House, James
Walker, in 1852. and was demolished in the late 1920s. The surviving lighthouse
was built in 1864-6 by James Douglass for Trinity House. It was used for
lighting trials for Trinity House's lights around England & Wales. Michael
Faraday also carried out experiments there. The pair continued to be used for
training prospective lighthouse keepers.
In December 1988, the Corporation of Trinity House closed the wharf, and the
area was acquired by the London Docklands Development Corporation. In 1998,
Urban Space Holdings Ltd took control of the site on a long lease. The site has
been, and continues to be, developed as "a centre for the arts and cultural
activities". Enhancements include studio space (including unusual architecture
based on used shipping containers) and exhibition space.
Urban Space Holdings have used the area to develop 'Container City' in 2001,
a studio and office complex made from recycled sea shipping containers. The
original project was made from 80% recycled material. "Container City 1" took 5
months to complete, taking 4 days to install. The Container City project proved
very popular and in 2002 "Container City 2" was completed delivering a further
22 studios across 5 floors in a with a brightly coloured ziggurat design. A
further extension to the Container City Complex was the "Riverside Building"
located next to the Thames facing The O2 dome. This was yet another
architectural design providing an additional 22 studio spaces.
On 30 November, 2005, the University of East London opened Fine Art studios at
the wharf, and on the 25th September 2009 the University of East London opened
two dance studios at the Institue of Performing Arts Development in The
Chainstore at Trinity Buoy Wharf.
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