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Tower Hamlets

Still a largely working class district in the south-western part of the Isle of Dogs, though now intermixed with a dockside Enterprise Zone. Its name derives from the windmills that once lined the western embankment. Before these appeared this was Pomfret manor – the base for the earliest recorded Thames ferry east of London, which plied between here and Greenwich in the mid-fifteenth century. Great Eastern pier was the site of the Scott Russell shipyard, where the steamship Great Eastern was built and launched in 1857, subsequently laying the first Atlantic cable. In 1868 Millwall Docks opened to handle imports of timber and grain, and McDougalls flour works were established here. The Millwall Extension Railway came in 1872, on the route now taken by the DLR. Millwall’s industrial growth brought shipbuilding, engineering and chemicals, and an oil works owned by local resident Alexander Duckham. After the First World War, ‘homes for heroes’ were erected on the Chapel House estate (named after a nearby medieval chapel) in a partnership between Poplar council and Millwall Lead Works. In the 1950s and 60s council blocks and maisonettes provided housing for local people whose homes had been destroyed during the blitz. Along the riverside more exclusive flats were constructed during the eighties Docklands boom, including Maconochies Wharf, the largest self-build development in Britain.

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Thermopylae Gate

Workers from Morton’s, a local confectionery and canning firm, formed Millwall football club in the 1880s. The club played at several locations on the island before crossing the river to the borders of Bermondsey and New Cross in 1910.

Postal district: E14
Population: 12,892
Station: Docklands Light Railway (Crossharbour, once Millwall Dock station, zone 2)
Riverboat pier: Masthouse Terrace (formerly Great Eastern pier)


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Brewer's London Phrase & Fable

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