Trinity Buoy Wharf

Coordinates: 51°30′27.8″N 00°00′29.9″E / 51.507722°N 0.008306°E / 51.507722; 0.008306
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Trinity Buoy Wharf Light
Bow Creek Lighthouse
Bow Creek Lighthouse at Trinity Buoy Wharf
Tower Hamlets
Coordinates51°30′27.8″N 00°00′29.9″E / 51.507722°N 0.008306°E / 51.507722; 0.008306
Constructionbrick tower
Shapeoctagonal tower with balcony and lantern attached to 1-storey depot building
Markingsunpainted tower, black lantern
OperatorTrinity Buoy Wharf[1]

Trinity Buoy Wharf is the site of a lighthouse, by the confluence of the River Thames and Bow Creek on the Leamouth Peninsula, Poplar.[2] It lies within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. The lighthouse no longer functions, but is the home of various art projects such as Longplayer. It is sometimes known as Bow Creek Lighthouse.


In 1803, the site began to be used by the Elder Brethren of Trinity House, now known as Corporation of Trinity House. The seawall was reconstructed in 1822 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 of lightships.

The original lighthouse was built by the engineer of Trinity House, James Walker, in 1852, and was demolished in the late 1920s. A second lighthouse, which survives, was built in 1864–66 by James Douglass for Trinity House. The lantern at the top of the tower came from the Paris Exposition of 1867, where Trinity House had used it to demonstrate Professor Holmes's improved system of electric lighting for lighthouses.[3] Initially it housed ('for experimental purposes')[3] the optical equipment which had been shown at the Exposition. Michael Faraday carried out experiments there. It was later used to test lighting systems for Trinity House's lights around England and Wales. Both lighthouses were also used for training prospective lighthouse keepers.[4]

Late 20th century and on[edit]

In December 1988, Trinity House closed the wharf, and the area was acquired by the London Docklands Development Corporation. In 1998, the LDDC set up the Trinity Buoy Wharf Trust with a 125-year lease to hold the land for the people of London.[5] 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 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.[6] "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 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.

In November 2005, the University of East London opened Fine Art studios at the wharf; and in September 2009 the university opened two dance studios at the Institute of Performing Arts Development in The Chainstore at the wharf.[7]

Faraday School, a not-for-profit primary school run by the New Model School Company Limited, opened in September 2009.

The wharf is also the home of Thames Clippers who have offices and base all their boats on the pier there.

In April 2013 the former Cory Environmental Thames Lighterage tug Swiftstone moved to Trinity Buoy Wharf from Greenwich, and Swiftstone Trust's volunteers began a full restoration of the vessel[8] which can be seen underway at the year Thames Barge Driving event. In 2016 Trinity Buoy Wharf Trust acquired two historic tugboats, the Knocker White and the Varlet from the Museum of London Docklands.[9][10] Both vessels are listed by National Historic Ships on the National Register of Historic Vessels.[11][12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rowlett, Russ. "Lighthouses of Southeastern England". The Lighthouse Directory. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Retrieved 29 April 2016.
  2. ^ "Visit Trinity Buoy Wharf".
  3. ^ a b Douglass, James Nicholas (25 March 1879). "The Electric Light applied to Lighthouse Illumination". Minutes of Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers. LVII (1, 639): 82.
  4. ^ Guide to English and Welsh Lights Archived 28 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine accessed 27 June 2007
  5. ^ "About TBW". Trinity Bay Wharf. Archived from the original on 16 December 2019. Retrieved 12 December 2019.
  6. ^ Container City website Archived 6 December 2006 at the Wayback Machine accessed 27 June 2007
  7. ^ "UEL Launches Dance Studios at Trinity Buoy Wharf". Archived from the original on 1 December 2010. Retrieved 2 October 2009.
  8. ^ "Swiftstone". The Liquid Highway. Retrieved 14 April 2021.
  9. ^ "Historic vessels Knocker White and Varlet set sail to new home at Trinity Buoy Wharf". Museum of London. 14 November 2016. Retrieved 24 August 2017.
  10. ^ "Historic vessels Knocker White and Varlet set sail to new home at Trinity Buoy Wharf". Trinity Buoy Wharf. 14 November 2016. Archived from the original on 24 August 2017. Retrieved 24 August 2017.
  11. ^ "Knocker White". National Historic Ships UK. Retrieved 24 August 2017.
  12. ^ "Varlet". National Historic Ships UK. Retrieved 24 August 2017.

External links[edit]