was the site of cargo warehouses that served the docks based in London E14, taking its name from sea trade with the Canary Islands. The docks were, as recently as 1961, the busiest in the world but fell into declie after containerisation.
The project to revitalise eight square miles of derelict London docks began in 1981 with the establishment of the London Docklands Development Corporation. At first, redevelopment was focused on light industrial schemes and Canary Wharf
’s largest occupier was Limehouse Studios
, a TV production company.
In 1984, Michael von Clem, head of the investment bank Credit Suisse First Boston, was visiting the Docklands looking for a site for a client’s food processing plant and noticed that there was empty land. Thinking of relocating City of London offices, von Clem contacted his opposite number at Morgan Stanley who said that a large scheme with critical mass would be necessary. It was also agreed that a new Tube line would be required to make the scheme viable.
Canadian developer Olympia and York bought the project idea. Critically, Olympia and York agreed to meet 50% of the proposed cost of an extension to the Jubilee Line. Construction of Canary Wharf
began in 1988 with phase one completed in 1992.
The property market collapsed in the early 1990s. Tenant demand evaporated and the Jubilee Line work had not started as Olympia & York collapsed. The scheme went into administration. For a while it seemed that Canary Wharf
would be a white elephant, accessible only by the Docklands Light Railway.
In December 1995, an international consortium backed by the former owners of Olympia & York bought the scheme. At this time its working population was around 13 000 and over half the office space was empty. Probably the critical event in the recovery of Canary Wharf
was the much-delayed start of work on the Jubilee Line, which the government wanted ready for the Millennium celebrations. From this point, potential tenants began to see Canary Wharf
as a alternative to traditional office locations. The remaining phases were completed and new phases were built.
is now very successful with tenants including major banks and news media firms. Jubilee Place
opened as a shopping mall in 2004.
The immediate impact of Canary Wharf
was to raise land values in the surrounding area.
is now connected to central London via the Canary Wharf
DLR station, opened in 1991, and the extension of the Jubilee Line to Canary Wharf
tube station, opened in 2000. A river boat service from Canary Waterside connects Canary Wharf
to the City of London and Greenwich.