On his first trip to The Museum of Dockland, Canary Wharf, Rushane Francis commented, “That is the best trip that I have ever been on!”

Students were intrigued to learn how archivists of a small piece of Roman mosaic started the process in developing this fascinating museum.

The interactive displays fascinated the students and enabled them to discover how the trade in sugar enslaved Africans and shaped London. Learning about this in a building that is central to this story was particularly poignant. It was built at the time of the transatlantic slave trade, to store the sugar from the West Indian plantations where enslaved men, women and children worked.

The artefacts on display in relation to the development of a city being transformed by vast new docks were particularly appealing. We learnt how the early 19th century brought great change to London’s river and port. A huge docks complex was built on the Isle of Dogs, new bridges spanned the Thames and a tunnel was dug beneath it

Our students loved Exploring an interactive model of the dark alleyways of London’s Sailortown. This immersive display recreates the atmosphere of Sailortown. This ramshackle London district, close to the docks, centred around Wapping, Shadwell and Ratcliffe.

The social and working history of this area is richly documented and we enjoyed seeing the vehicles, food packaging, architectural and building fragments, street furniture, shop fronts and interior fittings from a variety of London. The vast array of trades in London represented here is impressive: clock and watchmaking, wheelwrights, glass-making, silk-weaving, braid-making, shoe-making and repairing and silversmiths.

Amid a rapidly changing social and cultural demographic and possibly most importantly, the digital revolution, this trip to The London Docklands Museum was an inspiration.

L. Mcleod

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