Canary Wharf College

Miss Jean Price – established the Welcome Institute in damp, cramped premises at 333 Westferry Rd. It provided:

  • hot meals at affordable prices to factory girls (serving anything between 70 and 170 girls a day)
  • evening classes in dressmaking and needlework
  • bible classes for boys
  • club-rooms for local football teams. I

In 1905, the institute moved from its to a new building at 197 East Ferry Rd. The ground floor originally contained a common dining-hall and a small dining room, served by a kitchen and ancillary wing at the rear of the entrance lobby. The coalhouse and lavatories formed a separate block at the back of this wing. On the other side, a second, larger, wing contained an assembly room, with a platform at one end. Staff quarters were placed on the first floor. The bay to the right of the street entrance was originally a single storey.

In 1913–14 the premises were enlarged by the addition of a small two-storey wing comprising a chapel over a first-aid room. Seating up to 25, the chapel was intended particularly for the use of girls preparing for confirmation. The first-aid room really came into its own for treating football injuries on Saturdays, when teams playing on the ground adjoining could use the Institute.

In 1923, following Miss Price’s retirement, the Welcome Institute closed and the building was handed over to a youth-club organization founded by the former playwright Reginald Kennedy-Cox (1881-1966).  Its official name became Dockland Settlement (No. 2), joining Dockland Settlement (No. 1) in Canning Town. In the following years there would be more settlements opening in Rotherhite, Stratford and in other cities.

Between then and the Second World War the premises were extensively added to, which included the construction of a gymnasium and a new chapel, with a distinctive square tower and copper-covered spire. For his work in this field, Kennedy-Cox was knighted in 1930. He retired from his full-time work in 1937. In 1944 his war work earned him a CBE.

In 1939 Queen Mary visited to see the George the Fifth Memorial room dedicated to her late husband.

For a brief period at the start of World War II, the Dockland Settlement was used as a military billet. After the war, the Dockland Settlement continued its important function as not only the organiser of various sporting activities, but also as a base for other sporting clubs not related to the Dockland Settlement. Of course, being surrounded by docks and water, the Dockland Settlement had its own boat.

Marie Smith was a well-known and liked figure at Dockland Settlement, being involved in many music and dance activities. The Docklands Settlement continued its activities until into 21st century but, the building became increasingly costly to maintain.

It was in many respects an impractical building, being made up of different sections and rooms, which were built at different times. The Dockland Settlements organisation felt compelled to sell the buildings, which were purchased by the Canary Wharf College. The college planned to redevelop the site, and demolition of the street-facing buildings started in about 2009. The new building, opened in 2011, is in striking contrast to the old building(s). The brickwork is intended to represent the Canary Wharf skyline. The buildings at the rear, including the chapel and its spire, were preserved. The memorial plaque is in honour of Harold Kimberley, a long serving warden of Dockland Settlement after whom Kimberley House in Galbraith St is named.

There was quite some upset when the Dockland Settlement buildings were demolished, and not everyone is mad about the design of the new building. Understandable…many people have many fond memories of the place and it’s difficult to see yet another piece of the old Island disappear. However, at least has retained its social and community function. As the Dockland Settlements organisation state on their website

The Docklands Settlements has recently sold this Community Centre to the Canary Wharf College – a new free school on the Isle of Dogs. It was sad to say good-bye to the building but we could not think of a better use for the building than the education of children aged from 4 to 12

 

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