Docklands: Cultures in Conflict, Worlds in Collision

By Janet Foster | Go to book overview

Chapter Eight

“A different place altogether”

I…very much doubt whether there's ever been a community which within a matter of five years has gone from our present size…going up to 150,000 coming in daily…. What kind of impact does that have on the community?… Suddenly it becomes a major centre in Western Europe for banking [and] finance…and because building technology is such that you can get these things up in five years you've got historically a new situation-the social change it just erupts like a volcano. It doesn't happen gradually…. Very very difficult to envisage what will happen because it's got so many things happening at the same time-you've got the ethnic thing, you've got a weak local authority you've got all sorts of problems. (One of the first “newcomers” who had lived on the Island for twenty years.)

For all the viciousness and immediacies of the battle for public housing on the Isle of Dogs and the racism that was a feature of it, the Island had already become a different place, both physically and demographically, by the time of the Bengalis' arrival. Yet, despite the sheer scale and pace of the development, the many changes that had already occurred, and the inevitability of further changes to come, many established residents were perceived to be living in a “time warp”. “It's only quite recently, if indeed it's happened”, a newcomer said, “that people have really taken on the fact that the Island is going to change. This is a different place altogether [but] it's taken quite a long time for people to realize the really radical changes that are bound to happen here.”

The once predominantly white working class area that people had rarely heard of, where no one really wanted to go, and which one newcomer said was “like going back in time”, almost overnight had been transformed into an emerging city with a diverse and fragmented residential population (poor, affluent and ethnically diverse) with an estimated 48,000 people working in the offices surrounding the once thriving docks, on the Isle of Dogs in 1998, and 85,800 across Docklands as a whole, with predictions of double that number by 2014 (LDDC 1996:6). The development had, as an Islander said, put them “on the map”. Between 1981 when the development began and 1991, the population in the two electoral wards covered by the Isle of Dogs neighbourhood area increased by 20 per cent (1991 Census), when average growth in other inner London areas was 3 per cent (Lupton 1997:5). By 2011 the residential population of the Isle of Dogs is anticipated to grow by almost 60 per cent to approximately 30,000 (LDDC 1996:15, see Table 8.1) with

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Docklands: Cultures in Conflict, Worlds in Collision
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • List of Figures xi
  • List of Tables xiii
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter One - “echoes of the Past” 9
  • Chapter Two - Dreams and Schemes 47
  • Chapter Three - “we Didn't Have Time to Be Nice to People” 91
  • Chapter Four - “grab and Greed” 117
  • Chapter Five - Different Worlds 159
  • Chapter Six - “a Slice of the Cake” 209
  • Chapter 7 - It All Turns Very Nasty: 249
  • Chapter Eight - “a Different Place Altogether” 287
  • Chapter Nine - Making Sense of It All: 313
  • Postscript 353
  • References 365
  • Index 377
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