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Wapping

From Academic Kids

Wapping
OS Grid Reference:Template:Gbmappingsmall
Administration
Borough:Tower Hamlets
County:Greater London
Region:Greater London
Nation:England
Other
Ceremonial County:Greater London
Traditional County:Middlesex
Post Office and Telephone
Post town:LONDON
Postcode:E1
Dialling Code:020

Wapping is a place in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. It is situated on the north bank of the River Thames facing Bermondsey and Rotherhithe and is part of the Docklands area of London.

The area was first settled by Saxons, from whom it takes its name (meaning literally "[the place of] Wæppa's people"). It developed along the embankment of the Thames, hemmed in by the river to the south and the now-drained Wapping Marsh to the north. This gave it a peculiarly narrow and constricted shape, consisting of little more than the axis of Wapping High Street and some north-south side streets. John Stow, the 16th century historian, described it as a "continual street, or a filthy strait passage, with alleys of small tenements or cottages, built, inhabited by sailors' victuallers."

Wapping's proximity to the river gave it a strong maritime character for centuries, well into the 20th century. It was inhabited by sailors, mastmakers, boat-builders, blockmakers, instrument-makers, victuallers and representatives of all the other trades that supported the seafarer. This changed radically in the 19th century when the London Docks were built to the north and west of the High Street. Wapping's population plummeted by nearly 60% during the century, with many houses destroyed by the construction of the docks and giant warehouses along the riverfront. Squeezed between the high walls of the docks and warehouses, the district became isolated from the rest of London, although some relief was provided by Brunel's Thames Tunnel to Rotherhithe. The opening of Wapping tube station on the East London Line in 1869 provided a direct rail link to the rest of London.

Wapping was devastated by German bombing in World War II and by the post-war closure of the docks. It remained a run-down and derelict area into the 1980s, when the area was transferred to the management of the London Docklands Development Corporation, a government quango with the task of redeveloping the Docklands. The London Docks were largely filled in and redeveloped with a variety of commercial, light industrial and residential properties.

In 1986, Rupert Murdoch's News International built a new 80m printing and publishing works in the north of Wapping. This became the scene of violent protests after News International's UK operation moved from Fleet Street to Wapping, with over 5,000 print workers being sacked when new technology was introduced. The plant was nicknamed "Fortress Wapping" when the sacked print workers effectively besieged it, mounting round-the-clock pickets and blockades in an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to thwart the move.

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