How The London Docklands Conflict With Its Current Development

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The London Docklands are a particularly unique area of London; the area possesses a rich history as a major seaport, but is also now home to one of London’s largest financial centers. In essence, the London Docklands are a junction where history collides with the present. Within this essay, I will discuss how efforts to conserve the past of the London Docklands conflict with its current development. One the one hand, the Museum of London Docklands (MLD) acts as a prime example of efforts to conserve the area’s rich yet dark history. On the other hand, the development of Canary Wharf, a financial power center, symbolizes the future of the area, with little to no attempts to preserve the Docklands’ history. I will use supplementary sources from various authors to aid in the discussion of the conflict created by the Museum of London Docklands’ efforts to preserve the past and Canary Wharf’s efforts to develop. I conclude that it is precisely the conflict between the two areas, one past oriented, the other present and future oriented, that helps constitute what kind of ‘place’ the London Docklands is. A particularly difficult past to conserve due to the sensitivity of the subject is that of the London Docklands, specifically its use to store sugar produced by enslaved Africans from the 17th century through the 19th century. Despite the tragedy of the history, the Museum of London Docklands asserts that the period is a crucial part of British history and encourages the preservation of the past in its London, Sugar, and Slavery Gallery. However, this preservation of London’s dark past drastically conflicts with the massive business enterprises now domineering the area called Canary Wharf. On the one hand, an extremely inclusive museum... ... middle of paper ... ...nsider the many perspectives and stories that can be told of the Docklands as a ‘place.’ On the one hand, the MLD attempts, quite successfully, to tell the many untold and darker stories of the Docklands, whereas on the other, Canary Wharf tells the prosperous economic and financial story of London. The Docklands are most certainly a place where efforts to preserve the past conflict with the current development; however, the conflict created exemplifies how a ‘place’ is always a hybrid. It is in this way that Massey’s concept of ‘interconnectedness’ and Hayden’s concept of ‘combination’ come to life. The London Docklands are not solely a business enterprise and they are certainly no longer active ports involved in the sugar and slave trade; rather, the London Docklands as a ‘place’ are a growing business capital of London with long layers of history as a global port.

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