Today, Tobacco Dock is a blank canvas event space, which hosts around 150 events a year. Ranging from corporate events to tattoo conventions, beer festivals and of course the music events that we put on in there. Here are 10 things you might not know about Tobacco Dock…
1. During the 19th and first part of the 20th century, it was a warehouse for rum, wine, wool, furs, skins, cork and molasses. The original walls encompassed a massive 70 acres of buildings, quays, and jetties: that’s the equivalent of 40 football pitches
2. The massive walls were to keep guard against many of London’s quick fingered thieves and river pirates that were rife in the 19th century.
3. With its industrial history ending in the 60s, it became home to
squatters, stray dogs and, according to a report from The Times, two dodgy mechanics who used the old dock as a base for an illegal lorry-dismantling scam.
4. At the low point of its derelict state during the mid 80s, the video for ‘Messages’ by Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark (OMD) was shot there too.
5. In the late 80s Tobacco Dock was converted into a shopping centre, which opened for about 2 years in the early 90s. Wrong timing and wrong place meant that the shoppers never came, and East London’s version of Covent Garden went bankrupt. The construction of this project alone was £17 million pounds in 1990, and much more money was lost by businesses investing in the retail space.
6. In the 90s Rupert Murdoch was granted permission to knock down part of the old dock to make space for the massive News International HQ. Known as Fortress Wapping which loomed next door, it was demolished last year to make way for 1400 swanky apartments. Quayside Bar (or Henrys, as it was known then) was a favourite haunt of The Sun and News Of The World journalists – makes you wonder which stories were written there or decisions on which phones to hack!
8. The bear statue is a nod to the many animal furs stored on Tobacco Dock’s ‘skin floor’.
9. The tiger statue with the boy refers to an incident involving Charles Jamrach; a local legend who ran a pet shop in 19th Century. A tiger managed to escape from the shop and captured the boy in his jaws. According to legend, Mr.Jamrach managed to force his arm in the tiger’s jaw to free the young boy!
10. During the London 2012 Olympics, the venue was transformed into a barracks for military personnel, drafted in as extra security. There was an anti-aircraft missile battery installed on the car park roof.