Visit London Blog » museum of london docklands Enjoy the very best of London Fri, 22 May 2015 17:44:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 London Challenge: Family Day Out For £50 Tue, 09 Jul 2013 13:00:40 +0000 "Driving" the driverless trains on the DLR Saying hello to the animals at Mudchute City Farm The Greenwich Foot Tunnel Outside Discover Greenwich, the visitor centre Learning through play in Discover Greenwich Standing on the Greenwich Prime Meridian Line Pirate Alice Leghorn at the National Maritime Museum Playing in Mudlarks at the Museum of London Docklands A well-deserved sit down at Poppies restaurant in Spitalfields

Can a family enjoy a day out in London for £50? I accepted this challenge and set out with a friend and our daughters for a day out. We only spent money on travel and food, as all the attractions we visited were free.

Morning: Mudchute Farm and Discover Greenwich
Mudchute Farm is one of London’s largest city farms and easy to reach on the DLR. From Crossharbour station, it’s a short walk to the farm where we said hello to the animals, watched horse-riding lessons and then exited at Millwall Park for the playground.

From here it’s a five-minute walk to the Greenwich Foot Tunnel under The Thames to reach Greenwich. (Do note, if you have younger children the lifts don’t always work, so be prepared for stairs.) It was a scorching day, so we all appreciated how cool it was in the tunnel. Within minutes, we were in Greenwich. Discover Greenwich, the visitor centre, has lots for children to do. We enjoyed dressing up, building towers and playing games. You can pick up a free map from the Tourist Information Office here and we grabbed ours and then went to the park.

Lunch: Greenwich Park
We were spoilt for choice for great picnic locations at Greenwich Park but we chose to climb the hill to the Royal Observatory, and eat our packed lunches admiring those magnificent views. We then watched the 1pm ball drop at Flamsteed House.

It’s possible to get photos of the Prime Meridian Line outside the Observatory courtyard as the line continues across the path outside. Just look for the “kissing gate” to the right of the courtyard to see it. We walked down the hill and found the Prime Meridian is also marked on Park Vista – a road near the boating lake. This called for more photo opportunities and, again, there was no-one else there.

Afternoon: Free Museums
The National Maritime Museum is a fabulous family-friendly museum and we played on the large floor map for some time before heading up to the All Hands! children’s gallery. On the hour, there are free family events to meet historic characters and we met Alice Leghorn – a female pirate who is well worth seeing.

We all wanted an ice-cream as it was such a hot day but ice-creams from a van in the park were £2.50 each; instead, we nipped to the supermarket nearby and bought a pack of four ice-creams for less than £3.

A short ride on the DLR and we got to Museum of London Docklands with another excellent children’s play/learning area. The girls had an hour in Mudlarks damming a stream, loading cargo on a ship, weighing and building before we visited the galleries.

We played in the sunshine in Canary Wharf before heading to Spitalfields for dinner. The area is well-known for excellent street art so we made sure we had time to explore and take photos.

Dinner: Fish and Chips
Poppies of Spitalfields has 1950s style decor with the friendliest service. There are kids’ meals on the menu and we all perked up when dinner arrived. We all enjoyed our day and I’m glad we proved that a family day out does not have to be expensive in London.


  • Two adult one-day travelcards (top-up on Oyster cards): 2 x £7.30 = £14.60
  • Pack of 4 ice-creams from supermarket: £2.69
  • Dinner at Poppies, including drinks: £31.80
  • Total: £49.09

Laura Porter writes the London Travel site and is also a VisitBritain Super Blogger. She’s @AboutLondon on twitter and fits in further freelance writing while sustaining an afternoon tea addiction to rival the Queen’s.

More ideas for enjoying London on a budget

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Visiting the Past: Happy 10th Birthday Museum of London Docklands! Mon, 20 May 2013 11:05:55 +0000

Written by Tom Wareham, Curator of Maritime and Community History at the Museum of London Docklands.

Today the Museum of London Docklands celebrates its 10th anniversary as a museum – though the building itself is 210 years old and a grand and rare survivor of London’s commercial Georgian past.

Every morning as I arrive at work I am still impressed by the monumental scale of the warehouses built by London’s sugar merchants and plantation owners – even if only two of the buildings survived the firestorm of the Blitz in 1940.

On a warm day, as you cross the dock basin from the modern cityscape of Canary Wharf, the plum-coloured brickwork of the warehouses glows in greeting but, 20 years ago things were very different.  Broken windows, shattered doors and frames, leaking roofs, debris and rubbish cluttered the buildings.  It took millions of pounds to restore the building – and it took years of work to convert it into the exciting modern museum that now attracts thousands of visitors from all over the world.

The museum certainly has a unique effect on visitors who, as they discover the modern galleries, are slowly absorbed and captivated by the soft brickwork and original honey coloured timbers of the building itself. It’s as though the building itself breathes the history of the port that is being narrated in the galleries. No wonder visitors are so surprised and delighted when they come here. So, happy birthday Museum of London Docklands!

A guest post by the Museum of London as part of our Visiting the Past series. Look out for more London history next week.

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Where to Find Out More About the Tube’s History in London Fri, 04 Jan 2013 10:00:34 +0000 This year, the Tube is celebrating its 150th birthday. The Tube was the world’s first underground railway, and made a huge difference to the way people travelled in London. Here are some London museums where you can find out more about the Tube’s history.

London Transport Museum

London Transport MuseumYour first stop for any transport-related tourism. At the London Transport Museum you can find out all about the world’s first underground railway, learn about its famous roundel logo and pick up Tube merchandise in the shop, from Tube map iPad covers to books about the Tube.

The museum is great for kids, with plenty of interactive exhibits, including vintage buses to climb on and a simulator giving you the chance to drive a Tube train. This year, the museum is hosting a special anniversary exhibition about poster art on the Tube and has a programme of special events to mark the 150th anniversary.

London Transport Museum Depot at Acton

If the London Transport Museum whets your appetite, head to the museum’s store in West London where you can see the rest of the collection which is not in display in the main museum. There are more than 370,000 objects here, including vehicles, signs, posters, uniforms and photographs. The depot is not open every day and can only be visited on a guided tour or during open weekends. This year’s open weekends are in April and October.

Brunel Museum

Brunel MuseumThe Tube isn’t the only London icon celebrating a big birthday this year; the Thames Tunnel, which connects Rotherhithe and Wapping, turns 170. Built by Marc Brunel and his son Isambard Kingdom Brunel, this is the oldest tunnel in London.

It was designed to carry cargo from one side of the river to the other, but that proved too expensive and so the tunnel opened instead as a tourist attraction in 1843, with visitors paying a penny to walk beneath the river.

In 1869, the first passenger trains ran through the tunnel. It was later used as part of the East London Underground line and is now part of the London Overground. Take one of the Brunel Museum’s excellent guided tours, where you can enter the Grand Entrance Hall of the tunnel.

People's City gallery, Museum of LondonMuseum of London and Museum of London Docklands

At these two museums, you can learn about the Tube’s construction and how it affected a growing city. At the Museum of London’s People’s City gallery, which looks at the rapid expansion of the city between the 1850s and 1950s, you can find out how the Tube and new technologies in transport transformed the way people navigated the city.

Over at the Museum of London Docklands, the New Port, New City gallery examines how the docklands area has boomed in the past few decades, including the building of the Docklands Light Railway (DLR). You can also see part of a DLR carriage on display.

Have we missed anything? Let us know where else you can learn about the Tube

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Dickens and London Exhibition at Museum of London Wed, 07 Dec 2011 16:00:10 +0000 Winter, Christmas and Charles Dickens just seem to go together so this morning was the perfect time to visit the Dickens and London exhibition at Museum of London, before it opens on Friday.

Dickens often walked the streets of London at night to piece together ideas for stories and characters. This exhibition takes you on a similar tour of Dickensian London, showing how the city he called his “magic lantern” inspired his famous tales.

Like any Dickens novel, there’s plenty of information about the grimy, poverty-stricken side of London in the 1800s. But there are also cheerier aspects on display, such as a beautiful painting of people enjoying Hyde Park in the summer, strolling, relaxing and playing – just like Londoners do today.

My favourite exhibits were:

  • Handwritten letters by Charles Darwin, plus one of his own inkwells
  • A display of period doorknockers (straight out of A Christmas Carol!)
  • Dickens’ writing desk and chair

Also, Museum of London have added to their excellent app collection with Dickens: Dark London, a gorgeous-looking, graphic novel app, with monthly additions, available from 9 December.

Dickens and London, Museum of London, 9 Dec-10 Jun (admission charge). Get two-for-one entry to Dickens and London with our special offer

Please Sir, Can I Have Some More….

Celebrate the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens in 2012 with more Dickens-themed activities in London:

  • The Charles Dickens Museum: See where the author lived between 1837 and 1839
  • Meet Ebenezer Scrooge: Visit one of Dickens’ most famous characters in the grottos of Museum of London and Museum of London Docklands between 27 December and 1 January, and win a prize if you can cheer him up!
  • The British Library: Charles Dickens and the Supernatural examines how Dickens used supernatural phenomena in his stories. Until 4 March
  • BFI Southbank: Dickens on Film showcases archive footage of classic Dickens adaptations and examines his contribution to film and television history. 15 December
  • Charles Dicken’s London: Our guide to the London landmarks featured in Charles Dickens’ novels
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Summer Holiday Activities for Kids in London: Part II Fri, 19 Aug 2011 16:07:52 +0000 Looking for more ways to entertain your kids in London this summer? Following from our previous blog post, here are a few ideas:

If you want to introduce your kids to art, check out The Sunday Spot at South London Gallery in Peckham each Sunday in August. There are hands-on workshops inspired by the gallery’s current exhibitions. This summer, artists Ross Robertson and Lauren Willis are joined by Isa Suarez to explore some of the local soundscapes around the gallery. The Sunday Spot is free and runs from 2-4pm every Sunday. Ideal for children aged 3-12 years.

Treat your kids to a tour of the London Wetland Centre this summer. If you’ve got little ones who love creepy crawlies, the themes for next week’s walks are Reptiles and Invertebrates. You can also take part in a Great Pond Safari, and get crafty at the Summer Crafts sessions at the end of each day.

Think your kids will hate exploring a military museum? Think again. The National Army Museum in Chelsea has a new Kids’ Zone open this summer, specifically for kids aged 0-8 years. As well as a soft-play space for babies, there are arts and crafts, dressing-up costumes, books, interactive toys and, best of all, forest- and arctic-themed climbing frames! The Kids’ Zone is open from 10.10am to 5.15pm, and there are six 1-hour sessions each day.

There’s more for craft-loving children at the William Morris Society in Hammersmith. From now until Saturday 27 August, you can take part in a number of free Arts and Crafts Workshops, including fan-making, stained glass and lettering workshops, and block printing.

Argh, me hearties! If you’ve got a pirate fan in the family, set sail for the Museum of London Docklands this week. There’s storytelling, pirate puppet theatre, and even the chance to become pirate yourself in the excellent drama workshops at the museum. The recommended age is from 3 years upwards. If you’re really passionate about life on the high seas, check out our feature on other places to play Pirates in London.

Have you been to any other fun summer holiday events in London? Let us know in the comments below.

Read Summer Holiday Activities for Kids in London Part I

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Pirates: The Captain Kidd Story at Museum of London Docklands Wed, 18 May 2011 13:21:20 +0000 Model pirate ship. Photo by Mark Baynes Maps Pirate posters. Photo by Mark Barnes Pieces of Eight display Cannon. Photo by Mark Baynes The Admiralty Marshall's silver oar. Photo by Mark Baynes Recovered pirate loot Pirate flags made by children The gift shop: Everything you need for a pirate party!
Avast ye landlubbers, there be pirates in town! Hot on the heels of the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie, Museum of London Docklands opens its new exhibition about pirates this week. I went to this morning’s press view to find out more.

Pirates: The Captain Kidd Story is a exhibition telling the story of the infamous Captain Kidd, who was hung for murder and piracy in 1701. The show also explores Kidd’s influence on common perceptions of pirates.

The exhibition asks you to decide whether Kidd was guilty of crimes including murdering a member of his crew, illegally attacking two vessels and colluding with instead of capturing other pirates.

Highlights of the exhibition include a Jolly Roger flag from 1789, beautiful old maps used by real pirates to navigate unfamiliar seas, and a gruesome example of a gibbet cage, in which Kidd’s decomposing body was hung at Tilbury Point for more than two years.

Pirates brings us right up to the present, showing how the legend of Kidd’s buried treasure (which he attempted to use as a bargaining tool in exchange for his life) inspired almost all pirate fiction including Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. Plus, there’s display of popular pirate culture, including a Jack Sparrow doll, a Muppet Treasure Island poster and even pirate erotic novels!

At the end of the exhibition, you can give your verdict on whether Kidd was guilty or not by depositing a plastic chip in one of two boxes.

Don’t miss the Pirates Late on 27 May for grog, lessons in how to talk like a pirate and a pirate fashion workshop.

Pirates: The Captain Kidd Story at Museum of London, 20 May-30 October 2011. Book tickets

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Bases for Germany and France for London 2012 Announced Wed, 24 Nov 2010 17:50:09 +0000

Germany and France have both sorted out their hospitality bases for the 2012 Games, reported today.

Museum of London Docklands, a listed Georgian warehouse on the Isle of Dogs, will host the German Olympic Sports Federation. The French Olympic Committee will set up home in Old Billingsgate, a Grade-II listed Victorian building that’s become one of London’s most popular entertainment venues.

German House is often one of the most popular venues at any Games. It’s where the German Olympic Sports Federation and its sponsors provide VIP hospitality and facilities for their guests.

The director of Museum of London Docklands, Professor Jack Lohman says, “We are absolutely delighted to welcome the first Olympic house to the Olympic Boroughs.”

“This partnership will bring lasting benefits to the Museum of London Docklands including upgrades to the building, international links with Stories of the World – the London 2012 cultural festival for young people, and relationship-building with German businesses.

“As a publicly funded organisation, these benefits are both extremely valuable and timely.”

According to an article in the Standard earlier this month, other Olympic Houses include:

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