I took the young patrons of the RA on a walking tour of Stepney this morning.

I always enjoy showing people who are more used to the pavements of Chelsea how green parts of East London are: partly owing to bombing admittedly, but also because of determined efforts of social improvement, which, in the preservation of green spaces, began remarkably early, beginning with the creation of Stepney Green as a public garden in 1872 and the opening of the cemetery of St. Dunstan’s Garden as a garden on 18 July 1887.

The other thing that struck me is how remote the events of the 1980s are to millennials. Standing on the north side of Limehouse Basin (originally known as the Regent’s Canal Dock) and remembering how it was open water at least twice the size before it was filled in by the LDDC in the 1980s to create a marina, surrounded by urban dereliction as the result of the closure of the docks, I felt how remote the creation of Canary Wharf and the Docklands Light Railway now are, fragments of ancient history.


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