Interesting History: Isle of Dogs
We are located on a fascinating piece of land where old and new London lives next to each other in peaceful symbiosis. This peninsula has undergone massive changes, floods, fire and bombing and yet retained its original charm.
The etymology itself raises some question marks. There are several theories explaining where the name is originated from; none of them are for sure. Some say that life was pretty hard for those living here, it was the life of dogs on the Isle of Dogs. Some say it is a corrupted form of the Isle of Dykes, the Isle of Dutch (commemorating the Dutch engineers reclaiming the land after a terrible flood) or, my personal favourite, the Isle of Ducks. You can`t help but hum Fear of the Ducks when crossing Millwall park. Most of the residents tie the name to Henry VIII who took his hunting dogs to the peninsula. Passing by, sailors could hear the barking; hence the name: Isle of Dogs. Nowadays it is often referred to simply as “the Island”.
Not only the peninsula, its history is surrounded with water as well. It was a sparsely populated piece of marshland until they drained it in the 13th Century and started planting. In 1488 mentioned terrible flood took care of the planting works, and the island stayed a marshland until Dutch engineers drained it again two centuries later.
The development of the area began with the opening of West India Docks and East India Docks in 1802 and 1803. Then came an extraordinary gentleman with an extraordinary name, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, inventor and civil engineer. During the designing and launch of the Leviathan, later renamed as the SS Great Eastern, he was a frequent visitor to the site Vanguard is standing on; due to its length, the ship had to be launched in the water sideways which required delicate chainworks. Our self-store on the Island features an image of Brunel in front of the launching chains.
With the invention of shipping containers, small docks became inefficient and the commercial docks began to decline. At the same time, that shining, glamorous business district we know as Canary Wharf started to boom featuring One Canada Square, the tallest building in the United Kingdom until it was surpassed by The Shard in 2010.
And this is how we know the Island nowadays: the unique charm of the docks that once were and all the glimmer you can get from the business district; Old and New London living next to each other.
In 2004, Vanguard has opened a self-storage on the Isle of Dogs, right on the river front, complete with its own heliport and print museum. Where else but Vanguard!