Tuesday 25 January 2011


Over New Year, we stayed with family in London. A good time was had, including a day around Greenwich and Docklands, during which, we travelled on this.

The Docklands Light Railway is an automated light railway system, opened in 1987 to service the Docklands area of East London. This whole Port of London area fell into decline when goods began to be transported in container ships. Being a river port, London was not suited to the continuous passage of such huge ships and a new container dockyard opened at Tilbury in Essex.  

Very quickly, strategies were mooted to redevelop the area and this light railway system was an integral part of bringing life back into the former port. 

To begin, there were two lines, from Island Gardens to Stratford (close to the Olympic sites for the 2012 games) and to Tower Gateway, near to Tower Bridge.

Since then, extensions have been built to Bank (in the heart of the city), under the Thames to Greenwich (our first destination) and out to London City Airport. Some of this development has required the railway to go underground.

On 9th February 1996, an Irish Republican Army bomb was detonated under a bridge close to the DLR South Quay Station. The bomb killed two people, injured thirty nine others and caused £85 million worth of damage. It was a tragic event in the history of the area.

I can't remember how long after this it was that myself, my husband and our then young sons travelled on the DLR, but soon enough that the normally fully automated system needed a little bit of help. We had boarded at Stratford and installed ourselves in the very front seats of the very front carriage. At one stop we found ourselves being joined by an apologetic DLR employee, who explained that, due to the continuing danger of debris falling onto the line, the train needed a 'driver' to start it from each station over the next section of the line. We moved the boys onto knees to make room. 

At the very next stop, Mark was rewarded by being invited to press the button to start off the train and at the station after that, it was Ben's turn. At age 4 and 2 respectively, it was quite a thrill. They have always liked trains!

This time around, our final stop was at Canary Wharf. I loved the station roof!

...through which you can just make out the tower.


  1. As with the Sheffield tram, I have never traveled on the DLR (although, true to form, I lived in London when they started constructing it). That last photograph is stunning.

  2. Great story, H. And that last shot? Wow, just wow.

  3. A Wonderful story! The last picture appeals to my abstract muse. I want to go there and make a series of studies of that roof! It wouldn't be so good without the fog though, and the lights might be off....

  4. At the risk of sounding like an echo, I concur with everyone else - that last shot is superb!

    Thoroughly enjoyed the story, too :)

  5. I love the front seat so you feel like your are the driver

  6. I remember travelling on the DLR quite a few years ago now so probably not long after it was opened. The photo of the station roof is amazing:)