Ernie is the owner of Natural Speciality, the café in the pavilion in Thames Barrier Park. If you’ve not yet visited, then I would highly recommend it. It’s spacious and open, with views looking out over the park. It’s a great place to meet friends for coffee or relax with a coffee and a book. (Top tip: Remember to take some cash with you as they have a minimum spend on their card machine.)

We met with Ernie to find out more about what it’s like to work in Barrier Park and find out more about the area surround Thames Barrier Park.

How long have you been running Barrier Park Café?

I opened in 2003, so that’s 12 years now. It’s had its ups and downs, as many businesses do but it’s been a great place to work.

Do you have any other businesses?

This isn’t my only venture; I also have a coffee company in Canary Wharf and my own coffee farm in Nigeria. I learnt early on in my career that when you have a café you need to have a reliable coffee supplier, so I started my own. I visit my farm in Nigeria regularly and it supplies the coffee for my London businesses.

How has the area around Barrier Park changed in last few years?

There has been so much change! There was no DLR when we first started and the only housing was Barrier Point. All along the North Woolwich Road was empty land and the airport was much quieter too, before it expanded. Now there are so many new people moving here in Waterside Park and the other developments, and another 3000 homes are being built in the Royal Wharf expansion. There is so much more going on here, it is almost unrecognisable.

What is the best thing about the area?

For me the best thing is that there is so much change and nothing stays the same. It’s exciting seeing the renewal of the docklands, not just the new homes but also the infrastructure development and a new of sense community.

How would you like to see the area develop in the future?

Everything here is so fluid that you can’t really make a plan for the future in this part of London, you just have to go with the flow.  You have to adapt to the changes that keep coming. I would really like to see more community develop here, with more people moving to the area you have more opportunities for neighbourhood groups and social events.


Follow Ernie on twitter: @primecoffee

See his website: