WELCOME TO GALLIONS REACH_html_5cdd3503According to ‘Hidden London’

‘The Galyons were a 14th-​​century family who owned property on the shoreline. Gallions Point, at the entrance to the King George V Dock, is nine nautical miles below London Bridge. In 1878 Gallions Reach was the scene of the Thames’ worst ever disaster, when the Princess Alice pleasure steamer sank with the loss of more than 600 lives.

‘Gallions Reach DLR station is located to the north-​​west of its prede­cessor, Gallions, a ship-​​to-​​rail transfer point on the Port of London Authority’s railway. Gallions had opened in 1880, but closed with the branch line in 1940.

gallions2‘The area includes a grade II listed Gallions Hotel, built between 1881 and 1883 for the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, to accom­modate travellers who were halting overnight. Rudyard Kipling stayed at the hotel when he was setting off for India, and the author mentions the place in his novel The Light that Failed (1890): “Is it Tilbury and a tender, or Gallions and the docks?”

‘After standing empty for many years, Gallions Hotel has recently been thoroughly renovated as part of a deal that has allowed it to be engulfed by upmarket apartment blocks. A ‘bar and kitchen’ called The Reach opened in the hotel building in 2013.

Gallions Reach shopping park occupies part of the gasworks site where Stanley Kubrick filmed the Vietnam scenes for Full Metal Jacket and James Bond dispatched Blofeld down a chimney in For Your Eyes Only.

A local perspective

We spoke to local resident, Lizi Oni, about her experience of living in Gallions Reach since 2010

What brought you to Gallions Reach? I moved here in the summer of 2010, when I got married. Both myself and my husband grew up in Newham so moving here meant we were still close to family and remain part the community we love, but at the same time it sort of feels like a little pocket of the city removed from all the hustle and bustle.

My first real impression of the area came when we were sat on the waters’ edge of Albert Basin, after having viewed a couple of the show homes while flat-hunting. The sun was shining on all the pretty little boats moored up on the far end of the dock and the ducks and geese were bobbing by – it felt like we could have been anywhere in Europe, it was just so pretty! There’s a grade II listed building, in the middle of all the new residential apartment buildings which was closed up when we moved in. (Apparently it was one of the old merchants’ inns back when the docks were still the heart of the industrial revolution. It’s since been converted into a great new pub called Galyons with a gym downstairs). The airplanes from City Airport were coming in to land every half hour and the colourful UEL campus was buzzing with new students moving in – it just felt like a place with amazing history and lots of new exciting potential.

gallionsreachBest thing about living where you do? We love living here. The demographic of the area is mostly young families and professionals from all sorts of cultures and backgrounds, much like in the rest of Newham. Being a stone’s throw from the DLR makes it a great area to commute from. We both work in hospitals in the City – Seyi being a physio at the Royal London and myself an oncology nurse at Guy’s in London Bridge. Even though the area might look a little cut-off, it’s actually really well connected transport-wise.

Any niggles? My only small niggle about living in Gallions Reach is that, apart from the underground parking for residents, the public parking here is rubbish! We often have people over and it’s always a bit of a gamble as to whether there’ll be anywhere for people to leave their cars. We find a way round it so it’s just more of an annoyance than a major issue, but there you go!

Any best things you enjoy locally to recommend? We’d highly recommend Galyons as a nice date-night destination. In the summer people make good use of the outdoor area with lots of live music and family-friendly events. It’s very romantic walking along the waters edge, with the city skyline in the distance, especially at sunset! Seyi makes good use of the local Sports Dock gym on the UEL campus – which was built in preparation for the Olympics so is all new and shiny still and has some pretty affordable membership rates. Both are good places to meet new people and are only a minute’s walk away. Bow Arts have also recently opened new studios and a community space called RAW labs where there are yoga classes, art workshops and great place to meet for coffee on weekends between 10am-4pm. It’s nice to have a designated space for culture and creativity in the midst of all the new homes being built.

WELCOME TO GALLIONS REACH_html_2e197f89Is it a good community? What would you hope for it in the future? I would say that Gallions Reach is a relatively new, but fast-growing and already lovely community. In the future we’d like to see more people and families connecting through the community spaces and facilities and seeing it as a place to invest in socially – as well as being a convenient area to commute from.