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England > London > Docklands - East London (& East End)

Docklands & East London (Page 2 - Continued)
Click on the headings to find out more: Greenwich (pronounced 'grennitch') is where the world's time comes from. Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) is 0 degrees and dates back to when sailors worked out longitude. The area still has strong links with the sea.

Here you will find the stunning Cutty Sark clipper ship. It's a fabulous ship to walk through both yourself and your imagination, as it is one of the finest remaining examples of the heyday of clipper ships.

Next to the clipper is the tiny Gypsy Moth IV, the sailing ketch Sir Francis Chichester used to become the first person to circumnavigate the globe solo in 1967. The size difference in the two vessels highlights Sir Francis's achievement. It took him nearly eight months, he was 64 at the time and had been suffering from cancer. He was knighted with the same sword Elizabeth I used to knight Sir Francis Drake - quite fitting really.

The Old Royal Naval College is another piece of great Christopher Wren architecture and well worth a visit. It traces the history of the British navy through its existence, and is a great way to spend an afternoon.

The National Maritime Museum is also here and it's a splendid interactive museum for both adults and kids.

The Queen's House is attached to the National Maritime Museum. Once home to King Charles I it now houses a special exhibit called The Story of Time. Back in Charles' day it was known as King's House and will be again when Charles III takes over from Queen Elizabeth II. If you saw the movie 'Sense and Sensibility' you will recognise the Great Hall.

The fascinating Fan Museum has a vast collection of - you guessed it - fans. Not nearly as boring as it sounds and at least you can return home saying, "In London you wouldn't believe how many fans I attracted!"

For a pleasant sojourn in one of London's largest and most pleasant parks, you can't go past Greenwich Park. - Well, you can go past Greenwich Park, but you'll end up at lovely Blackheath Village on the other side of the magnificent Greenwich heath - directly across from Greenwich Park, and reputedly where Wat Tyler camped overnight for his meeting with King Richard 11 in 1381 and 'lost his head' (literally) as the ringleader of England's first peasant strike (Read: Medieval Trade Unions...)

The Ranger's House, a 300-year-old stately home that once housed the park ranger is very much worth a visit, as is the Royal Observatory, also within the park, which besides having a history steeped in time (so as to speak!) it also has a planetarium which is now being completely reconstructed, however an excellent temporary planetarium is still operating. Another Christopher Wren triumph.

Near Greenwich is the Millennium Dome, (Now renamed 'The 02') which is one of the most controversial buildings ever conceived and built in the UK, if not the world. It's one of those controversial 'love it or hate it' modern structures that cost over 100 million pounds (in 1999) to build to celebrate December 31 1999 (The Millennium...start of the 21st or 22nd(?) century). It was designed to be a significant tourist attraction with "touchy feely" science exhibitions etc, but after bleeding (arterial) cash for two years, it was closed end of 2001.

In June 2004
it was announced that a consortium had bought the dome and surrounding area in a staggering 4 billion pound deal. The historic regeneration scheme, one of the largest ever in the UK, will provide 10,000 new homes. 3,800 of these will be affordable homes for key workers such as teachers and nurses, with a further 300 for students and people with special needs. The scheme is expected to create an estimated 24,000 new jobs for the regional economy.

A world-class entertainment and sports Arena is also being created within the Dome that will seat up to 20,000 people. Due to be completed by Spring 2007, it is already playing a key role in London's bid to host the 2012 Olympic Games. In June of 2005, the UK telecommunications company O2 officially bought naming rights to the Dome for 6 Million Pounds (per annum!) and it will now be known as "The O2"

As part of the new project the O2 will be redesigned to feature a British music hall of fame, a Jazz and Blues street, an 1,800-seat theatre, and a 2,200-capacity music club alongside restaurants, bars and an outdoor arena and piazza. The 23,000-capacity indoor arena aims to host up to 150 music, entertainment and sports events in its first year of 2007. The consortium partner, Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) and O2 say they plan "Europe's finest music venue".

Although its birth has been dogged by controversy and shrouded in murky and often bitter politics, hopefully now we will see a 'marvellous millennium phoenix' rising from the ashes of its painful birth.

Dulwich (like Greenwich, pronounced 'Dullitch') is a nice, leafy suburb to take a wander through and have a look at some real-life residential property. That's if you need to take a break from museums and attractions and see how some Londoners live.