London audio tour: Wapping and the old London Docks

Wapping and the old London Docks

Walking Tour

60 mins

About the Tour

The most famous building in Wapping is a pub, The Prospect of Whitby, which was a favourite with pirates and smugglers as well as with Charles Dickens and Samuel Pepys. This ancient village which stretches between the Tower of London and Limehouse has always been associated with seafarers. They tended to live a life apart from the rest of London, although in the eighteenth century the 36 pubs along the riverfront attracted many visitors including Dr Samuel Johnson. Three of these pubs survive. The London Docks were built in the early nineteenth century and were famous for the import of rum, wine and tobacco. The docks were closed in 1969, but many of the former wharves and warehouses have been preserved and converted into modern apartments. This retains the atmosphere of the past although the sense of danger evoked by Charles Dickens's novels has vanished. The walk starts and ends with two attractive conversions of old docks into modern usage - St Katherine's Dock and Shadwell Basin.

Tour Producer


Brian Cookson

After qualifying as a Russian Interpreter during National Service, I obtained a BA in Russian and German at Oxford University. I spent most of my working life as a computer consultant, mainly working for IBM. When I retired, I qualified as a London Blue Badge Guide. I lead guided walking tours all over London and have written two books - 'London Waterside Walks' and 'Crossing the River', published by Mainstream.

Information on my tours and lectures can be found at

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Major Landmarks

  • Tower of London

  • Prospect of Whitby

Directions to Starting Point

You start at Tower Hill. It is best to travel by Underground to Tower Hill Station on the District and Circle Line. Once you've exited the station, make your way up to the viewing platform just outside the station exit. Currently there are building works so you have to walk a short distance through Tower Hill Gardens to the west of the station to get there.

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Places to stop along the way

Cafes in St Katherine's Dock, Tower bridge Wharf for majestic views of Tower Bridge, Town of Ramsgate, Captain Kidd and or Prospect of Whitby pubs, Wapping Station for pictures of Brunel's famous tunnel.

Best time of day

It is best done in daylight, although you could do it as an evening pub walk.


Always keep an eye on your belongings in London as in any capital city. Cross roads with care, but there is not a lot of traffic on this route.


Directions good. Voice excellent. Route interesting. But the guide mostly pointed out sites and gave bits of historical data without telling engaging stories. And could have filled more of the walking time with narration instead of just “I’ll meet you there. “

Posted by TellBetter , almost 3 years ago

Sparse commentary and content made this tour an opportunity missed. Frequently had to look at the map as directions weren't good enough. The commentary given was interesting, but compared to Theatre Land tour this was an average effort.

Posted by Anonymous Explorer , almost 6 years ago

Thank you for your valuable feedback. We've re-worked and re-recorded this tour (along with each of Brian's seven audio tours) using some of what we've learned about location-aware audio since he released our first London audio walk in 2014. I hope you have a better experience on other audio walks that you may decide to try.

Posted by Claire , almost 6 years ago

Fantastic tour!

Posted by Richard Cookson , over 7 years ago
Preview mode limited to first 3 locations.
Wapping and the old London Docks