Part 1 - Thames Barrier to Royal Docks - Across London Visual Marathon - 3 Km

Updated: May 6


View across Victoria Dock towards the O@ and City Hall
Royal Victoria Dock - East London


This is part 1 of my Across London Visual Marathon. There are 14 parts in the marathon which starts here at the Thames Barrier (part 1) and ends up at Hyde Park Corner in the West End of London in part 14. This section, (part 1), goes from Pontoon Dock DLR, (near the Thames Barrier), to the Royal Victoria Dock DLR, and is about 3 Km long. It is both a scenic and quiet. The route and takes you to the Thames Barrier Garden, the Thames Barrier, the Royal Victoria Dock, the ExCel London, the Emirates Cable Car, and the new City Hall.

This Blog covers:-

The Location - Picture /site gallery - See the route at speed - See the route virtually - Map-view - Things to do in the area - Local Knowledge (facts and history)


The best time to do this run is first thing in the morning - any day of the week. The area around ExCel London can be busy if there is a major exhibition on.

Across London Visual Marathon Part 1 - Eastern section
Across London Visual Marathon Part 1 - Eastern section

Part 1 Thames Barrier to Victoria Dock Route showing a summary and points of interest
Part 1 Thames Barrier to Victoria Dock Route


These are some of the sites you can see along the way. Click the image to see the full description or to go to gallery mode

SEE THE ROUTE AT SPEED - 2 mins 30 seconds

What the route looks Like as if your were running it at speed. Use this to get familiar with the route so it feels more natural when you do it for real.


Take a virtual tour of the area and see it virtually in 360. Just click in the location icons on the map and you will be transported to the location. You can then look around and get a sense of space and place before you experience it first hand


See an animated map of the route, (using Plotaroute), view the sites along the way and down load to your devices. You can also just use this link - Plotaroute Link - when you get there to see the route and then click on the arrow on the bottom right to find out where you are in relation to the map - so you can keep on track.


This maps give an indication of the characteristics of the route and what you can do around the area. The main area of activity is around the front of ExCel London and towards the finish by City Hall and by the water sports centre (5).

Map of the route

Sport and activities

This area is also a popular water sport ares with sailing, swimming and waterskiing.

More information at Royal Docks Activities

There is a Park Run near to ExCel London on a Saturday - normally at 9:00

Park run Link

Additional information of places to eat in the area can be found from these links.

This links below will give you a number of suggesting things to do in the area. Let me know in the comments the ones you would recommend either once you have finished a route in the morning, and at other times. If you have an itinerary of 'your perfect day' in this location please feel free to share this.



LOCAL KNOWLEDGE - Facts and History

London’s biggest ever Explosion Silvertown Explosion –1917

  • During the first world war, the Brunner Mond factory at the end of Mill Road was adapted to manufacture the high grade explosive TNT – (trinitrotoluene, for the chemist out there!). This was a convenient location for Woolwich Arsenal across the water where the bombs were being made but not for the for those who lived in the densely populated area near the docks.

  • During the evening of 19 January 1917 a fire broke out in the TNT plant and caused 50 Tons of TNT to explode. This destroyed the factory and the flour mill near by, (where Millennium Mill is today), and sent red-hot lumps of metal rained down on the surround-ing area and started fires all around the area, including a large plywood factory. The blast was so powerful that it destroyed a gas-holder on the Greenwich Peninsula, shoot-ing more than 200,000 cubic metres of gas into the sky and creating a huge fireball.

  • It also created an inferno on the Royal Docks to its north, destroying 17 acres of ware-house and breaching the customs barrier.

  • The glare of the fire could be seen as far away as Guilford in Surry and one report sug-gested that the shockwaves even cause a window at the Savoy in central london to break!

  • The blast devastated the local area and caused the deaths of a least 73 people and badly injuring 400. It destroyed 900 homes in the surrounding area and left between 60,000 and 70,000 properties with some degree of damage

  • Although this was London’s biggest ever explosion, it was never reported in the newspa-pers due to ‘wartime restrictions’

  • See the map of London around 1917

Royal Docks

  • The Royal Victoria Docks are 14 kilometres (8.7 mi) from London Bridge and is one of 3 docks collectively known as the Royal Docks. They are all named after Royalty – the Royal Albert Dock, the Royal Victoria Dock and the King George V Dock

  • The Royal Docks is the largest enclosed docks in the world, with a water area of 250 acres (1.0 km2) whilst he overall estate is around 1,100 acres (4.5 km2) and is equivalent to the whole of central London from Hyde Park to Tower Bridge. It is London’s only enterprise zone with developments plans going out to 2037. It is also the new home of the Mayor of London at City Hall.

  • The Royal Docks were built for the modern steam ships and lager vessels that that could not be accommodated in the other London docks further upriver. The three docks were complet-ed between 1855 and 1921 with Victoria Dock being the first to be built on what was marsh-land – Plaistow Marshes – with much of the excavations being done by hand by British Nav-vies.

  • They were a great commercial success at the time but the London docks declined in the late 20th century due to the arrival of the much larger container ships and the larger ports such as Tilbury.

The Thames Barrier

  • The Thames Barrier is the world's second-largest movable flood barrier, and has been in operation since 1982. It was is designed to prevent London from being flooded by exception-ally high tides and storm surges moving up from the North Sea. The barriers are raised (or closed) only during these high tide and lowered at low tide to release the water.

  • London has always been vulnerable to flooding especially from storm surges. If these coin-cides with a spring tide, it can create dangerously high water levels in the Thames Estuary which can flood London. For example, fourteen people died in the 1928 Thames flood, and 307 people died in the UK in the North Sea Flood of 1953.

  • Since its installation in 1982, there were 4 closures in the 1980’s, 35 closures in the 1990s, and 75 in 2000s, 86 in 2010s. The incidences of flooding varies from year to year with some year having none and others such as in 2014, having 50 incidences.

Emirates Air Line Cable Car

  • This is London’s only cable car and links the Royal Docks on the north side of the Thames to The O2 on the south on the North Greenwich peninsular.

  • It crosses the river at a height up to 90 metres (300 ft) for 1 kilometre and there is a cable car crossing every 15 seconds.

  • It was opened in June 2012 for the London Olympics, and it is run by Transport for London with sponsorship from Emirate Airline.. Cost - £4 each way.

ExCel London

  • ExCeL (Exhibition Centre London) is an exhibitions and international convention centre, and hosts over 400 events, welcoming 40,000 exhibiting companies and over 4 million people, from across the globe.

  • There atr a number of easting and drinking places in and around the ExCel.

City Hall

  • This is the new home of the Mayor of London since January 2022. The building dates from 2012 and was previously a sustainability exhibition centre known as The Crystal

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