Surrey Quays is a largely residential area of Rotherhithe in south-east London, occupied until 1970 by the Surrey Commercial Docks. The Docks are called Surrey Docks because until 1900 the borders of Surrey and Kent met in this area. After the closure of the docks, the area remained derelict for over a decade, with much of the warehousing demolished and over 90% of the docks filled in. The only surviving areas of open water were Greenland Dock, South Dock, part of Canada Dock (renamed Canada Water), remnants of Norway Dock, and a basin renamed Surrey Water. In 1981, Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government established the London Docklands Development Corporation to redevelop the former dockyard areas of east London, including the Surrey Docks.
A massive building programme took place in the area during the late 1980s and early 1990s with 5,500 new homes being built, ranging from individual detached housing to large apartment complexes. South Dock was converted into a marina – now the largest in London – and a sailing facility (named Surrey Docks Watersports Centre) was constructed on Greenland Dock. The northern part of Canada Water and the infilled Russia Dock became wildlife reserves.
The Surrey Quays area acquired its current name in 1989 when the Surrey Quays Shopping Centre was built on the infilled southern part of Canada Water, and the nearby London Underground (now London Overground) station Surrey Docks was renamed Surrey Quays. The de facto renaming of the area was controversial at the time among the local community, some of whom felt that their history was being erased. Although “Surrey Docks” is still the name of the electoral ward, in practice the name “Surrey Quays” is more often used, including in official signage.
Canary Wharf is a major business district located in Tower Hamlets. It is one of London’s two main financial centres, the other being the traditional City of London. It contains many of the UK’s tallest buildings, including the second-tallest, One Canada Square.
Canary Wharf contains around 1,300,000 square metres of office and retail space, around 90,000 people work there, and it is home to the world or European headquarters of numerous major banks, professional services firms and media organisations including Barclays, Citigroup, Clifford Chance, Credit Suisse, HSBC, J.P. Morgan, KPMG, MetLife and Morgan Stanley.