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Pirate Ships at Tobacco Dock

Home > London > Outdoor | Free | Quirky | Outdoor | Quirky
by Mike Whyte (subscribe)
www.mykadelica.com
Published November 12th 2021
When is a pirate ship not a pirate ship?
When is a pirate ship not a pirate ship? Come to Tobacco Dock and you'll find out.

You should have no problem finding them, as there are even signposts for the pirate ships dotted around the area of Shadwell. Once you reach Tobacco Dock and walk along the side of the wall, you should start to see the masts strutting out into the sky, and once in full view, you will notice that the plural form used is absolutely true, as there are not just one, but two ships dry-docked here.

Now, as you can see from the pictures, these really exist, and though looking slightly worse-for-wear close-up, there is enough here to highlight that these are indeed the pirate ships that the signs have been pointing towards.

Except they are not.

Confused? Well, it is quite simple really - they are not pirate ships, they are in fact the remnants of replicas which would have been attractions for those shopping in what was supposed to have been a shopping centre to rival Covent Garden.

Unfortunately, the location of this hugely ambitious shopping centre meant it was never really a viable business proposition, and the shops that opened in the centre found they attracted little custom. The links to the underground and overground network the area is blessed with now were not as convenient then, making the shopping centre for most people a little hard to get to. Sadly this eventually meant that the really rather beautiful Tobacco Dock was forced to close.

Thankfully, that is not the end of the story, and a sort of rejuvination has started to happen, with the Dock starting to be used for events and parties, including the popular 'Meatopia' and various club nights.

As for the pirate ships - one was destined to have been a pirate museum, the other a bar - it's a shame that at a cost of £1.5 million pounds, they never fulfilled their full potential, but still, they provide an interesting reminder of grand ambition that didn't quite reach fruition...
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Why? Pirate ships that are not quite what they seem
When: anytime (view from the canal)
Phone: n/a
Where: Tobacco Dock, London E1W 2DA
Cost: free
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