Facts about Wapping
Wapping General Info
Wapping is a district in East London in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets and uniquely has it own postcode area E1W, which covers the entire area. It is situated between the north bank of the River Thames and the ancient thoroughfare simply called The Highway. It also has a Royal Navy shore establishment base on the riverfront called HMS President and home to Tobacco Dock and King Edward Memorial Park.
Many of the original buildings were demolished during the construction of the London Docks and Wapping was further seriously damaged during the Blitz. As the London Docklands declined after the Second World War, the area became run-down, with the great warehouses left empty. The area’s fortunes were transformed during the 1980s by the London Docklands Development Corporation.
Formerly it was believed that the name Wapping recorded an Anglo-Saxon settlement linked to a personal name Waeppa. More recent scholarship discounts that theory: the area was marshland, where an early settlement was unlikely, and no such personal name has ever been found. It is now thought that the name may derive from wapol, a marsh.
The settlement developed later, along the Thames’ embankment, hemmed in by the river to the south and the now-drained Wapping Marsh to the north This gave it a peculiarly narrow and constricted shape, consisting of little more than the axis of Wapping High Street and some north-south side streets. John Stow, the 16th-century historian, described it as a “continual street, or a filthy strait passage, with alleys of small tenements or cottages, built, inhabited by sailors’ victuallers”.