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Rotherhithe activist fights for Greenland Dock listed status

A Rotherhithe activist is applying for listed heritage status for Greenland Dock, a move she hopes will protect it from future “inappropriate” development plans.

Andie Byrnes, who lives in Onega Gate overlooking the historic dock, decided to take matters into her own hands when she heard that a floating swimming pool was being proposed at the site.

She said: “The first thing that should be highlighted is that the adjacent lock is already listed. I feel that the lock and dock should be considered an integrated hole – we can’t just list the pretty bit.

“The whole system is worth protecting: the gates, the bollards which ships were tied up to and are still here today. It’s an end-to-end process and we need to protect all of it.”

While Andie joked that her campaign would be a lot easier “if someone famous had once fallen in the dock”, she feels that the dock’s rich history already makes it a prime candidate.

Dating as far back as 1696, the dock been at a part of the peninsula’s community for centuries, being the site of everything from whaling to war.

Andie said: “It was initially used to give protection for boats – protection versus wind, ice, and river pirates. River piracy was a really problem back then, although there was also a lot of collusion on-board – things were always falling off the backs of the boats!”

The dock also gained a reputation as the launching point of whaling trips to the north Atlantic, as far north as Greenland – hence the dock’s renaming from its original title of Howland Great Wet Dock.

Greenland Dock in 1813.
Greenland Dock in 1813.
The dock in 1876.
The dock in 1876.

Greenland Dock was also at the heart of Rotherhithe’s World War Two experience, with the moonlight reflecting off its water making it an easy target, starting from the first night of the Blitz when its huge timber stock was set alight, turning the night sky red.

Andie said: “I just want to make sure that it is protected against inappropriate developments. There is obviously money to be made here but my main concern is making sure that any developments are sensible and respectful.”

At press time, the News learned that the swimming pool application would be strongly opposed by Southwark Council.

Councillor Mark Williams, Southwark cabinet member for regeneration and new homes, said: “We have serious reservations about the practicality of the proposals and whether it could even work.”

Architect Designer Maker Ltd, who submitted the planning application, promise an “amazing and unique” facility.

Residents can register their comments at the consultation page on Southwark Council’s website. Search using 15/AP/1752 at

Southwark Council and  the News are taking part in a pilot scheme to make planning applications more accessible to local residents.  To register and to search, comment and view information on planning applications, as well as get email alerts visit:  You can also view current planning applications on Southwark Maps at or by typing ‘Southwark Maps’ into a search engine.


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