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Whats in Wapping

Why I Love Wapping? Thoughts of a Wannabe Wappingite (1)

Why I Love Wapping? Thoughts of a Wannabe Wappingite (1)

CJ Duffy describes the delights Wapping, with its’ converted warehouses and village feel.

Wapping is the Hidden Gem of the East End.

It sits off the Highway and deceives us all; not in a malicious way but by virtue of the fact it is so quiet, so unlike the noisy hubris of Shadwell and neighbouring Cable Street.

History pours from its walls with a rush of brick dust and the pulling of ropes. It defines itself by its history but defies its past as it turns its head to the future. There is wealth here now and in some abundance but, and I will remember my Grandmother’s words to my dying day you can take the boy out of the East End but you cannot take the East End out of the boy. Damn right too.

Trying to explain to my family, many of whom were born in the East End, why I am so enamoured with Wapping is much like trying to persuade an American that they shouldn’t have boarded the Mayflower. As much as I understand that thought process I disagree as I love Wapping and the whole East End community feel.

You see, my paternal grandfather was born in Bow in 1878 and his future wife in Poplar two years later. They moved to Selsdon Road, Upton Park where both my mother and father were born. No, I hasten to add, I am not an in-bred Essex boy as obviously Mum and Dad had very different parents, the other set coming from Camberwell and Stratford. In 1936, when my Dad was just eleven and Mum twelve, they became neighbours again as both moved to Hornchurch, Essex where this punk generation lad was born.

The point to this diatribe is to illustrate how people of that generation moved away from the East End in search of a better, perhaps greener, lifestyle. I can only guess, from all those evenings spent gathered around a piano in our front room listening to a curious mix of Cockney knees-up and Irish ballads, how the old East End must have been.

We look back now with an eye brimming with emotional nostalgia whilst over-looking the poverty and deprivation that the working class would have had to suffer. Things have changed now.

The glorious streets and converted warehouses recall the old days of Wapping

New-Crane-Wharfbut reflect it in a comforting light that it probably didn’t have during its halcyon, Docklands past.

I guess we all do it don’t we? Remember the past through rose-coloured memories that selectively depict the better times. My mother-in-law’s father was a Docker and one who liked a bevy. Their lives were harsh with her childhood spent playing in the street with a hoop and a stick of chalk. Now children have I-pods and Playstations.

The working day was long and gruelling. Men laboured in routine, boring jobs whilst their wives worked hard to keep home and hearth together. No dishwashers and only a mangle to crush the water out of the hand-washed clothes. When my mother was old enough she was instructed by my rigidly disciplinarian grandmother (‘you may be working class but you are not common’) that her job in life was to clean the house and look after her younger sisters. The idea of a woman even contemplating a career was not only laughable but absurd.

So Why Do I Love Wapping So Much?

Am I trying to impress the nice residents here and win one or two potential readers? Am I hell. My father always reminded me of my roots and I am as proud of them as I am of my long-dead Dad. I am not a Cockney as much as I might like to be and, to my father’s deepest regret, do not fully support the ‘Hammers’ but, and make no mistake, I know my roots; I know from where I have come and even if I have been ‘poshed up’ a bit I cannot forget, even if I wanted to.

CJ Duffy http://issuu.com/cjduffy

Last month on the site we featured CJ’s beautifully illustrated Wapping journeyessay [...Read Here].  A guided walk around Wapping with a difference!


  • CJ Duffy

    Hi Chris,

    My name isn’t ‘CJ’. Nor is Duffy my real surname. I am a writer and one trying to get published. As a nod to my Grandfather was a Duffy and because he was the most creative man I had ever met I ‘nicked’ his name.
    The ‘CJ’ bit is a shortened version of a nickname I was given by a colleague in sales (cocaine jesus).
    My name is Russell Duffy.



  • Chris Duffy

    This is a bit of a coincidence my name is C J Duffy and I Love and live in Wapping as well, how odd….

  • James

    Sorry to keep going on about it but was in the Prospect of Whitby last night and reckon over 50% the mobile phones I saw were iPhones …plus a few people on iPads!!

  • James

    Completely agree and also loved the book.
    Interesting comment about iPhone/iPad as I swear half of the UK’s iPhone’s live in Wapping. If you look in the pubs and high street they are everywhere. Sorry, side issue but an observation that I keep making the few last times I’ve been out!

  • Alexander

    Wapping does completely deceive everyone who’s not spent time here and very little in common with Shadwell or Cable Street as you say.
    Would be nice to hear more specifically what you like about Wapping as a bit focussed on the background but enjoy the way you write and absolutely loved the book – great that you can read it online (doesn’t work on the iPad/phone though but minor issue). Many thanks for sharing it with us as know a few people now who mention it!

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