I had just survived the near death experience of my finance exam and was supposed to be studying for macroeconomics, but decided to dress and go get refocused. For me, this usually means doing something interesting outdoors. While walking the Thames path (through the heart of London) months earlier I had seen an area of several blocks on the south shore of the Thames filled with derelict Victorian warehouses. For those who know the area, it is between St. Saviours Wharf and the entrance to the former Thames Link canal (goes to Canada Water and Surrey Quays).

I dressed in some sketchy black utility clothes and packed a towel, torch, camera, music by The Cure, and some other toys. It took almost half an hour to walk from Tower Bridge to the fence. The fence was a fearsome 10-foot tall affair featuring rusty barbed wire that had been painted over (another half-assedrenewal’ project, no doubt) with sheet metal on the opposite side. The disrepair and fact that they didn’t want people to see what was on the other side meant I had to go in.

The tide was out and one of the posh apartment complexes abutting the area had stairs to the exposed riverbed that were much less difficult to access (protected by a simple chain-link fence). I enjoyed the forbidden-ness of it while walking under the dilapidated wharf inside the closed area. Along the banks of the river is a safety chain that is fixed three or four feet below the top of the wall, obviously to help people who "fall" over during high tide. I used it to get near the top the wharf (conveniently located just below the top of the wall), and looked around. One of the buildings was labeled “(C)hamers Wharf”, and it was interesting to explore.

Some observations for others interested in exploring this area:

  • your trespassing is not my problem
  • no CCTV
  • the building with the ‘stage props’ sign is empty and not interesting
  • the stairs in Chambers Wharf are fine and there is roof access, though the roof itself seems questionable. Gaining entrance to the warehouse is not trivial.
  • the large open areas are divided by nasty old fencing. The fencing is strong but rusting, and you will need at least a towel to get over the top unscathed; no barbed wire tough.
  • is that a ventilation shaft to Rotherhithe tunnel in the corner farthest away from the water?
  • don't get caught if you have an Irish accent
  • crossing fences requires some upper body strength: the Docklands is not a good first mission
  • would be an interesting place for an anti-social geocache
Urban exploration is not for everyone and is certainly not safe. Please be respectful and don’t deface, demolish, or otherwise disturb other people’s property. Chill out and have some fun.

2005: and now Chambers Wharf has begun metamorphosis to market rate flats

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