Tired of London, Tired of Life - A website about things to do in London

8 November 2010

See the 'Pirate Ships' at Tobacco Dock

In front of Tobacco Dock, the huge 1990s shopping folly built in a grade I listed warehouse in Wapping, sit two metal 'pirate ships', forever becalmed in a dry dock sealed off from the neighbouring canal. In truth, on closer inspection these are not real ships, and were built to entertain the children whose parents never came to shop at a shopping centre which never was.

The Sea Lark, apparently a copy of a 330 tonne tobacco and spice ship built at Blackwall Yard in 1788, was designed as a pirate ship for children, and the Three Sisters, a copy of an 18th century American built merchant schooner captured by the Admiralty during the Anglo-American War at the start of the 19th century, was designed as a floating pirate museum. They have long since closed, and are now home only to Health and Safety fines.

With the shopping centre having stood virtually empty for around twenty years, the real Tobacco Docks having long since been filled in, and these ships never having been used it's all quite sad really. Maybe with the resurgence of interest in piracy someone might open them up one day?

For more on Tobacco Dock, see an excellent article on Londonist here.


  1. I love the idea of having a floating pirate museum. I'm an architecture student and I'm currently looking for a project proposal for our subject in structural design. I'm just glad to see that there is a new approach to learning, history and exploration. I think this will go better with my portable CMM as a subject. Thanks again for sharing!

  2. Can't tell whether this is spam or not, so I'll let it stay. I have no idea what a Coordinate Measuring Machine does, but the museum would have been a decent idea.

  3. There may be a new lease of life for Tobacco Dock with plans for a hotel/plaza.


    Though selfishly I'd like to see it stay empty.

  4. Ooh...really? That's interesting. I suppose London does have a lack of hotel rooms.