The View from the Hill

Canaletto (whose actual name was Giovanni Antonio Canal), painted his well-known ‘A View of Greenwich from the River’ in about 1752.

A View of Greenwich from the River c.1750-2 Canaletto (Giovanni Antonio Canal) 1697-1768 Lent from a private collection 1997

Mind you, some scholars believe Canaletto never visited the Isle of Dogs to create this painting. It is suggested that he sent some of his students to create sketches and rough paintings, from which he created the final painting.

No matter. As fine as this painting is, and as remarkable it is that the view is virtually unchanged in 2015, I am more interested in the reverse view, the view from the hill, the view from here:


For hundreds of years, this has been the best place to get a good view of the Isle of Dogs, and to trace its development until today, superficially at least. Words are superfluous.

(c) National Maritime Museum; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

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Photo National Maritime Museum 16381851026


Early 1800s

img_20140611_111353 14885412238




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From Greenwich Park 15572089455






1989 mick looking at island from greenwich









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9 Responses to The View from the Hill

  1. Robert Campbell says:

    This is my favourite view,whenever I manage to get to the UK,I go to Greenwich(where I was born)and take in the view.I have the Caneletto .on my wall,plus I have a collection of the same views that I have taken.Thanks

  2. Wonderful post.
    As the Queen’s House and the Maritime museum appear in some of the pictures, it is interesting that as the Queen didn’t use it, in 1805 the Queen’s House was given to the admiralty for the orphans of impoverished seamen. It was called the Naval or Greenwich Asylum, later Royal Greenwich Asylum. During the Napoleonic wars there was such a demand for places there that the East and West wings were added as dormitories and classrooms for up to 1000 boys. The boys were expected to go into the Navy, and they had a very good education especially in science and Maths as well as all the nautical skills. Officers and captains tried to get their children admitted, but they were not allowed.
    The school moved to Suffolk in the 1930’s and became Holbrooke School and the buildings were taken over by the museum.

  3. Brendan O'Farrell says:

    What are the dates for the two early photos? I think Dudgeons shipyard (1862-1875) can be seen in the second. I have been researching this yard for some time and it is the first photo I have seen. There must be more.
    Brendan O’Farrell

  4. Melanie says:

    Hi Mick,

    I love your blog and always enjoy reading your posts about the Isle of Dogs, thanks very much!
    I was wondering if you knew anything about the origins of the mysterious giant cone monument on the corner of Marsh Wall and Mastmaker Road (opposite the Dock restaurant, nearby the former Audi showroom). I pass this every day and always wonder about it. Feel free to drop me a line if you have any information!

    Thanks and best wishes

  5. Diane says:

    This is a fantastic post. What a great pictorial timeline. Illustrates perfectly the enormous changes in one small area. I love all the cranes in the background of the 1971 photo. I wish I had seen these. PS we are visiting London in November and are staying out in the East End again. We plan to go to Trinity Wharf but is there anything else I should see? Thanks

  6. Janet says:

    Have you been on the cable car that runs from behind the O2 to Victoria Dock?it’s very high and the views are brilliant. You can start from either side and just go one way, or you can stay on and do a round trip. To get there either walk along the river from Greenwich to the O2 (about a mile) or get the Jubilee line to North
    Greenwich or the DLR to Victoria Dock.

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