Greenland Dock, Surrey docks, in the early 1990s
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Surrey Docks is a largely residential area of Rotherhithe in south-east London, occupied until 1970 by the Surrey Commercial Docks. The precise boundaries of the area are somewhat amorphous, but it is generally considered to comprise the southern half of the Rotherhithe peninsula from Canada Water to South Dock; electorally, Surrey Docks is the eastern half of the peninsula. The area is served by Surrey Quays railway station. The Docks are called Surrey Docks because until 1889 the borders of Surrey and Kent met in this area.
After the closure of the docks, the area remained derelict for over a decade, with much of the warehousing demolished and over 90% of the docks filled in. The only surviving areas of open water were Greenland Dock, South Dock, part of Canada Dock (renamed Canada Water), remnants of Norway Dock, and a basin renamed Surrey Water. In 1981, the Conservative government of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher established the London Docklands Development Corporation to redevelop the former dockyard areas of east London, including the Surrey Docks.
A massive building programme took place in the area during the late 1980s and early 1990s with 5,500 new homes being built, ranging from individual detached housing to large apartment complexes, such as Baltic Quay. South Dock was converted into a marina – now the largest in London – and a sailing facility (named Surrey Docks Watersports Centre) was constructed on Greenland Dock. The northern part of Canada Water and the infilled Russia Dock became wildlife reserves. Leisure facilities and a number of light industrial plants were also built, notably a new printing works for Associated Newspapers, the publisher of the London Evening Standard and the Daily Mail. This site was the headquarters of Metro (British newspaper) from its launch in 1999 until 2006, when the newspaper's production was relocated to Kensington, west London. A further phase of development at Canada Water began around 2005 and is still underway. The location of Canada Water Surrey Quays lends its name to local property developer CWSQ.
The Surrey Docks is sometimes wrongly called Surrey Quays by those who are not from the area. It wrongly got this name in 1989 when the Surrey Quays Shopping Centre was built on the infilled southern part of Canada Water, and the nearby London Underground (now London Overground) station Surrey Docks was renamed Surrey Quays. The de facto renaming of the area was controversial at the time among the local community, some of whom felt that their history was being erased. Although "Surrey Docks" is still the name of the electoral ward. Surrey Docks is also known as downtown.