The areas around Rotherhithe and Surrey Quays was once a series of docks that were slowly filled in and lost in the 1970s and early 1980s.

As befits an area that was originally a marsh, and then an industrial hub, it was entirely flat, so it may surprise people to learn that there is a decent sized hill lurking right in the middle of these former docks.

Stave Hill is however a very modern edifice, being made up largely from rubble left over from the clearance of the docks and then shaped into a sharply defined flat-topped cone.  It is also only just about as high as most of the houses that surround it, so while you get a view from the top that is almost entirely free of blockages, the hill itself is hidden from people looking the other way.

From top of the hill, I can see my flat, but the hill is invisible from my flat.

Google Map link

The sharply defined and manicured hill also stands in sharp contrast to the wilderness of the ecological park that runs around its north-eastern side.

If you approach the hill from the parks, then you will be faced with a daunting steep hill, but walk around and you will find a more utilitarian method of getting to the top – a set of steps. Do try not to think of human sacrifice at Mayan temples as you ascend its heights.

Ascending Stave Hill

At the top is a quite remarkable 3D map of the area as it once was with all the old docks still in place.

Map of Surrey Docks at the top of Stave Hill

However, it is the views that draw most people to the site, as there are few locations where you can get a clear view of both Canary Wharf and the City of London quite so close from one spot.

Canary Wharf  from the top of Stave Hill

The City from the top of Stave Hill

The conical mount also has four younger – and much larger – brothers in North London, at Northala Fields.

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6 Comments

  1. It’s a lovely spot, isn’t it. I remember being up there on a crisp winter’s day in late 2009 with snow on the ground and the sun shining brightly. Perfect.

  2. Hi Ian

    I live very near here. Stave Hill was created mainly from the spoil from the creation of the Albion Chanel (the shallow canal which stretches from the former dock outside Tesco to Surrey Water on the west side of Rotherhithe which was itself part of the Grand Surrey Canal). The sculpture on the top of Stave Hill is by Michael Rizzello OBE, showing them as they were in 1896. The sculpted docks, timber ponds and channels fill with water when it rains, emulating the old water ways. The Surrey Commercial Docks closed officially in 1969 and the last ship sailed in 1970. There are lots of remains of the old dockland heritage preserved in Rotherhithe.

    Great to see your photos. Thanks.
    Andie

  3. Ronnie

    I live near this hill and see it everyday, most of the time i just ignore it but i still find the views good when i do go up there.

  4. Az Khan

    Do someone know the post code of this location?

    • IanVisits

      As it is not a building, it won’t have a postcode.

      There is a google map link in the blog post though.

  5. Graham

    They no longer cut the grass during the summer, except for a strip around the bottom, so the hill is now an attractive and unusual meadow. It looks much nicer this way

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