Is The Isle Of Dogs Really An Island?

By M@
Is The Isle Of Dogs Really An Island?
Photo: Aleem Yousaf

Or: A Pointless Debate For A Sunday Afternoon...

Londonist's pool of writers have been riven in twain over the status of the Isle of Dogs. One faction holds it to be an island, the other claims it as a peninsula. Who's right? Before you weigh in on the argument, consider the arguments on both side.

It is an island because ...


1) It's called the Isle of Dogs.

2) It is completely surrounded by water (see image above).

3) Wikipedia itself claims "the Isle of Dogs could now almost be described as a genuine island."

It is a peninsula because ...


1) Nobody would consider West India Docks as part of the Thames.

2) If man-made waterways count, then the whole of inner London can be considered an island (see image above).

Somebody sort this out for us.

Last Updated 21 December 2017


it's a wannabe oxbow lake.


...actually, that doesn't work - does it ?


According to the Tower Hamlets Website:

"There are two theories about how the Isle of Dogs got its name. One is that Henry VIII kept his dogs here, sending boats over to fetch them to his palace at Greenwich when he felt like going hunting. The area is referred to as the Isle of Dogs on a map made in 1588, so the theory has some credibility.

The other theory is that the name derives from the dykes which Dutch engineers created in the 17th Century to drain the marshland which had made the *peninsula* uninhabitable.

The building of the docks, with their locks onto the Thames at each end, made the word *'isle'* into a reality. Shipbuilding also burgeoned in the area during the 19th Century. The most famous ship built here was Brunel's Great Eastern, and the site from which it was launched in 1859 is still preserved. Living conditions got worse and worse, until in 1920 local residents closed the two roads allowing access to the Isle of Dogs and declared independence. During the war years the residents demonstrated their resilience in another way when *the island*, as locals call it, became the target for heavy bombing."

Doesn't really answer the debate unless you stick to "it was a peninsula but now an Island"


Peter Sparkes

I'd always presumed that if a land is completely surrounded by water then it's an island. I also remember being taught that in school ( it was a while ago, so I could be wrong) but, I'm pretty sure.


1. It was called the Isle of Dogs centuries before the arrival of the docks.
2. The first mention of the name on a map was on Robert Adam’s 1588 'Thamesis Descriptio'. The 'Isle of Dogges' was apparently at that time a small piece of land opposite Deptford Dockyard. Perhaps a small area of land that stayed above the Thames high tide level. In subsequent maps, the geographical boundaries were extended to become what we now know as the Isle of Dogs.
3. Why 'Dogs'? Not really the question being asked, but I don't accept the hunting dog theory. (https://islandhistory.wordp...