Do You Know Where Moretown Is?

M@
By M@ Last edited 19 months ago
Do You Know Where Moretown Is?

London has a new neighbourhood. It's called Moretown. And it's totally not the same as More London.

Moretown is, really, a very old neighbourhood. It covers the land just east of St Katharine Docks which was traditionally given over to merchants and seamen — part of a notorious 'Sailortown', which stretched down to Limehouse. Towering dock walls still surround the site.

With the closure of the London Docks in 1969, the area fell into dereliction. This particular plot was reborn in the 1980s, with the creation of Thomas More Square — a land of postmodern, reflective office blocks that fringed into Rupert Murdoch's 'Fortress Wapping'.

Those 80s buildings have themselves become dated. Time for a revamp. Resolution Property acquired Thomas More Square in 2016. Its rebrand began a year later, though few outside the quarter would have noticed. Now, signs have gone up to introduce the name.

"Under the newly unveiled Moretown brand," says a press release, "the Thomas More Square estate will be repositioned to create an inspiring design-led campus for the needs of modern business in media, technology, finance and innovation."

It's an attempt to turn this little-considered area into a new Shoreditch or Spitalfields. A City fringe with a bit of pizazz. According to the Moretown website, "Our aim is to help you strike that work-life balance — we're nice like that. Whether we do that by giving you a good reason to leave your desk at lunchtime or by making sure you have something to do during your evenings and weekend, we just want you to enjoy it... Come and have a look, you won't regret it."

We came and had a look. We found a Pret, a gym and a pair of warped ping-pong tables. Waitrose is round the corner. The two bars — Cape and Trade Union — have closed down. A sculpture has vanished. Mostly, it's just offices.

There's a bit more going on behind the scenes, though. Inside the bewitchingly named Building 2, a polite gentleman lets us play with a VR headset. We see signs for events coming soon. Festive events. A sole trader peddles sourdough from a table.

We certainly didn't 'regret' visiting. Nor did we see anything that might give one a good reason to 'leave the desk at lunchtime', and certainly not to hang about in the evening or weekend. Moretown is just some more town, rather than a sexy destination.

But let's be fair: these are early days. Large chunks of the site are still under construction or renovation. The neighbouring development on the former Fortress Wapping is bringing hundreds of new homes to the area, which is already shaking up the local demographic. We shall have to return in the summer to see how things have progressed.

And what of the name? Moretown is the latest in a long and growing list of 'villages' 'towns' and 'quarters', as business groups refresh moribund chunks of London. The name derives from the former identity of Thomas More Square. Both appellations honour Sir Thomas More, Tudor statesman and author of Utopia, who had his head lopped off on nearby Tower Hill.

Sir Thomas sticks his neck out once again to help with the rebrand. His 16th century symbolic alphabet has inspired a 'unique, dynamic identity and graphics system, that could be utilised for both leasing and community engagement'. We're sure that spells utopia to someone.

Last Updated 23 March 2018