Ducks and Skyscrapers at the Surrey Docks Farm in South London

Ducks & Skyscrapers: The Surrey Docks Farm

In Europe, UK by Nick Nomi0 Comments

Hidden in the otherwise suburban surrounds of an old shipyard by the River Thames in South East London is the wonderful Surrey Docks Farm – a tiny little animal haven with across-river views of Canary Wharf and the wonderful London docklands. When I’m in London – this is the part of London that I call my home – we lived just up the road in the Greenland Docks and it’s a great place to explore with typical docklands architecture and boat filled docks. However, today we’re just going to focus on the beautiful little London farm: Surrey Docks Farm. 

A Little History on the Surrey Docks Farm

Where the farm now stands was once part of a large shipyard, it then became a timber wharf (the huge timber wharf crane is still standing just a few moments away from the farm), a Receiving Station for the Metropolitan Asylums River Ambulance Service (to transfer smallpox and fever patients no less!) until WWII when the site was badly damaged, and served as a Fire Service river station. In fact it wasn’t until the 1980’s that the old docks became the new site of the Surrey Docks urban farm (the farm was moved down river from an older site by simply walking the animals down the riverside). If you’re intrigued by the history of the area – then be sure to take a walk up and down the river too – as there are plenty of antique cranes, little dockland oddities and the odd riverside warehouse with original signage and other docklands equipment, somewhat aged and rusty but all the more intriguing thanks to their condition. If you have time take a walk down Rotherhithe Street which has some of South London’s most prominent warehouse conversions – and take a break in the Old Salt Quay Pub for a taste of  a real London pub. 

The Surrey Docks Farm

As mentioned this inner city farm is small – but don’t let that fool you – its got a lovely atmosphere and it’s right across the river from Canary Wharf, so there are excellent views and an intriguing atmosphere that’s quite unlike anything else. It has the ability to turn a grown man into a child – and makes for a perfect local cafe. My favourite thing in the farm is by far the pigs! There’s usually a drove of piglets and at least two large pigs to ogle at – take a peak below:

Little Pig looking through the fence

Little Pig looking through the fence – look at his snout!


He lost interest...

He lost interest…


A huge Happy Pig in the Surrey Docks Farm

A huge Happy Pig in the Surrey Docks Farm


A huge Happy Pig in the mud

A huge Happy Pig in the mud – to find this one you’ll need to head down a tiny path to the back of the farm by the Rotherhithe Street entrance to the farm

Apart from the pigs there are also ducks, cows, goats, sheep, ponies, bunnies turkeys etc., I really love the little goats here – they are just adorable and incredibly friendly. So be sure to go inside the goat pen and if you like – pick up some goat-food from the farm shop to feed them. We’ve added a few more pics of some of the animals below:

An old wise Turkey in the Surrey Docks Farm

An old wise Turkey


Big brown Cows

Big brown Cows and a pony in the background


Surrey Docks Goat

A Goat


Ducks in the foreground and skyscrapers in the background

Ducks in the foreground and skyscrapers in the background

The Surrey Docks Farm is actually a very pleasant place to visit – even if you have no interest in the animals. I often walked here, and often have lunch there when in London – at the Piccalilli Cafe inside the farm. They do a lovely fresh mint and honey tea and a range of salads – it’s not the most inspired menu (it’s a farm after all) but it’s more than appropriate for the farm – and they have great ice cream – perfect for a summers day wondering by the River Thames. Lookout for the forged signage throughout the farm which is forged in the farm’s own forge and also the herb gardens and the old book store – which sells and trades used books. You can probably stroll the entire farm in a little under an hour though plan more if you like canoodling with the animals – we’ve added some photos from around the farm below.

A wall inside the farm

A wall inside the farm


Don't climb the cow!

Don’t climb the cow! But do drop in a donation or two if you enjoy the farm!


A pond in the farm - often covered in little frogs during mating season!

A pond in the farm – often covered in little frogs during mating season!


The dirty zone - don't enter if you take offence to Turkeys!

The dirty zone – don’t enter if you take offence to Turkeys!


There's plenty of machinery and forged signage around the site - as well as a few bronze sculptures

There’s plenty of machinery and forged signage around the site – as well as a few bronze sculptures


One of the bronze sculptures outside the farm

One of the bronze sculptures outside the farm


A typical view from within the farm

A typical view from within the farm with canary wharf in the distance (it wasn’t the nicest of days – imagine sunshine!)


The path to the happy pig in mud!

The path to the happy pig in mud!


Piccalilli cafe

Piccalilli cafe

There are plenty of ways to get to the Surrey Docks Farm – though our favourite, and probably the easiest, is to take the Thames Clipper from anywhere in central London towards Greenwich and depart at Greenland – just a stop after Canary Wharf. From there follow the river back in the direction of central London and you’ll come to the farm after 10 minutes or so. Otherwise take a train, bus or the underground to Canada Water station and follow the signs – this will take you through much of the Canada Water/ Surrey Docks area of London and will take around 30 minutes.

I hope we’ve stoked your interest but if you still want to learn a little more about the farm, when best to visit, how you can help and what’s on at the far, then take a look at their website here.

About the Author

Nick Nomi

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Nick is a writer and photographer, who, after working for years in the fashion and creative industries as an editor and writer, gave up the office life to travel long term and write about it. He started Europe Is Our Playground to showcase unique experiences in Europe through story driven narratives & candid photography.


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