Valentine, 2, gets every boy’s dream to tear down Isle of Dogs Westferry printworks

Valentine Desmond... all set to knock down his dad's old printworks [photos: Mark Moody]

Valentine Desmond... all set to knock down his dad's old printworks [photos: Mark Moody] - Credit: Mark Moody

A two-year-old tot started the massive demolition of east London’s former Westferry printworks on the Isle of Dogs today.

Valentine Desmond... all set to knock down his dad's old printworks [photos: Mark Moody]

Valentine Desmond... all set to knock down his dad's old printworks [photos: Mark Moody] - Credit: Mark Moody

Toddler Valentine Desmond pushed the lever to start the ball rolling, sitting in the cab of the demolition vehicle with his dad.

If the plant machinery wasn’t up to the job, he had his own toy demolition excavator on standby.

It was the start of the operation to tear down of the 15 acres site—every little boy’s dream—where once his father Richard Desmond’s daily newspaper empire did its printing before they switched to Luton.

Richard, founder and owner of Northern & Shell which owns the Express and the Star, took his son and his wife Joy along, as guests of the development site manager.

Valentine Desmond... all set to knock down his dad's old printworks [photos: Mark Moody]

Valentine Desmond... all set to knock down his dad's old printworks [photos: Mark Moody] - Credit: Mark Moody


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The bulldozers are making way for a huge residential waterfront development for 700 new private and rented homes with shops, cafés, two parks, health centre and a secondary school for 1,200 pupils, just minutes from Canary Wharf.

“My company was the first owner, developer and occupier in the new Docklands in 1982,” he pointed out.

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“We moved our publishing business and headquarters here, which helped our small business to expand and have been associated with Docklands regeneration for 35 years.”

The connection was reinforced with his acquisition of Express Newspapers group in 2000, together with its groundbreaking printing technology.

But then the print operation left town in 2012, vacating a prime site ripe for development which got the green light from Tower Hamlets Council last August.

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