Shining a light on a misunderstood area. Only 30 minutes by car from Grays.
If you go down to the river at any point in Grays, you can't help but notice the large tall silver building standing out far off on the horizon to your right. Its only 30 minutes by car from Grays. The one possibly made more recently familiar to many by the vulgar bully Alan Sugar in his reality game show (his office is not based here at-all btw) But this area of Docklands is more than just obnoxious corporate office buildings and faceless suits, well ok; it may not be a whole lot more than this, but the area itself is tremendously historic and has one of London's best museums to illustrate this in The London Docklands Museum.
It's based within 200 hundred yards from the One Canada Square building next to the "North Dock". It's free, close and brilliant so no excuse for Grays folk not to visit this place at least once.
Through brilliantly recreated scenes they capture the essence of the docks back in the 17th 18th and 19th Century, reconstructing their streets, pubs, shops, even adding the smells and sounds. In this regard it almost leans towards a Disneyland like experience, but it's superbly researched and demonstrated with interesting and engaging displays and models of all things trade and maritime oriented over the many years. Its spread over 3 floors and takes you from the its inception and the East India trading company through to modern times and the takeover of the UK newspapers by Rupert Murdock and the riots that followed.
As well as this there is a superbly engaging children's centre (that you have to acquire a free ticket for - so they can control numbers) but even here the thought gone into it ensures that even this is an educational as well as a fun experience. In short, all museums should be like this one.
Postcode: E14 4AL
More information: http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/docklands/