A History of the Royal Docks

Date: 15-10-2014    Author: Hoola London E16 team
 
 

Royal Victoria Dock opened in 1855 and was the first of the Royal Docks to be built. it processed 850,000 tons of shipping per year.

Tidal Basin, which Hoola overlooks, was the entry point to the dock from the driver Thames. In the early years, four piers reached into the dock, giving 3.6 miles of quays where ships could unload goods into vast warehouses. Every working day you would have seen thousands of men toiling to unload huge cargoes of frozen meat, tobacco, oranges, bananas and new cars from the ships moored alongside.

Royal Victoria Dock is part of the Royal Docks, the largest enlosed dock system in the world with a water area of nearly 250 acres. When it was built, Royal Victoria was state of the art: the first London dock big enough to accomodate the new iron steamships, and the first to have its own railway link, a route which today is part of the DLR and will be incorporated into Crossrail.

The docks were also teh heart of a close-knit East London community. Houses, pubs, shops, cinemas and parks were built to serve this group of hardworking Londoners.

The docks were heavily bombed during World War II, but after the war they were re-built and reached their peak of activity in the 1960s. However, the advent of containerisation and the decline of passenger liner travel spelt teh end for the London Docks as commercial operations and by the 1980s they had become a sad scene of dereliction.