Many hands: Trades of the Port of London, 1850-1980
A seasonal trade
By the mid-19th century, much of the trade of the Port of London was seasonal - sugar from the West Indies, timber from the north, tea and spices from the Far East.
It was also difficult to predict when ships would arrive since bad weather could delay a fleet by weeks. The number of ships arriving during a period of four successive weeks in 1861 at the West India Dock was 42, 131, 209 and 85. On some days there were a large number of ships in the docks, on others very few.