PortCities London

King George V Dock (1921-1981)
'London’s Frozen Dock'

Main trade

King George V and Royal Albert Docks.
View full size imageKing George V and Royal Albert Docks. © NMM
As the third of the 'Royal' docks, King George V Dock was built to enhance and extend the trade that was passing though the Royal Victoria and Albert Docks. As the newest of the docks, King George V was well equipped with electric cranes and mechanical devices to aid the dockers. There were also extensive refrigeration facilities on site. As a result the main goods traded through the docks where fruit and vegetables, frozen meat and later bulk grain.

Types of vessel used

The Surat in the King George V Dock.
View full size imageThe Surat in the King George V Dock. © NMM
The King George V Dock was designed with modern shipping in mind. Therefore the depth and size of the entrance locks were suitable for the large steam ships, container ships and passenger liners that frequented London in the mid-twentieth century. The Gallions Reach entrance of King George V Dock was large enough to accommodate the 35,655 ton liner Mauretania in 1939.


Map of the Royal Victoria, Royal Albert and King George V Docks.
View full size imageThe Royal Docks. © NMM
Royal Albert and King George V Docks.
View full size imageRoyal Albert and King George V Docks. © NMM

Life Story

1911 AutumnThe design for the third of the ‘Royal’ Docks is finalised by Frederick Palmer
August 1912The contract for the new dock is sent out to tender and is awarded to S. Pearson & Son
1914World War I saw most of the construction force join the armed forces, leaving the project at a near standstill
1918New labour and materials are granted to complete the project
1919Workforce is increased to 1700 men under the direct labour system
12 January 1920Lord Davenport floods the dock with water for the first time
August 1920All the dock gates are tested
8 July 1921King George V officially opens the dock
May 1926Two Royal Navy submarines berth to ensure that a power supply is available during the General Strike
12 May 1926The General Strike ends
1939'Mauretania' docks
1981The Royal Docks close
1982Planning application for City Airport is filed. It is to be housed on a disused quay between the King George V Dock and the Royal Albert Dock.
May 1987The airport runway is complete
5 November 1987The Queen officially opens City Airport

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