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|Surrey Commercial Docks
|The only docks in South London|
The Surrey Docks were originally occupied by many different companies, trading in commodities such as timber, hemp, flax, tar, grain, salt, fruit, cheese, bacon and coal. After the formation of the Surrey Commercial Dock Company, timber and grain became the staple produce traded at the docks.
|Surrey Commercial Docks. © NMM|
Timber deals, boards and staves came from North America and the Baltic and softwood was imported from Canada, Scandinavia and Russia. The Deal Porters were a specialist group of dockers who dealt solely with timber, and were based at Surrey Docks. There were also a number of small independent timber wharves established along the banks of the Grand Surrey Canal.
|Greenland Dock from the air. © NMM|
Like so many of the docks in London, the Surrey Commercial Docks were designed for sailing vessels, but were able to accommodate steam ships as they grew in popularity and size. After the Greenland Dock was enlarged, it was able to handle large passenger liners, of up to 14000 tons.
|Unloading timber at the Surrey Docks. © NMM|
The Surrey Commercial Docks had to cope with a lot of barge traffic, as there was no railway access to the site. Timber was transported by barge to wharves along the Surrey Canal or on the Thames.
- The dock system covered 372 acres.
- The engineers for the canal and docks were Ralph Dodd, John W. Rowe and William Jessop.
- Surrey Commercial Docks comprised of 10 docks: Lavender Dock, Stave Dock, Albion Dock, Island Dock, Lady Dock, Russia Dock, Canada Dock, Greenland Dock, Norway Dock and South Dock (formerly East Country Dock).
- The docks also had 1 basin: Surrey Basin; and 14 timber yards: Lavender Yard, Acorn Yard, Stave Yard, Island Yard, Russia Yard, Baltic Yard, Centre Yard, Canada Yard, Quebec Yard, Station Yard, Steel Yard, Commercial Yard, Swedish Yard, East Country Yard.
- The Surrey Entrance Lock measured 16 metres across and 8.2 metres deep.
- The Grand Surrey Commercial Canal was 3.5 miles (5.6 kilometres) long.
- The docks had grain warehouses with a capacity of 35,000 tons and 46 acres of timber storage sheds.
- The reconstructed Greenland Dock covered 22 acres of water featuring a lock 168 metres long by 24.4 metres across. The engineer on the project was Sir John Wolfe-Barry.
|c.1700||Howland Great Wet Dock is built on 10 acres of land|
|1725||Howland Great Wet Dock is leased to the South Sea Company|
|1760s||Howland Great Wet Dock is sold and renamed Greenland Dock|
|1801||The Grand Surrey Canal Company is formed and construction of the Grand Surrey Canal begins|
|1807||Opening of the Grand Surrey Canal Basin. The Commercial Dock Company and The East Country Dock Company are formed.|
|1808||The docks are closed for improvement. Greenland Dock is bought, refurbished and renamed Commercial Dock.|
|1812||Baltic Dock and Norway Dock are opened.|
|1850||East Country Dock is enlarged and renamed South Dock|
|1863||Lavender Lock is built|
|1864||All the companies amalgamate under the name, Surrey Commercial Dock Company|
|1876||Canada Dock is opened. Grain and timber warehouses are built.|
|1895||Construction work to widen Greenland Dock begins|
|1904||The new Greenland Dock is complete|
|1908||The Port of London Authority is formed|
|1926||Quebec Dock opens|
|7 September 1940||350,000 tons of timber is burnt due to enemy bombing|
|5 January 1944||Construction of the Phoenix breakwaters begins in Quebec and Russia Yard|
|17 March 1944||The 'Phoenix' units are floated out of the docks|
|December 1970||Surrey Commercial Docks close|
|1971||Many of the timber yards are filled in|
|1977||Surrey Commercial Docks are sold to Southwark Borough Council|
|January 1979||Construction of a new housing development begins|
|1994||South Dock is used as London's largest marina, with over 200 berths|
|17 September 1999||The Jubilee Line extension opens at Canada Water|
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