PortCities London

What is left of the old port: the East India Docks

The East India Docks, completed in 1806, were the third of London's great dock complexes. They comprised three bodies of water: the Export and Import docks and the Basin. These docks suffered much misfortune even before they closed. The Export Dock was heavily damaged during the war and was filled in shortly afterwards; the Brunswick Power Station was built on the site. The imposing entrance gate was demolished in 1958 as part of the expansion of the Blackwall Tunnel.

The rest of the complex stayed open until 1967. Most of the Import Dock has since been filled in. The Docklands Light Railway has a station here, and several new roads on the site have been named after spices once handled here - Oregano Drive, Nutmeg Lane, Coriander Avenue and Saffron Avenue. Despite this, there is very little to commemorate this important set of docks.


East India Import Dock.

East India Import Dock.

East India Dock Basin.

East India Dock Basin.

Most of the Import Dock has been filled in since it closed in 1967, but a small part of the dock has been retained as an attractive water feature. Mute swans and other wildfowl now take advantage of the site.

The entrance basin is the only intact part of the former East India Docks complex. It has survived relatively unscathed, and has been transformed into a pleasant public space, with special features to attract wildlife.
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East India Dock Basin: the landscaped area.

East India Dock Basin: the landscaped area.

Lock gates, East India Docks.

Lock gates, East India Docks.

The northern edge of the basin has been filled in to create islands, reed beds and other features to attract insects, wading birds and wildfowl.

These lock gates were the sole entrance to the East India complex. They were enlarged in 1890 and refurbished in 1997.
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Plaque from the East India Docks entrance gate.

Plaque from the East India Docks entrance gate.

Hydraulic Pumping Station.

Hydraulic Pumping Station.

The imposing entrance gate, one of the most enduring symbols of all London’s docks, was demolished in 1958 during the expansion of the Blackwall Tunnel. The plaque from the gate, restored in 1914, was preserved and is now fixed into the wall on the east side of the Northern Approach.

This attractive building on East India Dock Wall Road dates from 1857. It is one of the earliest survivors of its type in the docks. The station supplied the East India Docks with hydraulic power. It has now been converted to residential use.
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Surviving part of East India Dock wall.

Surviving part of East India Dock wall.

Disused railway bridge over River Lea.

Disused railway bridge over River Lea.

Like London’s other major docks, the East India complex was originally surrounded by a high wall to protect the goods. Unusually, this part of the wall in Leamouth Road has survived.

This bridge, dating from around 1860, carried a branch of the Eastern Counties and Thames Junction Railway from its line at Canning Town to the Pepper Warehouse of the East India Docks. Its massive cast iron columns give it an air of solidity, but its future is uncertain.
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