PortCities London

Rotherhithe and the Surrey Commercial Docks

Parts of the Surrey Commercial Docks were filled in and redeveloped well before the regeneration programmes of the 1980s. The area now boasts a mixture of residential and retail areas, and is perhaps the most successful transformation of the former port districts.

Many of the docks have disappeared without trace, but others - notably the Greenland and South Docks - have survived intact. Some imaginative uses of the new space include the Ecological Park at Russia Dock, while the 'Deal Porters' sculpture is perhaps the most significant monument to London's dock workers anywhere in the former port districts.

The East London Line Station at Surrey Docks has been renamed Surrey Quays, suggesting pictaresque tranquility rather than a busy, dirty workplace. However, locals still use the old name.


The 'Deal porters' sculpture.

The 'Deal porters' sculpture.

Greenland Dock.

Greenland Dock.

'Deal porters' by Philip Bews, alongside the former Canada Dock in Rotherhithe. The sculpture commemorates the deal porters who worked at the Surrey Commercial Docks. They carried the timber planks that had been unloaded from the ship to special piles where the wood was stored. The Surrey Commercial Docks specialised in the handling and storage of timber. The sculpture was unveiled on 19 October 1990 by Jack Jones.

A modern view of Greenland Dock, the most significant survivor of the Surrey Commercial Docks complex. As elsewhere, luxury housing figures prominently in new development, though part of the southern quays have been opened up for public use. The view looks towards the north east and the Thames, with the towers of the Canary Wharf development in the distance.
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The Russia Dock woodland.

The Russia Dock woodland.

The Stave Hill Ecological Park.

The Stave Hill Ecological Park.

Russia Dock was one of the central basins of the Surrey Commercial Docks complex. Closed in 1969, it was partly filled in. It has has been given over to semi-wild parkland, an environment currently unique in London. Thousands of trees now occupy the area. Much of the quayside, with the bollards still in place, has been retained.

The Stave Hill Ecological Park occupies the site of the former Stave Dock. It is probably the most attractive new creation anywhere in the former port districts.
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The entrance to the Surrey Canal Basin.

The entrance to the Surrey Canal Basin.

The Albion Channel.

The Albion Channel.

The entrance to the Surrey Canal Basin. This was once the northern entrance to the Surrey Commercial Docks complex.

The Albion Channel is a survival of the former Albion Dock, part of the Surrey Commercial Docks complex. It now links the former Surrey Canal Docks Basin with Canada Water, the lake created from the former Canada Dock. It offers pleasant walks and is much used by wildfowl.
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The southern entrance of the Rotherhithe Tunnel.

The southern entrance of the Rotherhithe Tunnel.

The air shaft of the Rotherhithe Tunnel.

The air shaft of the Rotherhithe Tunnel.

The southern (Rotherhithe) entrance to the Rotherhithe Tunnel, built 1904-08 by Sir Maurice FitzMaurice. While the tunnel was original designed for light traffic and pedestrians, it now mostly carries heavy road traffic, while few pedestrians would brave this way of crossing the river.

One of the air shafts of the Rotherhithe Tunnel, built 1904-08 to the design of Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice.
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The Thames Tunnel Mills.

The Thames Tunnel Mills.

The dolphin near the entrance to the Surrey Docks.

The dolphin near the entrance to the Surrey Docks.

The Thames Tunnel Mills in Rotherhithe, one of the first of the riverside warehouses to be converted into housing.

The dolphin near the entrance to the Surrey Commercial Docks in Rotherhithe. This was designed to allow vessels to manouevre.
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