PortCities London

The London Docks

Little remains of London Docks in Wapping. The main Western Dock, with its fine warehouses, has been mostly built over. The News International buildings and new housing occupy most of the site. However, the southern strip has been retained, giving a sense of the size of this dock.

Shadwell Basin, the most easterly part of the London complex, has survived intact. The old 'skin floor' has been converted into the tasteless Tobacco Dock, and many of the walls still stand.


The remains of the Western Dock.

The remains of the Western Dock.

The wall of the old London Docks.

The wall of the old London Docks.

Although the Western Dock has disappeared, the entire length of its southern edge has been retained as an attractive water feature. It gives an excellent sense of just how large this dock was.

The early enclosed docks were all surrounded by very high walls designed to keep out potential thieves. They provided security but made the docks seem mysterious places to those who could not get in. This wall on Pennington Road surrounded the warehouses of the Western Dock of the London Docks in Wapping.
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The PLA building and the entrance to the Hermitage Basin.

The PLA building and the entrance to the Hermitage Basin.

The Hermitage Basin.

The Hermitage Basin.

This was the westernmost entrance to the London Docks. The Hermitage Entrance was too small to admit modern vessels, and was closed in 1909. The red-brick building carries the distinctive PLA crest and is dated 1914.

The Hermitage Entrance opened in 1821 and gave lighters and smaller vessels an alternative to using the larger Wapping Entrance. The entrance closed in 1909, but the basin was not filled in. It has survived redevelopment to become an attractive lake supporting wildfowl and plant life.
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Depth markings.

Depth markings.

A bust of John Rennie.

A bust of John Rennie.

Water depth markings at the entrance to the former Western Dock of the London Docks in Wapping. The Roman numerals on the wall of each side give the depth of the water in feet. This was important for the larger vessels using the London Docks, as only ships with a sufficiently small draft could enter.

A bust of John Rennie (1761-1821) set in the new development at Silk Quay, overlooking the former Western Dock of the London Docks in Wapping. Rennie was the great civil engineer responsible for many major canal and dock projects.
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Shadwell Basin.

Shadwell Basin.
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This is the most significant body of water surviving from the London Docks. Unlike the rest of the London complex, Shadwell Basin has been retained and is now used for recreational purposes. On the far left of the photo is the tower of Hawksmoor's church of St George in the East, ruined during the Blitz.
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   Back to What is left of the old port: The West India Docks
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