PortCities London

The port in 1901

The West and East India Docks

The West India Docks

The West India group was heavily used at the time of the 1901 census, with over 50 vessels present. Some were large liners, but most were elderly sailing ships. There were also many curiosities, including a cable-laying ship, several pleasure steamers and the hulk HMS President.

HMS President

HMS President in South West India Dock, London.
View full size imageHMS President in the South West India Dock. © NMM
The oldest and most distinguished vessel in the West India Docks was not a merchant ship but HMS President (1829). Originally a 52-gun 4th-rate ship, she became the training ship for the Royal Naval Reserve in 1862. She was renamed Old President and removed in 1903. 

Cargo steamers

The 'Barotse' (1901).
View full size imageThe Barotse (1901). © NMM
The large cargo steamers in these docks included the Bucknall Brothers' Barotse (1901) and the Thompson Line's Bengloe (1895). The Bengloe ran on the Indian service, while the Barotse sailed between London and South Africa.

The 'Langton Grange' (1896).
View full size imageThe Langton Grange (1896). © NMM
The cargo steamer Langton Grange (1896) was part of the Houlder Brothers Line, and served the Australia trade. At 5852 GRT she was the largest vessel in the West India Docks in March 1901. She was wrecked on the Pembrokeshire coast in August 1909.


The Amber

The 'Amber' (1888).
View full size imageThe Amber (1888). © NMM

In the South West India Dock was the cable-laying ship Amber (1888), owned by the Eastern Telegraph Company.

This business had been formed in 1872 through the amalgamation of several pioneering cable firms.


Pleasure steamers

The 'Koh i Nor' (1892).
View full size imageThe Koh i Nor (1892). © NMM

Thames pleasure steamers generally operated only in the summer and autumn. During the winter, many were laid up in the South West India Dock. Those present in March 1901 included the popular Koh i Nor (1892), known to many as the 'Jewel of the Thames', the Victoria, the Alexandra and the Southampton.

The East India Docks

This old set of docks was relatively underused. There were only six vessels there at the time of the 1901 census. They included the Thompson Line's Benlawers (1886), trading between London and China and Japan.

The 'Moor' (1881).
View full size imageThe Moor (1881). © NMM
The largest vessel there was the former Union-Castle passenger and cargo liner Moor (1881, 3688 GRT). Once the fastest steamer on the South Africa mail service, she was too slow by 1900 and was sold in March 1901, just before the census. She was broken up in 1913.


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