Although London is no longer a major cargo-handling port, it still dominates important aspects of 'invisible' trade and maritime services.
|Lloyd's at Leadenhall Street in the City of London. |
Being at the centre of world time, London benefits from trading with the other major financial markets of Tokyo and New York on the same day.
Multi-billion pound contributor
The financial and business services sector, concentrated in the City of London, contributed more than £20 billion to the United Kingdom's trade balance in 2000.
Maritime services such as ship broking and insurance accounted for almost £1 billion of this total and they employ more than 14,000 people in Britain.
When the Thames shipping business moved downstream to Tilbury more than 2000 hectares (5000 acres) of the port facilities were left derelict.
|The new water sports centre at Greenland Dock, Rotherhithe. |
In 1971 the Conservative government, in the face of public outcry, rejected plans to convert the area to office and commercial purposes.
But ten years later the London Docklands Development Corporation (LDDC) was set up to ensure long-term social and economic regeneration.
The transformation of the former port
A programme of investment and redevelopment has now transformed the former port through the building of:
|London City Airport at the Royal Docks. |
- leisure facilities
- improved transport links, including the Docklands Light Railway and an airport on the site of the old Royal Docks.
The airport opened for passenger traffic in 1987. The 2200 hectares (8.5 square miles) of former docks have thus become the world's largest urban regeneration scheme.
The regeneration of the former port districts, now rebranded as 'Docklands', had a great impact on the people who lived in the area. The attached video file describes how a member of the deaf community viewed the changes that took place at the Surrey Docks in Rotherhithe.
A world of ships, wharves, cranes and warehouses was replaced with new shops, leisure facilities, offices and homes.
The story in numbers
By 1998 the LDDC had:
|The new face of Docklands. Canary Wharf in 2002. |
- built over 20,000 homes
- doubled the population from 40,000 to 77,000
- spent £1.75 billion of public money.
The private sector:
- invested more than £6 billion
- constructed nearly 1.5 million square metres (15 million square feet) of office space
- created over 40,000 new jobs at places like Canary Wharf.
The social amenities have also improved as:
- eleven new primary schools were built
- speciality stores were opened
- over £100 million was spent on community programmes, health centres and other amenities.
In March 1998 the LDDC closed its offices and handed its responsibilities to the London Boroughs of Newham, Southwark and Tower Hamlets.
The other side of the story
However, not everyone was delighted with the work of the LDDC. Many saw regeneration as favouring businesses and young professionals but offering little of real substance for local communities.
|Anti-LDDC graffiti at the London Docks. |
As locals felt their needs were being ignored, their hostilty to the LDDC and the whole concept of regeneration found many expressions. This graffiti from the 1980s survives to this day.