The 19th-century port
|Canals and distribution|
The City Canal
The West India Docks Act of 1799 gave the Corporation of London the right to construct a canal from Limehouse Reach to Blackwall Reach.
They built it to save vessels time navigating around the Isle of Dogs. The City Canal, as it was called, was opened in 1805.
They changed it into a timber dock. Several years later it was enlarged and renamed the South West India Dock.
It was not until the mid-19th century that railways began to take over.
City Road Basin in Islington was the most important traffic centre on the Regent's Canal. It handled mainly incoming inland freight. Goods from around the country were then sent on from the basin to the Regent's Canal Dock.
In the 1830s and 1840s it was enlarged. The dock was one of the first to use hydraulic power. A small pumping station was built on the west side of the Commercial Road locks.
A steam engine was used to pump water into a system of mains that supplied the cranes and other hydraulic machinery.
This basin could also admit sea-going vessels. Goods could be transferred to and from lighters or canal boats. By 1835 three-quarters of the traffic on the Regent's Canal came from the Thames.
Coal was transferred to lighters in the dock for onward supply to the new canal-side gas works, such as the one built by the Commercial Gas Company in 1837.
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