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The riverside wharves

Introduction
'Another life below'
The wharves before the docks
The wharves and the docks
Wharves of the Pool: the north bank
Wharves of the Pool: the south bank
Other wharves
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Wharves of the Pool: the north bank

 New Fresh Wharf 

London Bridge Wharf and Adelaide House
View full size imageLondon Bridge Wharf and Adelaide House. © NMM

The Fresh Wharf was the most important of the modern wharves within the City of London. It was east of London Bridge Wharf and Adelaide House.

It was the most visible – and thus the most photographed – part of the port.

Landing Oranges at Fresh Wharf, London Bridge, for Christmas.

View full size image Landing oranges at Fresh Wharf, London Bridge, for Christmas. © NMM

 It handled fish imports in medieval times, before becoming one of the legal quays. By the 19th century, the Fresh Wharf handled fruit and general cargoes. 



 

Johanne alongside London Bridge Wharf
View full size image Johanne alongside London Bridge Wharf. © NMM
In the 1930s, the owners rebuilt the site, adding a new quay and extending the jetty.

By this time, the company had taken over its neighbours - London Bridge Wharf and the Cox & Hammond's Quay. 

The Geestbay in front of New Fresh Wharf
View full size image The Geestbay in front of New Fresh Wharf. © NMM

 The rebuilding was not completed when war broke out in 1939.

The Thesee of Antwerp alongside the New Fresh Wharf
View full size imageThe Thesee alongside the New Fresh Wharf. © NMM

 After the war, the impressive new warehouses were finished and the site was relaunched as the New Fresh Wharf.

It took vessels of up to 10,000 tons – the largest merchant ships ever to visit the Pool – and was successful until the late 1960s.

An office block built in 1977 now occupies the site. Adelaide House survives to this day.

 

 

Nicholson's Wharf

The Upper Pool and Nicholson's Wharf
View full size imageThe Upper Pool and Nicholson's Wharf. © NMM
This large 19th-century wharf handled general produce from the Mediterranean.

It was destroyed during the Blitz, and was used as a depot by the neighbouring Billingsgate Fish Market. An office building now stands on the site.

 

Custom House Quay

Custom House Wharf
View full size imageCustom House Wharf. © NMM

 This busy quay stood to the east of the 19th-century Custom House. It occupies part of the site of the medieval Custom House in which Geoffrey Chaucer worked.



Batavier II in Pool of London
View full size imageThe Batavier II in the Pool. © NMM

In the 1930s, the Dutch firm of William H. Muller was based here.

Its Batavier Line steamers carried freight and passengers between London and Rotterdam until 1958.

Sugar Quay, an office block housing Tate and Lyle and several smaller firms, now occupies the site.

Irongate Wharf

London Pool.
View full size image London Pool. © NMM

This was mentioned in 1598 as a place for landing grain. The wharf was destroyed by a fire in 1846. In 1854, the London, Leith, Edinburgh and Glasgow Steam Packet Company used the site as its London terminal.

The wharf became the major London base for the General Steam Navigation Company, which operated regular cargo services to several European ports. The wharf area is now part of the Thames riverside walk.

Carron and Continental Wharves, Wapping

Carronade, 32 pdr
View full size image A 32-pounder carronade. © NMM
These wharves were owned by the Carron Company of Falkirk, where the Carron Ironworks had opened in 1760. In the following decade, the company's manager Charles Gascoigne (c. 1738-1806) perfected the carronade, a short-barrel, large-calibre gun.

 

A Brig of War's 12 pr Carronade
View full size image A Brig of War's 12-pounder carronade. © NMM

 The carronade proved highly successful, and the company sold large numbers to the Royal Navy and several other navies.

Heinrich in front of the Carron and Continental Wharves
View full size imageThe Heinrich passing the Carron and Continental Wharves. © NMM

 The Carron Shipping Company ran a regular service from Grangemouth and Glasgow to London. As a reminder of the company's origins, its ships carried a cannon ball on their main masts.

The Carron wharves handled general cargoes, particularly wines, spirits, tea, fruit and vegetables.

Black Lion Wharf, 1859.
View full size imageBlack Lion Wharf, c. 1859. © NMM

The London and Continental Steam Wharf occupied the site of two earlier wharves – Downe's and the Black Lions Wharf. In 1859, the Black Lions Wharf had been the subject of one of the Sixteen Etchings on the Thames by James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903).

 

 Black Eagle Wharf, Wapping

Black Eagle Wharf with the schooner Express of Alnmouth.
View full size image Black Eagle Wharf. © NMM

This photograph shows the Black Eagle Wharf during its heyday in the middle of the 19th century.

By the 1930s, the Black Eagle was used by Truman's for the loading and unloading of beer barrels. The Capital Wharf housing development now occupies the site.

 

Hermitage Wharf, Wapping

Thames Warehouses, 1859
View full size image Thames Warehouses, 1859. © NMM

Whistler's etching of 1859 shows the Hermitage Coal Wharf, a small-scale operation, typical of that period. It later became the Hermitage Steam Wharf owned by the London and Edinburgh Shipping Company.

Morocco and Eagle Wharf, Wapping

Steamer Import (1902) going to Morocco Wharf.
View full size image Steamer Import (1902) going to Morocco Wharf. © NMM

Like the Custom House Quay, this wharf serviced vessels of the William H. Muller's Batavier Line. Ships brought fruit and general cargo from Rotterdam.

The jetty and buildings have now disappeared, and the Metropolitan Police's riverboat maintenance works now occupy the site.

 

Free Trade Wharf, Ratcliff

Free Trade Wharf
View full size image Free Trade Wharf. © NMM

One of the largest of the wharves and frequently called 'the madhouse'. Some of its warehouses had been built and used by the East India Company.

It closed in 1971, and bold, box-like apartment blocks now cover the whole site.

Dundee Wharf, Limehouse

Limehouse Reach from Dundee Wharf.
View full size imageLimehouse Reach from Dundee Wharf. © NMM

The Dundee and Perth Shipping Company was founded in 1826, and operated regular routes to London, Glasgow and Liverpool.

In 1901, the firm acquired this wharf as its new London terminal. The Limekiln Dockyard previously stood on the site.

By the time this photograph was taken in the 1950s, the wharf had been rebuilt after severe damage in the Blitz. It closed in 1969 and was later demolished to build the Limehouse Link Road. Modern housing now occupies most of the site.


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Glossary
Cargo
Etching
Free trade
Jetty
Port
Quay
Wharf

Find out more
StoriesThe 19th-century port
Docks and industry transform the Thames
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StoriesThe 20th-century port
The changing fortunes of Docklands and the port
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Related Resources
Related Images2 Images
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National Maritime Museum/Royal Observatory GreenwichNew Opportunities Fund 
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