The old and the new - a lighter at Tilbury. © NMM
Despite the closure of the old docks and the wharves, London is still one of Britain's leading ports. It handles considerable amounts of traffic, but few goods now arrive in London directly by sea. Instead, most are unloaded at terminals much further down the Thames.
With all its docks closed or sold off, the Port of London Authority now concentrates on managing safety on the tidal Thames. It is responsible for maintaining river channels for navigation, moorings, lights and buoys. The PLA also provides a wide range of services for shipping, including, since 1988, pilotage services.
The port of London and the trade it handles have changed a great deal since the heyday of the 1950s and 1960s. To understand why, it is necessary to appreciate how the world's sea-borne trade has changed during that time.