Many hands: Trades of the Port of London, 1850-1980
|Coopers, truckers and warehousemen|
Another group of skilled men were the coopers who repaired and renewed barrels, casks and chests that were damaged during the loading and unloading of ships.
Dock coopers also assisted the vaultkeepers and customs officers in their work.
Moving and sorting goods
Truckers moved the goods from the quayside to the warehouse or a transit shed. This was the least skilled job in the docks, and given to the lowest casuals.
However, it was not particularly hard work, and was sometimes done by boys. In this picture the dockers are trucking tea at the East India Docks.
Other men were employed as 'port markers' and painted on export goods the name of the port to which the goods were going.
The 'bedder outs' separated cargo on the floor of the sheds while the 'box knockers’ opened cases for customs officials and re-nailed them afterwards.
In this image, men can be seen opening tea chests on board a vessel.
They enjoyed a high status within the port, were employed full-time and worked regular hours for the dock companies and the PLA.
Their judgement made sure that goods like brandy, tea, sugar and wine were suitably graded in price for the open market.
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