The Port of London and the River Thames have always been at the heart of Britain's commerce and industry. Since the Roman era, the port has been important in the growth of London's commercial institutions.
In the first century AD, the invading Romans established a settlement called Londinium on the River Thames.
Londinium became an important Roman trading centre.
By the Middle Ages, almost two-thirds of the country's trade went through the port of London.Tudor and Stuart port
Throughout the 16th and 17th centuries, London grew in wealth, size and importance. The Thames became a major shipbuilding centre.
The port was the base for many trading companies, becoming a gateway to the markets and products of the world.18th-century port
The volume of London's trade increased enormously during the 18th century. London became an even more important centre of finance, commerce and industry. By the end of the century, London was truly a global port, but the Thames struggled to cope with the number of ships using the port.19th-century port
In the 19th century Britain was the workshop of the world and dominated international commerce. London was the world's largest port, the centre of global finance and the heart of the vast British Empire. Trade continued to expand and a massive dock-building programme revolutionised the port.20th-century port
The 20th century witnessed extraordinary changes in the port of London. Until the late 1950s, trade continued to grow, but by the 1960s, London faced increased competition from other ports as patterns of trade shifted. Huge container vessels replaced older ships and London's docks could no longer adapt. By 1981 they had all closed, leaving large areas derelict. New developments have now transformed the region.