The East India Company
|The East India Docks|
An inefficient system
Their cargoes were then either transferred by barge to the legal quays in the Pool of London or landed at Blackwall and sent by wagon into the City through the narrow streets of Ratcliffe. This relatively inefficient system was eventually changed.
The East India Dock Company
The West India merchants' new docks at Poplar had opened in 1802.
Inspired by this example, the East India Company became the driving force behind the formation of the East India Dock Company the following year.
After a successful lobbying campaign, the 1803 Act of Parliament created the subsidiary company and granted it a 21-year monopoly for trading with the Far East.
All ships arriving from the East Indies and China had to unload in the East India Docks.
Likewise, ships heading for those parts had to load at the dock. The docks could handle 250 ships at a time.
Grand opening at Blackwall
The new docks were opened with great celebration in August 1806. A newspaper from the time reported: 'These docks consist of an entrance basin, of nearly three acres [1.2 hectares]; a dock for inward-bound Indiamen, of nearly 18 acres [7.3 hectares]; a dock for loading outward-bound Indiamen, of nearly nine acres [3.6 hectares], making together about 30 acres [12 hectares].'
A magnet for business
The area around the East India Docks attracted other businesses.
Pepper warehouses and spice grinding operations sprang up in the area.
Pubs, shops and cafes opened to cater for the dockers and the sailors from the Company's vast merchant fleet.
Apart from a few spice stores, the docks did not have extensive warehousing. This was largely because the Company's goods were of great value.
Once unloaded, imports were transported along Commercial Road to the Company's Cutler Street warehouses in the City. The East India Dock Company had actually financed (along with the West India Dock Company) the construction of Commercial Road as a better way of moving goods into the City.
When its China tea monopoly ended in 1833, the East India Company sold 12 hectares (30 acres) of warehouses.