The 20th-century port
|Edwardian port in crisis|
Port in trouble
Competition between them had always been fierce, but in the twenty years before 1900 it had become a cut-throat affair as they desperately tried to attract shipping into their docks.
Competition between the dock companies and the wharfingers (wharf owners) was also fierce. The wharfingers could undercut the rates charged in the docks.
Trouble with lighters
Most of the goods went into lighters and were transferred to the wharves or directly to customers. The large number of lighters added greatly to the congestion in the river. It was also a slow way of moving goods and held up deliveries.
Time for a change
The main river channel was not deep enough and large ships had great difficulty moving in the Thames. Unfortunately, the sharing of authority among several organisations prevented these changes from happening.
Port of London Authority
Once they had identified the main problems, their job was to suggest how these could be overcome and how the port should develop.
The Commission decided that co-ordinated control of the port was necessary. In 1902 it published a report recommending a central authority. In 1909 the Port of London Authority (PLA) was set up.