By the start of the 19th century Britain was the world's leading industrial power and dominated international commerce.
the world's largest port
the centre of international finance
the heart of the expanding British Empire.
Trade grew throughout the century and a huge dock-building programme made the port more efficient.
The building of large steamships meant that the port had to adapt to the changing technologies of the Victorian age.
By 1886 there were seven enclosed dock systems within the Port of London. The riverside communities of East London also saw new factories, power stations and shipyards spread along the banks of the Thames.
Maritime London timeline
1801 - Grand Surrey Canal begun
1802 - West India Dock opened
1805 - London Dock opened
1806 - East India Docks opened
1807 - Commercial Dock Company buys Greenland Dock (formerly the Great Howland)
1809 - Baltic Dock opened; first of the new Surrey docks
1811 - East Country Dock opened
1820 - Regent's Canal completed
1828 - St Katharine's Dock opened
1855 - Victoria Dock opened
1850s-60s - Many riverside wharves rebuilt as the docks' monopolies of handling imports ends
1858 - Great Eastern built at Millwall
1860 - HMS Warrior built at Blackwall
1868 - Millwall Docks opened
1869 - Woolwich and Deptford Dockyards close as the Royal Navy develops bigger yards elsewhere
1880 - Royal Albert Dock opened
1886 - Tilbury Docks opened
1889 - Great dock strike; the first major victory for British dockworkers
Britain and the world timeline
1805 - Battle of Trafalgar
1815 - Final defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo
1837-1901 - Reign of Queen Victoria
Science and technology
1807 - Comet, first steamship
1825 - Stockton to Darlington railway opened
1838 - Launch of Brunel's Great Western, the first steamship to routinely cross the Atlantic
1843 - Launch of Brunel's Great Britain, the first screw-propellor-driven steamship to cross the Atlantic
1851 - Great Exhibition
1866 - First successful transatlantic cable; the technologies of communication – the telegraph and the telephone (1880s) revolutionise commerce
Hailed as 'the workshop of the world', Britain became the first economic superpower; as Britain dominated international trade, London was the biggest port in the world
1877-81 - Refrigeration ships brought the first frozen meat to Britain from Argentina, Australia and New Zealand