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The Port of London today

The context: why sea-borne trade has changed
New types of ships
How the port of London has changed
Terminals of the port of London today
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ASEA crane loading containers on to the Moreton Bay, with the lighter Vindictive in the foreground

View full size imageThe old and the new - a lighter at Tilbury. © NMM

Despite the closure of the old docks and the wharves, London is still one of Britain's leading ports. It handles considerable amounts of traffic, but few goods now arrive in London directly by sea. Instead, most are unloaded at terminals much further down the Thames.

With all its docks closed or sold off, the Port of London Authority now concentrates on managing safety on the tidal Thames. It is responsible for maintaining river channels for navigation, moorings, lights and buoys. The PLA also provides a wide range of services for shipping, including, since 1988, pilotage services.

The port of London and the trade it handles have changed a great deal since the heyday of the 1950s and 1960s. To understand why, it is necessary to appreciate how the world's sea-borne trade has changed during that time.

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Port of London Authority (PLA)

Find out more
GalleriesHandling containers
How containers have simplified port operations
GalleriesVideoThe 20th-century port video gallery
From 1914 to the present day
StoriesThe 20th-century port
The changing fortunes of Docklands and the port
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National Maritime Museum/Royal Observatory Greenwich New Opportunities Fund  
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