Meanwhile, the London and St Katharine Dock Companies had combined and bought the Royal Victoria Dock. In 1874 the new company decided to build the Royal Albert Dock in North Woolwich as an extension of the Victoria.
This was mainly because the Victoria dock was not deep enough and had too narrow an entrance for the largest steamships.
It was connected to the Royal Victoria Dock, to the east, by a lock and was entered from the Thames via a basin at Gallions Reach. The main cargoes handled at the Royal Albert Dock were tobacco, chilled and frozen meat, grain and general cargo.
The company hoped that ship-owners would prefer to dock their vessels close to Gravesend, the well-established point of arrival for ships, as it would save them the time and expense of taking the ships further up the river.
The dock opened in 1886 but shipping was slow to transfer from the older docks. This was largely because of a boycott by London merchants, lightermen and wharfingers (wharf owners).