St Katharine Docks

The opening of the St Katharine's Docks, on Saturday 25 October 1828.
View full size imageThe opening of the docks was a great occasion. © NMM
The St Katharine Docks, situated slightly to the east of Tower Bridge, were the closest to the City of London. Opened in 1828, St Katharine's had two connected basins, the east dock and the west dock. It had a long quayside for such a comparatively small area of enclosed water.

The docks were linked to the river through an entrance lock, 55 metres (180 feet) in length, fitted with three pairs of gates. When the docks were designed, the lock could handle either one large or two small ships. Warehouses, six storeys high and supported by heavy Tuscan columns, were built on the quayside so that cargo could be unloaded directly from ships into the storerooms.

Warehouses at St Katharine's Dock.
View full size imageWarehouses at St Katharine's Dock. © NMM
The warehouses were up to 150 metres (500 feet) long and up to 50 metres (165 feet) deep. St Katharine's Docks primarily handled valuable cargoes such as ivory, shells, sugar, marble, rubber, carpets, spices and perfumes. Many of these cargoes were brought in by barge from the lower docks.

The dock closed in 1969, and has now been redeveloped for leisure and residential use.

 Find out more:
Fact fileSt Katharine Docks
StoriesDevelopments at Rotherhithe and St Katharine's