Royal Victoria Dock

The new hydraulic lift at the Victoria Docks.
View full size imageThe new hydraulic lift at the Victoria Docks. © NMM
Opened by Prince Albert in 1855, the Royal Victoria Dock was built slightly to the east of the mouth of the River Lea.

The Royal Victoria Dock covered almost 45 hectares (100 acres) of water with a total length of 2.5 kilometres (1.5 miles). It incorporated several new features compared with its predecessors.

Five finger-jetties projected into the dock from the main quays, the idea being to aid quick delivery of cargoes, after sorting into barges on the opposite side of the jetty to which the ship was berthed. There was a tidal basin at the western end. Ships entered the basin via a lock from the Thames.

Benmhor (1949) moored at the Royal Victoria Dock
View full size imageBenmhor (1949) moored at the Royal Victoria Dock. © NMM
Royal Victoria Dock was the first in London to be directly connected with the national railway system. This allowed imported goods to be moved around the country faster than before. The dock was also the first to be equipped with hydraulic machinery and lifts to raise ships. As originally constructed the sides of the docks were largely earthen banks.

The dock was extensively rebuilt in the late 1930s. The Royal Victoria Dock was closed to commercial shipping in the early 1980s.

 Find out more:
Fact fileRoyal Victoria Dock
StoriesSteamships and the Royal Victoria Dock