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Portcities London

reflecting our cultures

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Maritime London Partnership

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About us PortCities London

Why PortCities UK? 

The sea has played a vital role in the development of many UK cities.  As the UK's ports grew in wealth and importance, they aided the movement of people, goods and ideas and acted as gateways to the wider world.  Port cities helped to create the UK of today.


PortCities London

A Picnic on the Foreshore at Greenwich. Part of Greenwich Local History Library Collection.
View full size imageFamilies on Greenwich Beach in the 1930s. © NMM

This site contains an online digitised collection resource of over 5000 items, brought to you by the National Maritime Museum, and local London libraries and archives who have worked to open up their collections.  PortCities London contains a unique collection of items that have never been seen together by the public until now!



 'Discover the past, explore the present'

PortCities London seeks to uncover the stories behind these unique maritime collections.

St Albans Floated out at Deptford, 1747
View full size imageHMS St Albans floated out at Deptford in 1747. © NMM

The riverside communities of maritime London were vibrant places in which to live. The port and river provided employment for many people in dockyards, warehouses, factories, shipyards and wharves. As a global port and the centre of the British Empire and Commonwealth, London has always attracted people from across the world. Many came to London to work in the port and its associated industries, some were seeking refuge and a better life for themselves and their families. Some merely passed through the port, while others stayed and made their home in the capital. The result of this influx can be seen around us today.

A series of local community outreach initiatives have provided another level of understanding to our 'maritime stories'.  The collections have been used to inspire and provoke local communities in Museum-led workshops.  These have uncovered personal experiences of those people living in and around the port.  PortCities London seeks to reflect the diversity of life in the port.  The recent community work recording the memories of Dockland's deaf community and the impressions of immigrant populations is only the start of many personal and community stories to come. 


PortCities UK - The Future

The PortCities project hopes to attract other cultural partners who will assist in opening up access to other archives and collections. Over time, this will present a truly national picture of our PortCities and their rich maritime heritage.


Background to the PortCities Project

The PortCities UK partners are a group of museums, archives and libraries that have come together across the country to open up their unique and varied collections and to present these via the internet.  The PortCities UK websites draw on these digitised materials to engage people in the collections and to unearth the stories of people, places and events that form part of our maritime heritage.

The PortCities UK partners include: 


New Opportunity Fund

The New Opportunities Fund distributes National Lottery money to health, education and environment projects across Britain with a particular focus on disadvantage and improving quality of life. Grant awards from the New Opportunities Fund's £50 million nof-digitise programme were announced in 2001. The programme is enabling information that supports lifelong learning to be put into digitised form. The nof-digitise grant awardees are developing learning materials covering a wide range of topics including arts, science, history, geography, citizenship and community information for Internet access. PortCities London can be accessed through the New Opportunities Fund portal – EnrichUK.  This is due to launch on 12 March 2003 and contains over 150 culturally rich websites that form part of this initiative.


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