The West India Import Dock opened for business in 1802. The West India Dock Company was granted a monopoly for 21 years to unload all West India produce brought into London. They were the first enclosed docks and relieved congestion on the River Thames.
The import dock had 12 hectares (30 acres) of water. Ships could discharge cargoes in four days instead of four weeks. Warehouses, five storeys high, were built around the import dock. Cargoes were stored prior to distribution or re-export.