|East Country Dock, bottom right in |
1828. Immediately to its north is
Greenland Dock. Click to
enlarge the image.
I have had to keep some of the photographs in this post small to fit them all in to the text, but if you click on them they will expand to full size so that you can see them in greater detail.
|The granite bollards of the |
East Country Dock are unique
The dock first appears on maps in the early 19th Century as East Country Dock, clearly shown on maps in Smiths Map of 1828, Cary's map of 1837, and Davies's 1843 map as a long thin, dock, as long as Greenland Dock was at that time, but around a quarter of its width. It is difficult to imagine why such a long, thin dock was considered to be advantageous. The East Country Dock Company, which was formed in 1807 and was named for its trading connections with the eastern Baltic.
|Weller map, 1868|
Over the next two years, between 1850 and 1852, the Commercial Dock Company expanded the dock, doubling its width at a cost of £190,000, extending its area to 5061 acres and its depth to 27ft. It became known as South Dock and it was connected to Greenland Dock and the rest of the Commercial Dock network to the north. It was designed and overseen by important engineer James Walker, who was also responsible for major extension work at Greenland Dock. There is a bust of him on a tall plinth overlooking Greenland Dock outside the Moby Dick pub. The lock has walls of sandstone ashlar. It now measured 48ft wide and, somewhat oddly, was only 25ft deep, meaning that it was 2 feet shallower than the dock itself. A newly designed self-acting sluice was installed in 1855 is preserved.
|A painting from 1888 showing|
a view from the same standpoint
(Museum of London Docklands)
In the same year James Walker's swing bridge was erected across the lock. It was moved in 1987 to Greenland Dock, where it crosses Norway cut. In 1862 Henry Grissell's swing bridge was installed across the entrance lock. Although it is no longer there, this bridge can also still be seen as it was moved in 1860 by the Port of London Authority to cross Steelyard Cut, the connecting channel that runs between South Dock and Greenland Dock.
A photograph taken in the late 1870s shows Steelyard Cut with some low buildings stationed along the quay, and sailing ships and lighters dotted around the docks, with a tug in the foreground. An 1888 painting of the dock by Tatton Mather, on display at the Museum of Docklands, shows a remarkably similar similar scene from a very similar vantage point, but with some much taller and very elegant brick warehouses situated behind the lower buildings shown in the 1870s photograph.
A photograph from the late 1920s, showing an aerial view of a busy Greenland Dock and South Dock, shows the same buildings to the north of Steelyard Cut. The bridge in the painting looks very like the one in the 1870s photograph.
|South Dock, bottom right,shown by sculptor Michael |
Rizzello as it was in 1896. Stave Hill.
In 1865 the two dock operating companies, The Commercial Docks Company and the Grand Surrey Docks and Canal Company, amalgamated to form one big company, the Surrey Commercial Docks Company.
|South Dock warehouse in the |
late 1870s, with the lock
entrance and hydralic capstan
in the foreground
|The Dog and Duck public house, Rotherhithe|
|Before and after - the|
Plough Way warehouses
and the modern homes that
One of the earliest residential developments was Baltic Quay at the end of South Dock. People purchasing apartments in the landmark building must have been taking a huge gamble on the potential success of the Rotherhithe venture, with the derelict 60s warehouses still standing, great gaping eyesores amidst the optimism of the LDDC's plans for regeneration. Falling on the Deptford side of the Southwark-Deptford border, which ran along the eastern side of South Dock's quay, the fell outside of the London Docklands Development Corporation's dockland regeneration remit, and were therefore not knocked down until the mid 1990s. Although the docks themselves were closed to shipping in 1969, many of the warehouses continued in use, and the South Dock warehouses in the photograph were employed as bonded warehouses. Containers of goods were delivered and stored there prior to distribution. The photograph above shows the warehouses as they were shortly before they were abandoned, but they were much worse in the early 90s when I first saw them with wide hollow entrances to the starkly desolate and rather alarming wind-tunnel interiors, their floors covered in debris and shattered glass, broken windows rattling in the wind.
overlooking the entrance
lock at South Dock
on Rope Street
Once associated with a busy and often chaotic commercial activities, the docks now form the heart of a residential area that is characterized by its much-appreciated tranquility. But the traces of its vibrant history, even after the Luftwaffe attacks and massive regeneration work, can still be observed by those who have an interest and take the time to look.
|Now crossing the Norway Dock entrance from|
Greenland Dock, this bridge originally crossed
South Dock, where it was established
in 1855. It was moved by the LDDC in 1987.
|The old warehouses on South Dock|
before demolition, with Aragon Tower in the
background before the redevelopment
of the Pepys Estate