Map, from London Exhibited in 1852
see also Henry Mayhew in Letter to the Morning Chronicle 47 - click here
see also Henry Mayhew in Criminal Prisons of London - click here
see also George Sala in Twice Round the Clock - click here
see also Watts Phillips, in The Wild Tribes of London - click here
Docks of London are entirely the growth of the present century, and the result
of the vast increase in the commerce of the preceding 25 years, which was as
great as in the first 70 years of the century : a hundred years since, London
had not one- twentieth of its present trade. Hitherto, merchandize was kept
afloat in barges, from want of room to discharge it at the legal quays, when the
plunder was frightful - lightermen, watermen, labourers, the crews of ships, the
mates and officers, and the revenue officers, combining in this nefarious
system, which neither the police nor the terrors of Execution Dock could
repress. At length, in 1789, Mr. Perry, a shipbuilder, constructed at Blackwall
the Brunswick Dock, to contain 28 East Indiamen and 50 or 60 smaller ships; and
in ten years after, the construction of public Docks was commenced.
The district north and south of the Thames, from the Tower to Blackwall, is the most remarkable portion of London. Here have been formed for the reception, dis. charge, and loading of vessels, on the north, St. Katharine's Docks, the London Docks, the West-India Docks, the East-India Docks, the Victoria Docks; and on the south the Grand Surrey Docks and the Commercial Docks; these comprise hundreds of acres of water, surrounded by miles of walls, and sheltering thousands of ships; here have been spent, not simply thousands, but millions of pounds, and all this has been effected in about half a century. Before there were any Docks, an East Indiaman of 800 tons was not usually delivered of her cargo in less than a month, and then the goods had to be taken in lighters from Blackwall nearly to London Bridge. For the delivery of a ship of 350 tons, not 70 years ago, eight days were necessary in summer and fourteen in winter: now, a ship of 500 tons may be discharged without any difficulty in two or three days. The mass of shipping, the vastness of the many-storied warehouses, and the heaps of merchandize from every region of the globe, justify the glory of London as "the great emporium of nations," and "the metropolis of the most intelligent and wealthy empire the sun ever shone upon, and of which the boast is, as of Spain of old, that upon its dominions the sun never sets."
These several Docks have been constructed at the expense of Joint-stock Companies, and have been moderately profitable to their projectors, but more advantageous to the Port of London.
John Timbs, Curiosities of London, 1867
Victorian London - Publications - Social Investigation/Journalism - London : A pilgrimage, by Gustave Dore and Blanchard Jerrold, 1872
"This is one of the grand aspects of your London."
We were sitting upon some barrels, not far within the St. Katherine's Dock Gates, on a sultry summer's day, watching the scene of extraordinary activity in the great entrepot before us.
"There is no end to it! London Docks, St. Katherine's Docks, Commercial Docks on the other side, India Docks, Victoria Docks; black with coal, blue with indigo, brown with hides, white with flour; stained with purple wine, or brown with tobacco!"
The perspective of the great entrepot or warehouse before us is broken and lost in the whirl and movement. Bales, baskets, sacks, hogsheads, and wagons stretch as far as the eye can reach; and there is a deep murmur rising from the busy fellows within. The solid carters and porters; the dapper clerks, carrying pen and book; the Customs' men moving slowly; the slouching sailors in gaudy holiday clothes; the skipper in shiny black that fits him uneasily, convoying parties of wondering ladies; negroes, Lascars, Portuguese, Frenchmen; grimy firemen, and (shadows in the throng) hungry-looking day-laborers landing the rich and sweet stores of the South, or the bread-stuffs of the generous West-all this makes a striking scene that holds fast the imagination of the observer, who has just skirted the dull outer wall of a great dock, faced by the low and shabby shops of poor Jack's arch enemies.
He who wants to study every form of ship, every kind of rigging, the thousand and one details of spars and ropes, the delightful play of light and color which is a perpetual beauty about a clipper's deck; the sad human stories that crowd the emigrant vessel; the sailor of every clime and country; in short, the immensity of commerce that counts warehouses by the mile and goods by the hundred thousand tons can have no better field than these watery acres that give hospitable welcome to every flag. The light plays upon every known bunting. We thread our way round the busy basins, through bales and bundles and grass-bags, over skins and rags and antlers, ores and dye-woods: now through pungent air, and now through a tallowy atmosphere, to the quay, and the great river where fleets are forever moored. The four thousand feet of river frontage of the St. Katherine's Docks only lead east to where the London Docks take up the striking story of human skill and courage, centred from every navigable sea.
We pass from London dock to London dock--the first being a water--bed of some twenty acres--over the canal bridges, and through throngs of workers tripping to and fiom the anchored fleets. It seems as though every floating plank had been drawn hither by some mysterious irresistible stream. We are in the regions of tobacco, and within the shadows of storehouses that can shelter nearly twenty-five thousand hogsheads, and keep cool in their foundations between sixty and seventy thousand pipes of wine! This Tobacco Dock, with the kiln in the corner, commonly known as the Queen's Tobacco-Pipe (and wherein damaged and confiscated tobacco and other commodities are blown into thin air), and its dark avenues braided and curtained with webs fed by the exudations of many vintages, is, to the Temperance enthusiast, a damned spot; and these alleys of hogsheads and pipes, and ships whose comely sides they have filled, are only so many passages to the Valley of Death.
Through shabby, slatternly places, by low and poor houses, amid shiftless riverside loungers, with the shipping-littered Thames on our right, we push on to the eastern dock between Wapping and down Shadwell. Streets of poverty-marked tenements, gaudy public-houses and beer--shops, door-steps packed with lolling, heavy-eyed, half-naked children; low-browed and bare-armed women greasing the walls with their backs, and gossiping the while such gossip as scorches the ears; bullies of every kind walking as masters of the pavement-all sprinkled with drunkenness-compose the scene, even in these better days, along the roads which stretch from dock to dock, to Limehouse and Blackwell, where the wealth of the Indies is cast upon our shores.
At Limehouse the activity in the coal trade was the striking feature. The rows of black ships, the dusty workmen and quays, are in striking contrast to the brightness of the scenes where the immense Australian emigrant clippers lie, and where our corn and wine are landed.
We have travelled through the commerce of a world in little. The London Docks alone receive something like two thousand ships a year.
They include one wine-cellar seven acres in extent! The potent gentlemen at Dock House govern the employment of a capital amounting to about four millions sterling. They are the hosts of squadrons of the peaceful Marine that is overspreading the world with the blessings of civilization. By us, where we sit watching sailors in the rigging, or slung by a ship's sides "peacocking" her bottom, looms the enormous figure-head of the Concordia, stretching out of the basin and overshadowing the quay. A noble representative vessel in the midst of this mastforest, and by the banks of the busiest river in the world. This ship is of the fleet that shall prevail in the end over the ironclads and the floating rams. Its comely prow shall rise triumphant over many summer seas when the Spitfires have been laid up and put out of sight of a world at peace-save in such contests as those, the spoils of which lie along our leagues of quays, prone to the vigorous and courageous hand of the workman.
On the opposite bank of the Thames, by carrier boat, through tangles of ships and steamboats, coasters and lightermen, we survey the Surrey Commercial Docks and the regions of timber, redolent of turpentine, by the Grand Surrey Canal behind. It is but a repetition of that which we have studied on the Middlesex bank; only in Rotherhithe the seafaring element is intensified, and is upon everybody and everything. Every living creature slouches or shambles; the women are brawny of arm and of brazen countenance; the public-houses are driving a wonderful trade; and along all the line the money gained by night-watches in the Northern seas, and over the crestless black billows of the Baltic, is being freely and badly spent.
Take Shadwell, Ratcliff Highway, Old Gravel Lane, and Rotherhithe, and you find few differences, save at points, in the intensity of the squalid recklessness. By day and by night it is the same interminable scene of heedless, shiftless money-squandering of Jack ashore, in the company of his sweetheart.
The whole is a grand picture, with a very dark background-such a background as that which appeared to us one dark night, outside a public house, by Dockhead.
An after-dark journey by the river-side is an expedition to be undertaken cautiously, and in safe company. In the Ratcliff district there is a strong dislike to the appearance of people who belong to the West of London. Muttered oaths and coarse jests follow in the wake of the stranger --seasoned in proportion to the richness of his appearance. A fop of St. James's Street would fare badly if he should attempt a solitary pilgrimage to Shadwell. His air of wealth would be regarded as aggressive and impertinent in those regions, upon which the mark of poverty is set in lively colors. It is remarkable that the poverty of the river-side is unlike that of Drury Lane or Bethnal Green. The stings and arrows of outrageous fortune pierce a rollicking company by the water. Jack gives a constant jollity to the scene, and is the occasion of the interminable roistering apparent in the lines of low public-houses thronged with ragged, loud-voiced men and women. The pitched battle we witnessed outside a public-house at Dockhead one threatening night is an incident that from time to time starts out of the level of the Ratcliff highwayman's careless and vicious life of want and drink.
[ ... back to main menu for this book]
Docks. — The London dock system—the largest in the world— is entirely, or almost entirely, the growth of the present century. The small basin, still known as the Greenland-dock, and forming one of the minor dependencies of the great Commercial-dock system, was in existence so long ago as x66o, when its tree-planted banks, snug little shady warehouses, and general easygoing arrangement, must have been at least pleasanter, if not more profitable, than the relentless grind and scramble of the vast system of the present day. At this moment the docks of London cover a space of about 6oo acres, and extend in an almost unbroken series from the Tower to Galleons-reach, beyond Woolwich. The westernmost, St. Katharine’s, commence on the farther side of Tower-hill, followed by the London-docks, Shadwell-basin, and one or two minor offshoots. Here the north shore line is broken, the Limehouse-basin alone occupying the space between the Shadwell-basin and the West India-docks, but the whole of the land on the opposite side of the river is filled up by the enormous range of the Surrey Commercial-docks, one of the largest systems in the world. Then, cutting right across the neck of the Isle of Dogs, comes the West India-dock system consisting of three long parallel basins, with entrances to the eastward into Blackwall, and to the westward into Limehouse-reach. To the south of these are the new Millwall-docks, with an opening at present into Limehouse-reach only, and constructed with a special view to the coal trade. Beyond, at Blackwall, are the East India-docks, considerably smaller than the West India; and finally, beyond these, stretching from close by the entrance of the East India-docks to Galleons-reach, comes the magnificent range of the Victoria-docks. An excellent and interesting account of the rise of this magnificent system will be found in an admirable little work by Mr. A. Forrow, of the East and West India Dock Company, entitled “The Thames and its Docks “ (Spottiswoode & Co.). -The following are the specialties of the various systems
EAST AND WEST INDIA-DOCKS.—Before the repeal of the monopolies granted to the companies, these docks were exclusively devoted to the reception of ships trading from the East and West Indies. Since that date no restriction of the business of the port has applied. The dock company takes any business it can get. As might be expected, the exclusive location of the West India trade at the West India-docks for a period of twenty-one years, caused that trade to take so firm a hold upon those premises that the bulk of the importations from that part of the world is still directed there. This is particularly the case as regards the articles of sugar and rum—of rum especially. A very large proportion of the East India and China trade is directed to these docks, as is also the greater part of the Australian trade. The mahogany trade of the Port of London is exclusively centred here, and the same may be said as regards the importations of teak. The wool business of the company, for which extensive warehouses have been erected at the South West India-dock, is another feature. The premises of the company in town are very extensive, including the large warehouses in Fenchurch-street, Crotched Friars, Jewry- street, and Billiter. street. At Fenchurch-street and Jewry-street the cigar and indigo trade of the company is centred; the warehouses at Crotched Friars are for tea, and those at Billiter-street for feathers, spices, ivory, and china-ware, of which beautiful specimens are occasionally to be seen. Application for cards to view should be made to the secretary of the company at Billiter street (the Dock-house). The docks and warehouses may be inspected at any time during official hours— that is to say from eight until four in the summer, and from nine until four in the winter months of the year, which are from November to February inclusive.
LONDON AND ST. KATHARINE AND VICTORIA DOCKS—These, like the East and West India-docks, have been available for the reception of general shipping since the monopoly of the London Dock Company expired. They enjoy a very large share of the East India, China, and Australian business. They also receive a large proportion of the shipping from the United States, and the ports in South America, the Baltic, and -the Black and Mediterranean Seas. They may be said to possess almost a monopoly of the wine, brandy, and tobacco trades; and the consignments of tea and silk warehoused with this company are very considerable. The wine vaults at the London and St. Katharine docks are very considerable, extending over many acres. The tobacco warehouses are also very extensive and interesting. The town premises of the company include the large warehouses at Cutler-street, where the silk and tea business of the company are concentrated, and extensive buildings in Mint-street. Application to view should be made to the general manager, at the Dock-house, Leadenhall-street. There are special hours for inspecting the wine vaults; but as regards the other portions of the establishment there is no limitation of time beyond what is indicated by the official hours, which are the same as at the East and West -India-docks.
MILLWALL-DOCKS.— These docks are principally used by vessels trading from the Baltic -Black, and Mediterranean Seas; corn, timber, and fruit-laden vessels; also vessels with oil-cake seed, marble-slabs, and other cargoes known as “rough cargoes.” Most of the goods discharged at these docks are either for warehousing elsewhere, or for transhipment. With the exception of the wool warehouses, the accommodation for a large storing business does not exist at these docks. Corn and timber are the principal goods warehoused here. Application to view should be made to the general manager, at the Dock-house, Railway-place, Fenchurch-street. The docks are open for this purpose during the hours above referred to.
REGENT (THE) is a small dock situated between Limehouse and Ratcliff, worked in connection with the Regent’s-canal. It is principally used as a collier dock and for coasters. There are no warehouses.
SURREY COMMERCIAL DOCKS on the south side of the river are very extensive, Occupying a land and water area of 330 acres. The vessels frequenting these docks are almost exclusively those engaged in the corn and timber-trades. The granaries are very extensive and complete. Application for permission to view should be made to the secretary, at the Dock-house, 106, Fenchurch-street.
Charles Dickens (Jr.), Dickens's Dictionary of London, 1879
East and West India Docks are situated at Blackwall between the
West India Dock and Blackwall stations of the London and Blackwall Railway. The
former of these stations is the best for persons having business at the general,
police, customs, wharfingers, or other offices, or on board of vessels lying in
the greater part of the West India Import Dock, the West India Export Dock, or
the South-West India Dock. For those at the eastern extremity of these docks,
the Mill wall Junction station will be found nearer, as also for the North
London Railway Companies' Docks, the Blackwall Basin, and the new dock in course
of formation by the Midland Railway Company, but not forming part of the East
and West India Dock Company's system, and the extreme western extremity of the
East India Import Dock. For the South-West India Docks and Basin, passengers
should change at Millwall Junction; and, proceeding by tram-car, alight at South
Dock station. For the East India Export Dock, the greater part of the East India
Import Dock, and the East India Dock Basin the best station is that of
Blackwall. The West India Import Dock, covering a space of 30 acres, is
approached at the western extremity from the Limehouse Basin, 1¼ acres in
extent, and at the eastern extremity from the Blackwall Basin, 6¾ acres. It is
surrounded by 29 hydraulic and 19 hand cranes, ranging in power from 3 tons to
20 cwt., and capable, when all in full work, of discharging or loading 30,000
tons per diem. The dock can accommodate at one time from 80,000 to 100,000 tons
of shipping, according as the individual vessels concerned are long or short in
proportion to their draught and beam, and this brings us to one of the great
difficulties with which under the present system the dock companies have to
deal. There are probably few greater triumphs of illogic even in England than
the system which makes all a ship's payments, whether in the nature of
insurance, as in the case of light and pilotage dues; of rent, as in the case of
berthing; or of payment for actual work performed, as in the case now in
question of loading and discharging, dependent neither upon the value of the
ship or cargo insured, the place occupied, nor the amount of work done, but
simply on an arbitrary basis of so-called registered tonnage estimated from
certain set measurements and pro portions, the object of which it at once
becomes, of course, the builder's chief aim to defeat. A vessel of 1,000 tons
may have on board any amount of cargo from that to double, or even more than
double that amount; but whatever the quantity, her payment to the company for
hoisting it out will be a payment of so much per ton upon her register of 1,000
tons, and all work done beyond that must be done gratis. What the dock companies
desire is that the charge for clearing or filling a ship's hold shall be
reckoned at so much per ton upon the number of tons put into or taken out from
it, and really it does not seem as though the desire were very strikingly
Along the north side of the West India Import Dock runs a range of sheds and warehouses numbered from 1 to 9, and containing the general offices, police-office, Western Dock Superintendent's office, Customs free goods office, Principal Dock-Master's office, and foremen offices; the remainder of the sheds being occupied by goods chiefly discharged from the vessels on the quay, or awaiting shipment. The east end is occupied by one large warehouse, numbered 10, and the west by another numbered 11, in the space between which latter and the western boundary of the company's property wall are various stores, carpenters', wheelwrights', blacksmiths', fitters', plumbers', painters', and other shops, iron chain store, printing-office, engine house, armoury, and other buildings, with constables' houses and cottagers' gardens, a large swim ming tank and range of dressing- rooms, and a tavern, "The Jamaica," for the special benefit of those having business at the docks, but hospitably open to all comers. An outlying portion of the company's property, some seven or eight acres in extent, and of very irregular shape, extending along the north side on the opposite bank of the railway, is occupied partly by a portion of the Poplar workhouse, partly by a range of cottages for the employés, each with its allotment garden.
Southward from the Limehouse Basin another entrance leads into the West India Export Dock, which covers an extent of 24 acres, with an exit at the eastern end into Blackwall Basin. This dock can accommodate at one time from 45,000 to 50,000 tons of shipping. The space between it and the West India Import Dock of 300 ft. in width, is occupied by the rum and mahogany sheds, the latter occupying the extremities and the former the middle portion. The rum shed is a very interesting feature of the dock, covering a space of about 200,000 square feet, with a similar space of vaults below. No artificial light of any description has ever been used in any part of the building, the only means of illumination in the dark earth below being by the skilful use of hand reflectors, in bright tin. So great is the dread of fire in this department, that vessels are not, as a rule, allowed to come alongside the quay, the casks being landed from lighters.
Along the southern quay project at intervals eight jetties of 130 ft. each in length, one of 140 ft., and one of 150 ft.; the space of about 200 ft. in width between this dock and the South-West India Dock, on its southern side, being occupied by a double row of stores and offices. The South-West India Dock opens directly from Limehouse Reach without any intermediate basin. Its size is about half-way between that of its two companion docks, covering a space of 26¾ acres. Its depth, however, is considerably greater than that of either, extending to 29 ft.; the greater width, moreover, of its entrances, especially of that by which it is approached through the South - West India Dock Basin, 5¼ acres in extent, from Blackwall Reach, enabling it to accommodate vessels of much larger tonnage than can possibly find their way into either of the older docks. It can accommodate at one time from 90,000 to 100,000 tons of shipping, and has a daily discharging capacity of from 9,000 to 10,000 tons. Along its north quay project at right angles twelve jetties of 130 ft. each in length, one of 155 ft., and one of 200 ft., while its southern quay is pro vided with a range of sheds extending the entire length of the quay, and faced on the op posite side by a block of warehouses for storing wool. The wool is delivered direct from the ships into the warehouses, which can store 120,000 bales, of which 30,000 can be shown at one time. In the north-east corner of this dock is moored Her Majesty's ship President.
The two eastern basins, the Blackwall and South-West India, are connected by a small junction dock 320 ft. long and 1 acre in extent, by means of which communication can be kept up between the South-West India and the other two docks, and the remainder of the ground between them is partly occupied by various small sheds for timber, saltpetre, &c., and partly leased out to private firms, such as the General Steam Navigation Company, the Merchant Shipping Company, and others; a considerable portion on the south - eastern side of the Blackwall Basin being occupied by the graving dock of Messrs. Johnson and Co. On the western side of the junction dock is the station of the new railway which runs through the docks by Millwall to North Woolwich, whence a ferry connects with Greenwich, a much shorter and pleasanter route from many parts of London than the old railway from London Bridge.
North of the Blackwall Basin, and occupying a plot of land of on acres in extent, between the East and West India Dock system, is the Great Railway Yard, with its docks, entered from the north-cast corner of the Blackwall Basin, and in direct communication with every railway in England, with the exception of the Midland on the north, and the South-Eastern and its allied companies on the south. The Midland Company, however, is busily occupied in constructing a dock and railway-yard for itself on the land between the Dock Company's railway-yard and the dry docks of Messrs. R. and H. Green and Co., which will not have an y communication with either the East or the West India Dock system, but will open direct from the river about 100 yards to the northward of Blackwall Stairs. A narrow strip of ground on the e astern side of the railway-yard is occupied by sundry houses and cottages, with an infant school, and completes the West India Dock portion of the company's estate, about 200 yards to the eastward of which is the south-west entrance of the East India Import Dock, a piece of water 1,410 ft. long by 560 ft. wide and 26 ft. 10 in. deep, covering a space of 18 acres. The principal land entrance is in the north-west corner, where the East India Dock-road terminates in the Barking-road, and opposite to which stands the Poplar Hospital. Along the north boundary is a row of warehouses, chiefly occupied by jute, and fronted by a row of sheds. The north quay has four jetties of 120 ft. and four of 200 ft. each, running out into the dock at right angles. The chief articles dealt with in this dock are East Indian and Colonial produce, and 45,000 tons of ship ping can be accommodated at one time along its quays, the daily discharging capacity being about 8,000 tons.
From the south-western corner an entrance leads into the East India Dock Basin, 6 acres in extent, from which a short entrance way, 50 ft. in width, and closed by a caisson, heads into the East India Export Dock, covering a space of 8 acres. On the north bank of this dock is the range of large cotton warehouses about 600 ft. in length by 120 ft. in depth, with the range of sheds in front, between which and the quay runs a branch line of the Blackwall Railway, crossing the East India Import Dock entrance by an hydraulic bridge to the Import and Export Warehouses on the northern quay of the East India Dock Basin. Two jetties, each 162 ft. in length, project into the dock from the Western quay, and on the west, south, and east are ranges of sheds; the remainder of the company's premises between the East India Export Dock and the river being occupied by the Blackwall Rail way Terminus and Wharf. The old "Brunswick," once famous for whitebait dinners, still stands, but was some years ago transformed into an emigration depot. It is now unoccupied.
An important work has recently been effected in the construction of a second means of approach to the East India Dock Basin. This new entrance, 100 ft, in length by 60 ft. wide and 31 ft. deep, is the deepest, not merely of the metropolitan dock system, but of any part of the world, and is alone capable of affording admission to vessels of the size of the Orient, by which it seems probable that the greater part of the Australian, if not of other trades, will in the not very distant future be carried on.
To any one accustomed to the working of the Liverpool dock system - the next largest in the world - it is a little startling to see this magnificent new entrance blocked up, as, indeed, are all the other means of access, by a solid mass of unwieldy dumb barges (see BARGES). His astonishment is not lessened by learning that while at Liverpool it is found that work can be best performed without the aid of barges of any kind, in London the dock companies are compelled by Act of Parliament to admit them in any number free of all charge. A little further examination, too, shows that the blocking up of the approaches, serious as are the cost and inconvenience thus entailed, is by no means the only disadvantage inflicted on the company by this extraordinary stipulation. The charge for bonding and un-bonding, as we have seen, is based not upon the amount of work done, but upon the nominal registered tonnage of the vessel. But the labour and cost to the company of discharging goods into barges is out of all proportion greater than that of hoisting them on to the quay. This latter operation can be achieved by a single operation of the steam or hydraulic crane, which whips a heavy case out of the hold, swings it ashore, and drops it care fully into its desired position with as much ease and celerity as a book can be put away on a handy shelf. All that it can do for a package destined for transhipment into a lighter alongside is to lift it from the hold to the ship's deck Here it has to be unhooked, readjusted to the ship's tackle, and hoisted bodily over the side and into the barge by sheer manual labour, whilst the mechanical power by which, could it only get at it, the work might be done in a quarter of the time, and with a tenth part of the force employed, is kept idly waiting till the clumsy operation is over. The origin of this serious infliction is as simple as its continued existence is absurd. Before the construction of the docks, the open river was, of course, the only place where vessels could discharge, and all were privileged to make use of it. This privilege the Dock Charter with drew, all vessels affected by it being compelled to discharge and reload in the docks only. It was pointed out that in fairness the lighters into which they were to discharging should have the same freedom of access they enjoyed before, and this pro vision was accordingly incorporated in the Act, and continued with more show of reason while the monopoly endured. But while the monopoly ceased years ago, the privilege based upon it still survives. Vessels may discharge now where they please, but the barges still claim their right of entry, at a cost to the company only to be estimated by personal observation. As matters at present stand, it is very much as though, in consideration of their ancient necessity, an indefinite mob of hackney coaches were allowed to cluster at pleasure upon the metals of a metropolitan railway terminus.
The average number of vessels lying at one time in the various docks and basins of the Company is 215, with an aggregated registered tonnage of 145,000 tons. Some 4,238 vessels, of an aggregate registered tonnage of 4,238,000 tons pass in and out in the course of the year. The staff employed upon the premises consists of about 2,500 persons, in addition to extra labourers employed as the exigencies of the work require, and usually numbering nearly 3,000.
On all week-days between March 1st and October 31st the principal road-gates will be opened at 6 a.m. and closed at 8 p.m., and between November 1st and the last of February at 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. On Sundays and holidays, wickets or foot-gates only will, for the accommodation of persons belonging to vessels lying within the dock premises, be opened during the above hours. After the gates have been closed no person will be allowed to leave or enter the dock premises unless furnished with a pass obtained at the police-office.
No persons, except throne en gaged in the transport of vessels or craft from the basins to the river at tide time, are allowed to be on the quays of the dock premises after dark, under a penalty not exceeding £5 (and see BONDED WAREHOUSES).
Charles Dickens (Jr.), Dickens's Dictionary of the Thames, 1881