Victorian London - Thames - Docks - Millwall Docks

MILLWALL CANAL AND GRAVING DOCKS, engineer, Wilson, extend across the Isle of Dogs, from east to west, with a branch projecting at right angles from the centre.

John Timbs, Curiosities of London, 1867

Millwall Docks (Office, 1, Railway-place, Fenchurch-street, E.C.) are situate on the Isle of Dogs, lust south of the West India Docks, the access being by the Millwall Extension branch of the Blackwall Railway. They are in the form of the rather narrow gnomon of a parallelogram, about 800 yards by 600; the longer arm, which runs north and south, having a width of a little over 300 feet, and the shorter, running east and west, of about 400 feet. The only entrance is from Limehouse Reach, just opposite the entrance of the New or South Dock of the Surrey Commercial System, and about 52 chains, or between half and three-quarters of a mile, south of the entrance to the South-West India Dock. The entrance lock is 450 feet in length by 80 in width, and has a depth on the cill of 28 feet below Trinity high water mark. It is crossed by the West Ferry-road, along which a line of omnibuses plies from the West India Dock Station round the Canine Island, and opens into the outer dock, which occupies the whole of the shorter and about a third of the longer limb. The two docks are practically one, being only divided by a bridge. The whole system covers a space of 204 acres, of which only 38 are water and 166 land. The capacity of these docks is stated at something over 100,000 tons "gross register," whilst from 950,000 to 1,200,000 tons "gross register" pass in and out annually. They are in communication by means of the Blackwall and Millwall Extension Railway with London, and with the railway lines on the north of the  Thames their business lying more especially with steamers, and these chiefly from European and American ports. An important feature in the trade is grain, the larger proportion of the supplies of this description of produce imported into London passing through the Millwall Docks. Like their compeers at Blackwall and elsewhere they also suffer from the plague of barges, an evil in this case rendered even more than commonly unendurable by the possession of only a single means of entrance and exit.

Charles Dickens (Jr.), Dickens's Dictionary of the Thames, 1881