We may trace the vastness of London, the varied character of its external features, and the wonderful diversity which its social aspects present, to distinct causes. , its official supremacy, as the residence of the sovereign, the seat of the government and legislature, and all the most important departments of the state; secondly, its manufacturing industry; and, thirdly, its commercial
|importance as a port. Any of these elements would nourish a large amount of population; but without the latter it would be kept within moderate limits, and it is chiefly in consequence of their influence that London is twice as large as Paris.|
That portion of London connected with the port and shipping differs so much from the districts appropriated to manufactures, and from all others possessing a special character of their own, as to constitute of the most distinct divisions of the metropolis. It embraces, on the northern side of the river, a district extending eastward from , and comprising and Ratcliffe Highway, Shadwell, , Poplar, and ; and, on the other side, commences with , and comprehends and all along the river to Deptford. The general characteristics of the district have already been noticed ;[n.66.1] and we shall, therefore, devote the present number to an account of of its great features--the Docks.
The stranger, especially from an inland county, who takes a passage by of the steamers which leave every quarter of an hour for Greenwich, will be astonished at the apparently interminable forests of masts which extend on both sides of the channel, where a width of feet be kept for the purposes of safe navigation, but which the crowd of ships from all quarters of the globe, of colliers, coasters, steam-boats, and river-craft, renders it difficult for the harbour-masters to maintain. If the tide be running upward, laden coalbarges are thronging the channel, proceeding to the wharfs in the upper part of the river; and colliers at their moorings are at all times discharging their cargoes into barges alongside. By the regulations of the coal-trade only a certain number of coal-ships are allowed to unload at the same time, the others remaining lower down the river until their turn arrives; and the coal-meters, who are appointed by the City, are also limited in number. But for these restrictions the river would present a still more crowded appearance, as it has happened that above colliers have arrived in the Lower Pool in day; and even now a very large portion of the river is occupied by this branch of commerce. years ago, not only coal-ships, but vessels of every other kind, discharged their cargoes into lighters while at anchor in the stream; but such a practice would now be impossible, so great has been the increase of commerce. East Indiamen generally came only as far as , where they discharged their cargoes into decked lighters of from to tons, and, the hatchways being secured under lock and key, they proceeded to the wharfs. West India ships discharged in the river, and the cargoes were also conveyed in lighters to the legal quays. All other vessels, except they were of small size, were in like manner compelled to use lighters in discharging their cargoes. At the present time -sevenths of the barges and river-craft are solely employed in transporting the cargoes of coal, corn, and timber ships, so small a proportion as - only being required for the conveyance of all other commodities, the chief of which are of a bulky kind, and do not offer any great temptation to pilferers. In the number of barges and craft required for the traffic between the ships in the river and the quays was for timber and for coal, each averaging tons; lighters of tons; punts of tons; lugger-boats of tons;
|sloops of tons; cutters of tons; and hoys of tons; making a total of craft. Property of the most costly and valuable description, and every kind of merchandise, was daily exposed to plunder in these open boats, for only the lighters of the East India Company were decked, and it was considered that even they afforded a very insufficient protection. The temptation to pilfer was almost irresistible, those who were honestly disposed taking their share under the plea that wastage and leakage were perquisites. So many persons were engaged in the work of depredation on the river, that it was carried on in the most daring and open manner-lightermen, watermen, labourers, the crews of ships, the mates and officers in some instances, and to a great extent the officers of the revenue, being combined in this nefarious system; while on each side of the river there was a host of receivers, some of them persons of opulence, who carried on an extensive business in stolen property.[n.67.1] In the Thames Police, called then the Marine Police, was instituted for the repression of these offences, but the source of the evil was still untouched, the temptation remaining undiminished so long as the exposure of property was rendered unavoidable by the absence of sufficient accommodation in quays and warehouses.|
In certain wharfs, afterwards known as the
were appointed to be the sole landing-places for goods in the port of London. They were situated between and the Tower, and had a frontage of feet by wide, and of this space feet were taken up by landing-stairs and by the coasting-trade, leaving, in the year , only feet for the use of the foreign trade. Other wharfs had, it is true, been added from time to time, of these,
as they were called, being on the northern side of the river, and on the opposite side, comprising altogether a frontage of feet. The warehouses belonging to the sufferance wharfs were capable of, containing tons of merchandise, and tons could be stowed in the yards. The want of warehouse-room was so great that sugars were deposited in warehouses on , and even in . Wine, spirits, and the great majority of articles of foreign produce, especially those on which the higher rate of duties was charged, could be landed only at the legal quays. In sugars were allowed to be landed at the sufferance wharfs, but the charges were higher than at the legal quays; extra fees had to be paid to the revenue officers for attendance at them, though at the same time they were inconveniently situated, and at too great a distance from the centre of business. The above concession to the sufferance wharfs was demanded by common sense and necessity, for the ships entered with sugar increased from , in , to , of larger dimensions, in . Generally speaking, the sufferance wharfs were used chiefly by vessels in the coasting-trade, and for such departments of the foreign trade as could not by any possibility be accommodated at the legal quays. Even in , commissions appointed by the Court of Exchequer had reported that the latter were
But the commerce of London had wonderfully increased since
| that time, its progress in the years from to having been as great as in the years of the century. The value of the exports and imports of
London in was about millions sterling, and in about millions; and the shipping engaged in
foreign trade had increased in tonnage still more than in numbers, as the following table of
British and foreign shipping inwards will show:-- |
About the year the complaints of the merchants began to attract more attention than they had hitherto received, and they held meetings, at which various remedies were proposed, but no substantial improvement was the result. At length, in , Parliament took up the subject, and instituted a formal inquiry. After the war had commenced the evils complained of had enormously increased. The commerce of other countries flowed towards London, and merchant-ships, instead of arriving and departing singly, were compelled to sail in large fleets under the convoy of men-of-war, and thus the operations of a more extended trade were concentrated into irregular periods, which demanded the most
|extraordinary activity and every possible facility which tended to promote despatch and economy of time and labour. This was a most flourishing era for the river plunderers, but the difficulties and inconvenience of the mercantile interest had now become so pressing as to render improvement inevitable, however difficult it might be to devise the most appropriate remedy. The Parliamentary Committee had under its consideration different plans for giving greater accommodation to the trading and shipping interests, and it had also to listen to the representations of various classes whose interests were involved in maintaining matters in their existing state; and amongst those who would be benefited by almost any change there was not as yet that concurrence which was desirable, and which would at once have led to a decisive result. It was not until , years after the Committee above mentioned had been appointed, that the West India merchants, a very influential and wealthy body, attained their object; and, but for the inquiry conducted by the Committee of , the delay would have been still greater. Liverpool and Hull had long experienced the benefits of wet docks, and, in , a private individual, Mr. Perry, a ship-builder, had constructed a dock called the Brunswick Dock, adjoining his building-yard at , capable of containing at time East Indiamen, and or ships of smaller burden. But even in the Greenland Dock was not allowed to be used by vessels discharging their cargoes, in consequence of objections on the part of the Commissioners of Customs.|
The obstacles overcome by the generation which is now passing away, in the attempt to provide wet docks in the port of London, are comparatively so little known by the generation which is enjoying the fruit of their efforts, as to render a brief recapitulation of the various plans of not altogether uninteresting.
The plan which we shall notice was intended to provide accommodation for the increased trade and shipping by deepening and improving the river, and extending the legal quays, at an estimated expense of Its author, who was chairman of the wharfingers of these quays, proposed that, from to Deptford, the depth of the river at low water should be increased to and feet, and, calculating that, in , the number of ships (exclusive of all coasters except colliers) in the port of London at any time did not exceed , he would, in the space already mentioned, have provided mooringtiers for colliers, coasters, and foreign traders, with a ballast-wharf, yards in length, fronting the King's Yard at Deptford. To each species of trade, and the shipping employed in it, a distinct portion of the river was to be assigned; the space between and the Tower on side being for craft employed at the legal quays; the station for the coasting-trade commencing at the southern foot of the bridge and on the northern side from Tower Dock, from which point, on each side of the river, were to be the stations for the foreign shipping, the colliers being removed entirely out of the upper Pool. Harbourmasters were to be appointed to enforce the berthing of ships in their proper places. This plan also comprised the widening of the legal quays from to feet, by platforms so as not to obstruct the current; the taking down of houses on each side of , at the back of the legal quays, where spacious warehouses were to be erected; the avenues leading to Thames
|Street to be widened, and here also additional warehouses were to be built. The authorities at the Custom-House were also to be called upon to enforce stricter regulations for the despatch of business. The object of this temporising scheme would not have alleviated of the most prominent causes of complaint --the plunder of merchandise from lighters and barges on their passage from the ships to the quays, as it would still have been necessary for shipping to discharge their cargoes while lying in the river; and the accumulation of warehouses in the rear of the legal quays would have afforded very inferior accommodation in comparison with the commodious arrangements which the docks now present.|
is also deserving of attention. They proposed purchasing acres of land in , east of , and to excavate and form wet docks, of acres, capable of containing ships, and other of about acres for lighters. of the entrances of the larger dock was to be by a canal miles and -quarters in length, navigable for ships of tons, and communicating with the river at . The whole area of acres was to be surrounded by a high wall, enclosing warehouses, wharfs, and quays. The Commissioners of Customs and the Corporation of the Trinity House each approved of this plan so far as related to the construction of docks, and it will be seen that it was nearly followed in the formation of the . The canal was objected to by the authorities at the Custom-House on the ground that, while shipping were towed along it, there would be great facilities for smuggling and plundering--an apprehension which, in that day, haunted all who had property afloat on the river. The Brethren of the Trinity House remarked, in their report on the plan, that contiguity to the metropolis was of the essential points to be insisted upon in every project for wet docks, as long and tedious lighterage, fraught with so many evils both to property and the revenue, would be at once diminished. The estimated expense of the Merchants' Plan was
The authorities of the City had also their plan, or rather plans, the chief feature of which was a dock, of acres, in the , to contain above ships, and another at , of the same extent, for colliers. They moreover proposed to extend the frontage and area of the legal quays to feet in length and in depth, by making indented quays (and, including , ), each capable of accommodating lighters. The existing approaches to the quays, which were very narrow and incommodious, and caused great obstruction, were also to be widened. It was also proposed to arch over quays and to construct warehouses on them, with special reference to the security of the revenue. The erection of warehouses at the proposed docks does not appear to have been contemplated, and they would, therefore, have merely relieved the river without obviating the necessity of lighterage. The cost of carrying these extensive plans into effect was estimated at
The plan, described as Mr. Wyatt's, was a project for constructing docks in the , with a basin, common to them all, at , capable of receiving ships, and having entrances; the corresponding western basin at to accommodate lighters. The docks were to be of oblong form, extending from east to west: the northern dock to contain ships; the middle dock, , for ships with the most valuable cargoes of foreign
|produce; and the southern dock to contain colliers. The whole area comprising the docks was to be surrounded by a wall feet high. Landing wharfs and warehouses, the most prominent features of the existing docks, were not contemplated in this plan; but ships were to discharge their cargoes on a floating wharf, the Custom-House duties to be ascertained at the time. Lighterage would therefore still have been necessary; and there would have been a waste of time in craning goods from the ship to the floating-wharf, and then into the lighter; whence they would require to be a time moved at the quay before they finally reached the warehouse. The estimated expenses of the plan were ; and it was partly followed in the construction of the .|
The Plan, as it was called, which was estimated to cost only ., was calculated for local rather than general convenience. Docks for colliers, timber-ships, and vessels for sale, were to be formed at ; and a canal (in which we perceive the idea of the Surrey Canal) was to open an outlet from the western extremity of the dock through , and, after nearly touching the , would have entered the Thames nearly opposite .
A plan was submitted by Mr. Spence for arranging all the shipping frequenting the river into classes, according to their respective employments, for each of which it was proposed to erect a separate dock, either on the or between the Tower and ; of these docks, to be feet square, and the remaining - less. The estimated expense was ; but the general opinion was that a single spacious dock would be more convenient and less expensive.
Mr. Walker's plan for docks, quays, and warehouses at , though not differing greatly from the Merchants' Plan, was favourably regarded, on account of the site being contiguous to the City. He proposed to excavate acres for docks; acres additional being intended for quays, wharfs, and warehouses. of the entrances was to be by a canal intersecting the at a point nearer the southern shore than the proposed canal in the Merchants' Plan. The cost was estimated at
The last of these plans was Mr. Reaveley's, which displayed considerable ingenuity, and consisted in fact of distinct projects: I. To form a new channel for the river in a straight line from to ; the Long Reach round the thus constituting a dock, with flood-gates at each entrance. . To continue the new channel below towards Woolwich Reach, so as to convert another bend of the old channel into a dock. . To make a new channel from , and to form docks out of the bends, to be called Ratcliffe Dock, Dock, and Greenwich Dock. The Trinity House objected that the King's Dock at Deptford would be injured by the latter plan; on which Mr. Reaveley proposed :--. To make a new channel from to the old channel between Greenland Dock (now the ) and Deptford, thence inclining to the northward until it opened into Woolwich Reach, thus forming spacious docks out of the bends of the river (above and below) at . The estimated cost of these various plans was not given.
These projects brought forward the interests which depended upon the continuance of things as they were. The Tackle House and City porters complained
|that, if the import and export business were removed beyond the City limits, their right to the exclusive privilege of unloading and delivering all merchandise imported into the City would be worthless; the carmen, who enjoyed a similar monopoly, made the same complaint, and they stated that derived an income of a-year from the licences under which they exercised their privilege; the watermen foretold that the establishment of docks would deprive -half of them of bread; the lightermen stated that they had a capital of invested in tackle and craft employed in the transport of merchandise, which capital would be annihilated if shipping were enabled to discharge their cargoes on quays within docks; the proprietors of the legal quays endeavoured to prove that, if only the West India trade were allowed to use docks, the value of their interests would be diminished -thirds, and that it would be totally annihilated if the foreign trade were to be altogether withdrawn from the river; and, lastly, the proprietors of the sufferance wharfs raised their voices against the proposed docks.|
Some of the objections were not directly founded on a probable loss to the individuals who urged them; but it was contended that unloading ships in docks would be more expensive than discharging them into lighters in the river. Here, however, experience could be adduced to show that the case would be quite otherwise. Excluding details which were not common to the respective circumstances of Liverpool and London, it was shown that the expense in the discharge of hogsheads of sugar would be less in docks than in the river. Others scarcely hoped to see an end put to the system of plunder, which had existed so long, and with such impunity, as to be regarded almost in the nature of a port-charge--as an evil which there was little hope of removing. They feared that articles would be conveyed over the dock-walls, or that the docks would be the resort of depredators and smugglers, who would convey property out at the gates; and it was in order to allay these apprehensions that the Parliamentary Committee observed in their Report that
The Commissioners of Customs, with the same object, also gave it as their opinion that the revenue
and they alleged, further, that with wet docks the delay in the payment of duties occasioned by the detention of cargoes for want of accommodation at the quays and warehouses would be altogether avoided. Only witness examined before the Parliamentary Committee thought that docks would not
So little, however, did even the Committee see their way distinctly as to observe in their Report, that
so that at this date () there was no clear apprehension of the plans which would eventually be adopted even if docks were constructed.
years afterwards, in , not a single Bill had been passed for the construction of docks, but several had been introduced into Parliament for the still desiderated improvements of the port, and a Committee was appointed to report on their merits. Of the plans of only that of the merchants, for docks at , and that of the City, for docks on the , appear to have been now entertained; but there was new plan, the object of which was to
rebuild , and to admit ships of
tons burthen up to , either by a large central arch of
feet span and feet high, or by a double roadway in the middle of the
bridge with a drawbridge on each side admitting ships into a basin, from which they were to
pass either up or down the river, only of the drawbridges to be opened
at the same time, to prevent impediment to passengers and vehicles. This plan also comprised a
range of quays and warehouses on both sides of the river from to . A drawing of the substantial and lofty warehouses which it
was proposed to erect is given in the Parliamentary Report; and, as they admitted of no
architectural embellishment, this long and dreary line of uniform buildings enclosing the river
has an aspect little short of appalling, and it cannot be regretted that its banks are left
with meaner buildings of more picturesque variety. The question respecting the advantages of
docks had now, however, made such progress that the Committee, in reference to the
last-mentioned project, were inclined to consider |
There remained, therefore, only plans under consideration; and though, as observed in the Report, docks might be advantageously established in each of the places proposed, yet, considering the inconvenience resulting from further delay, the Committee gave a preference to those intended to be constructed in the , as they could be formed in the shortest time and at the least expense. The Bill for the was therefore passed in , and on the , they were opened for business. A compulsory clause was introduced into the Act requiring all ships laden with West India produce to make use of these docks for the space of years. In the following year () the Act for the construction of the (or rather Dock, for the smaller dock was not made until many years afterwards) was passed; and it also obtained exclusive privileges, vessels laden with certain produce, as wine, brandy, tobacco, rice, being required to enter. The London Dock was opened on the . In the Act for making the at was passed, and they were opened on the . This terminates the period in the history of these useful establishments.
The interest of the proprietors of the legal quays was bought by Government for , and compensation amounting to was granted to persons having vested interests in the mooring-chains in the river. The amount paid out of the Consolidated Fund by virtue of the several Acts for improving the port of London was , including the purchase of the legal quays. The sum demanded as compensation (without reckoning the purchase of houses and land, which cost the London Dock proprietors especially an enormous sum) was little short of millions sterling, of which only was awarded and paid. The Docks did not contribute towards such compensation.
Besides the West India, London, and , there were constructed in the course of a few years afterwards the , the East Country Docks, the Surrey Canal Dock, and the Dock, which we shall notice presently.
The period in the history of these works commences with the St. Katherine's Docks, the projectors of which stood pretty much in the same relation to
| the old Dock Companies as these latter did to the proprietors of the legal
quays in . In , the government refused to renew the privileges of the , which were on the point of
expiring, when ships with West India produce would be at liberty to enter any other dock. The
privileges of the London Dock, to which allusion has already been made, would also expire in
; and in the East India Dock would cease to be the only place for the admission of East
India produce, thus liberating the private trade. It was clear that a considerable portion of
the business which had hitherto been forced into channels which were remote from the centre of
trade would in future be directed to the dock nearest London, and that it would in consequence
possess a virtual monopoly, as it already enjoyed great advantages from its situation, and was
overflowing with business, although the dues were-high. The merchants felt that it would be
desirable to have another dock, possessing equal advantages in point of contiguity and
convenience, and which would prevent their being dependent on a single establishment; and
besides this consideration, it appeared to them that the addition of a new dock was required
for the accommodation of an increased trade. Among the projectors of the St. Katherine's Docks
were therefore to be found many of the principal merchants of the port of London; and in
they carried a bill into parliament to effect their object. It was strenuously
opposed; but a strong case was made out in its favour, and the Committee of the reported that |
The site selected was regarded as a favourable situation for commercial purposes when it was proposed to extend the legal quays. At that time ( years previously) the district chiefly consisted of
In , also, St. Katherine's was actually constituted a legal quay; but from some cause the proceeding was informal, and it had never been used as such; and in its eligibility for wet docks was also pointed out. The bill for converting the site here spoken of into wet docks received the royal assent in . Upwards of houses were taken down, with St. Katherine's Hospital, founded in by Matilda of Boulogne, wife of King Stephen, together with the house of the master, a valuable appointment in the gift of the queen, or of the queen-dowager, if there be . The hospital and master's residence have been rebuilt in the . The stone of the new docks was laid d ; and they were opened , having been constructed with unexampled rapidity. other bills for the construction of docks passed in the same year, on the south side of the river, and another, for colliers, on the ; but the project was abandoned in both cases.
We may now commence a tour of the different docks; and, beginning with those nearest London, we visit St. Katherine's, which are just below the Tower. The lofty walls which constitute it, in the language of the Custom-House, a place of
surround an area of acres, of which are water, capable of accommodating ships, besides barges and other craft. The frontage of the quays is feet, or nearly times the extent of the legal quays of ; and the warehouses, vaults, sheds, and covered ways will contain
|tons of goods. The warehouses are massive and spacious, stories high. The vaults below, for wine and spirits, are admirably constructed; and where a range of vaults turns off to the right and left, the arches are by no means destitute of architectural beauty; and, seen by the dim illumination of a lamp (in the spirit vaults the Davy lamp is used), the visitor is reminded of the solemn gloom of the crypts in some of our most ancient ecclesiastical edifices. All the arrangements connected with the St. Katherine's Docks are directed to secure the great desiderata of commercial success, economy and despatch, which are attained by ingenious and skilful contrivances, both in the general plan and in the application of mechanical resources. The defects which experience had detected in the older docks were, of course, avoided. The ground-floors of the warehouses present an opening towards the basin eighteen feet high; and cargoes are raised into them out of the hold of a ship without the goods being deposited on the quay. A cargo which could not be placed in the warehouse in less than days in of the earlier-constructed docks, can be raised from the ship's hold into the warehouses at St. Katherine's in - of the time; but, before there were any docks at all, an East Indiaman of tons was not usually delivered of her cargo in less than a month; or if of tons, weeks were required; and then the goods were to be taken in lighters from nearly to : where they were placed on the quay, and thence transferred to the warehouses. Another calculation was, that for the delivery of a ship of tons days were necessary in summer and in winter, which the projectors of docks in contended could be accomplished in wet docks in exactly half of the time for each season. At St. Katherine's, the average time occupied in discharging a ship of tons is hours, and for of tons or|
|days, the goods being placed at the same time in the warehouse. Indeed, there have been occasions when still greater despatch has been used, and a cargo of casks of tallow, averaging from to cwt. each, has been discharged in hours. This would have been considered little short of a miracle on the legal quays less than years ago. of the cranes in these docks cost about , and will raise from to tons. It is worked by or a dozen men, and is chiefly used in raising large blocks of marble, &c. The height of the warehouses, and their being close to the water, renders the appearance of the St. Katherine's Docks very compact; and, though the water room is small as compared with other docks, a larger amount of business may be transacted in an equal space than at any other. Before the construction of docks so high up the river, vessels of above tons were scarcely ever seen so near the Bridge; but ships of and tons have been safely towed into St. Katherine's. The lock leading from the river to the dock is feet long and feet broad; and the depth of water at spring tides is about feet. In about vessels and lighters were accommodated at St. Katherine's Docks. The capital expended by the Dock Company exceeds|
The are separated from St. Katherine's by . This magnificent establishment comprises an area of above acres, and cost about sterling. The docks can accommodate ships, and the warehouses will contain tons of goods. The tobacco warehouses alone cover acres of ground, and are rented by government at a year. They will contain about hogsheads, averaging lbs. each, and equal to tons of general merchandise. Passages and alleys, each several feet long, are bordered on both sides by close and compact ranges of hogsheads, generally in height, or feet, with here and there a small space for the counting-house of the officers of customs, under whose inspection all the arrangements are conducted. Near the north-east corner of the warehouses is a door inscribed,
where damaged tobacco is burnt, the long chimney which carries off the smoke being jocularly called
There is a small dock of acre exclusively appropriated to ships laden with tobacco. Still more bewildering for their extent and the immense quantity and value of the property which they contain are the wine and spirit vaults, which can accommodate pipes of wine. of the vaults has an area of acres. The warehouses around the wharfs are imposing from their extent, but are nothing near so lofty as those at St. Katherine's; and, being situated at some distance from the dock, goods cannot be craned out of the ship's hold and stowed away at operation. The walls surrounding the docks cost The annual net receipts of the company in were about , and was paid .in salaries and wages. At the same period upwards of a year was paid to the officers of Customs and Excise employed by these Revenue Boards in the same establishment. The business of these docks was never so well managed as at the present time, competition and the termination of their exclusive privileges in having led to many important improvements.
The are about a mile and a half from the , and they may be most conveniently visited from the City by taking the
|Railway from . Their extent is nearly times that of the , the entire ground which they cover (including the canal made to avoid the bend of the river at the ) being acres. The canal is|
|nearly -quarters of a mile long, and was constructed at the expense of the City, but was afterwards sold to the Dock Company, who make use of it as a dock for timber ships. The northern or import dock is yards long by wide, and the export dock is of the same length, and yards wide. These docks, with the warehouses, are enclosed by a lofty wall feet in thickness. The warehouses will contain above tons of merchandise, and there has been at time, on the quays and in the sheds, vaults, and warehouses, colonial produce worth sterling, comprising casks of sugar, barrels and bags of coffee, pipes of rum and Madeira, logs of mahogany, and tons of logwood, besides other articles. Since the privileges of the company expired the docks have been used by every kind of shipping.|
The at may also be most conveniently reached
|by the railway. They were at time under the management of a certain number of the East India Directors; but, since the opening of the trade to India,|
|these docks have been purchased by the West India Dock Company. The import dock has an area of acres, the export dock of acres, and the basin ; and as they were constructed for vessels of the largest size, they|
|have never less than feet of water in depth. The warehouses for East India produce were chiefly in the City, and those at the docks will not contain more than tons.|
Neither the East nor were open to strangers without permission being obtained, but at all the other docks the gates are freely open during the hours of business. The system of exclusion was at period so rigid, that the crews were discharged on the ship entering the dock. They are now allowed to remain on board, subject, of course, to strict regulations respecting the use of fires. The number of persons employed in each of the docks is very great, and a large proportion of the labourers are taken .on only by the day. The other classes employed comprise revenue officers, for whom small offices are fitted up, clerks, warehousemen, engineers, coopers, and various others. The number of persons employed on an average at the docks already described is, perhaps, about . At the entrance of the St. Katherine's and the are
of carts and waggons waiting to be employed by whoever has merchandise to be removed from the warehouses.
The advantage of bonded goods being warehoused at a convenient distance for the wholesale dealers is so important, that cargoes which have been discharged in the docks farthest from the metropolis have been brought up in lighters to those nearest the City. The Railway will enable the former to retain some of their advantages, as a few minutes will take a purchaser from the heart of the City. St Katherine's Docks are about minutes' walk from the ; the are miles from the Exchange, and the miles and a half. The and the were made for the purpose of facilitating the communication between the City and the different docks. The charge for cartage from to the City is per ton.
The docks in London which have the privilege of legal quays, and are places of
are capable of receiving in their warehouses and other places for stores about tons of merchandise, which are placed in bond under the inspection and care of officers of the revenue, and the duty need not be paid until the goods are taken out for home consumption. These advantages render London a free port, and, without them, its character as a great entrepot for the produce of the world could not be maintained. The gradual extension of the warehousing system is of the most important commercial reforms of the present century. Previous to , that is, before there were any docks, the duties on almost every species of merchandise were paid when imported, a drawback to the amount being allowed on re-exportation. Besides raising prices, this system encouraged frauds on the revenue, by which fortunes were dishonestly realised. On the opening of the the produce of the West Indies was admitted at those docks without the payment of duty being required at the time; and, when the were opened, rice, tobacco, wine, and spirits were admitted there also on the same terms. Until the out-ports obtained warehouses of equal security, London enjoyed advantages which have since been partially extended to all the ports of any consideration.
Before passing to the other side of the river, we must notice the Dock, between Shadwell and ; and, though it is a place for bonding timber and deals only, it affords great accommodation to the trade of the port by withdrawing shipping from the river.
The docks on the southern banks of the Thames are--. The Canal Dock at , about miles from by water. . The and Timber Ponds. . The East Country Dock. These have only the privilege of sufferance wharfs. At the latter docks timber, corn, hemp, flax, tallow, and other articles, which pay a small duty and are of a bulky nature, remain in bond, and the surrounding warehouses are chiefly used as granaries, the timber remaining afloat in the dock until it is conveyed to the yards of the wholesale dealer and the builder. The Surrey Dock, like the Regent's Dock, is merely an entrance basin to a canal, and can accommodate vessels: the warehouses, chiefly granaries, will not contain more than tons of goods. The , a little lower down the rivers occupy an area of about acres, of which -fifths are water; and there is accommodation for ships, and in the warehouses for tons of merchandise. They were used originally for the shipping employed in the Greenland fishery, and provided with the necessary apparatus for boiling blubber; but, the whale fishery being given up, the docks were, about the year , appropriated to vessels engaged in the European timber and corn trades, and ranges of granaries were built. The East Country Dock, which adjoins the on the south, is capable of receiving timber ships, and was constructed about the same period for like purposes. It has an area of acres and a half, and warehouse-room for tons.
Notwithstanding this ample dock accommodation, it will probably at some time be still further extended by the formation of collier docks, as none of the existing docks admit colliers to discharge their cargoes, in consequence of the
|injury which would be done to most articles of merchandise by coal-dust. The number of colliers which entered the river in was ; and in , ; so that their increase has more than filled up the vacancies occasioned by the operation of the docks in withdrawing shipping from the overcrowded river, besides which steam navigation has been greatly extended, demanding a larger space for free and unobstructed passage. The formation of a harbour on the Essex side of the river, with a railway for the conveyance of coal to London, is another mode by which it is proposed to prevent the resort of colliers in the most crowded parts of the river. Again, steam navigation was so comparatively unimportant even at the time of the construction of the St. Katherine's Docks, that it is scarcely a matter of surprise that none of the docks are calculated for steamers of the largest class without the paddle-wheels being taken off; and yet vessels of this description are gradually obtaining possession of a trade formerly employing sailing vessels of comparatively small burthen. Between London and Hamburgh, Rotterdam, Antwerp, Ostend, Calais, Boulogne, Havre, Oporto, Lisbon, and even the Mediterranean, they already are large carriers of every kind of merchandise, and, as they do not enter docks, but discharge their cargoes while lying in the river, they necessarily occupy a large part of the stream. of the chief objections to the accommodation of steam-vessels in the docks is the risk from fire.|
[n.66.1] Thames Tunnel, LIV. p. 50.
[n.67.1] See Mr. Colquhoun's work on the Commerce and Police of the River Thames for some curious statements as to these practices.
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|CHAPTER LI: Bermondsey: The Abbey|
|CHAPTER LII: Modern Bermondsey|
|CHAPTER LIII: The Mint|
|CHAPTER LIV: The Thames Tunnel|
|CHAPTER LV: The Docks|
|CHAPTER LVI: Westminster Bridge|
|CHAPTER LVII: Strawberry Hill--Walpole's London|
|CHAPTER LVIII: Blackfriards Bridge|
|CHAPTER LIX: Clerkenwell|
|CHAPTER LX: Strawberry Hill--Walpole's London (concluded from No. LVII)|
|CHAPTER LXI: Vauxhall, Waterloo, and Southwark Bridges|
|CHAPTER LXII: Barber-Surgeons' Hall|
|CHAPTER LXIII: The College of Surgeons|
|CHAPTER LXIV: The Royal Academy. No. 1|
|CHAPTER LXV: The Royal Academy. No. 2|
|CHAPTER LXVI: London Astrologers|
|CHAPTER LXVII: St. Giles's, Past and Present|
|CHAPTER LXVIII: The Post Office|
|CHAPTER LXIX: Pall Mall|
|CHAPTER LXX: The Temple Church, Its History and Associations|
|CHAPTER LXXI: Scotsmen in London, by James M'Turk, Esq.|
|CHAPTER LXXII: The Foundling Hospital|
|CHAPTER LXXIII: The Corn Exchange|
|CHAPTER LXXIV: Ely Place|
|CHAPTER LXXV: Goldsmiths' Hall|