Gone to the Docks

David Carpenter recalls the vanished world of the London docks in the 1950s.

The London docks in 1882.Today, someone who lived or worked in the vicinity of London’s Isle of Dogs fifty years ago, and returns for the first time since the 1950s would find it hard to recognize the area at all.

It used to be the centre of London’s Dockland. Down-river could be seen the ships in the Royal Group of Docks, now the site of City Airport. Upstream towards Tower Bridge lay the London Docks, while across the river was the vast Surrey Commercial Docks, now almost completely infilled and built over. The whole skyline was dominated by ships’ funnels and a network of towering cranes.

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