Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 134,617 pages of information and 213,708 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Port of London Authority

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The Port of London Authority (PLA) was created to bring order to the chaos and congestion that prevailed on the Thames as the Port of London's rival wharfs, docks and river users battled for business in the late 1800s.

After years of debate, the Bill that led to the creation of the PLA was introduced. It received Royal Assent as the Port of London Act, 1908.

1909 March: the PLA came into being. It took responsibilty (from the Thames Conservancy) for the tidal Thames from Teddington Lock to a line from Havengore Creek, Essex, to Warden Point, on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent; and took over the assets of the dock companies - the Surrey Commercial Dock Company, the London & India Dock Company, and the Millwall Dock Company - at a cost of £23 million.

Trade through the Port, particularly the enclosed docks, reached its peak in 1964 at 55 million metric tonnes.

Changes in cargo handling technology and increasing ship size then rapidly brought to an end the use of the up-river enclosed docks (St Katharines to the Royal Docks); they progressively closed between 1967 and 1981 as trade moved downriver.

1992 Tilbury Docks was privatised - this marked the end of the PLA's involvement in cargo handling.

Today, the Port handles over 50 million tonnes of cargo, with the larger operations concentrated around and down river of the Dartford river crossing.

Today the PLA's role is to help people use the river safely - whether it is for deep-sea trade, river borne freight within London, commuting, sailing or rowing.

See Also

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Sources of Information

  • PLA history [1]