Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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St. Katharine's Dock

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St. Katharine's Dock took its name from the former hospital of St Katharine's by the Tower, built in the 12th century, which stood on the site.

An intensely built-up 23 acre site was earmarked for redevelopment by an Act of Parliament in 1825, with construction commencing in May 1827. Some 1,250 houses were demolished, together with the medieval hospital of St. Katharine. Around 11,300 inhabitants, mostly port workers crammed into insanitary slums, lost their homes; only property owners received compensation.

The scheme was designed by engineer Thomas Telford and was his only major project in London. To create as much quayside as possible, the docks were designed in the form of two linked basins (East and West), both accessed via an entrance lock from the Thames. Steam engines designed by Boulton and Watt kept the water level in the basins about four feet above that of the tidal river.

Telford aimed to minimise the amount of quayside activity and specified that the dock's warehouses (designed by the architect Philip Hardwick) be built right on the quayside so that goods could be unloaded directly into them.

Resident engineer was Peter Logan, followed by John Hall who died shortly after the opening.

1828 October 25th. The docks were officially opened.

Thomas Rhodes, who had been reporting to Logan and then Hall, took over as resident engineer.

1830 The dock was completed.

Although well used, the dock was not a great commercial success and was unable to accommodate large ships.

1864 The St Katharine Dock was amalgamated with the neighbouring London Docks and Victoria Docks as London and St. Katharine Docks Co

1909 The Port of London Authority took over the management of almost all of the Thames docks, including the St Katharine.


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