8 December 2022: Sort of a job talk
One of our members gave a talk with the above title today. Was he going to give a sort of talk or did he have a sort of job?
He explained that he wanted to talk about his very first job, five years working for the Port of London Authority (“PLA”).
What he mainly spoke about was the history of the London docks, starting with the riverside wharves built by the Romans. London’s maritime trade continued down the centuries. By Elizabethan times the trade had expanded so much that regulations were brought in requiring ships and lighters to offload at specified wharves, of which there were over twenty. This was really done so that the authorities could be sure of collecting the duty on imported goods.
By the late eighteenth century the wharves were proving inadequate and the first London docks were built. Originally the plan was to build a single dock but as the result of disagreements the traders dealing with the West Indies financed the West India Dock and those dealing with India built the East India Dock. The remaining traders built the London Dock. St Katherine’s Dock was named after a church in the area.
As trade continued to expand more docks were built, some of them on the south bank.
Eventually all the London docks were brought under the control of the PLA. The speaker joined them in 1962. He showed us photographs of the places he was familiar with at the time. These included a couple of local pubs and a yard filled with barrels of sherry. He also showed us a photograph of some of the PLA buildings that still exist although the PLA itself is no more and most of the docks have been converted to residential and leisure use.