Ships from all over the world used to berth at the Docks to unload their cargoes - grain, meat and tobacco among them. Here is a glimpse of that era.
"A Walk Through the Victoria and Albert Docks"
Extract from London-over-the-Border Church Fund Grand Historical Bazaar Handbook 1914
By J. G. BROODBANK - Chairman of the Dock and Warehouse Committee of the Port of London Authority.
"During the last ten years there has been a marked revival in this country of the Imperial spirit. The seed was sown in the English nation when the adventurers of the Elizabethan period stepped out into the world to see what was to be seen and to take what could be taken. Fortunately the moderns are not guided by the buccaneering impulses of the 16th century, and without making invidious comparisons we may fairly claim to say that the ideals of the true British imperialist of to-day show a considerable advance on those of his ancestors. Those ideals are varying, but underlying them is a real desire for co-operation in the best interests of everybody in the British Empire.
How can this co-operation best be achieved? Undoubtedly it is greatly assisted by the exchange of neighbourly and pleasant sentiments and acts; but to my mind not the least practical method is that of the exchange of goods, in other words, by the relationships created by trade.
If this point is a good one, then the Victoria and Albert Docks can be reckoned as one of the chief elements in the promotion of the imperial ideal, for there is no place in the whole of the British Empire where so many goods are brought in from the Colonies and overseas possessions, and where so many goods are sent out to those parts of the Empire.
MEMORIES OF CUSTOM HOUSE AREA AND THE DOCKS.
BY J. H. R. HAMMOND, B.A.
Plaque presented to H.M.S. Quiberon to commemorate her adoption by the people of the Borough of West Ham in Warship Week March 21-28 1942.
Snowy scene of 1949 looking towards the docks. Beyond the park can be seen local streets that bear the scars of the Second World War.
This photograph is from the Alan Godfrey Collection, who records the ship in the docks as the SS Chieftain. It has been suggested, however, that the ship in this view is actually the Highland Chieftain as "SS Chieftain" was a much older ship. If so it is in the dock having resumed commercial operations after the war.
Highland Chieftain (14,131 gross tons) was built by Harland and Wolf of Belfast for the Nelson Line in 1928 and was the first of five "Highland" vessels. Her maiden voyage on the London to River Plate service was on 21st of February that year. In 1932 the ship was transferred to the Royal Mail Line, serving until 1958. She was requisitioned for wartime trooping duties in 1939, but was damaged on the 11th of October, 1940 during a bombing raid on Liverpool. The ship ran aground in 1946. Commercial operations were resumed in 1948. In 1959 Highland Chieftain was sold to Calpe Shipping Co, Gibraltar, and renamed Calpean Star and converted for use in the whaling industry. In March, 1960 she suffered rudder damage when off Montevideo and, after leaving under tow, suffered a boiler room explosion which resulted in her being abandoned in the River Plate, where her masts could be seen projecting above the water and where she lay about three miles distant from the wreck of the German pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee. The wreck of the Calpean Star was eventually cut up for scrap in 1965.
(Information from the British Armed Forces & National Service website, gallery No. 40 - Troopships, with thanks to Andrew Faulkner)
The aircraft carrier was visiting London in May, 2005 and is seen under tow going upstream along the "Newham" shore of the Thames.
This was the last dock to be built in Silvertown, and was capable of handling ships of 35,000 tons. (The Mauretania berthed here in 1935). The Royal Yacht Britannia is entering under the bascule bridge for the opening ceremony in 1921.
Copy of an illustration in "Thames Ironworks" Gazette June 1898.
Newham Heritage & Archives Ref AL-18
HMS Black Prince Duke of Edinburgh class armoured cruiser was built by Thames IronWorks. Launched 8th November 1904, commissioned 17th March 1906. Sunk with heavy loss of life at the Battle Of Jutland 31st May 1916.
Following her coronation, Queen Elizebeth II sailed around world in the Royal Yacht Britannia. Photo show Britannia as she sails up river passing North Woolwich.
The S.S.China and barges in the dock. This dock was opened in 1880 by the Duke of Connaught, the son of Queen Victoria, on her behalf and named "The Royal Albert Dock" in honour of her late husband, the Prince Consort. The name "Connaught" for the neighbourhood, the road and hotel derived from the royal opener.
Newham Heritage & Archives Ref AG 06