This fascinating insight into London's docklands is the result of extensive research into an part of London that has intrigued the author for many years. In its heyday, the area was dominated by the Port of London; a sprawling network of quays, ancient wharves, deep canals and high-walled basins that stretched along the river Thames from the City to Tilbury. Two or three generations ago, London Docks provided employment for over 100,000 men, but the demise of London's docklands in the late 20th century ended a tradition of waterside industry that had existed in London since Roman times. Yet the Docks themselves still stand defiantly; too expensive (and expansive) to be attractive to property developers despite the fact that most are sited in prime real estate areas. For the foreseeable future, the Docks will remain part of London, a visual reminder that for a time, Britannia did indeed rule the waves. This splendid book chronicles the rise and fall of this most under-explored part of historical London by plundering the wealth of evidence left behind by the people who worked, lived and visited the area.
From archaeological finds through to diaries, newspaper articles, census returns and personal interviews, the lost docks of London are rediscovered through fascinating tales of Medieval mercers, river pirates, shipbuilders, merchant adventurers, mud larks, Dockers, socialist agitators, brothel keepers and opium eaters to name but a few. London's docklands and its people were hugely influential not only in shaping the commercial destiny of the capital but also the development and social structure of the entire eastern side of the city. At this uncertain and precarious point in their history, it is important that their story is told before all remnants of their illustrious past are erased forever.