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Presented to the 


by the 







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L * 

Contents of Volume II 


xxvii The Royal Commission Inquiry 273 

xxvni The Royal Commission Report 296 

xxix London & India Docks Company 317 

xxx The Port of London Act 322 

xxxi The Port of London Authority from its estab- 
lishment till August, 1914 346 
xxxii The Watermen and Lightermen 372 
xxxni The Public Wharfingers 399 
xxxiv The Trinity House 416 
xxxv Dock and Wharf Labour 425 
xxxvi The Port of London from August, 1914, till 

the end of 1920 458 

xxxvii The Future of the Port 486 

Appendices 513 

Index 517 

List of Illustrations contained in 
this Volume 

THE CUSTOM HOUSE, 1828. From an engraving by R. PAGE 
G. Reeve, after a painting by S. Owen. Repro- 
duced by courtesy of Sir Edward Coates, Bart., 
M.P. Frontispiece 


From an engraving by J. Boy dell, 1750 278 

WAPPING OLD STAIRS. From an engraving by T. Row- 

landson 286 

THE NEW DOCK AT WAPPING. By William Daniell, 

1803 292 


THE MARGATE STEAM YACHTS. Drawn and engraved 

by R. Havell & Son 300 


a photograph lent by the Port of London Authority 316 




Stanfield 336 


photograph by Elliott & Fry 346 


byJ.Bluck 351 


AUTHORITY. From a drawing lent by the Port of 

London Authority 360 



TEA BULKING. From a photograph lent by the Port of 

London Authority 370 


1831. From a drawing by A. Parsey 372 

WATERMEN'S HALL, 1647 382 


an old print in the Guildliall Library 386 

temporary print in the Guildhall Library 390 

in the Guildhall Library 408 




by Clarkson Stanfield, 1827 422 


engraving by W. Parrott 43 1 

THE CHAPEL FOR SEAMEN, 1818. Drawn by J. Gendatt 

from a print in the Guildhall Library 440 



ROYAL ALBERT DOCK BASIN. From a photograph by 

the Aircraft Manufacturing Co., Ltd. 464 

ROYAL ALBERT DOCK. From a photograph by the Air- 
craft Manufacturing Co., Ltd. 470 
INTERIOR OF STORAGE SHED. From a photograph lent 

by the Port of London Authority 474 

WOOL ON SHOW, LONDON DOCK. From a photograph 

lent by the Port of London Authority 478 

ON THE STOCKS. Painted and engraved by W. 
Parrott, published March, 1840, by Henry Brooks 492 

DOCK 498 

TILBURY DOCK. From a photograph by the Aircraft 

Manufacturing Co., Ltd. 506 






The Royal Commission Inquiry 


HE Royal Warrant for this Commission is dated the 

2ist June, ipoo. 
The names of the Commissioners were : 








Lord Egerton was compelled through ill-health to resign 
his membership of the Commission on the 4th March, 
1901, Lord Revelstoke was thereupon appointed chairman 
of the Commission, and the Hon. W. R. W. Peel, M.P., 
was appointed to fill the vacant seat on the Commission. 

The terms of the reference were as follows : 

To inquire into the present administration of the Port and the 
water approaches thereto, the adequacy of the accommodation pro- 
vided for vessels and the loading and unloading thereof, the system 
of charge for such accommodation and the arrangements for ware- 
housing dutiable goods, and to report whether any change or 
improvement in regard to any of the above matters is necessary 
for the promotion of the trade of the Port and the public interest. 

After having settled their procedure at a preliminary 
meeting held a week after their appointment, the Commis- 
sion paid a series of visits to the lower river, to the docks 
and warehouses of the four dock companies, and to the 
principal private wharves of the Port. They also visited 
Liverpool and Manchester. Some of the members of the 
Commission visited other British ports and foreign ports. 
Questions on details germane to the inquiry were also put 
to the authorities of the principal British ports, whilst 
similar information from the British Consuls at Hamburg, 
Bremen, Antwerp, Dunkirk, Havre, and Rotterdam was 
obtained. The Committee also instructed Mr. R. C. H. 
Davidson, A.M.I.C.E., to report on the premises of the 
dock companies. 


The Commission then proceeded to take evidence from 
witnesses representing the interests which desired to be 
heard. Thirty-one days were devoted to the reception of 
evidence, and 114 witnesses were examined. The chief 
interests represented were : 












The evidence may be summed up as a series of 
attacks upon the existing order of things, and the 
defence of those responsible for the administration of the 
Port. Only four bodies put forward schemes for future 
management, viz., the City Corporation, the London 
County Council, the London Chamber of Commerce, and 
the London and India Docks Company ; the rest of the 
criticism was destructive or negative. 

Let us summarize the evidence of the interests in the 
order given above : 

The Customs were represented by their chairman, Sir 
George Ryder, and Mr. J. Fleming, surveyor general. 
After explaining the nature of the Customs arrangements 
in the Port, Sir George Ryder remarked that the scatter- 
ing of wharves and warehouses over many miles of river, 
and the necessity of unloading the cargoes of vessels into 
lighters carrying goods night and day, caused trouble and 
expense to the Customs and risk to the revenue. The only 
complaints made in regard to the Customs being that 
charges for overtime attendance of their officers were 
excessive, Sir George intimated that he would be prepared 
to ask the Treasury to make concessions, but pointed out 
that the boon might in reality prove of little value to the 
merchant, though costly to the Exchequer, because the 
Customs charges were small compared with the other 
charges entailed on traders for labour by prolonging hours. 


The City Corporation were in the happy position of 
having no criticism to meet with regard to the performance 
of the one duty left to them in the Port, namely, that of the 
Sanitary Authority. The function is a purely municipal 
one, and it is not surprising to find that the municipality 
with the longest experience in the world should have been 
found adequate to the fulfilment of the prime duty imposed 
on those who minister to the weal of local communities. In 
regard to the other matters before the Commission the 
views of the City Corporation were presented by the Lord 
Mayor, Sir Marcus Samuel, the chairman of the Shell Line. 
Sir Marcus had been one of the most assiduous exponents 
of the Port of London question during the agitation which 
preceded the appointment of the Commission. He had 
formed a Corporation Committee for the study of the 
question, and by holding public and private conferences at 
the Mansion House, had popularized the subject in the 
City and London generally. It is doubtful, however, 
whether the Corporation's interest in the subject was ever 
taken seriously. Nor did the members of the Guildhall 
Committee dive deeply into the question, for while in their 
report to the Corporation they made recommendations in 
regard to the treatment of the dock systems of the Port they 
omitted from consideration the Royal Albert and Victoria 
and the Tilbury Docks. It is not even clear that they were 
aware of the existence of these docks the largest in the 
Port. Sir Marcus Samuel had his complaints to make as a 
shipowner as to the inadequacy of the sheds in the docks. 
He also favoured the provision of wharves on the river. 
This remedy for the ills of the Port will be dealt with in 
another chapter, but, as indicative of the misapprehensions 
which exist on this subject even in the minds of as experi- 
enced a business man as Sir Marcus Samuel is, reference 
may be made to an incident in which he was concerned. 
When the Corporation Committee were considering the 
report Sir Marcus Samuel asked that an opportunity might 
be given to them to visit the docks of the London and 
India Docks Company. One of the objects of the visit was 
to inspect a long jetty at Galleons Reach, which was a 
continuation of the pier-head adjoining the lower entrance 
of the Royal Albert Dock. On the party arriving at the 
jetty, Sir Marcus explained that it was in his opinion the 


ideal accommodation for the Port. Passengers could be 
landed there and goods discharged there, and if the vessel 
wanted to go into the adjoining dock it was only a question 
of towing the vessel for a few hundred feet. The party's faith 
in this ideal had to be disillusionized by the statement that 
the jetty had been built forty years before, having in view 
the very purposes mentioned by Sir Marcus, but that not 
a single shipowner had ever made application for using it 
in this way, and that eventually it had to be let for the 
purpose for which jetties are eminently suited, viz., the 
discharge of vessels bringing coal and oil. Sir Marcus sub- 
mitted to the Commission a scheme for the reorganization 
of the Port, which had been approved by the Corporation. 
He proposed the creation of a port with a jurisdiction 
extending from Richmond to a line drawn from the Naze 
to the North Foreland to be called the Thames River Dock 
and Harbour Board. The Board was to control both the 
river and the docks. A special tribunal was also to be 
constituted with powers like those of the Railway Commis- 
sioners to whom might be submitted questions relating to 
rates and charges arising between the new authority and its 
customers. The Board was to consist of forty persons. Ten 
were to be appointed by the Corporation, two by the 
Admiralty, two by the Board of Trade, two by the Trinity 
House, two by the railway companies, two by the Under- 
writers of Lloyds, and the remaining twenty by shipowners 
and others paying dues. The Board were to have power to 
purchase the property of the dock companies and such 
bonded wharves and warehouses as they might think fit, 
and to raise the capital necessary for that purpose and for 
deepening the channel of the river and for the general 
improvement of the Port. It was further proposed that the 
Board should be allowed to impose such taxes upon all 
goods entering or leaving the Port and upon shipping, 
lighters, and barges using the river as might be necessary or 
desirable to procure the income required to enable the 
necessary capital to be raised. The Imperial Government 
were to be asked to guarantee the stock of the Board, and 
the security would in that event be a trustee security. A 
statement put in by Sir Marcus showed that the Liverpool 
schedule of dues on goods if applied to London would 
yield 900,000 per annum. It was evident and not 


unnatural that a shipowner like Sir Marcus should have 
looked to merchandise furnishing most, if not all, of the 
new revenue required by any new authority. Nor is it 
surprising that the Corporation were to have one-fourth of 
the representation on the managing committee, or that 
the City, having ignored the County Council as entitled to 
any share in municipal representation, should have asked 
for so little. What is incomprehensible is that it could be 
seriously proposed that the Government should guarantee 
interest, whilst a body not responsible to them should do 
the spending of the capital, and that such a proposition 
should emanate from a body claiming to be an ideally 
democratic institution. 

The London County Council had ever since their 
establishment in 1889 been consistent advocates of reform 
in the Port of London. Some leading spirits were in favour 
of the municipalization of the Port, but this programme was 
never officially openly adopted by the Progressives, 
though, as we shall see, their proposals for reconstruction 
virtually entailed it. The Council were perhaps more 
responsible than any other body outside the dock com- 
panies for the circumstances that brought about the appoint- 
ment of the Commission. Sir Edwin Cornwall, Mr. 
McKinnon Wood, and Mr. J. D. Gilbert had particularly 
identified themselves with the movement inside the Council 
and educated the electors unconnected with the Port as to 
the necessity for the question being dealt with as an urgent 
and imperative one in which the whole of London was 
interested. There can be no doubt that their concern was a 
perfectly sincere one, but unfortunately some of the Pro- 
gressive Party's advocacy excited the suspicion of traders 
that it was not altogether commercial interests which were 
intended to be promoted, and so there had ensued a lack 
of co-operation which involved years of fruitless friction 
before the problem of the Port of London was finally solved. 

The principal witness of the Council was their clerk, 
Mr. Lawrence Gomme. His evidence may be termed to be 
a mine of research and statistics most useful to the student 
who will study the figures without accepting unquestion- 
ingly the deductions of the witness. The facts were mar- 
shalled with two preconceived notions in mind : one, that 
the Port of London was going downhill as fast as the 


Conservancy and dock companies could push it, and, 
secondly, that the appointed saviour of the community was 
the London County Council. The facts in his historic 
resume^ of the Port cannot be challenged as facts, but the 
selection was simply evidence of the old connexion 
of the municipality with the Port. This was uncon- 
trovertible, and it will be seen from what the reader has 
before him in this book that the connexion was not only 
ancient, but intimate. What Mr. Gomme, however, failed 
to point out was that Parliament in 1799 cut the first strand 
in the severance of that connexion, and that the process 
had been repeated time after time during the century until 
the connexion of the municipality with the Port had 
become a nominal one only. If the County Council had to 
rely upon the historic tendencies their case was indeed a 
weak one. Mr. Gomme relied on statistics to show that 
the business of London was a decaying one. He did not 
deny that the figures of tonnage entering the Port were 
increasing year by year (they had trebled in fifty years), 
but his contention was that it indicated the incipient decay 
of London to find that other ports were increasing at a 
greater ratio than London. In making this point he was 
following a favourite line of attack on the part of the critics, 
who compared the percentage increases of traffic in London 
with the much larger percentages of increases at Hamburg, 
Antwerp, Rotterdam, and Southampton. Such critics 
ignored the invariable rule that fully developed organiza- 
tions rarely increase at so rapid a rate as those which have 
only just started. Sir Henry Le Marchant, in an article in 
the "National Review" written about this time, showed the 
fallacy of deductions from comparisons from tonnage 
figures. He assumed a new line to be established between 
London and Rotterdam and giving by repeated voyages a 
total tonnage to each port of 200,000 tons a year. The per- 
centage of increase to London on its figure of 16,000,000 
would only be 1.25 per cent. On Rotterdam's figure of 
6,400,000 the percentage increase would be 3.12 per cent., 
and then an individual superficially looking at the subject 
would infer that London was losing ground when com- 
pared with Rotterdam. Another disturbance of inference 
from mere tonnage figures arises from the fact that some 
ports have more vessels bringing part of their cargoes only 






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yet the full tonnage of the vessel itself is returned in the 
comparison. Again, some ports have more passenger 
vessels with little or no cargo, and others, like Antwerp, 
are ports where a larger proportion of the vessels are calling 
vessels, and, by coming in to discharge cargo and subse- 
quently to load it, are reckoned twice in the tonnage state- 
ments issued by the Port concerned. Such qualifications of 
the inferences to be drawn from his statistical statements were 
apparently not dreamed of by Mr. Gomme. A particularly 
unfortunate illustration of his simple deductive methods 
was exposed by Mr. Scrutton, representing the Corporation 
of London. Mr. Gomme had submitted a statement showing 
a very large falling off in the number of steamers registered 
in the Port of London and using it as evidence of the 
unpopularity of the Port. There is, of course, no relation 
whatever between the registering of a ship at a particular 
port and its trading with that port. The reason why ship- 
owners were ceasing to register their vessels at London was 
simply the business one that if registered at London their 
vessels were not subject to compulsory pilotage and the 
shipowner was liable to be mulcted to the full extent in any 
claim for damage which might be done by the vessel, whilst 
if she were registered at, say, Greenock or Plymouth the 
shipowner was compelled to employ a pilot for navigating 
the river, and was not liable for damage. 

One of the fallacies current at this time and expounded 
by Mr. Gomme on the part of the County Council was that 
relating to the divided authorities in the Port. Sir Edwin 
Cornwall, the chairman of the Rivers Committee of the 
Council, had gone so far as to say that the Port was con- 
trolled by fifty authorities. When asked to supply the list, 
the Council enumerated the Conservancy, the Trinity 
House, the Watermen's Company, the Metropolitan Police, 
and the Corporation of London, and forty-six others, 
including the dock companies, the South Eastern Railway, 
the Greenwich Pier Company, the Metropolitan Asylums 
Board, the wharfingers (who were treated as one authority), 
and many other occupants of premises abutting on the 
river. Sir Henry Le Marchant pointed out in the article 
already mentioned that if the list were correct in principle, 
the number was too few, because if, say, the South Eastern 
Railway were an authority in respect of their wharf, every 


separate wharfinger on the Thames was also an authority, so 
that the number of authorities would be nearly 400, and 
not 50. The explanation is that the County Council had 
merely made a list of the occupants of river frontage 
(arriving at the number of fifty by adding individual owners 
to classes of owners) and had dignified them with the 
name of authorities. The only authorities were the five 
with which the list commenced. The attack on this point 
was misdirected. The County Council evidently imagined 
that with fifty authorities the management of those respon- 
sible for the Port was the scene of unceasing wrangling and 
contention between fussy members. There had been no 
internecine warfare of this kind ; if anything, the fault was 
rather too much content and self-seclusion if not supine- 
ness amongst the authorities, in the policy followed by 
each of the authorities in the execution of their duties. The 
defects of the Port arose not from division of responsibility, 
but from the fact that none of the authorities was charged 
with the duty of seeing that the Port was efficiently main- 
tained or its accommodation improved to meet the demands 
of modern commerce. But this had been the logical result 
of the decision ruthlessly carried out year after year, come 
to by Parliament in 1824 of leaving the accommodation of 
the Port to the contingencies of an open competition." 

The County Council had their remedial scheme, and it 
was put forward on their behalf by Mr. McKinnon Wood, 
a former chairman of the Council. The Council proposed 
that a new authority should be formed to have jurisdiction 
over the tidal river between Teddington to a line between 
the Naze and the North Foreland, and that the authority 
should have transferred to it all the powers exercised by the 
Thames Conservancy, the City Corporation, the Trinity 
House, and the four dock companies whose undertakings 
were to be taken over. The authority was to consist of not 
more than thirty members, of whom ten were to be appointed 
by the Council, two by the Corporation, ten by shipowners, 
merchants, and others interested in the commerce of the 
Port elected on the Liverpool system by all who had paid 
,10 of port dues in the preceding year. The remaining 
members were to be appointed by the Board of Trade, the 
Admiralty, the Commissioners of Customs, and perhaps 
the Treasury. The capital necessary for the purchase of the 


docks and for improvements and extension of docks and 
river channels was to be raised by the Council themselves 
on behalf of the Port Authority upon the security of the 
London rates. As a safeguard to the interests of the muni- 
cipal ratepayers it was suggested that the Council should 
retain control over the capital expenditure in the Port. 
Unlike all other schemes put forward, this scheme con- 
tained no provision that all goods landed in the Port should 
contribute to its maintenance. The Council looked for 
revenue to the present sources of income of the dock com- 
panies, the Thames Conservancy, and the other authorities 
absorbed, and if this income was not sufficient to meet 
liabilities the Council proposed that it should be supple- 
mented by a subsidy from the rates of the metropolis. The 
further suggestion was made that the Imperial Government 
should be asked to contribute to the upkeep of the Port on 
the ground that the trade of the capital was not only a 
matter of local, but of national concern, and that it was 
threatened by the competition of foreign ports. The ulterior 
aim of the Council was not concealed by the willingness to 
be satisfied with only one-third of the managing committee. 
It was patent to all that by controlling capital expenditure 
they would control everything. This had been clearly 
proved by the experience of the London Company in its 
working union with the East and West India Dock Com- 
pany. The guarantee of interest was also a guarantee that 
as soon as it was honoured the cry would be set up through 
London that he who pays should call the tune, and the 
inevitable end would be the conversion of the Port into a 
department of the Council. But there was another objection 
to this part of the Council's proposal. The revenue of the 
dock companies was mostly derived from services con- 
nected with the handling and warehousing of goods. In 
this business they were in direct competition with the 
wharfingers, and it was held that it would be unfair for 
them to have to meet a competition which would be sub- 
sidized out of the metropolitan rates. The general sympathy 
with this aspect of the case had perhaps more weight in the 
rejection of the Council's scheme than even the desire to 
keep local politics out of the administration of the Port. 

The appearance of the Trinity House at the Commission 
was merely to give information to the members. They had 


no attacks to meet, and attention was chiefly directed to 
anomalies in pilotage law. Only a few complaints as to the 
pilotage charges in the Port were made. On the question 
whether the lighting and buoying of the Port should be 
handed over to any new authority to be created the opinion 
was expressed by some shipowners that the buoying and 
lighting within the limits of the Port should be transferred 
from the Trinity House to the Port Authority, but Captain 
Vyvyan, on behalf of the Trinity House, contended that 
the Port, surrounded as it was by dangerous sands, was in 
need of special protection, and that the Trinity members 
were men known to be possessed of knowledge peculiarly 
adapted by nautical experience of the duties of buoying and 
lighting the channels to perform the functions requisite 
in the supervision of pilots and pilotage. On the score of 
economy, he urged that it was cheaper to continue to employ 
the existing machinery than to set up new machinery 
for this purpose. The fact that at most of the great ports the 
pilotage was controlled either by the Port Authority or a 
special commission detracted from the force of Captain 
Vyvyan 's arguments. The fact that the Trinity House had 
always so admirably performed their work in the Thames 
was perhaps the best argument for letting things alone. 

The London Chamber of Commerce, chiefly consisting 
of merchants and manufacturers in the Port of London, 
appeared by Mr. John Innes Rogers, their vice-chairman, 
supported by a large number of witnesses. The evidence 
was mostly on the question of delays in the delivery of their 
cargoes and the excessive charges for their service. The 
body of testimony organized to prove the truth of these 
complaints was a tribute to the industry and zeal of the 
Chamber in furthering the interests of its members, but 
the evidence was characterized by a tone of hostility to the 
dock companies. Summed up, the defects of the Port were 
described by the Chamber of Commerce as follows : 

1. Insufficient facilities and inefficient appliances. 

2. Insufficient depth of channel. 

3. A confusing division of Authority in the Port. 

4. Delays in berthing vessels and unloading of same. 

5. The unsatisfactory lighterage system. 

6. Slowness of delivery. 

7. Defective rail communication. 

8. Excessive dock charges. 


The instances given in illustration of these complaints 
need not be recapitulated, but it is necessary to deal with 
the conclusion drawn by many of the merchants that to 
the costliness of doing business in the Port of London was 
attributable the losses in the entrep6t trade of London to 
the benefit of foreign ports. Undoubtedly it could be shown 
that London dock warehousing charges were higher than 
those in force at Hamburg, Antwerp, or Rotterdam, but 
the obvious answer was ignored that dock companies had 
to earn a living as well as merchants, and that the dividends 
paid by them were not such as could be considered even 
fair return on the capital invested. It was equally ignored 
that London, both river and docks, was an absolutely free 
port for goods, and that if the dock warehousing or quay 
charges were excessive, consignees of goods were at liberty 
to warehouse their goods elsewhere or provide their own 
depots. There was no compulsion on anyone to incur dock 
charges either on the goods or the barges carrying them in 
or out of the docks. These representatives of merchants 
overlooked that the Continental ports, being owned by the 
State or the municipality, were able to offer inducements to 
shipping and goods not within the practical politics of a 
commercial company. The development of German steam- 
ship enterprise in offering facilities of direct shipments of 
raw materials from the colonies to Continental ports was 
even a more important factor equally ignored or forgotten. 

The question of slow dispatch was put down by the 
Chamber to inadequate accommodation and plant. No 
advocate of the docks would wish to assert that everything 
was perfection in this respect, especially in the older docks. 
But the dock companies could point out that the largest 
vessel then afloat, the Celtic, could be accommodated in 
the Port, that for many years no vessel had ever had to 
wait for a berth in the Thames docks, and that no port was, 
on the whole, so well equipped with sheds and cranes. 
That London was a slow port in obtaining deliveries of 
cargoes had to be admitted, but this was due chiefly to the 
employment of barges in taking deliveries. Barges provide 
the cheapest method of conveyance in the Port, carrying 
goods for thirty miles at the same cost as would be payable 
for one mile of road conveyance. But the method of con- 
veyance is undoubtedly slow. In London, with its scattered 


areas and long distances, it is, however, the only practical 
form of conveyance for 95 per cent, of the goods discharged 
from ships in the Port. In any case, it could not be the dock 
companies' fault, as shipowners have the option of dis- 
charging their own ships, and almost invariably exercise 
that option. The delays complained of arise largely from 
the necessities of the situation and, amongst others, from 
the fact that London cargoes are generally mixed cargoes, 
and in order that they may be sorted for delivery such 
cargoes are first landed instead of being delivered over the 
ship's side direct to craft. If the delivery were to rail trucks 
or carts at the rear of the sheds there would be no more 
delay with mixed cargoes than at Liverpool, but as barges 
are employed it is necessary to have parcels completely 
sorted in order to get full freights, and this cannot be done 
until after the ship is emptied. Hence, deliveries often 
cannot commence till five or six days after the ship's arrival 
in dock. Various expedients were proposed to the Commis- 
sion for accelerating deliveries, including right-angled 
jetties such as are provided at the Victoria Dock and barge 
canals at the back of the sorting shed. All the remedies 
bring their own drawbacks with them. In the Albert Dock 
extension an attempt is now being made to deal with the 
problem by the erection of jetties parallel to the quay line 
and connected by a bridge with the quay itself, but it is not 
anticipated that this will do more than act as a palliative, 
whilst the rent for the occupation of such berths must be 
on a higher scale than that applicable to ordinary berths. 
On the completion of his evidence, Mr. Innes Rogers 
submitted the proposals for reform of the Port suggested by 
the Chamber of Commerce. Like the County Council, the 
Chamber contemplated placing the control of the Port and 
docks under one authority, "the London Harbour Trust," 
the limits of the Port being defined as between Richmond 
Lock to Yantlet Creek, with power to dredge beyond 
Yantlet Creek where necessary. The powers to be trans- 
ferred were the whole of the powers of the existing authori- 
ties on the Thames, including the control of pilotage. The 
Trust proposed was to be constituted of forty-nine members 
as follows : 

Corporation of London . . . . . . . . 6 

London County Council . . . . . . . . 6 



War Office 


Board of Trade 

Chairman of Customs 

Secretary of Customs 

Thames Conservancy 

Trinity House 

London Chamber of Commerce 

Shipowners, sailing barge and tug owners, lighter 
men, short sea traders, public and private wharf 
ingers, merchants, and manufacturers 




The Chamber proposed that the Trust should possess the 
sole right of constructing new docks in the Port, that it 
should have the power of compulsory purchase over river- 
side property, and that the wnole of the property of the 
existing docks should be vested in the Trust. The Trust 
was, however, to sell or lease as soon as possible all water 
basins, warehouses, sheds, cranes, locks, lighters, or other 
property that might not be required for the fulfilment of 
its duties as a Trust for the water area of the Port. 
The Trust was to be expressly forbidden to undertake 
warehousing. The Chamber estimated that after sales had 
been effected the cost of the purchase of the water area and 
dock quay would be 9,000,000, the cost of modernizing 
the docks 4,000,000, and of deepening the river 
2,000,000. The sources of revenue proposed were the 
existing sources of the lower navigation of the Thames 
Conservancy, the Watermen's Company, and the dock 
companies, with additional revenue to be derived from 
dues upon all goods landed within the jurisdiction of the 
Trust. The Chamber further suggested that the City 
Corporation and the London County Council should have 
the opportunity of assisting by guaranteeing the interest on 
the capital outlay of the Trust. 

The case of the shipowners was presented by several 
witnesses drawn both from the ocean and short sea traders. 
The subjects of complaint were naturally divided into two : 
the river channel and the dock accommodation. Sir Thomas 
Sutherland wanted the river channel deepened to 26 feet at 
low spring tides with a width of 500 feet. Mr. Becket Hill, 


a director of the Allan Line, concurred. Sir Edwyn Dawes 
thought that Sir Thomas Sutherland's ideas were narrowed 
by the fact that the draft of the P. and O. Company's 
steamers was fixed by the depth of the Suez Canal, and 
that as the White Star steamers trading to Australia 
were drawing 32$ feet of water, he proposed that the 
minimum low water depth of the improved channel should 
be 30 feet. Mr. Richard Cattarns, on behalf of the short 
sea traders, emphasized the claim that they required the 
deepening of the river even more urgently than the ocean 
shipowners, because the short sea traders were running in 
competition with the railway companies and had to catch 
markets, and were therefore unable to maintain their ser- 
vices if they could not rely on sufficient depth of water to 
enable them to reach their berths in the upper river. 

The complaints of shipowners against the docks chiefly 
related to the inadequacy of the existing quay and berth 
accommodation for vessels, and in some cases of the entrance 
locks and depth of water in the docks, to meet the increased 
and increasing dimensions of modern steamships. The 
shipowners asked for another large and commodious deep 
water dock provided with all modern appliances for rapid 
discharging and loading. The complaints also extended to 
the inadequacy of the existing quay space and sorting 
sheds to receive the increasing bulk of modern cargoes 
and to give facilities for their rapid sorting and delivery. 
It was urged that there was special need for accommoda- 
tion for refrigerated produce. Better access to the quays for 
barges was also suggested in order to remove delays and clear 
cargoes more easily. The shipowners complained further of 
the congestion at the docks caused by barges being allowed 
to float unattended in the docks, impeding the movement 
of ships. A general complaint was also made as to the 
insufficiency of the graving docks, cranes, tugs, and other 
dock plant. Figures were put in showing that the general 
conditions in the Port of London enhanced the cost of 
using the Port. A case was given by Mr. Pembroke of a ship 
from Rangoon with the same class of cargo discharging on 
one occasion at London and on the other at Liverpool, and 
it was stated that though the vessel carried 500 tons more 
cargo when she discharged at Liverpool, the expenses were 
367 less than in London. Other cases which he quoted 

From an engraving by T. Rowlandson 

p. 286 


?ave results in a less degree of the same kind. Sir Alfred 
ones, who had experience of London, Liverpool, and 
Bristol, put in figures to support his statement that while 
London cost about the same as Liverpool and Avonmouth, 
the dispatch was five times as bad in the case of the large 
vessel in London. 

The short sea traders, again speaking through Mr. 
Cattarns, while desiring improvement in the river channels, 
had no criticism to make of the docks, and attributed it to 
the fact that their steamers used the upper docks, which 
were kept in order by the competition of the wharves. They 
considered that the difficulties in London had been exagger- 
ated and that there was not sufficient justification for com- 
plaint against the docks, though there was room for some 
improvement in their appliances and possibly in the 
arrangements of their quays and sheds. 

Neither of the two sections of shipowners had any 
detailed scheme to offer for the future management of the 
Port. They confined themselves to broad principles. The 
short sea traders wanted a central authority to take over 
the general administration of the Port and to extend, 
improve, and add to the facilities of the Port. They were 
strongly adverse to the purchase of the docks or to financial 
assistance being given to them. They thought that the 
Authority should devote itself to broadening the channel 
and deepening the bed of the river, to embanking its sides 
and providing deep quays along it. They alleged also that 
any taxation of goods traffic or a substantial tax on lighters 
was undesirable in view of the competition of foreign ports, 
directing special attention in this regard to the tranship- 
ment and entrepot trades which had suffered by the diver- 
sion of traffic to Hamburg and Antwerp. On the other hand, 
the ocean-going shipowners, speaking generally, through 
Sir Thomas Sutherland, favoured an entire change in the 
system of the Port, and advocated that in the interests of 
public policy the administration of the Port and the docks 
should be in the hands of an authority constituted ad hoc, 
which should have powers not likely to be given either to 
the present conservancy or to the dock companies, to 
impose such dues either on ships or river craft or on goods 
as would appear to be necessary for the purpose of raising 
a sufficient revenue for the improvement of the Port and dock 


extensions or the construction of wharves in whatever 
direction may be found necessary. The revenue should he 
thought be raised from ships and goods. Sir Edwyn Dawes, 
perhaps because he had been an old dock director, 
was no enthusiast as to the transfer of the docks to a public 
authority, but was prepared to acquiesce if it were found 
impossible to give the dock companies the requisite power. 

The programme of the wharfingers was to guard against 
the possibility of their privileges being withdrawn or 
modified. On this question their interest coincided 
with that of the merchants. Their attacks on the existing 
order of things was confined to grumbles as to the 
slow delivery to barges a curious criticism, in view of the 
fact that the delays were due to a system of delivery which 
protected them from paying any toll for the facility of 
receiving goods in safe quiet waters. Their efforts were 
directed to the modification of the system under which the 
working lightermen were licensed by the Watermen's 
Company. The case was put as follows : They urged that 
the restriction forbidding the navigation of the river to 
any but licensed men was based on reasons now obsolete. 
In old days, when the river was the great highway of 
London passenger traffic, it was thought necessary to adopt 
a system of licensing with a view to ensuring the safety of 
passengers in small boats, and these conditions had entirely 
changed. The barge owners, being subject to full liability 
in respect of accidents to life and goods, had sufficient 
interest to make them employ only skilled men upon their 
barges. To a large extent oars as the means of propulsion 
had been replaced by steam tugs, on which it was not 
necessary to carry licensed men, so that less special skill 
was required of men in attendance on lighters. The rules 
did not ensure competence, because a boy of sixteen who 
had been an apprentice could obtain a licence, whilst the 
right of navigation was denied to skilful men from the 
Medway who might have no licence. No such restrictive 
system existed in any other British port, and it was a serious 
menace to London that the existence of the monopoly 
entailed the risk of its water trade being entirely stopped 
by a dispute between the lightermen and the masters. 

The answer of the lightermen may conveniently be 
interposed here. It was that if there was no system of 


qualifying there would be great danger to life and property, 
because men inadequately skilled would be employed in 
times of emergency. Stress was laid upon the argument 
that the system offered a guarantee of honesty of the men 
employed in charge of valuable cargoes of dutiable goods. 
The point about other ports was met by the statement that 
in the difficulties of navigation the Thames differed from 
other ports. The Watermen's Company added that as 
licences had to be renewed every three years and discipline 
was enforced by fines and penalties the public had guarantees 
of the continued efficiency and good conduct of the men. 

While submitting no scheme of reform of the Port, 
the wharfingers contended that if the docks were acquired 
by a public authority the warehouses should not be worked 
by the authority but sold or let to persons who would carry 
on the warehouses as private ventures in the warehousing 

As regards the bodies which controlled the two great 
spheres of operations in the Port (the Conservancy and 
the dock companies) the Conservancy had little to meet on 
the question of their administration of the navigation or 
in relation to their licensing of embankments on the river. 
The gravamen of the charge against them was the neglect 
to carry out the mandate of the 1894 Act to deepen the 
river. The explanation of the Conservators is anticipated 
in the chapter on the Thames Conservancy and need not 
therefore be repeated here. The best defence which the 
Conservancy found for themselves against the accusation of 
inertness on the question of deepening was that until the 
depth of water over the sills of all the docks had been much 
increased there would be no practical advantage in forming 
the proposed 3O-feet channel, as vessels would have to wait 
at the dock entrances until the tide had risen sufficiently to 
enable them to enter the docks, and that lying outside the 
docks they would block the river traffic. The Commission 
did not hesitate to offer their opinion at a very early stage 
on this question, so that any strong representations from 
shipowners became almost unnecessary. Before making their 
report the Commissioners called upon the Conservancy 
forthwith to reconsider their policy, and while the sittings 
of the Commission were proceeding the conservators passed 
a resolution that "In view of the tendency to increase the 


size and draught of the ocean-going steamers, the Con- 
servators, though not admitting that the report of the 
Lower Thames Navigation Commission contains a specific 
recommendation that a navigable channel of 30 feet below 
low water of spring tides should be provided up to Graves- 
end, are prepared to provide such a channel if Parliament 
considers it desirable, and will provide the means for 
raising the necessary funds." The Commissioners having 
asked for the cost of such a channel continued up to the 
Albert Dock, the Chairman of the Conservancy produced 
an estimate of 1,649,838 for the deepening, and 45,000 
for new moorings. The consequent increased expenditure, 
including additional cost of maintenance as well as the 
charge for interest, was put at 160,000 a year, bringing 
the total expenditure on the lower river up to 235,000 per 
annum. The Conservancy suggested that the additional 
income required might be derived in the following manner : 

Increase of tonnage dues from Jd. to f d. per ton on 
coastwise vessels, and on foreign trade vessels 
from }d. to id., yielding .. .. .. .. 24,000 

Abolition of exemption from tonnage dues of 
certain vessels (except fishing boats) . . . . 4,000 

Imposition of dues for use of river and moorings 

for vessels not paying tonnage dues . . . . 10,000 

Imposition of dues on vessels using moorings for 

loading or discharging cargo . . . . . . 15 ,000 

Dues on goods to extent of one-fifth of those charged 
upon the Tyne . . . . . . . . . . 100,000 

Total 153,000 

All the dock companies were represented by witnesses 
at the inquiry. The case of each was on almost similar lines, 
and in order to avoid repetition the evidence of the Surrey 
Commercial or Millwall Dock Companies need not be 
referred to, but it will suffice to deal with that of the 
London and India Docks Company, who were by far the 
most important company, owning 80 per cent, of the accom- 
modation worked by the dock companies. 

The London and India Docks Company were repre- 
sented by four witnesses. Mr. H. C. Baggally, the chief 
engineer, gave evidence on questions relating to the con- 
struction and maintenance or docks. Mr. Thomas Hardy, 
one of the managers, explained details of management 


in reply to some of the complaints as to practice and charges. 
Mr. J. G. Broodbank, the secretary, submitted reports on 
the accommodation and trade at some of the foreign ports 
which had been commended as models for imitation by 
various witnesses. Mr. C. J. Cater Scott, the chairman of 
the company, was the chief spokesman for the company, 
and he may be deemed to have been the most important 
witness in the whole of the proceedings. Mr. Scott was 
under examination for three and a half days, and in their 
report the Commissioners selected him from all the wit- 
nesses to express their high appreciation of the conspicuous 
care and ability which characterized his evidence. He gave 
a long historical survey of the establishment of the companies, 
embracing much of what has been recorded in the previous 
pages, and he replied to many of the attacks on the accom- 
modation of the docks, the custom of the Port and the charges 
of the dock companies on the lines of the comments made 
earlier in this chapter upon the evidence given by the 
witnesses of the County Council, London Chamber of 
Commerce, and the other interests before the Commission. 
Mr. Scott's chief task was, however, to endeavour to 
persuade the Commissioners to accept the principle of 
his company's Bill for imposing charges on barges and the 
goods carried by them. It may be convenient to sum up 
his arguments exactly in the way he did at the Commission : 

1 . The history of the docks proved them to have been a public 
necessity and benefit and an incalculable saving to the revenue. 

2. The privilege of exemption from charges on their bargee 
and goods originally granted to wharfingers was in return for 
the compulsory diversion of their business to the docks, and 
when the expiry of the monopolies was followed by the extension 
of the legal quay and bonded warehouse system, the exemption 
largely assisted the wharfingers to compete with the docks on 
advantageous terms, and had therefore become both inapplicable 
and inequitable. 

3. The position of the docks in relation to their warehousing 
business had been prejudiced by the wholesale revolution in the 
conditions of shipping by the introduction of steamships, which 
were growing in size and numbers. 

4. The growing size of lighters themselves added to the onerous 
obligations cast upon the docks. 

5. The tendency of steamers was to bring goods for shipment 
overside into lighters with a view to delivery elsewhere, or to be 
taken into immediate consumption. 

6. The Free Trade policy of the country by reducing the 


number of dutiable goods had depreciated the value of bonded 
accommodation of the docks. 

7. The low freights earned by shipowners made it inequitable 
to raise shipping charges, whilst it was quite equitable that the 
low price of goods should be slightly increased, and that such 
increase would fall lightly on the consumer. 

8. The dues payable by vessels were insufficient to pay the 
proper proportion of the interest upon the vast capital outlay 
upon the docks, because so large a proportion of vessels in the 
shape of lighters pay no dues. 

9. The docks were legally vested in the companies, and to use 
their premises without return constituted in effect a trespass 
which, though originally sanctioned by Parliament, was no longer 
justified by any countervailing rights or privileges. 

10. The river was freely used by all, and the wharfingers had 
therefore spent no money on their waterways, whilst the dock 
companies provided the dock waterways at their own expense. 

11. Wharfingers who possessed jetties or small docks had a 
perfect right to make what charges they pleased on barges or goods. 

12. Lighters that used the docks were ill-found in equipment 
and were not even supplied with sufficient men to work them, 
thus throwing on the docks a large amount of voluntary labour 
which the necessities of business alone rendered practically 

13. The tonnage of lighters using the docks was nearly double 
the total tonnage of foreign trading and coasting vessels entering 
with cargoes. In earlier times the proportion of barges to vessel* 
was negligible. 

14. At the time the docks were made every vessel could dis- 
charge in the river. Now, the docks were the only place in which 
the bulk of modern steamers could be discharged, and if the 
docks were unable from want of funds to meet the requirements 
of the Port the business of wharfingers would soon cease. 

15. All the advantages of the Port were in favour of the com- 
petitors of the docks. 

16. The docks of the greatest port in the world ought not to be 
so crippled as only to be able to pay 2 per cent, dividend to the 
largest company. 

17. All the conditions of commerce which justified the original 
exemptions have long since ceased to exist, and that the main 
argument which accounted for the rejection of the 1855 Bill 
(i.e., the financial prosperity of the companies) could no longer 
be used against the companies. 

18. A crisis had now arrived, and if the company were to exact 
increased duties the people to pay should be those who enjoy 
the use of the docks gratuitously. 

19. Parliament had at frequent intervals during the past century- 
recognized the justice of imposing the charges for which the dock 
companies asked by granting them to numerous other docks and 


Convincing as these arguments seemed to the dock 
companies, they naturally failed to receive any support 
whatever from any of the other parties before the Com- 
mission. Nor indeed did the dock directors ever entertain 
any serious expectation that the powers they sought, 
whatever the equities of the case might be, would be con- 
ferred upon a private company. The opponents of the 
companies made the most of the fact that there was no 
precedent for restoring the fortunes of a company by 
enhanced powers of taxing the public. The object of the 
directors from the beginning of the proceedings leading 
to the appointment of the Commission, and also by the 
steps they subsequently took when the report of the 
Commission seemed likely to share the fate of many other 
Commission reports, was not merely to increase dividends, 
but simply to obtain such a revolution of the impossible 
conditions as would ensure the prosperity of the Port, with 
fair dealing for the dock companies who had served the 
Port. The question of merely improving their income was 
soon disposed of when the directors saw that there was no 
chance of what they believed to be the right method of 
adjustment of charges being generally acceptable. They 
simply resolved to use their unexercised powers forthwith, 
and at the end of 1901 gave notice that they would raise 
the dues on shipping from is. to is. 6d. per ton. The year 
1902 was a good year for business and at its close the 
directors were able to declare dividends of 4 per cent, on 
their deferred stocks, equivalent to a dividend of this 
amount on the old ordinary stocks of the London and 
St. Katharine and East and West India Companies. 

Let us return to Mr. Scott's evidence. On being invited 
to express his views upon the question of the formation of 
a public authority, he remarked on the financial side of 
the question that he did not think that the London County 
Council would be in any better position to raise money than 
the dock companies if the latter had proper powers of 
income given to them, nor did he think that the London 
County Council would easily raise the 30,000,000 which 
he estimated would be required to purchase the docks. He 
considered that it would not be to the advantage of the 
Port to give a monopoly of the accommodation in the river 
and docks to any public body whether rate-aided or 


otherwise, and yet it would be unfair to leave wharfingers 
out of any scheme at the mercy of competition of such a 
powerful body. He could not treat seriously the proposal 
to form a trust that should purchase certain selected parts 
of the dock companies' premises, and in regard to the 
suggestion that the dock undertakings might be taken as 
a whole and the warehouses subsequently disposed of, he 
pointed out that the docks were originally built to serve 
the warehouses, and that at the older docks where most of 
the warehouses were situated, such a division would be 
impossible, while it would be difficult even at the lower 
docks. Water frontage was vital for warehousing business, 
and there could not be two authorities on the same dock front- 
age. Such a division of authority would be both practically 
unworkable and economically unsound. Common to all 
schemes was the difficulty that to ascertain the compensation 
to be paid to the various parties to be expropriated would be 
a long and tedious process, and it would consequently be 
several years before any trust could assume definite shape. 
In the meantime the needs of the Port, which were con- 
stantly growing, would remain unsatisfied. Nor were there 
wanted warnings against municipalities or quasi-muni- 
cipalities in the form of public trusts embarking or being 
interested pecuniarily in dock enterprises. Bristol ratepayers 
were then contributing 28,000 a year towards making up 
deficiencies in the working of the Bristol and Avonmouth 
Docks. Preston had speculated in docks and in the deepening 
of the Kibble, and in consequence were suffering from a 
special rate of 2s. in the . The Corporation of Manchester 
had advanced 5,000,000 to the Manchester Ship Canal 
Company and a rate of is. per was being levied on the 
Manchester ratepayers to meet the unearned interest, 
to which the principal contributors were the railway 
companies with whom the canal company was the principal 
competitor. The Greenock Harbour Trust had for many 
years defaulted in part of the interest on its debenture 

Mr. Scott made on behalf of his company a proposal 
that the companies should be given power to charge dues 
on barges to the extent of a maximum rate of 4d. a ton, 
estimated on the basis of 3d. a ton to produce the sum of 
56,250, and also to levy dues on goods estimated to produce 


177,833. In consideration of the' above powers his dock 
company were prepared to agree : 

1. That the reasonableness of the charges on goods as between 
the different classes of goods should be subject to the right of 
appeal to the Railway Commissioners. 

2. That in place of the maximum tonnage dues of is. 6d. with 
rent at the rate of 2d. a ton from the date of entrance now author- 
ized as chargeable on shipping, there should be substituted maximum 
dues of is. 4d., to include freedom from rent for four weeks. 

3. That the maximum dividend to be paid on capital stocks of 
the company should be 4 per cent., and that any surplus should be 
applicable to any of the following purposes only, viz. : (a) making 
good the deficiency of any previous dividend from the date of 
obtaining the powers, (b) the redemption of loan capital, (c) the 
provision of a reserve fund not exceeding 10 per cent, of the 
nominal amount of the capital stocks of the company, (d) the 
reduction of charges on goods and shipping. 

4. That the company undertake to complete with all dispatch 
the proposed extension to the south of the Albert Dock. 

Under Mr. Scott's scheme the supreme authority in the 
Port would have controlled all matters relating to the 
waterways, leaving questions of accommodation to private 
enterprise. He contended that there would then be no 
difficulty arising from competition of a public body with 
the private wharfingers, no need for any financial scheme, 
or any necessity to have recourse to local or imperial 
taxation. Moreover, the financial position of the companies 
would have been fixed and stabilized, and purchase by a 
Port Authority would have been a comparatively simple 
matter should circumstances hereafter render that course 
practicable and desirable. 

Counsel were heard on behalf of the various parties before 
the Commission, and the last public meeting of the Com- 
mission took place on the and July, 1901. 


The Royal Commission Report 

THE report of the Commissioners is a lengthy document 
of 124 folio pages, and is dated the i6th June, 1902. 
Its contents include a comprehensive survey of the 
character of the Port and its trade, a statement of the 
existing authorities on the Thames, and a history and 
description of the dock undertakings with particulars of the 
various complaints of shipowners and consignees. This is 
followed by a discussion of the schemes of reform put before 
them, and the Commissioners own recommendations for 
dealing with the great problem submitted to them. Whatever 
prejudices prevailed in the minds of the interests who were 
so vitally concerned, all of them were constrained to admit 
that the Commissioners had performed their duty impartially 
and patiently, and that the report was one entitled to the 
careful consideration of the Government. 

The Commissioners begin by saying that London is a 
Port traversed by a long and sheltered tidal river con- 
veniently situated for trading with the various coasts of 
this country, with the Continent and with other parts of 
the world, and that this fact had largely contributed to its 
rise to the position of the greatest city in England and so 
to that of the central city of the British Empire. So great 
are the natural advantages of the river that little had been 
done, except some desultory dredging, to improve its 
condition since those almost prehistoric conditions when it 
was embanked. They pointed out that the chief obstruction 
to navigation between the Nore and Gravesend was at the 
Leigh Middle Shoals, where there was only a low water 
depth of 24 feet at spring tides. Above Gravesend a depth 
of 30 feet could be relied on up to Broadness Point. Off 
Broadness Point considerable shoaling limited the depth to 
20 feet, though the greatest depth is from 30 to 40 feet. 
Throughout the length of Long Reach to Crayfordness 
the limitation of depth was about 24 feet. Then the channel 
became patchy and ill-defined, and the depth between 
Crayfordness and Jenningtree Point could only be taken 


as 1 8 feet. A still further deterioration took place on entering 
Halfway Reach where, up to Crossness, the limitation of 
depth would be about 17 feet. From Crossness to Margaret- 
ness the channel, though deeper in parts, was much con- 
tracted in width, and the depth must be taken as 14 feet. 
An improvement takes place on entering Galleons Reach, 
and from the Albert Dock to Woolwich the depth might 
be taken as 16 feet. From Woolwich Dockyard to the 
Greenland Dock the limitation must be taken as about 
12 feet, and beyond to Limehouse Dock at about 10 feet. 
From Limehouse Dock to St. Katharine Dock, the depth 
was from 12 to 16 feet. 

Two points must be borne in mind when these depths 
are considered, one that from 17 to 22 feet must be added 
to the depths to obtain the navigable depth at spring tides, 
and the second that in arriving at the figures, the Commission 
adopted the widths of channel proposed by the Conservancy 
in their scheme of deepening, and that the depths mentioned 
were the minimum depths within the sideway bound- 
aries of the bottom of the channel in question. The 
Commissioners explained that it was true that ships 
navigated up and down the Thames requiring greater 
depths than those mentioned, they were in consequence 
confined in their course to channels of less width than those 
recommended by the Conservancy with resulting danger 
and delay, and that it was more instructive in view of the 
real requirements of safe navigation to adopt these widths 
of channel than to state the greater depths to be found in 
a narrow, and, in places, tortuous channel. Then it was to 
be remembered that in considering the draught of water 
of a ship which could use the channels allowance must be 
made for at least two feet of water under the keel in the 
case of large vessels. 

In the chapter on the volume and character of the trade 
of the Port, the Commissioners say that the Port of London 
was still as it had been for at least 200 years, the greatest 
in the world in respect of the amount of shipping and goods 
which entered it. Statistics showed a constant growth in 
the volume of the trade, although the rate of increase had 
not been so rapid in the more recent years as it was in some 
former times. After furnishing figures supporting this 
statement and further figures of tonnage relating to home 


and foreign ports, the Commissioners, in paragraph 18 
of their report, come to conclusions which disposed of the 
accusation against the dock companies that their inadequate 
arrangements and high charges had driven away trade to 
the outports or foreign ports. The paragraph is quoted in 
full : 

The obvious indication of these figures is that in recent years 
the percentage of increase has been much greater at a port like 
Southampton and at certain Continental ports such as Hamburg, 
Rotterdam, and Antwerp than it has been at older ports such as 
London, Liverpool, and Hull in this country, or at Havre, 
Marseilles, and Genoa on the Continent, all of which were more 
conspicuous at an early date than the ports which have lately been 
developing so rapidly. The explanation would appear to be that 
to some extent the ports in question are calling ports, especially 
ports like Southampton, Rotterdam, and Antwerp, and that their 
business as a whole does not properly enter into comparison with 
that of a port which is chiefly one of ultimate destination like 
London and Liverpool. We are unable to conclude, therefore, 
that the figures show any relative decline of London compared with 
the other ports named, allowing for the difference in the nature of 
the business done. This view is further strengthened when we 
allow for such obvious explanations as the larger percentage of the 
increase in a case when the initial figure is small than in a case 
when it is large, although the amount of the increase is the same in 
both, and for the fact that a large part of the trade of Hamburg, 
Rotterdam, and Antwerp is with the ports of the United Kingdom, 
and even with London. What the future development will be it is 
not easy to foresee. Southampton, Hamburg, Rotterdam, and 
Antwerp have all gained largely in the shipping returns in recent 
years by the establishment of lines of steamers, many of these 
with subsidies, just as London and older ports gained at an earlier 
date, but there is nothing to indicate that the older ports are being 
superseded or prevented from largely increasing. The development 
of Hamburg in particular, it should be added, cannot be uncon- 
nected with the increasing dependence of Germany, as its popula- 
tion increases, on supplies of food and raw material imported from 
abroad, and especially from oversea, Hamburg being the chief 
inlet of the whole empire. 

Discussing the position of the entrepot trade, the 
Commissioners called attention to the statistics which 
indicated that whilst for the past twenty years this business 
had not absolutely declined, yet it certainly had not advanced 
in proportion to the general development of the trade and 
shipping of the Kingdom. The Commissioners in this 
connexion pointed out that the English carrying trade grew 
up protected by the navigation laws against the competition 


of old maritime nations like the Dutch and secured a 
practical monopoly as against other European countries 
during the long wars at the end of the eighteenth and the 
beginning of the nineteenth centuries. Hence it was placed 
in and long maintained a position of almost unnatural 
superiority. It was to be expected that other European 
nations should in time develop their own mercantile marine 
and secure for their shipping, part of their own import and 
export trade. No doubt also the growth of direct trade so 
far as regards the south of Europe had been accelerated by 
the substituion of the Mediterranean for the Cape route 
to the East. Against causes of this general character, im- 
provements in the Port of London would not have much 
effect, but the Commissioners realized that if the Port 
became less convenient or more expensive for the reception 
of large shipping than neighbouring rival ports, then London 
was not only in danger of losing anything which remained of 
the re-export trade to Germany, Holland and Belgium, but 
also that part of the general re-export trade may pass to their 
ports. It was also highly probable that large ships, if time 
and money could be saved by doing so, would discharge at 
Rotterdam and Antwerp goods intended for England and 
Scotland, which would then be conveyed to their destina- 
tions by Channel and North Sea steamers, and even goods 
destined for the London market itself might easily be 
transhipped at Rotterdam or Antwerp instead of at Tilbury 
or the Albert Dock and brought by small Channel steamers 
and run straight up to wharves on the Thames. The contin- 
gency feared in the last-named possibility was hardly a 
practical one in any event, for on the worst hypothesis for 
the conditions in London, it could never be an economical 
proposition to give up the direct route, but no one could 
question that the committee were justified in saying that 
all the considerations of the case pointed to the advantage 
of adapting the Thames in every way to the requirements 
of modern ocean-going ships. 

The committee then proceed to review questions con- 
nected with the authorities then exercising control in the 

They reported that these were : 

I. The Thames Conservancy, whose duties included the 
government and regulation of all vessels within the port, the 


improvement and completion of the navigation of the river, the 
appointment of harbour masters, the removal of obstructions in 
the river, the maintenance of navigation by dredging, the licensing 
of docks, piers and embankments and other erections, the placing 
and maintenance of moorings and navigation beacons, the con- 
struction of piers and landing-places, and the carrying out of the 
Explosives and Petroleum Acts so far as they affect the river. 

2. The Trinity House, charged with questions relating to 
pilotage, buoying, and lighting. 

3. The Watermen's Company, who licensed lightermen and 

4. The Corporation of London, who were the Sanitary 
Authority of the Port. 

5. The Police Authority, who were the Metropolitan Police in 
areas within their jurisdiction and in the lower river the police 
of the counties of Essex and Kent. 

As regards the Thames Conservancy, the Commissioners 
reported the reasons already referred to, given by the 
Conservancy, for not applying to Parliament for further 
powers for the purpose of carrying out the programme of 
the Lower Thames Navigation Commission. Their inaction 
appeared to the Commission to have been, on the part of a 
public body charged with vital interests, evidence of an 
inadequate view of their duties. The argument of the 
chairman of the Conservancy, Sir F. Dixon Hartland, that 
the smallness of the dock entrances would have made the 
cost of any deepening of the river useless, was treated by 
the Commission as less of a reason than of an excuse for 
the Conservancy not having taken in hand the improvements 
of the river. It was obvious that the dock companies could 
gain no advantage in deepening the entrances of their docks 
if with the river in its present condition vessels could only 
approach the docks at or near the time of high water, and at 
this time of tide the locks, although perhaps susceptible of 
some improvement, were not conspicuously inferior in depth 
to that of the channel of the river at such times. But further, 
Sir F. Dixon Hartland 's argument altogether ignored the 
well-known difficulties of navigating the Thames with 
ships of large draught if delayed by fog or other causes. 
In this connexion the Commission said they had received 
a considerable amount of evidence to the effect that it was 
no uncommon thing for large vessels ascending the river 
to be obliged to return to Gravesend if they found it 
impossible to reach the docks sufficiently near the time of 

p. 300 


high water to be certain of entering the docks as most of 
the intervening reaches were too shallow to permit them to 
anchor. The Commission, impressed by the almost complete 
concurrence of opinion that considerable river works were 
necessary, had no hesitation in stating that it was highly 
important to the trade of London that a channel of not less 
than 30 feet in depth at low water of spring tides should be 
made from the Nore to the entrance of the Royal Albert 
Dock, and that the width to be adopted for this channel 
should be as proposed by the Conservancy, 1,000 feet as 
far as Crayfordness, and from Crayfordness to the Royal 
Albert Dock, 600 feet. They further thought above the 
Royal Albert Dock the river should be deepened and 
improved as far as the old Thames Tunnel, now used by the 
East London Railway. It was probable that the depth of 
30 feet might be attained as high up as the Greenland 
Dock and 25 or 26 feet up to the Shadwell entrance of the 
London Dock, but the Commission made no definite 
recommendation in regard to the depth of the upper 
river. As vessels of large draught now suffered much risk 
and inconvenience for want of deep places in which to take 
refuge if delayed on passage up and down the river, the 
Commission recommended that, as a first part of the 
dredging programme, holes or basins should be dredged to 
the depth of 30 feet (which basins would afterwards form 
part of the continuous channel) in six different places 
between the Shadwell entrance to the London Dock and 
the entrance to the Royal Albert Dock, with four additional 
basins at approximately equal distances between the Royal 
Albert Dock and Northfleet Hope. The history of the 
Thames seemed to show that there was little risk of the 
suggested basins silting up in the interval of their being 
made and the continuous channel being formed, and the 
Commission thought that when these works were accom- 
plished the river would bear the same relation to the 
dimensions of the largest modern ships as it bore fifty years 
before to those of the largest ships then existing. 

The Commission then recapitulated the evidence of 
the Trinity House and of the views of the shipowners on 
the question. They further discussed the question whether 
pilotage should be compulsory and whether if so, ships 
subject to compulsory pilotage should be exempt from 


liability for damages, pointing out that modern policy 
was opposed to compulsory pilotage as indicated by the 
Merchant Shipping Act of 1894, which provides that there 
shall be no compulsory pilotage and no restriction on the 
power of duly qualified persons to obtain licences in 
in any new pilotage districts, and that pilotage was free in 
many ports, for example, the Tees and the Tyne, Swansea, 
Cardiff, Leith, Dundee and Cork. The Commissioners 
thought that if a new authority were formed in the Port, 
the power of licensing pilots within the Port should be 
transferred to them, but on the larger question of compulsory 
pilotage they thought it ouside the scope of their reference 
to make any recommendation as to the connexion between 
compulsory pilotage and the immunity of a shipowner for 
damage which concerned general law. 

Though the Commission had no criticism to pass upon 
the manner in which the Watermen's Company had 
performed their duties, they recommended that all the 
powers of the Company should be transferred to any new 
authority appointed to control the Port. While thinking 
that in the interests of public safety, watermen employed 
in passenger traffic, including river steamboats, should be 
licensed for employment by such new authority, they 
agreed with the Thames Traffic Committee of 1879 in not 
thinking it necessary that men employed in the navigation 
of non-passenger carrying lighters should have any licence 
or be subject to any examination. Employers should in 
this class of craft be left free to employ any men whom they 
choose subject to the fullest responsibility for the acts of 
those they employ. The Commissioners accepted the view 
put forward by several witnesses that the existing artificial 
restrictions had placed the river traffic too much under the 
control of a limited class of men and had, perhaps, by 
removing the stimulus of open competition, encouraged 
among them habits which the paternal and well meant 
care of the Court of Watermen was not always sufficient to 
correct. If the Commissioners' proposals for the new 
authority {given later) were carried out, all lighters would 
be annually licensed by the authority, and this process 
would give the authority a control over river craft and, 
before renewing licences, to take into consideration any 
complaints as to the trustworthiness of the lightermen. 


The transference of powers and loss of fees would materially 
affect the Watermen's Company. They would cease to 
have any functions except those of administering certain 
charities, and little revenue apart from that derived from 
endowments which were affected by charitable trusts. The 
Commission recommended that compensation to the 
officials of the Company should be provided by the new 
Port Authority, and that the Charity Commissioners should 
be asked to make a scheme for the future regulation of the 

The Commissioners had no remarks to make on the 
sanitary or police controls of the Port beyond saying that 
they did not recommend any change in the authorities 
administering them. 

The description of the three systems of docks given by 
the Commissioners is a careful historical narrative of 
events which were consummated by their appointment to 
investigate the Port of London question. The reader is 
already in possession of the circumstances described at 
greater length in the preceding pages and no quotation or 
summary of the Commissioners' report is therefore 
necessary. They allude to the Regents Canal Dock, and to 
minor docks or wharves belonging to various railway 
companies, viz., Brentford Dock, Chelsea Dock, Deptford 
Dock and the two Docks at Poplar. The Commissioners 
considered that the Limehouse Dock of the Regents Canal 
Company was merely the mouth of the canal, and that the 
other docks mentioned fell into a category different from 
that of the large public docks and might be regarded as 
riverside terminal stations. The Commissioners therefore 
omitted them from their proposals. 

With the assistance of Mr. R. C. H. Davison, the engineer 
employed by them, the Commissioners had endeavoured 
to arrive at an estimate of the total cost of bringing into a 
good state of repair the properties belonging to the three 
companies, of effecting such improvements as would be 
requisite in order to bnng the docks of those companies to 
a degree of efficiency which would meet the needs of the 
Port, assuming that the river channels were deepened and 
enlarged in the way recommended, and of making the 
proposed extension near the Royal Albert Dock. In the 
opinion of the Commissioners the cost could not be safely 


estimated at less than 4,500,000, and they thought that 
an expenditure of this amount, apart from any later 
extension at Tilbury or elsewhere, would have to be made 
in the next few years if the Port was to be restored to its 
proper position. These works should proceed concurrently 
with the deepening of the river. 

The Commissioners at great length discussed the grievance 
put forward by all the companies in regard to the exemption 
of lighters from dues and the statutory right of lighters to 
enter and leave the docks without any payment in respect 
of the goods which they carry, and the allegation of the 
companies that the cause of their deficient financial vitality 
was the drain upon profits which should legitimately come 
to them, by rivals which had grown under favouring circum- 
stances from a position of toleration on account of insignifi- 
cance into one of superior participation in the general 
profits of the trade. The Commissioners' comment on this 
is that although the misfortunes of some of the companies 
may to some extent be due, as some adverse witnesses 
alleged, to rash and premature expenditure of capital and 
to errors in administration, yet they thought that to a 
considerable extent the explanation of the companies was 
a true one. They were, in the opinion of the Commissioners, 
the victims of a change of circumstances which had dis- 
possessed them gradually of the advantages which they 
once enjoyed. They had rendered great services for a 
hundred years to the Port of London and were entitled to 
much sympathy, but when they asked, as they did, for 
power to tax their rivals in trade in order to restore a lost 
position serious difficulties and objections arose. The judg- 
ment of the Commission on this question is understandable, 
as it was in accordance with the inexorable convention of 
the attitude of Parliament when it is a question of justice 
to investors. It is always the victim who is to continue to 
suffer. The vested interest which has thriven on the victim 
is allowed a continuance of its prosperity. But this was not 
the common case of speculation having turned out to be 
unremunerative through the progess of invention or vagaries 
in fashion. Here were works of the highest public utility 
which the state or the municipality had been unwilling to 
provide at their own cost, and in consequence the capital 
had been found by private persons. The Port had flourished 


because of these works and their' extension from time to 
time. For many years investors of every kind put their 
savings in docks, and at one time dock stocks took rank in 
London not far below Bank of England stock. No stock was 
more sought after by trustees. True, there was the privilege 
of drawing water from the Thames and a certain amount 
of monopoly, subsequently more and more diluted by the 
unrestricted competition so prized by the Parliamentary 
Committee which reported in 1824. But if it had privileges 
it also had obligations imposed on them to keep docks open 
to all comers whether they brought remunerative business 
or not. When in 1855 tne directors began to realize how 
the changes which the State had made in its fiscal policy, 
affecting imports of foreign produce, were likely to under- 
mine the foundations upon which dock solvency was built 
and applied to Parliament for powers to make charges on 
lighters, they were told they could not have the powers 
because their financial condition indicated no need or them. 
When by 1899 financial collapse, foreseen in 1855, was 
almost imminent, the directors were told by the Commission 
appointed by Parliament that great sympathy was felt for 
them, but that the "tree must lie where it is fallen," and 
the public could use the timber for its own purposes. 
It is not as if the dock companies were bent on asking for 
a restoration of their fortunes when 10 per cent, dividends 
were paid. As has been shown, Mr. Cater Scott was prepared 
to pledge to make a modern dock and to concede reductions 
of dues to shipowners. For a long time after opening, the 
new dock would not have earned its working expenses, and 
any profit subsequently was limited by the proviso that the 
ordinary dividend was never to have exceeded 4 per cent. 
The levity displayed by men believed to be serious and 
weighty in affairs in thus viewing the claims of investors 
of 20,000,000, in enterprises indispensable alike to the 
operations of the greatest commercial centre in the world 
and to the feeding and maintenance of the capital city of 
the British Empire, has scarcely been exceeded by the 
exponents of the sternest cults of Socialism. The comment 
of Sir Henry Le Marchant in a contemporary article that 
"No greater discouragement could be found to the employ- 
ment of capital in new industrial enterprises than the 
conviction in the mind of the public from past experience, 


that, if a project be unsuccessful it will be left on the hands 
of the promoters, and if the contrary, the fruits may be 
reaped at any moment by the State on its own terms," 
was abundantly justified. Even a Royal Commission report 
has its humorous aspects. Its tears of sympathy were ac- 
companied by a rebuke to the London and India Docks for 
having, while the committee was sitting, increased its ship- 
ping dues from is. to is. 6d. per ton, thereby at once increas- 
ing its annual income by 100,000, and the Commissioners 
commented on the fact by saying that the "step had been 
taken in opposition to an important expression of opinion 
by shipowners against any increase in dues of shipping." 
So that according to the Commissioners' reasoning, whilst 
it was wrong to remove by legislation an admitted grievance 
due to out of date statutes, it was equally wrong for the dock 
companies to avail themselves of the same statutes in order 
to redress those grievances by methods not ideal but legal. 
In other words, the "victim, not being allowed to have the 
weapons he would prefer to have, is to be deprived of those 
he happens to possess. Apart, however, from these con- 
siderations, it should be pointed out that before the Royal 
Commission was appointed, the dock company had given 
the clearest public intimation that failing the remedy they 
sought, they would exercise the powers at their disposal 
by increasing the shipping dues. 

Having disposed of the case of the dock companies, 
the Commissioners set out the proposals for unified control 
made by the various interests represented before them, 
and then without criticizing the proposals, promptly 
dismissed them all from serious consideration by saying that 
none of them were brought forward in a completely workable 
form. Those who had framed them regarded the matter 
from special and divers points of view, and did not possess 
the full information which had been elicited by the inquiry, 
and while, therefore, the Commissioners found the various 
schemes useful in assisting them in reaching their own 
conclusions as to the best course to be adopted, they had not 
been able to recommend the adoption of any one of them 
as it stood. 

The Commission then proceeded to give their reasons for 
their own decision to recommend the creation of a Port 
Authority on the Thames. It had been proved in their 


opinion that the Port of London Was in danger of losing 
part of its existing trade, and certainly part of the trade which 
might otherwise come to it by reason of the river channels 
and docks being inadequate to meet the demands of modern 
commerce, and they had found that there was great difficulty 
in improving the Port in consequence of the division of 
powers amongst different authorities, and in so far as the 
chief dock company was concerned, by reason of its financial 

The Thames Conservancy did not possess sufficient 
revenue from existing sources to enable them to fulfil their 
obvious duty, and they had not attempted to procure the 
necessary powers, although the need had continuously been 
pressed upon them. Moreover, the constitution of this 
body was not such that the Commissioners could advise its 
being endowed with the power of raising capital for the 
works they felt it their duty to recommend. The Trinity 
House was entrusted with the buoying and lighting of 
channels in respect of which the Conservancy had the duties 
of formation and maintenance. The exclusive right of 
navigating lighters was in the possession of an ancient 
labour guild, whose monopoly had been a cause of wide- 
spread complaint. It had, in the judgment of the Com- 
missioners, been proved by the evidence that this 
distribution of power between distinct authorities was 
contrary to the interests of the Port as a whole. 

The Commissioners considered that the docks were as 
essential to the working of the Port as the river itself. Even 
if the dock companies were in a position to raise the sums 
and to carry out the works required, yet the inter-dependence 
of the proposals for improving the river and of those for 
improving the docks and the peculiar conditions under 
which the trade of the Port was carried on, rendered it 
highly desirable that these two closely connected elements 
of the Port should be no longer controlled by independent 

The attention of the Commissioners had been directed 
to the public character and success of the port authorities 
existing in the chief maritime cities of the United Kingdom, 
and also to the public administration of foreign ports which 
had in recent years become formidable rivals to London 
in the competition for the shipping trade, and especially 


for the large ocean steamers. It had been shown that there 
existed amongst shipowners, merchants and representative 
bodies a powerful consensus of opinion in favour of the 
consolidation of powers at present divided, and the creation 
of a single public Authority for the control and improvement 
of the Port. In these circumstances the Commissioners 
strongly recommended that such an authority should be 

The proposals of the Commissioners may be shortly 
summarized as follows : 

All the powers and property of the Thames Conservancy 
in connexion with the river below Teddington to be vested 
in the Authority. The powers of the Trinity House, so far 
as they relate to the area of the Port of London, as defined 
by the constituting Act, also to be transferred to the 
Authority. All the powers of the Watermen's Company 
connected with the licensing and control of watermen and 
lightermen and the regulations of lighters and other craft 
also to be transferred to the new Authority. All the powers 
and property of the London and India, Surrey Commercial 
and Millwall Companies to be vested in the Authority, the 
actual transfer of the docks to be completed by a date as 
early as possible to be fixed by the Act. 

The Commissioners said they had considered whether it 
would be possible to transfer to the new Authority the 
lower docks only, leaving the London and India Company 
in possession of their older docks and not taking over the pro- 
perties of the Surrey and Millwall Companies. If this course 
were followed the competition between a public Authority 
controlling the river and the river works of improvement 
and supported by a large revenue would be unfair to those 
companies whose property was unpurchased or only 
purchased in part. This passing tenderness for the dock 
company's shareholders is noteworthy, but the possibilities 
of such competition, though subsequently brandished before 
the companies by some of the interests who desired to 
purchase the docks cheaply, caused no alarm to the directors. 
It is certain that any struggle would have left the new Port 
Authority with the worst of the battle and a diminished 
prestige. But the Commissioners were absolutely right in 
their conclusion that such a division of the docks would 
have been disadvantageous to the Port as a whole. The 


P . 308 


Commissioners acknowledged that the combination of 
dock with warehousing business had rendered their problem 
more perplexing. If the warehouses were administered by 
the Authority, they had to face the objection that an 
Authority controlling the improvements and regulating the 
traffic of the river, supported by revenue obtained from dues 
on shipping and goods, and in possession of the quays and 
waters of all the docks and possibly assisted by guarantees 
from the rates of London would, in its warehousing business, 
compete at an advantage against the public and private 
wharfinger and warehouse owners who had invested so 
much capital in their properties. It will be perceived that 
the Commissioners realized that they had not got rid of 
the question of hardship on vested interests by refusing 
to grant new powers to the dock companies. They saw that 
they would only be intensifying it by giving these powers 
to a public authority subsidized by the public rates in 
competition with the many private wharves and warehouses 
on the river side. They turned therefore to the suggestion 
that the new Authority should acquire the properties of 
the wharfingers as well as those of the docks, but hesitated 
to take this plunge. They relied upon the argument that 
the reasons for entrusting the Authority with the control 
of the river and docks did not apply with the same force to 
the case of the warehouses, as the requirements of the Port 
in this respect appeared to have been fully met by private 
enterprise. Nor could the Commissioners solve the problem 
by accepting the proposal that the new Authority should 
take over the dock quays and waters without the warehouses. 
Besides the fact already alluded to that many of the ware- 
houses were more or less in juxtaposition with the quays, 
there was the fact that commercially the warehousing had 
been closely united with the dock business, and also that 
it would be contrary to the general law that the Authority 
should take over by compulsory purchase the quays and leave 
the warehouses in the hands of the companies. The Com- 
missioners were therefore brought to the conclusion that it 
would be necessary for the Authority to purchase the whole 
of the company's undertakings. In view, however, of the 
peculiar circumstances of the Port and of the division of 
trade between the docks and the riverside traders, they 
thought that it would be inexpedient that the new Authority 


should carry on permanently the business of warehousing, 
and were of opinion therefore that the Authority, after taking 
over the warehouses, should sell or lease such of them as 
would not be usefully employed in the enlargement of the 
quays or transit sheds ; that in order to secure this object 
the constituting Act should provide that within a definite 
period the warehouses should be offered for sale or lease : 
and that in the meantime, the Authority should carry on 
the warehousing business, but that if it should prove im- 
possible to dispose of the premises without great loss then 
the Authority should permanently retain such warehouses. 
As it would never be possible to obtain rents or sale values 
from wharfingers which would compensate the Authority 
for the loss of business entailed, the remedy of the Com- 
missioners was an impracticable one, and in effect would 
have left the wharfingers to the mercy of a rate aided 
Authority. When the report was translated into a Bill, and 
the various parties appeared before Parliament, it was 
the opposition of the wharfingers to this part of the scheme 
which gave the deathblow to the Bill. 

The limits of the Port proposed by the Commissioners 
were from Teddington Lock, as being the present tidal 
limit, to a line drawn from Havengore Creek in Essex, to 
Warden Point in the Isle of Sheppey in Kent. The line in 
question was about two nautical miles further east than the 
existing frontier of the Conservancy for dredging purposes, 
and corresponded with the actual eastward limit of the 
Customs Port, and with that of the Conservancy for 
collecting dues. The southward limit proposed excluded 
the Medway from the jurisdiction of the Port. 

On the most important question of finance, the Com- 
missioners considered first the mode in which the docks 
should be purchased, and secondly the capital expenditure 
for improvements and the method of raising it. 

In regard to the purchase of the docks, the Commissioners 
pointed out that the usual method of acquiring large under- 
takings by a public authority had been to fix by arbitration 
the value of such undertakings, and then to raise loans in 
the market and to pay the whole value in cash. In the case 
of the docks, without expressing an opinion adversely to 
the alternative of raising a loan, the Commissioners recom- 
mended as a probably more convenient and economical 


method (a) that the docks be vested in the Authority subject 
to any liabilities with respect to debenture stock and 
mortgages and other debts and obligations, (b) that the 
Authority be empowered to create up to a certain limit 
Port stock to be guaranteed in certain proportions by the 
City Corporation and the London County Council, (c) that 
the authority issue to each company in consideration for 
the undertaking so transferred such an amount of stock as 
might be agreed upon, or in default of agreement as might 
be determined by a Court of Arbitration, (d) that the 
stock so issued to each company should be distributed 
amongst the dock stockholders as might be determined 
by arbitration. 

With regard to the principles which should guide the 
arbitrators, the Commissioners thought that the pecuniary 
position of the dock proprietors should be rendered neither 
better nor worse, due consideration being had to all the 
circumstances of the case ; in other words, they should 
be merely indemnified. Indemnity was the principle which 
governed the purchase clause of the Lands Clauses Act. 
This somewhat obvious definition of justice to the 
owners of property was the prelude to the suggestion that 
the ordinary procedure under the Lands Clauses Acts 
should be modified to the detriment of the proprietors, 
the proposal being that the machinery of the Act should be 
simplified by omitting the two arbitrators appointed under 
the Acts and. having only one umpire with power to delegate 
the detailed valuations of some of the items of sale, and 
further that what was called the conventional allowance 
of 10 per cent, for forced sale always awarded in arbitrations 
under the Lands Clauses Act should not be added. The 
Commissioners justified their special treatment of dock 
shareholders by the argument that their position would be 
affected nominally rather than substantially by the subsi- 
stitution of a Public Trust for a limited company. The 
most they were prepared to allow for the inconvenience, 
delay and cost or the dispossession of stockholders, many 
of whom preferred directorial management to that of new- 
comers utterly unknown to them and not controllable by 
them, was that the Court of Arbitration should be em- 
powered to make such compensation for the inconvenience 
as might appear to them to be just. One set-off appears 


to have been in the minds of the Commissioners in their 
suggestion that Port stock might be properly included among 
the securitites in which a trustee might invest under the 
powers of the Trustee Act, but doubtless any superior 
value the stock might derive by this distinction would have 
been taken into account in the umpire's award. 

Estimating the capital sums to be expended within the 
next ten years upon the river at 2,500,000, and on the docks 
at 4,500,000, the Commissioners proceeded to consider 
the resources available for meeting the expenditure, and they 
came to the conclusion that all the revenue from existing 
sources would be fully engaged to maintain the undertakings 
and pay the interest on Port stock created to purchase them, 
together with payments to a sinking fund to be established 
ten years from the date the Authority came into being. 
The Commissioners said it was clear that the provision 
of an adequate revenue for the Authority implied some 
increase in the charge upon the trade of the Port, nor did 
they find any hesitation on the part of those most competent 
to form a judgment in recognizing that this must be the case. 
They entirely concurred, however, with the view that, 
having regard to the existing and increasing competition 
of other Ports, such additional charge should be confined 
to the provision of such improvements as were strictly 
necessary and might be expected to be productive. In these 
circumstances they had considered whether some portion 
of the 7,000,000 should not be provided otherwise than 
by the Port Authority. There appeared no reason for 
placing any charge on the National Exchequer, but seeing 
that the Thames must always be a great and vital highway 
of commerce to the many millions dwelling near its banks, 
and that within comparatively recent times the maintenance 
and improvement of the lower Thames was a duty and charge 
incumbent on the Corporation as the only municipal 
authority, the Commissioners suggested that the expenditure 
of 2,500,000 on the river should be borne by the 
Corporation and County Council between them in propor- 
tions to be agreed, and they were encouraged to make the 
suggestion by the strong and practical anxiety they had 
shown for the improvement and welfare of London. This 
contribution was to be accompanied by the guarantee already 
referred to of the interest on Port stock. This guarantee 


would enable the transfer of the dock properties to take 
place under advantageous conditions, and would enable 
the capital necessary for the improvement of the docks and 
river to be raised upon favourable terms. 

The Commissioners, seeking for other sources of revenue, 
did not advise any increase of the river tonnage dues on 
shipping. These were low as compared with other British 
Ports, but since the Port of London, on account of its 
difficulty of approach at some seasons, its cost and quality 
of labour, and some other circumstances was already a 
dear Port for a large class of ships, it would be inexpedient 
seriously, if at all, to increase the river dues. Dealing with 
dock dues on shipping, the Commissioners mentioned that 
at the London and India Docks the maximum chargeable 
was is. 6d. per ton. At the Surrey system is., whilst at the 
Millwall Docks there was no statutory maximum. Though 
the Commissioners had been so shocked by the London and 
India Company having raised their current dues to is. 6d., 
they not only urged the maintenance of is. 6d. at that 
system, but that it should be made universal, contenting 
themselves with the expression of the hope that a rate of 
is .per ton might be found to be sufficient. 

The Commissioners found themselves unable to 
recommend that any source of income for the new authority 
should be provided by the repeal of the free water clauses 
in the Dock Acts. Under the new government of the Port 
it would, however, be fair and advantageous also from 
reasons connected with the regulation of the traffic that the 
Authority should have power to levy a licensing fee upon all 
barges using the Port. Barges had grown considerably 
both in size and in the part which they had taken in the 
traffic of the Port, and it appeared reasonable that they 
should contribute to the revenue of the Port and a not 
inconsiderable sum could be thereby provided. 

The main source of the additonal revenue which would 
be required by the Authority was in the opinion of the 
Commission to be found in dues upon goods landed in the 
Port. In this, the Port of London would be following the 
precedent set at Liverpool, Glasgow, Newcastle, Bristol, 
and most of the leading ports of the United Kingdom. If 
dues were heavy their objects might be defeated, since goods 
might be diverted and come to London through other ports 


and railways, but the Commissioners apprehended that the 
distribution of so comparatively small a sum over such 
a mass of goods would not have this result. The 
Commissioners did not favour dues upon export goods, 
nor goods which entered the Port for transhipment or 
re-exportation. The Commissioners did not desire to 
exclude the consideration of any other mode of raising 
revenue should it be found essential to the financial 
position of the Authority, and, subject to due safeguards, 
the new body ought to have some general powers for such 
a purpose. 

The Commissioners said they had given careful con- 
sideration to the constitution of the Authority, having 
regard to the distinguishing features of London and 
especially to the multiplicity of the interests involved. 
Their opinion was that the Authority should consist of 
nominated and elected members, the nominated members 
being chosen partly by national and partly by municipal 
authorities, and should include persons belonging to the 
mercantile community. In departing somewhat in this 
suggestion from the precedents of other great British ports, 
they had kept before them the fact that London differed 
from them in its enormous population and the magnitude 
of each class of the interests affected. In Liverpool a 
distinguished merchant or shipowner was known throughout 
the whole community. In London such a man was often 
neither a member of the London County Council nor of 
the Corporation, and in the vast aggregate of individuals 
gathered there, his capacity was known only among a section 
and he might therefore be unwilling to submit himself 
to election. If the obstacle of election be removed, the 
interests of the commercial world would, they thought, 
be sufficient to secure the co-operation of men of high 
business capacity in the service of this most difficult work 
of administration. The elected members should, in the 
opinion of the Commission, be elected by different groups 
of traders interested in the Port acting as separate con- 
stituencies, so that no important interest would run the 
risk of being altogether excluded from representation. 
Having these views in mind, the suggested constitution 
put forward by the Commissioners on the assumption 
that the Corporation and County Council would accept 


the financial responsibilities indicated was as follows : 
The nominated members to be appointed by the 

London County Council .. .. .. n 

City Corporation 3 

Board of Trade 

Trinity House . . . . . . 

Kent County Council . . 

Essex County Council 
London Chamber of Commerce 
Bank of England, from among persons belonging to 
the mercantile community 

The elected members to be elected by 

Ocean Trading Shipowners . . . . . . . 5 

Short Sea Trading Shipowners 


Owners of lighters and river craft, including pas 

senger steamers . . . . 
Railway Companies 




The Commissioners said it was obvious that the figures 
would have to be altered materially if the two municipal 
authorities should abstain from accepting the responsibility 
of the suggested contribution and guarantee. As a rule the 
members of the Trust should be unpaid, but it might, 
perhaps, be desirable to pay a small salary to the members 
nominated by the Government, and possibly it might be 
advantageous to attach a more considerable authority to 
the posts of chairman and vice-chairman. The Authority 
would naturally appoint standing committees for the 
transaction of various departments of its business, but the 
Commissioners thought that provision should be made in 
the constituting Act for a statutory committee for the 
management of the docks and works of dock improvement, 
such committee to have power to co-opt a limited number 
of expert persons from the outside. 

The constitution of the new Authority would render it 
necessary to reconstitute the Thames Conservancy as a 
body for the control of the river above Teddington, but the 
Commissioners did not consider it within the scope of their 


reference to suggest the composition of the new body. In 
view however, of the importance to the channels of the lower 
river to maintain a sufficient flow of water over Teddington 
weir, they considered that the Port Authority should have 
the right of nominating one or two members of the new 
Conservancy Board. 

With regard to the Custom House arrangements, the 
Commissioners did not feel that the evidence before them 
was sufficient to enable them to offer usefully an opinion 
upon the matter, and they left it to the Treasury to deal 
with the complaints which had been mentioned. 

The concluding paragraph of the report is quoted : 

In conclusion, we desire to say that our inquiry into the condi- 
tions of the Port of London has convinced us of its splendid natural 
advantages. Amongst these are the geographical position of the 
Port ; the magnitude, wealth, and energy of the population behind 
it ; the fine approach from the sea ; the river tides strong enough to 
transport traffic easily to all parts, yet not so violent as to make 
navigation difficult ; land along the shores of a character suitable 
for dock construction and all commercial purposes. In addition to 
these advantages, London possesses docks which, though they are 
not in some cases upon the level of modern requirements, are 
yet capacious and capable of further development. The deficiencies 
of London as a port, to which our attention has been called, are not 
due to any physical circumstances, but to causes which may 
easily be removed by a better organization of administrative and 
financial powers. The great increase in the size and draught of 
ocean-going ships has made extensive works necessary both in the 
river and in the docks, but the dispersion of powers among several 
authorities and companies has prevented any systematic execution 
of adequate improvements. Hence the Port has for a time failed 
to keep pace with the developments of modern population and 
commerce, and has shown signs of losing that position relatively 
to other ports, British and foreign, which it has held for so long. 
The shortcomings of the past cannot be remedied without con- 
siderable outlay. We are, however, convinced that if in this great 
national concern, energy and courage be shown there is no reason 
to fear that the welfare of the Port of London will be permanently 


P . 316 


London Sf India Docks Company 

THE amalgamation of the London and St. Katharine 
and East and West India Docks Company had been 
facilitated by the scheme of arrangement with its creditors, 
which the latter company had succeeded in obtaining in 
the early part of 1898. The chief feature of this scheme was 
that the proportion of borrowed capital to share capital 
had been brought down to a level more in accordance 
with the rule of financial prudence. In merging the capitals 
of the two companies it was therefore found possible to 
amalgamate the greater part of the debenture debt of the 
India Company with that of the London Company, but 
most of the stock was obviously not so well secured, and 
a portion of it had, therefore, to be dealt with by an unusual 
arrangement. The new securities created by the Amalgama- 
tion Act were as follows : 

"A" 3 per cent. Debenture Stock 
"B" 3 per cent. Debenture Stock 
"C" 3 per cent. Debenture Stock 
"A" 4 per cent. Preference Stock 
"B" 4 per cent. Preference Stock 
4 per cent. Preferred Ordinary Stock 
Deferred Ordinary Stock 

The priority of the stocks was to be in the order shown 
above, with the exception that the " C " Debenture Stock 
was subject to a condition to be mentioned hereafter. 

The "B" preference stock and the preferred ordinary 
stocks were to be entitled to participate equally with the 
deferred stock in any dividends paid after the deferred 
stock had received 4 per cent. 

The London Company's 4 per cent, debenture stock 
holders were to receive 01 per cent, of their holdings in 
"A" debenture stock, and 72$ per cent, in "B" debenture 

The London Company's 4^ per cent, preferential stock 
holders were to receive ,112 IDS. of "A" preference stock. 

The London Company's proprietors were to receive 
25 per cent, of their holdings in "B" preference stock, 



3 3 per cent, in preferred ordinary stock, and 42 per cent, in 
deferred ordinary stock. 

The India Company's prior lien debenture holders were 
to receive an equal amount of "A" debenture stock. 

The India Company's consolidated debenture stock 
holders were to receive 36$ of "B" debenture stock and 63^ 
of "C" debenture stock. The special character of the "C" 
debenture stock was that though as regards capital priority 
it ranked after the "B" debenture stock, the interest ranked 
with the dividends payable on the "A" and "B" preference 
stocks, and if there was a deficiency it was carried forward 
as a debt to be paid off when the income allowed it. It will 
be seen that for all practical purposes the "C" debenture 
stock was a cumulative preference stock. 

The India Company's preference stock holders were to 
receive an equal amount of preferred ordinary stock. 

The ordinary stock holders of the India Company were 
to receive an equal amount of deferred ordinary stock. 

The above arrangements were complicated, but there 
was a desire that the position of each class of holders in 
the old companies should be mathematically reproduced 
in the new company, and the creation of these stocks with 
their special privileges and restrictions carried out this 
intention. As matters turned out the restrictions were never 
exercised and the privileges were never enjoyed. 

The unexercised powers of the old companies for 
borrowing or for raising fresh capital were carried forward 
for the benefit of the new company, and they were to be 
available for repaying the terminable mortgage debts of the 
two companies. Additional powers to borrow ^450,000 
working capital in place of the 300,000 working capital 
of the Joint Committee were conferred on the Company. 

The number of directors was fixed at not less than seven- 
teen or more than twenty-seven. The new board was to 
consist of the members of the Joint Committee on the 
ist January, 1901, the date upon which the amalgamation 
commenced, but at the summer half-yearly meeting of 
1902 the whole of the board was to retire and a fresh one 
to be elected. When this took place the number of the 
board was fixed at twenty-one, two of the outside members 
from each board being added to the seventeen Joint Com- 
mittee members to make up the number. 


The rest of the Amalgamation Act was mere machinery. 
All the old administrative powers of the two companies, 
varying at each dock, were carried over to the new company. 
Had the Royal Commission not been sitting at the time, 
the occasion would have been taken to consolidate those 
powers either in the Amalgamation Act or by a Bill in the 
session of 1902, but it was obviously waste of time to make 
the attempt when all the circumstances pointed to impending 
constitutional changes throughout the Port. 

After the amalgamation had been completed, the capital 
of the Company was ascertained to be as follows : 
"A" Debenture Stock 2,550,291 

"B" Debenture Stock 
"C" Debenture Stock 
"A" Preference Stock 
"B" Preference Stock 
Preferred Ordinary Stock 
Deferred Ordinary Stock 








The unexercised capital powers on the 3oth June, 
1901, were 299,963 by ordinary or preference stocks, and 
811,534 l an capital. 
The first directors of the Company were : 























Mr. H. W. Williams, the manager of the Joint Committee, 
and Mr. Henry Morgan, who had been its secretary, 
retired on the inauguration of the amalgamated Company. 
Mr. Thomas Hardy and Mr. Francis Greenway were 
appointed joint managers, and Mr. J. G. Broodbank, the 
secretary of the Company. 

With the disappearance of the Joint Committee all the 
causes which led to friction were removed. The union 
became a complete one, the method of division of profits 
no longer tended to make one section of the board reaction- 
ary and the other anxious for experiments, yet it placed 
everyone in no worse position than they had been when the 
companies were separate. The great guarantee for un- 
divided management was the fact that both boards were now 
responsible to the same body of proprietors. 

The effect of the new state of affairs was at once made 
evident by two important steps taken by the board. The 
first was the application to Parliament for powers to build 
a new dock to the south of the Royal Albert Dock. The 
shipowners whose vessels were accustomed to use the Royal 
Albert Dock had been pressing for a long time for a new 
dock in this neighbourhood. The vessels which could be 
accommodated at the Royal Albert Dock were limited to 
500 feet in length, and no vessel over 12,000 tons could use 
the dock. The directors desired to accede to the request, 
and accordingly promoted a Bill for the purpose. The 
proposed dock was in its broad outline designed on the 
plan subsequently adopted by the Port Authority in the 
construction of their South Albert Dock. The second step 
was to raise the dues on shipping by 50 per cent., the effect 
of which was to increase the net income by about 100,000, 
and thereby increasing the dividend on the deferred ordinary 
stock by about 2 per cent. As stated in another place the 
Royal Commission criticized the board for taking this 
course while they were considering the question of the 
Port. They no doubt suspected that it was done with a view 
to enhancing the value of the undertaking in case it was 
purchased, but the answer already given was that when they 
were promoting the Bill for dues on barges, the board 
definitely stated that if they failed to obtain the remedy they 
sought they should have recourse to their unexercised powers 
of charging dock dues, and that they saw no reason for 


waiting during the indefinite time that might elapse before 
any recommendation of the Committee might be carried 
out. The additional income secured by this means not only 
benefited the proprietors, but also re-established the financial 
status of the whole of the dock stocks, and if the Company 
had been called upon to make the new dock some such 
improvement of the financial power of the Company would 
have been absolutely necessary for raising the necessary 
capital required. 

All the operations of the London and India Docks 
Company were, however, affected by the overshadowing 
influence of the position created by the appointment of 
the Royal Commission before the Company came into 
existence. They were sterilized so far as administration 
was concerned. Before the report of the Commission was 
published, the Company had re-deposited the Bill in the 
1902 session for charging dues on barges, in the hope that 
if the Commission had reported in favour of the Company's 
proposals in time for legislation during that session, the 
Bill might become law. The report was made too late in 
the session for any legislation, and as it did not support the 
Company's plan, the Bill was withdrawn. After the report 
was published, there was nothing to do but to wait for the 
promised legislation on the lines of the Commission report, 
and meanwhile to maintain and work the undertaking as 
efficiently as possible to meet the current demands of traders. 
The story of this legislation and the delays in accomplishing 
it belong to another chapter. 


The Port of London Act 

MR. GERALD BALFOUR, the President of the Board 
of Trade, with energy seldom exercised in trans- 
lating the recommendations of Royal Commissions into 
action, prepared a Bill for the establishment of a Port of 
London Authority, and gave the necessary Parliamentary 
notices in the November following the date of the report 
of the Commission. In the King's speech on the opening of 
Parliament in the 1903 session, the King was made to say, 
"A Bill will be laid before you for improving the administra- 
tion of the Port and Docks of London, the condition of 
which is a matter of national concern." The Bill was read 
a first time on the 6th April under the ten minutes rule. 
On the second reading which took place on the i3th May 
it was opposed by Sir F. Dixon Hartland, the chairman of 
the Thames Conservancy. His grounds of opposition were 
that all the benefits claimed for the proposed legislation 
could be obtained without it, that the purchase of the docks 
was undesirable in view of the superior advantages of jetties 
in the river for the accommodation of shipping, and that 
the pledging of the municipal rates in lieu of interest on 
the purchase money for the dock undertakings was highly 
objectionable. The only support given to the motion for 
rejection was from Mr. D. J. Morgan. Though he was the 
chairman of the Surrey Dock Company he was not speaking 
as the representative of the dock companies, but rather as a 
trader largely interested in timber importations, and he 
deprecated the formation of a gigantic municipal trust as 
another step towards the realization of communistic and 
socialistic ideas and inimical to private enterprise and traders 
generally. The general feeling of the House was in favour 
of allowing second reading. Mr. Gerald Balfour had no 
difficulty in securing the withdrawal of the motion for 
rejection, and the Bill was read a second time. It was then 
committed to a Joint Committee of the Lords and Commons, 
with the understanding that in agreeing to the second reading 
the House would be endorsing the policy of the purchase 


of the dock undertakings. The Committee consisted of 
Viscount Cross (chairman), Lord Hawkesbury, Lord 
Wolverton, Lord Ludlow, Mr. Baldwin, Mr. Lawrence 
Hardy, Mr. Mellor, Mr. Russell Rea and Sir C. Renshaw. 
Viscount Cross devoted himself with extraordinary energy 
for a man of his great age to getting the Bill through his 
Committee. A current review of the proceedings in the 
Times remarked that the criticism was sometimes made 
of the Parliamentary tribunal that the Bar is too strong for 
the Bench, but that to have seen Lord Cross's handling 
of perhaps the strongest Bar that had ever assembled in 
one committee room in recent years was to witness the 
triumphant refutation of the criticism. But the triumph 
was gained at the price of losing the Bill for want of thorough 
consideration. The Committee finished its work on the 
1 3th July, and reported the Bill to the House. No purpose 
would be served by describing the details of the discussion in 
Committee. In its main principles the Bill carried out the re- 
commendations of the Committee but for historical purposes 
it may be useful to set out the effect of the Bill as it left the 
Committee so far as it varied those recommendations. The 
constitution of the new authority was to be as follows : 

Appointed by London County Council 
Board of Trade . . 
Trinity House 
Railway Companies 

Elected by payers of dues on ships 
to docks 
to river 

by Traders 

Waterside Manufacturers 


Owners of River Craft 


The municipal representation was to be doubled if the 
London County Council were called upon to honour their 
guarantee of interest on the new port stock. In the first 
draft of the Bill the debenture stock holders were to 
be paid off at an indefinite date on terms to be settled by 
an arbitration tribunal, but the Committee unanimously 















refused to countenance the suggestion of calling the 
arbitrators to value perfectly solvent concerns, and de- 
cided that debenture holders should have sufficient port 
stock given to them to produce the existing income and 
not be paid off for sixty years. 

The Bill had been forced through the Committee against 
time, and there was a general feeling that the scheme was 
immature and had not had a fair hearing. Opposition was 
threatened in the House, chiefly inspired by the city 
merchants and the wharfingers, and also founded on the 
reluctance of the business community to let the fortunes of 
the Port be liable to the contingency of being subsidized 
by the County Council. The House of Commons where at 
this time there was a Unionist majority was peculiarly 
averse to the County Council and all its works, and no one 
was surprised to find that a Bill which had in February- 
been declared to be a matter of national concern was in 
August shelved till the following session, because no one 
would demand the extension of the Parliamentary session 
for a single day to give the Bill the necessary facilities. 
Thus a measure which had been introduced into Parliament 
almost without argument and without controversy was 
postponed without a protest either by the Press or even by 
the interests which had clamoured for reform. 

What were the causes of this change of attitude ? Sir 
Henry Le Marchant, writing in the National Review, and 
reviewing the position which had been created at the end 
of 1903, probably represented a large volume of the opinion 
which had been aroused in the course of the discussions 
when the practical attempt to deal with the complicated 
problems was submitted for public consideration. On the 
vital question of the management by the proposed body, 
Sir Henry contended that to whatever goal tne proposed 
constitution tended that goal was not efficiency. The ship- 
owners, he urged, would apply their efforts to get the best 
accommodation for the lowest charges. The aim of traders 
would be the same. The four wharfingers would wish to 
keep rates high and would be scarcely intent on developing 
the facilities for warehousing business at the docks. The 
railway companies, having ports of their own, had interests 
which seriously clashed with the docks as had been proved 
in recent legislation. The members of the County Council 


were to be appointed to protect the ratepayers, but there 
was a danger, judging from experience, that their chief 
care would not be the Port, but the working classes employed 
in it. In providing for the doubling of the representation 
of the London County Council if the rates were called in 
aid for three consecutive years the Bill was offering a bait 
to the County Council to provoke the new authority 
into not being self supporting. The idea at the bottom of 
this was the " balance of power " : by which one selfish 
interest is introduced to check other selfish interests. 
Sir Henry submitted that the system of setting up a body 
composed of persons who were to take care that one section 
did not get the better of another might be an excellent one for 
preventing fraud or jobbery, but was bound to have only 
a negative result in carrying on a commercial undertaking. 
It could have no positive effect in the region of efficiency ; 
there would be plenty of obstruction but little progress. 
He pointed out that there was no important port in the 
kingdom where the controlling body was composed of so 
many and conflicting elements. In such circumstances 
Sir Henry called attention to the method of dealing with 
the imaginary grievance of fifty authorities in the Port. 
Nominally a single authority was constituted, but in reality 
it would consist of representatives of twelve differing author- 
ities, and such a house would be divided against itself. 

Another weakness of the Bill resulted from one provision 
which was intended to be a proper safeguard, viz., that until 
the terms of the purchase of the docks were settled dock 
directors were excluded from membership of the new 
Authority. The existing directors had no grievance or com- 
plaint at not being included in the new Authority. It was only 
the question of efficiency of management which was 
involved. The first two or three years of the existence of 
the new Authority would be its most critical stage, and yet 
the paramount condition essential for appointment to a seat 
on the Authority was the want of all experience of the work. 
In other words, all of its members were not only to be 
persons who may be but were required to be ignorant of 
the special duties they had to discharge. There was no 
precedent for such a "qualification of ignorance" in any 
other case of transfer of Port undertakings to public bodies. 

The clauses which were intended for the satisfaction of 


the wharfingers were agreeable to no one. Their case created 
the chief problem of the situation. To raise easily the huge 
capital acquired for purchase and new works some better 
security than the income of the Port was imperative, and the 
only alternative resources were the guarantee of the nation 
and the metropolis. But this brought into the Port a more 
dangerous competitor for the wharfingers than ever sub- 
sidized dock companies would have been. To pacify the 
wharfingers the Parliamentary Committee had given them 
four representatives on the new Authority, and they had 
specified that at least one-third of the warehousing Com- 
mittee of the new Authority should be wharfingers. A 
clause had been introduced which prevented the Authority 
in fixing its rates on goods to have any regard to the ships 
from which they might be discharged. This would have 
meant the loss of one-third of the warehousing business of 
the docks. A further clause tended to increase the rateable 
value of the dock warehouses, and so would have compelled 
the new Authority to charge higher rates on goods. These 
conditions threatened to hamper the free working of the 
Port, and yet did not satisfy the wharfingers, whose case 
was skilfully worked, securing them many friends, not the 
least useful being the Corporation of London who, besides 
having the natural antipathy of an ancient body for an 
upstart rival like the London County Council, were the 
owners of extensive riverside property, whose value was 
likely to be threatened by the projected legislation. During 
the autumn of 1903 the interest of the public, both com- 
mercial and general, cooled, especially when it began to be 
realized that the inevitable end of events would be that the 
Port of London would become a department of the London 
County Council. The proposal of the Premier to carry over 
the Bill to the session of 1904 which had been adopted by 
the House of Commons without discussion, left the elabor- 
ate scheme of reform in suspense for twelve months, but 
the Bill made no progress in the session of 1904, and was 
dropped at the end of that session. 

There were many in the Port who had a deep interest in 
its welfare and who desired to have an equitable settlement, 
and they were disappointed and dismayed at the abandon- 
ment by the Government of the attempt to settle the ques- 
tion. To them it seemed an act of absolute levity to have 




touched the question and then have shirked the settlement. 
Four years had been wasted. It were better to have 
left matters alone, because if the Government failed 
every one else was bound to fail, too. Judging by after 
event, it seems clear now that the Unionist Government 
had been so disintergrated by the Chamberlain agitation 
for tariff reform that it had not even the strength to handle 
such a non-party subject as the Port of London. The 
capacity of the Government to undertake the settlement of 
any question got weaker and weaker as the year 1905 pro- 
gressed, and with its fall at the end of that year any hope 
of the early reconstitution and regeneration of the Port 
was indefinitely postponed. 

While this period of suspense lasted, various measures 
all bearing on the great issue were promoted by the London 
and India Docks Company, the Thames Conservancy, and 
the London County Council, and by Mr. Arnold Hills, who 
fathered the scheme known as the Thames Barrage. 

Most of the measures were identified with the dock com- 
panies. They had determined to give the Government no 
rest, believing it to be the only policy ever likely to yield 
tangible results. In the sessions of 1001 and 1902 they 
re-introduced their Bills for charging dues on lighters and 
the goods conveyed in them in the possibility that the Royal 
Commission might report in favour of the Dock Company's 
proposals, and withdrew the Bills when it was evident that 
the report would not appear in time for legislation. A 
separate Bill was promoted in the 1902 session which 
became law, including useful provisions for regulating 
" jhters at the entrances and for the better collection of such 
as were incurred on lighters. In the session of 1903 

the Government Bill held the field, and no attempt 
made by any of the other interests. When at the end of the 
1903 session the fate of the Government Bill seemed sealed, 
in spite of the motion to carry it forward, the London and 
India Docks Company promoted a Bill embodying their 
own scheme. Mr. Sydney Holland, in commending it to 
the support of the dock stockholders, pointed out that no 
business could properly be carried on with a Bill for pur- 
chase hanging over it, especially when a clause was in the 
Bill declaring that any contract entered into pending its 
sanction might be upset at the expense of the company. 


The Bill was broadly on the lines of the proposals submitted 
by Mr. Scott to the Royal Commission, but a bid was made 
for the support of the shipowners by the reduction of the 
maximum dues from is. 6d. to is. per ton, a gain to them 
then representing 120,000 a year. The new income was 
to be found by dues on goods, each dock company receiving 
dues on the goods discharged in its own docks and the 
Conservancy receiving them in respect of goods discharged 
in the river. The Conservancy was to be strengthened by 
the addition of seven shipowners or traders nominated by 
the Board of Trade and was to use its new income for the 
benefit of the river. The London and India Company were 
to be put under obligation to spend 2,000,000 on their 
new dock and other works, and to be subject to being 
required by the Board of Trade to carry out such further 
works as might be judged to be necessary for the traffic 
of the Port. Their dividends were to be limited to 4 per 
cent. The scheme was avowedly a crude one and it was put 
forward only as a substitute in case the Government failed 
to persevere with their own scheme, and also in order to 
keep the whole question alive. It had the possibilities of 
being a workable scheme, but it was handicapped by the 
unpopularity of any scheme for keeping the Thames 
Conservancy alive even as a reformed body, and also by 
the national dislike of conferring new taxing powers upon 
a commercial body. The Government could not carry their 
own scheme, and they would have no other. 

In the same session of 1904 the London and India Docks 
Company endeavoured to persuade Parliament to deal with 
a question which had arisen with the railway companies. 
For many years the dock companies had provided railways 
at their berths and sidings on the premises in order to 
facilitate the shipment of goods direct from the provinces 
to alongside vessels in the docks, and arrangements had 
been in operation with the companies for handling the 
traffic and for the through rates chargeable to the public 
and the proportion payable to the dock companies. As time 
went on the railways had developed the practice of bringing 
such goods from the provinces to their waterside depots 
on the Thames and thence conveying them by barge 
alongside the vessels in the docks, thus avoiding all dock 
charges and making a saving for themselves on the total 


cost of transit from the provincial factory to the vessel. 
The adoption of the water route was unfair to the dock 
companies as it rendered the expenditure on their railways 
unproductive, and it was disadvantageous to the shipper 
or consignee because it entailed delay in delivery and sub- 
jected his goods to extra handling. The dock company were 
advised that they were entitled to a share of the charges 
for collection and delivery which were in effect carried out 
on the dock premises by the dock staff, and the attempt 
had been made in the Railway Commissioners' Court to 
obtain a judgment to this effect, with the idea of appro- 
priating a portion of their share of the through rate towards 
a reduction of the dock charges. The Railway Commissioners 
recognized the fairness of the contention, but were unable 
to give the relief because the dock company were not a 
railway company for the purposes of their application. The 
Bill referred to had for its chief object the removal of this 
legal disability. The House of Commons passed the Bill, 
but in the House of Lords the point was taken that the 
general law ought not be amended by a private Bill, and the 
railway companies succeeded in getting the clauses thrown 
out. A further attempt was made in the following session, 
but the Bill was dropped by an agreement with the railway 
companies under which consignees and shippers were to 
have a voice in deciding whether they would have their 
goods shipped or delivered by water. The agreement did 
not, however, bring the advantages to the docks which 
were hoped for. 

The Thames Barrage Scheme was the subject of a Bill of 
which notice was given at the end of 1904. It originated 
with Mr. T. W. Barber, an engineer, and was en- 
thusiastically taken up by Mr. Arnold Hills, then chairman 
of the Thames Iron Works. It engaged the interested 
attention and support of Lord Desborough, who had become 
the chairman of the Thames Conservancy, but received 
no official countenance from that body. The Bill proposed 
that the river below Teddington should be placed under 
the control of thirty-seven commissioners representing 
various interests, with authority to make a dam across the 
Thames at Gravesend. The plans provided for the dam being 
penetrated by four locks of a size to take in the largest 
class of shipping, and for the maintenance of a head of 


water above the dam equal to that of high water at spring tides . 
The chief object secured would be constant flotation of ves- 
sels of deep draft without the necessity of dredging, enabling 
owners of riverside property to build quays, and so practi- 
cally to make the whole of the river between Gravesend and 
London Bridge one huge dock, accessible at all times of the 
tide. The commissioners were to raise c ,000,000 for building 
the dam, and were to receive a toll of id. a ton from each 
vessel locked in, and also to take rates on all goods enter- 
ing the Port. The attractions of the scheme were obvious, 
in fact too obvious to make the scheme a sound one. 

The first comment of even an uninstructed student 
was, "Why was it not thought of before ?" It had, of course, 
often been thought of before. The canalization of rivers 
was one of the oldest ideas and on the Thames itself there 
was already a barrage at Richmond, whilst on the Severn 
there is one at Gloucester which enables the branches of 
the river there to be converted into docks. The only question 
that arises is the selection of the proper point at which the 
dam should be placed. Practical opinion in the Port was 
against the scheme and expressed itself at a meeting called 
at the Mansion House to bless the scheme, the opinion 
offered by all the speakers not engaged in the promotion 
was opposed to it. Amongst the objections to the 
scheme was : the outlay required for draining the many 
thousands of low lying lands against the Thames ; the 
pollution of the river above Gravesend by reason of depend- 
ing entirely upon the very small fresh water current, 
especially in summer ; the loss of motive power supplied 
by the action of the tides ; the certainty of the river silting 
up below the dam requiring enormous expense to maintain 
the channel ; the uncertain effects on the approach channels 
in the estuary by the interference with tidal action ; the 
inadequacy of the locks to deal with the traffic of 1,000 
vessels a day ; the confusion and delays in foggy weather ; 
the obstruction from ice in severe winters ; and the im- 
possibility of shipping navigating the river during the 
construction of the barrage. And it was further pointed 
out that the question of securing a deeper channel was a 
much more urgent one at Leigh Middle below Gravesend 
than it was above that town. The Bill was withdrawn and 
the scheme has not re-appeared since. 





The London County Council 'and the Conservancy 
made their contribution to the settlement in the session of 
1905. The Conservancy, under the chairmanship of Lord 
Desborough, felt they might make a fresh start. Having 
been censured for slackness and an inadequate conception 
of their duty they applied to Parliament for powers to erect 
or subsidize the erection of public quays and jetties in the 
river and subject to the Board of Trade sanction, to take 
lands for this purpose, also to make agreements with the 
dock companies for the improvements of the docks. Port 
dues on goods imported or exported were to be authorized, 
and the Conservators were to be empowered to levy rates 
for the use of the quays and jetties. The Port tonnage dues 
on shipping of d. and fd. per ton inwards and outwards 
were to be doubled, and in order to carry out the programme 
of quays and jetties, and also of deepening the river, power 
to borrow 3,000,000 was to be given to the Conservators. 
To placate traders for the increase of the charges on trade, 
it was proposed to add more shipowners to the Conservancy 
with representatives of traders, wharfingers and waterside 
manufacturers, raising the total number of the Conservators 
to forty-seven. The scheme was eventually reduced to the 
simple one of increasing the Port tonnage dues on shipping 
and Parliament realizing that whatever future form of 
Government of the Port might be decided upon would not 
be compromised by an assent to this application, gave the 
modified powers sought for, and the Conservancy proceeded 
with vigour to endeavour to re-establish their reputation by 
the active prosecution of their deepening programme, 
including the purchase of new bucket dredgers, and a 
specially designed suction dredger named after the chair- 
man, for the removal of the shoals at Leigh Middle. 

It need not be said that the London County Council 
scheme was a thoroughly drastic measure. It was founded 
on the abortive Government Bill. Hostile critics called it 
an illegitimate brother of that Bill. One point upon which it 
differed from the Government measure was in its rejection 
of the plan to reinforce the existing incomes of the river 
and docks by levying dues on goods, but merely to rely 
on the sources then available, supported by the rates of the 
metropolis. Unless the docks were going to be bought up at 
a break up price, the new Authority would have been 


insolvent from the day it was established, and there was 
no hesitation expressed that this was the intention of the 
framers of the Bill. The Royal Commission had endeavoured 
to save the new Authority from London County Council 
control, though, as has been shown, the reliance upon a 
subvention from the rates would have inevitably brought 
it about, but now the London County Council boldly 
claimed twenty-four members out of forty. This would have 
given them not only the control of the labour in the docks 
employed by themselves, but whatever wages they paid 
would form the standard of payment of labour throughout 
the Port, and by this means throughout the metropolis. 
The Council's dislike of having business matters managed 
by business men is evident by the allocation of only ten 
places out of the forty to shipowners and two to traders. 
The justice to be dealt out to the dock stock holders 
was of the flimsiest. Every one's interest, even debenture 
holders, was to be extinguished and in arbitration in 
which three unknown arbitrators were to give awards of 
port stock of an unknown character, no individual holder 
was to be allowed to appear before the arbitrators, and 
the company's expenses at the arbitration were to be 
borne by themselves. No security was given that while 
the arbitration was pending, interest on debenture stocks 
would be paid. There was never any prospect of such 
a scheme being acceptable as a settlement of the ques- 
tion, but the Council took it to the House for second 
reading on the i3th April, 1905. Mr. Bonar Law, then 
Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade, said the 
subject was too large to be dealt with by private Bill, and 
that though the Bill was claimed to be modelled on the 
Government Bill of 1903, it was only so in form and in 
principle it was diametrically opposed to that measure in 
not giving the control of the Port to those who paid for its 
upkeep. He considered business men the best class to 
manage the Port, as in Liverpool, and Glasgow, and not 
men who might be elected by ratepayers on quite other 
grounds than those connected with the Port. The Bill 
was supported by the Liberal opposition, and on a practically 
Party vote was rejected by 191 votes to 123. 

During 1905 and 1906 there was much discussion in the 
public journals on the subject of the relative advantages of 


docks and riverside quays, and Parliament was urged to 
approve of the principle of riverside schemes as offering 
the best solution of the problem. Some of the discussion 
was due to the activity of the promoters of schemes for 
riverside accommodation for large vessels. On the other 
hand, the idea appeared to many commercial authorities as 
one to employ in preference to the acquisition or extension 
of the docks. Antwerp, Rotterdam, Hamburg, the Tyne 
and Glasgow were cited as examples to follow in this respect, 
and in the summer of 1906, Mr. Lloyd George, as President 
of the Board of Trade, visited some of the Continental 
ports in order to study the subject. His conclusions were 
never made public, but his eventual inclusion of the docks 
in his own scheme for the Port may be taken to indicate 
that he had found that river jetties or quays were not the 
infallible panacea they were held to be in some quarters. 
There was much confusion of mind in the advocates of this 
form of accommodation. The ports mentioned above were 
referred to indiscriminately as furnishing instances which 
should be imitated on the Thames, but the accommodation 
is not the same at all of these ports. At Hamburg, Rotterdam 
and Glasgow the greater and all the more modern part of 
the accommodation is not in the river at all. Quays are 
formed round great basins which have been excavated out 
of the land. They are in fact docks, the only difference 
between such accommodation and the docks of London 
being that owing to the rise and fall of the tide being small 
no lock gates are required. At Antwerp, on the other hand, 
the banks of the river have been quayed, and large vessels 
are able to come up straight from the sea and remain afloat, 
but it is often ignored that at Antwerp there are docks with 
lock gates, and that the latest and best accommodation is 
in the form of docks. No one claiming to speak with authority 
has ever yet propounded any scheme for cutting tidal docks 
into the Thames, and the quays at Antwerp are usually the 
model selected. The idea of riverside quays is often referred 
to as if it were a new one for London. The readers of earlier 
pages will recall the fact that quays and open docks on the 
riverside for the discharge of vessels existed in the Port of 
London for some hundreds of years. It was closed dock 
accommodation which was the modern idea. Dealing 
broadly with the subject as it affects the Thames, it may 


be said that riverside quays are suitable and perhaps 
preferable for the discharge of cargoes which are carried in 
bulk, such as coal and oil. In the sheltered upper reaches 
they also meet the requirements of small vessels discharging 
the whole or the greater part of their cargo direct on to the 
shore. But they are unsuitable for fully laden ocean going 
vessels with mixed cargoes such as come from the 
Colonies, America and the East, especially when, as is 
generally the case, the cargoes are taken away by barge 
to consignees and are not warehoused at the point of 
discharge. They are also unsuitable for large vessels loading 
mixed cargoes. The reason for this conclusion is that under 
the conditions of delivery it is not only inconvenient but 
expensive to carry on the discharge and loading of a large 
vessel in the fast running stream, with its tidal rise and fall 
of seventeen to twenty-two feet twice every twenty-four 
hours, and its crowded shipping and barge traffic. Often 
there are a hundred barges in attendance on one vessel. In 
dock waters these barges remain waiting comfortably, 
and can with perfect ease be brought to the vessel or to the 
quay to take delivery as they are wanted. But let such a 
fleet of barges be in attendance for the same operation in 
the Thames, and it requires little imagination to foresee the 
trouble there would be in manoeuvring them. The risk to 
the vessel and the goods during the course of delivery or 
loading is obviously greater at a riverside quay than in the 
docks. A most important question which arises in connexion 
with the provision of riverside quays is that of cost. It is 
usually taken for granted that they are cheaper than dock 
quays. This is quite illusory. Quays in the river must be 
substantial, inasmuch as they have to carry cranes, railways 
and sheds capable of carrying thousands of tons of cargo. 
They have also to stand the pressure of heavy steamers 
subject to constant movement in a busy river. Moreover, 
owing to the varying tide level there is an amount of lateral 
pressure behind the walls which they must be designed to 
resist. It is true that some of the matters have to be pro- 
vided for in dock systems and that in addition, costly outlay 
is required for the lock. But against the cost of the lock there 
is an enormous set off in the case of river quays, viz., that 
the variation in the tide necessitates that the floor of the 
quay shall be many feet higher above the river bottom than 


the floor of the dock quay is above the dock bottom. Thus, 
to give a constant depth of twenty-nine feet six inches, as at 
the Royal Albert Dock, the floor of the dock quays is thirty- 
two feet above the dock bottom. In the river, the floor of a 
similar quay would have to be fifty-five feet to allow of the 
variation of tide and a margin for excessively high tides. 
This question of cost is not mere theory. At Antwerp the 
cost per foot for river quay walls was 83, whilst 
at the Royal Albert Dock in London the quay wall cost 
was only 23 per foot. Though nothing could be more 
misleading than to cite the example of other ports without 
taking into account their varying geographical and com- 
mercial conditions, it is instructive to note that the determin- 
ing factor in the question is invariably the tidal one. At 
Liverpool, Bristol, Hull and Leith, where the tidal conditions 
are more or less similar to those in London, the port 
accommodation is in the nature of docks. On the Tyne 
there are many jetties and quays but they are all used as 
in London for coal and very small steamers, whilst ordinary 
sized general cargo boats are dealt with in the docks. At 
New York the tidal variation is only six feet and there are 
river jetties. At Hamburg the variation is eight feet and at 
Rotterdam seven feet, and at both these Continental ports 
open excavated basins are cut out of the marsh lands 
adjoining the river. At Havre and Calais, which have wider 
fluctuations, there are fine systems of docks. At Antwerp 
which has already been referred to, the variation is fourteen 
feet, and both dock and river berths are provided. One 
concluding consideration, and not the least important, has 
to be borne in mind. The Royal Commission expressed 
the opinion that London suffered as a port from the dis- 
persion of its accommodation over a lengthened river front 
and wide area, compelling traders to rely chiefly on the 
method of barge transit which, though far cheaper than 
road transit is much slower, and is largely responsible for 
the reputation of London being a slow port. The advantage 
of the quays of Liverpool, Hamburg, Antwerp, and Rotter- 
dam all being situated within a radius of three or four 
miles of the centre of their city commercial communities 
is indisputable as affecting economical distribution and 
especially in the handling of transhipment goods. It is now 
too late to reconstruct the port, but it behoves every one 


reponsible to take care that all future extensions should not 
aggravate the present position, but should be planned in 
the direction of the concentration of port accommodation. 
Any scheme for lines of quays stretching down each side 
of the Thames is to be deprecated on this ground alone. 

The close of the year 1905 found the port question still 
open. An attempt was then made to bring about a useful 
consolidation of the London and India and Millwall 
Companies, and the terms arranged between the two 
companies were embodied in a Bill deposited in Parliament. 
The Board of Trade would only allow the Bill to go forward 
on condition that a sterilization clause was inserted to the 
effect that in the event of the docks being acquired by any 
public body there should be no right of compensation for 
any benefits that might accrue from the amalgamation. 
The dangers of accepting such a clause were so obvious 
that both companies preferred to drop the Bill, and this 
decision was also partly due to the promise given to the 
companies that the new Government would legislate during 
1907 session. No sign, however, was given in the autumn 
of 1906 of any intention to fulfil this promise, and in order 
to keep the question alive the London and India Docks, 
in November of that year, gave the requisite notices for 
another Bill which revived their own proposals in a modified 
form. The chief modifications were that a share of the dues 
on goods using the Port was to be distributed amongst the 
companies on a scale laid down, and that no dock dues 
were to be charged on barges, but they were to pay a small 
charge in consideration of services rendered at the locks. 
No Government measure appeared during the 1907 session, 
and the dock company's Bill shared the usual fate of with- 
drawal, but it had the effect of obtaining a solemn under- 
taking upon the part of the Government to legislate during 
the session of 1908. Though this was duly honoured by 
the formal notices being issued in November, 1907, the dock 
company deemed it wise to anticipate a second failure 
of the Government by re-depositing their own Bill, but 
informing the Government that this was no obstructive 
policy, but only a pressing desire on the part of the com- 
panies to achieve a settlement. 

Mr. Lloyd George had been appointed President of the 
Board of Trade in the new Government when it came into 

By Clarkson Stanfield 

P- 336 


power in December, 1905, and was still in that office at the 
end of 1907. He had signalized his occupancy of the position 
by bringing about a settlement of the railway dispute in 
the previous year, and the ability and adroitness which he 
had shown on that occasion encouraged some hope that he 
would be able to settle the Port of London question. Though 
the old points of difficulty remained, he had the advantage 
of appearing on the scene with no prejudices in his own 
mind and with the feeling predominant in the minds of all 
the parties who had been in the struggle that the question 
must be disposed of once and for all, unless the Port was 
to go under altogether. It was generally recognized that out- 
standing above all the other points of difficulty were two : 

1. If the Dock Companies were bought out compulsorily they 
were entitled to have cash or some indubitable security equivalent 
to cash. To raise 30,000,000 of cash by pledging the trade of the 
Port was impossible and the only practical scheme of finance 
appeared to be the hypothecation of the Metropolitan rates. 

2. If the Metropolitan guarantee were resorted to the position 
of the wharfingers would be rendered intolerable. 

Mr. Lloyd George's task was to reconcile these con- 
flicting alternatives. In the notice for the Bill he proposed 
to take power for every conceivable scheme of Port Authority 
except that of being dependent upon the metropolitan 
guarantee. One alternative contemplated by him was that 
the new Authority should not buy the existing docks, but 
only build new ones, leaving the old companies to work 
out their own salvation. If this alternative was inserted with 
the design of bringing pressure to bear upon the companies 
to come to an agreement with him as to price and to accept 
port stock in payment, it may be said now that the threat had 
no effect in influencing the minds of the dock boards. The 
companies had all the best sites in their own possession, 
they had the experienced managers and they had the up 
town warehouse properties so necessary for the efficient 
working of the docks. A competition with any new dock 
erected by a Trust would soon have brought the Trust 
into the position of the owners of the Tilbury Dock in 1888, 
or else have made such a drain on the dues payable by 
merchants that they would have insisted upon an arrange- 
ment being come to for the stoppage of the competition. 
But the dock companies had always been willing to discuss 


the question of purchase by agreement, and even to take 
port stock secured on the business of the Port with proper 
safeguards, and when Mr. Lloyd George intimated to the 
companies his desire to open negotiations they at once 
responded and allowed Sir William Plender on behalf of 
the Board of Trade to examine their books, and Mr. Crutwell, 
an engineer, to survey their properties. When this had been 
done the question of terms was opened with the London and 
India Docks Company and the negotiation was settled 
simply by a private intimation conveyed to Mr. Lloyd 
George, of the irreducible minimum which the directors 
were prepared to recommend their proprietors to take, 
and by this prompt acquiescence in the terms suggested. 
The negotiations with the Millwall and Surrey Companies 
were not so easily disposed of. The Millwall Company was 
earning no dividend on its ordinary stock and not likely to 
do so for many years, but it naturally was not prepared to 
part with a remote possibility for no consideration whatever. 
The Surrey Company's future was also difficult to assess, 
as the expenditure on their new deep water Greenland 
Dock had not had time to bear full fruit. Both companies 
were eventually satisfied, the Surrey Company on the 
morning of the introduction of the Bill which took place 
on the 2nd April, 1908. 

By having persuaded the dock companies to accept port 
stock not secured on the rates of the metropolis, Mr. Lloyd 
George had disarmed the wharfingers, and though there 
were still many fences to get over before the Bill was safe, 
the bargain with the dock companies had removed the chief 
obstacle to success. 

On the 1 3th April the changes which took place following 
upon the resignation of Sir Henry Campbell Bannerman 
and the formation of a Ministry by Mr. Asquith, led to 
Mr. Lloyd George quitting the Board of Trade for the 
Treasury and being succeeded by Mr. Winston Churchill. 
In Mr. Churchill's charge, the Bill was read a second time 
on the 5th May without a division. It was referred to a 
Joint Committee of the Lords and Commons. The chairman 
was Mr. Russell Rea, who had been a member of Lord 
Cross's committee, and his colleagues were Viscount 
Milner, Lord Clinton, Lord Hamilton of Dalzell, Lord 
Leith of Fyvie, Lord Ritchie of Dundee, Mr. Ashley, 


Sir William Bull, Sir Albert Spicer, Bart., and Mr. William- 
son. Lord Leith retired before the Committee had finished 
the hearing of the case. The proceedings of the Committee 
were mostly occupied by opponents of the Bill who en- 
deavoured to kill it by evidence and argument directed to 
showing that the price to be paid for the docks was excessive 
on the ground that the condition of the dock premises 
would necessitate enormous sums being spent on them by 
the new Authority, or who desired to have as large a share 
as was procurable in the managing body. After the Bill 
had passed through the various stages it received a not too 
warm welcome in the House of Lords. Lord Ritchie moved 
its rejection, influenced by the opinion that the purchase 
price of the docks was too high, and his motion was seconded 
by Lord Leith of Fyvie, who had retired from the Joint 
Committee because he disapproved of the terms of purchase. 
Lord Avebury appeared to support the opposition of the 
Corporation of London, the Short Sea Traders, the Water- 
side Manufactures, and the Master Lightermen on the 
ground of the Bill's interference with private enterprise. 
The fears of the wharfingers had been assuaged by clauses 
given by Mr. Lloyd George, and this fact removed the 
principal difficulty in the way of the Bill proceeding. More- 
over, though Mr. Bonar Law had objected to some of the 
provisions when the Bill was in Committee of the whole 
House, the official opposition was pledged to the main 
principle of the Bill, and the various stages in the Lords 
were therefore passed without serious trouble. The Royal 
Assent was duly given on the 2ist December, 1908, and the 
Bill became the Port of London Act, 1908." 

The Act was such a far reaching measure and affords 
the solution of so many of the vexed problems of ten years 
that its provision must for the purposes of this record be 
summarized : 

The Authority is established for the purpose of adminis- 
tering, preserving and improving the Port of London. The 
limits of the Port commence at Teddington and extend 
down both sides of the Thames to an imaginary straight 
line drawn from the pilot mark at the entrance of Havengore 
Creek in Essex to the Lands End at Warden Point, in the 
Isle of Sheppey in the County of Kent, and include all 
islands, streams, creeks, channels, harbours, docks and 


places within those limits, but do not include any part of 
the river Medway, the river Swale, the river Lea, or the 
Grand Junction Canal. 

Eighteen of the members of the Authority are to be 
elected members, of whom seventeen are to be elected by 
payers of dues, wharfingers, and owners of river craft, 
and one elected by the wharfingers. Ten members are to 
be appointed members, as follows : 

Admiralty i 

Board of Trade a 

London County Council, being members of Council . . . . a 
London County Council, not being members of Council . . . . a 
Corporation of London, being member of Corporation . . . . I 
Corporation of London, not being member of Corporation . . i 

Trinity House . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . i 


One of the members representing the Board of Trade, and 
one of the members representing the London County 
Council, are to represent the interests of labour on the 
Authority. The chairman and vice-chairman are appointed 
by the Authority, but need not be members. The Authority 
may pay salaries to the chairman and vice-chairman, and 
chairmen of committees. The first elected members and 
the chairman are to be appointed by the Board of Trade. 
Members are exempted from service on juries. 

The duty is placed upon the Authority to take into 
consideration the state of the river and the accommodation 
and facilities in the Port, and to take such steps as they 
may consider necessary for its improvement. For this purpose 
they are authorized to carry on the dock undertakings 
transferred to them, to acquire and carry on any undertaking 
affording accommodation for loading, unloading or ware- 
housing of goods in the Port and to construct, equip and 
manage docks, quays, wharves, jetties, railways, etc. As from 
the appointed day (which was fixed for the 3ist March, 
1909), the undertakings of the London and India, Surrey 
Commercial and Millwall Companies with all their rights, 
powers and obligations are transferred to the Authority on 
the following terms : 


For /loo 3% "A" Debenture Stock . . . . 100 "A" Port Stock 
For 2,100 3% "B" Debenture Stock . . . . 2 IO " A " do - 


For 100 3% "C" Debenture Stock 
For 100 4% "A" Preference Stock 
Tioo 4% "B" Preference Stock 
Q Preferred Ordinary Stock 
Deferred Ordinary Stock 



A" Port Stock 




For 100 4^% Debenture Stock 
For loo "A" Preference Stock. . 
For 100 5% "B" Preference Stock 
For {,100 5% "C" Preference Stock 
For 100 5% "D" Preference Stock 
For 100 5% "E" Preference Stock 
For 100 Ordinary Stock 

150 "A 1 

Port Stock 

For {,100 5% Debenture Stock . 
For 100 4% Debenture Stock . 

For 100 5% Preference Stock . . 
For 100 4J% Preference Stock 
For 100 new 5% Preference Stock 
For 100 Ordinary Stock 

IDS. B* do. 

125 "B' do. 

125 "B' do. 

125 "B' do. 

125 "B' do. 

95 "B' do. 


133 6s. 8d. "A" Port Stock and 

25 "B" Port Stock 

100 "A" Stock and 25 "B" 


. . 94 "B" Port Stock 

.. 45 "B" do. 

24 ios. "B" do. 

The total amount of port stock issued to the holders 
of the dock securities was to be : 

A" Stock 
'B" Stock 



Power is given to the Authority to acquire compulsorily, 
land adjoining the river east of Barking for the purposes 
of the Port, subject to the consent of the Board of Trade 
after a public inquiry. 

The rights, powers and duties of the Thames Conservancy 
below Teddington are transferred to the Authority, together 
with the lower navigation fund of the Conservancy, and all 
their assets and liabilities. The Thames Conservancy is 
reconstituted by the Act for the purpose of administering 
the Act above Teddington, and the Authority are given one 
representative on the new Conservancy. 

The powers and duties of the Watermen's Company are 
transferred to the Authority so far as they relate to the 
registration and licensing of craft and boats, and the 
licensing and government of lightermen. A power is 


conferred upon the Authority to vary the qualifications to 
be possessed by applicants for lightermen's and watermen's 
licences, and also by provisional order to increase the 
registration fees on barges. 

Port rates on goods are authorized on all goods imported 
or exported, subject to maxima to be fixed by a Provisional 
Order to be made by the Board of Trade, with exemptions 
in favour of transhipment goods. For the protection of 
port stock holders it is stipulated that the rates to be specified 
in the schedule should be such that in the opinion of the 
Board of Trade, would enable the Authority to meet its 
expenditure and provide a reasonable margin for con- 
tingencies. If in each of two successive years the aggregate 
amount of Port rates exceeds one-thousandth part of the 
aggregate value of the goods imported from or exported to 
parts beyond the seas in the year, or if the amount received 
referable to goods discharged from or to be on board ships 
outside the docks exceeds one three-thousandth part of the 
aggregate value, the Authority are required to take steps 
to prevent the continuance of the excess, including, if 
necessary, an application to Parliament for further means 
of meeting their obligations. The last of these two pro- 
visions was agreed to for the purpose of preventing the 
Authority from penalizing the classes of goods usually 
dealt with in the river. Goods entering or leaving the 
Medway are exempted from Port rates. 

The powers of levying dues on vessels entering the 
London and India Docks are made applicable to the whole 
of the docks transferred to the Authority, thereby fixing 
the maximum dues at is. 6d. per ton, with zd. per ton rent 
from the date of entrance. 

Preferential rates on goods and shipping are forbidden, 
but differential rates are permitted when the circumstances 

For the purpose of enabling the Authority to borrow 
they are empowered to issue Port of London stock to be 
called "Port Stock," consisting of "A" stock bearing interest 
at 3 per cent., and "B" stock bearing interest at 4 per cent., 
and also other classes of stock ranking part passu with "B" 
stock, and bearing interest at such rate as the Authority 
may resolve. The total amount of port stock created is not 
to exceed by more than 5,000,000 the amount of stock 


issued as the consideration for the transfer of the under- 
takings of the dock companies. With certain exceptions, 
port stock is to be redeemable within ninety years, and a 
sinking fund is to be established within ten years for its 
extinction. In the event of default in the payment of interest 
holders of port stock of a value of 500,000 may apply for 
the appointment of a receiver and manager of the Authority's 

The Act prescribes the order in which the receipts on 
revenue account shall be applied after payment of working 
expenses, giving priority to the payment of interest on "A' 
stock before all the other interest charges, and directs the 
Authority to carry to a reserve fund such parts of the receipts 
on revenue account as may be available until the fund 
amounts to 1,000,000 and to restore the fund to that 
amount if it should be subsequently reduced. The reserve 
fund is primarily applicable to meeting deficiencies on 
revenue account, but the Board of Trade may allow it to 
be applied to other purposes if they consider it expedient 
to do so. 

The Authority are required to submit an annual estimate 
of their receipts and expenditure to the Board of Trade who, 
if satisfied that the expenditure may not be met by the 
receipts have power to call upon the Authority to levy 
increased or additional dues or charges. The Board of Trade 
appoint an auditor to audit the annual accounts of the 

An important provision for the protection of traders and 
wharfingers enacts that on complaint being made to the 
Board of Trade that the Authority are acting oppressively 
by reason of the mode in which they carry on their dock or 
warehousing business, including the charges made in 
respect of such business, the Board shall call upon the 
Authority for an explanation and shall endeavour to settle 
amicably the difference between the complainant and the 
Authority, and submit to Parliament reports thereon. If 
the complaint is made on behalf of a trade association and 
the Board of Trade are unable to settle the difference they 
may make such order as in their opinion the circumstances 

No attempt is made in the Act to unify the powers 
of the dock companies, which in the course of a hundred 


years have become various and complicated, but the 
opportunity was taken to remove the disability from 
which the dock companies had suffered by not possessing 
the status of a railway company for the purposes of such 
of the provisions of the Railway and Canal Traffic Acts, 
1854 to 1888 as relate to through rates. A new duty is cast 
upon the Authority to take into consideration the existing 
methods of engagement of workmen employed in the Port, 
and to take such steps as they think best calculated to 
diminish the evils of casual employment. 

A large proportion of the Act relates to the machinery 
connected with the triennial appointment and election 
of members with the design of securing a fair allotment 
of representation as between shipowners and traders. 
Elaborate scales of voting are given in the schedules with 
this object in view, and a proviso is added that if at any 
time it appears to the Board of Trade that, as a result of the 
qualifications and scales of votes fixed by the schedule, 
the voting power of any class of voters is disproportionate 
to their interest in the Port, the Board may by provisional 
order, make such variations in the qualifications and scales 
of voting, as may seem to them to be just. The Act lays down 
the procedure at meetings of the Authority, authorizing 
them to appoint committees and to delegate their powers 
to them, but a reservation is made that they may not delegate 
the power of raising money, of fixing rates or charges, or of 
making applications to Parliament. 

A series of provisions relates to the officers and servants 
of the several undertakings transferred to the Authority. 
The whole of the staffs concerned become members of the 
staff of the Authority as from the appointed day on the 
same terms and conditions as were applicable to them in 
their previous employment. The Authority may abolish the 
office of any existing officer or servant which they deem 
unnecessary, and if any employee is required to perform 
duties not analagous to his old duties he is entitled to 
relinquish his service and be entitled to compensation. 
Any employee whose services are dispensed with within 
five years of the appointed day can claim compensation. 

Transitory provisions provide for the maintenance of the 
undertakings of the dock companies until the appointed 
day, for the payment of dividends during the interregnum, 


for the dissolution of the dock companies, for the payment 
of compensation in "A" port stock to the dock directors as 
follows : London and India Docks Company, 67,600 ; 
Surrey Commerical Dock Company, 40,000 ; Millwall 
Company, 20,000 ; for two at least of the members of the 
Authority being persons of experience in dock management 
until the first retirement of members ; and for the Board of 
Trade to have power to remove any difficulty which may 
arise with respect to the establishment of the Port Authority 
or the holding of its first meeting. There are several saving 
sections for the benefit of Government Departments and 
others, including one entitling riparian authorities and 
owners to compensation from the Authority for any damage 
to their premises caused by dredging or deepening of the 

The Board of Trade appear through the Act as the con- 
trolling Government Department. They are to be found in 
thirty-four of the sixty-three sections of the Act. They ap- 
point the first chairman and determine his salary and appoint 
half of the first Board. No money can be raised without their 
consent, or any stock issued. They fix the rates to be charged 
and act as arbitrators in all disputes with traders, or on 
questions of compensation to staff. Their sanction is required 
for the acquisition of land. They are the channel by which 
the Authority apply to Parliament for provisional orders. 
At the beginning of the year they study what the Authority 
is going to do, and at the year's end they review what has 
been done. They can adjust the electorate to suit their own 
ideas of what sort of an Authority is wanted. Having been 
the parent of the Bill, the Act leaves them in the position of 
critic, judge, and friend. With such a constitution the 
word "authority" is a misnomer. In actual unfettered 
power no authority in England can have less freedom and 
more limitations, and yet liberty and elasticity are two of 
the most important governing principles of commercial 
success. Theoretically, therefore, the Port Authority is in 
leading strings. But it is the distinguishing character of 
British institutions that they flourish on anomalies, incon- 
sistencies, and handicaps that would paralyse the enter- 
prises of other nations, and so far, the inconveniences and 
obstructions which the objectors foretold as inevitable have 
remained as unfulfilled prophecies. 


The Port of London Authority 
from its establishment till August, 1914 

AS already stated, the first elected members of the 
Authority were, owing to the absence of any elec- 
torate, to be selected by the Board of Trade. The Board 
consulted the various interests which they conceived should 
be represented on the Authority before making their 
nominations, and when the bodies entitled to appoint 
members had made their selections the following gentlemen 
formed the first Port of London Authority : 

By the Admiralty 
By the Board of Trade . . 

By the London County Council 

(Members of Council) . . 
By the London County Council 

(Not Members of Council) 
By the Corporation of London 

By the Corporation of London 

By the Trinity House 





Chairman of the Port of London Authority. 
From a photograph by Rlliott & Fry. 


The Board of Trade appointed Sir Hudson Kearley, 
M.P. for Devonport and Parliamentary Secretary of the 
Board of Trade, as the first chairman of the Port Authority. 
Sir Hudson Kearley had, with Sir H. Llewellyn Smith, the 
Permanent Secretary to the Board of Trade, been asso- 
ciated with Mr. Lloyd George in all the various stages of 
the Bill, and had been primarily responsible for carrying it 
through Parliament. Sir Hudson relinquished the salary of 
4,000 a year attached to the office of chairman of the 

Mr. Sydney Bates, one of the directors of the London and 
India Docks Company, was added to the Authority as a 
"person of experience in dock management" under the 
section authorizing extra members with this qualification. 

The total number of the Authority on its establishment 
was therefore thirty. Of these, seven had been members 
of the Thames Conservancy, viz. : 


The Board of Trade appointed Sir William Plender, of 
Messrs. Deloitte, Plender, Griffiths & Company, to be the 
auditor of the accounts of the Authority, and has annually 
renewed the appointment. 

The first meeting of the Authority was summoned by the 
Board of Trade to be held in the Board Room or the 
London and India Docks Company, 109 Leadenhall Street, 
on Tuesday, the i6th March, 1909. livery member was 
present. At this meeting only formal business was transacted, 
but the chairman took the opportunity of addressing the 
members explaining the duties and responsibilities imposed 
upon them by the Port of London Act. 

The first work of the Authority was to take over the 
various undertakings which it had been formed to admin- 
ister, and to make the arrangements for carrying them on 
after the amalgamation. A fortnight was far too short a 
time to leave for such an operation, but directly after the 
Act received the Royal Assent, on the 2ist December, 1908, 

34 8 


the officials of the Conservancy and dock companies had 
begun to consider the provisional arrangements, and these 
were in such an advanced state that the fusion was carried 
out without hitch and without complaint from the public. 
In satisfaction of the purchase price fixed by the Act the 
Authority issued in substitution for existing stocks the 
following amounts of port stock : 

London and India Company 
Surrey Company 
Millwall Company 

3% Port Stock. 



Annual Interest. 



"B" 4% Port Stock. Annual Interttt. 

London and India Company 9,893,718 395.749 

Surrey Company . . . . 2,388,485 95.539 

Millwall Company . . . . 928,504 37. '4 

Total 22,362,859, with interest of 802,993. 


The new Port stock was officially quoted on the Stock 
Exchange on the 25th June, 1909; its issue to the various 
shareholders of the three dock undertakings was completed 
in March, 1910, and the Board of Trade gave notice of the 
dissolution of each company as from the 22nd March, 1910. 

The Act required the Authority to extinguish one year 
from the transfer, the 100,000 redeemable 'A" debenture 
stock of the Thames Conservancy by issuing to the holders 
of such stock an equal amount of "A" Port stock, and the 
new stock was accordingly issued in March, 1910. 

By the close of the first financial year the amount of capital 
liabilities had been further increased by the following sums : 

Compensation to Directors. (In Port Stock). . 

Repayment of Mortgages of London and India Company 

Stamp Duties 

Winding-up Expenses of Companies. . 

Repayment of Thames Conservancy Bank Loan 

Expense of Transfer of Conservancy 

Expenses of the Port of London Act 

Capital Expenditure on Works of first year . . 









Less Excess of Floating Assets over Floating Liabilities of 

Dock Companies and Conservancy . . . . . . 68,385 

Making the total capital expenditure to 3131 December, 1910, 


In taking over the Watermen's Company the Authority 
exercised an option given to them of delegating its powers 
to the Company, retaining for themselves the registration 
and licensing of craft and boats. 

At the second meeting of the Authority, Mr. Owen 
Philipps was appointed vice-chairman of the Authority. 
The Act authorized salaries being paid to the vice-chairman 
and chairman of committees, but the Authority decided 
that no salary should be paid to the vice-chairman or the 
chairman of any committee other than the Dock and 
Warehouse Committee. 

The question of creating adequate machinery to cope 
with the responsibilities immediately devolving upon the 
Authority was at once considered, and the work of manage- 
ment was allocated amongst the following committees : 







Later, the Works and Improvements Committee was dis- 
solved, and the subject of stores was referred to a separate 
committee. A General Purposes Committee was appointed 
to deal with large works of improvements and broad 
questions of policy affecting the undertaking as a whole. 

The appointment of officials was for a time tentative. 
Within the first two years the headquarters staff was com- 
pleted, the principal officers being Mr. Robert Philipson 
(who had been secretary of the Thames Conservancy), 
general manager ; and Mr. Frederick Palmer, who had 
been chief engineer to the Commissioners for the Port of 
Calcutta, chief engineer. Other appointments were Mr. F. 
Ayliffe, secretary ; Mr. C. R. Kirkpatrick, assistant chief 
engineer, who succeeded Mr. Palmer on his resignation in 
March, 1913 ; Mr. H. H. Watts, dock and warehouse 


manager ; Mr. J. H. Estill, commercial superintendent ; 
Mr. H. Norris, chief superintendent of the docks ; Mr. J. 
H. Thomas, storekeeper ; Mr. H. E. Upton, comptroller ; 
Mr. T. Hirst, statistical officer ; and Mr. W. H. Elwell, 
land and estate manager. 

Each of the transferred dock undertakings had had its 
own police force, and these were amalgamated on the 
inception of the Authority. The status of the police force 
was, however, not of the highest class owing to the 
straitened finances of the companies, and the Authority 
aopointed Mr. E. Stuart Baker, of the Indian Police, as 
their chief police officer, to reorganize the whole force. 

The Port Authority's most important and urgent duty 
was the improvement of the Port, but before this duty 
could be exercised it was necessary to obtain the means of 
raising the necessary capital required, which Parliament 
had provided by the mandate to the Board of Trade to 
embody in a provisional order a schedule of rates on all 
goods entering the Port. The Authority at a very early date 
after its establishment prepared a draft schedule and cir- 
culated it widely amongst the leading trade organizations, 
inviting their observations and suggestions. Objections and 
criticisms were considered in detail, and modifications were 
made in many of the rates objected to. The schedule as 
finally adopted by the Authority was submitted to the 
Board of Trade, who embodied it in a draft Provisional 
Order, and appointed Lord St. Aldwyn to hold a public 
inquiry under the provisions of the Act. Lord St. Aldwyn 
held thirteen public sittings and made reductions in some 
individual cases. Clauses were inserted in the order requir- 
ing that export rates should not exceed one-half the import 
rates, and that except in the case of coal the rates on coast- 
wise goods should not exceed one-half of the rates on 
oversea goods. The maximum schedule was at the time it 
came into operation, viz., the 3rd August, 1910, estimated 
to yield 484,000 per annum. As, however, the Authority 
were restricted to raising not more than the one-thousandth 
part of the aggregate value of the goods imported into and 
exported out of the Port from and to parts beyond the seas, 
the full rates under the schedules could not be applied. 
The restriction mentioned allowed of about 320,000 
per annum being collected, and therefore the actual 


From a* Aqualinl try J. Black. 


import rates imposed were fixed at about 66 per cent, 
and the export rates at 25 per cent, of the maximum 
import rates. 

Another new source of income provided for the Authority 
was from the licensing of craft and boats which whilst 
enjoying exceptional privileges under the "free water" 
conditions had hitherto made but little contribution to Port 
revenues. The Authority, before attempting to fix any scale 
of charges, called a conference of the parties affected, and by 
general agreement the following scale was adopted, viz. : 

Maximum Fees. Fees to be imposed. 

Dumb craft . . .is. per reg. ton 8d. per reg. ton 

Sailing craft . . .is. do. 8d. do. 

Canal barges . . . 2os. each los. each 

Canal boats . . . 78. 6d. each 53. each 

Tugs . . . . . 6 each 5 each 

The estimated yield of these rates was 17,000 a year. Ap- 
plication was made to the Board of Trade for the necessary 
orders and for the confirmation of by-laws fixing the actual 
fees to be imposed, and after a public inquiry the Board of 
Trade issued an order and provisional order and confirmed 
the by-laws subject to the following amendments : 

1 . The fee to be paid for the registration of barges under by-laws 
to be 6d. per ton instead of 8d. 

2. Steam barges to pay 6d. per ton, with an additional payment 
of 2 per barge. 

The amendments involved a reduction of about 25 per 
cent, in the anticipated revenue. 

While these new financial powers were being obtained 
the Authority were considering the question of the works 
which should be carried out in order to fulfil the duty 
imposed upon them. These works naturally divided them- 
selves into two categories, viz., works of reparation and 
works of improvement. 

As will have been seen, one of the reasons urged against 
the purchase of the docks and the terms of that purchase 
was that the docks had not been maintained in a satisfactory 
state, especially the London and India system ; indeed, it 
was roundly declared in some quarters that the directors 
had deliberately starved maintenance in order to swell the 
profits in view of purchase. That more money could have 
been spent if it had been desired to keep the docks up to the 


the standard of, say, a Government dockyard, is perfectly 
true, and that the directors would have been prepared to 
adopt that standard if merchants and shipowners had also 
been prepared to pay may also be accepted. But that there 
was ever any intention to lower the standard, such as it had 
been, may be dismissed merely by a study of the figures in 
the dock accounts for many years previous to the appoint- 
ment of the Royal Commission. It must be admitted that 
the appearance of some of the sheds was shabby, that the 
roads did not present so perfect a surface as that of the Mall, 
and that in the lower docks there was a great deal of untidy 
and unfinished work, but the inspection of the two engineers 
who were appointed to examine the docks respectively by 
the Royal Commission and the Joint Committee of 1908 
revealed no defects in the all-important matter of lock gates 
and hydraulic power ; in fact, such defects as there were, 
were on the surface, and not constitutional defects affecting 
the earning-power of the undertaking. There is, however, 
no gainsaying the general impression of the commercial 
public and of the members of the Authority that there were 
years of neglect to make up, and it was in these circum- 
stances that Mr. F. Palmer, the chief engineer, was 
instructed to report as to the sums necessary to place the 
docks into a proper state of repair. 

The chief engineer accordingly examined the dock pro- 
perties and premises, and he reported generally that they 
had not been maintained in a proper state of repair, and 
that to insure the efficient and safe working of the under- 
taking a large and immediate expenditure was absolutely 
necessary. The resident engineers who had been for some 
years in charge were instructed to prepare estimates of 
the cost of the repairs and renewals required in order to bring 
the properties into an efficient state of maintenance. The 
total estimated cost was 735,611, distributed as follows : 

London and St. Katharine Docks 90,560 

East and West India 150,240 

Victoria and Albeit 265,652 

Tilbury 86,448 

Surrey Commercial . . . . . . . . . . 80,884 

Mill wall .. .. .. 61,827 



The estimate was adopted by the Authority, but for 
financial reasons it was found practicable only to sanction 
an immediate expenditure of about 70,000 on such of the 
repairs as were most urgent. In following years progress 
was made with the works, and at the opening of the war in 
1914 a sum of 419,000 had been spent. War has neces- 
sarily curtailed expenditure on this and other works. But 
though the delay has been in no way attributable to apathy 
on the part of the Authority, the case against the good faith 
of the dock directors fails when it is found that five years 
after they have given up the control, the Authority with 
ample means had only spent little more than half the sum 
which, according to their chief engineer, was immediately 
necessary to "insure the efficient and safe working of the 
dock undertakings." It may be added that at no period of 
their existence have the demands upon the docks been so 
insistent as during the war, and yet work has been carried 
on without any hitch due to neglect of maintenance. 

Apart from dredging, of keeping the machinery in perfect 
condition, and of securing the safe manipulation of handling 
goods in warehouses and sheds, the question of mainten- 
ance of the docks is largely one of what a board choose to 
spend on it. In the nature of things there is much work done 
at the docks in which the rough handling of goods by even 
a small proportion of the labour employed soon dents and 
damages the surface of quays and sheds, especially when the 
construction is of iron or timber. The employment of brick 
and the frequent painting of buildings and the constant 
renewals of surfaces will render the docks much more 
presentable, and if merchants and shipowners think it worth 
while paying it can be done. But they usually decline to be 
interested the moment they are asked to pay for appear- 
ances only, and it is some defence of their attitude that the 
materialization of the ideals of engineers, if unchecked by 
commercial expediency, might easily be the ruin of the 
greatest port in the world. 

The much more important question of improvements 
required longer and more careful consideration of the 
Authority than that of reparation. The river section of this 
subject was the first to be taken in hand. The materials for 
consideration were already largely provided in the reports of 
the two commissions of 1887 an ^ I 9> an ^ also in the report 


of a Committee of Engineers which was appointed in 1908 
by the Thames Conservancy to report on the condition of 
the river and submit proposals for improvement. On a 
report from their chief engineer the Authority decided to 
proceed with the following scheme of deepening the river : 

Width Minimum depth of 

of channel at low 

channel water spring!. 

Ft. Ft. 

London Bridge to Tower Bridge 
Tower Bridge to Thames Tunnel 
Thames Tunnel to Greenland Dock 

Greenland Dock to Royal Albert Dock 600 

Albert Dock to Crayfordness . . 
Crayfordness to the Nore 







The additional plant required was contracted for at a cost 
of 426,000, capable of dealing with 5,000,000 cubic yards 
of material per annum. The plant used for the purpose 
included the suction dredger which had been acquired by 
the Thames Conservancy, four new dredgers ordered by 
the Authority, and fifteen hopper barges, in which the 
material raised was conveyed to the mouth of the estuary 
for deposit in the Black Deep. 

During the preparation or a comprehensive programme 
of improvements, the Authority proceeded to carry out 
some works which, though not involving heavy expendi- 
ture, were of a most serviceable character, such as the 
installation of new pumping machinery for the Albert and 
Victoria Docks, by which the height of water was 
permanently raised by two feet six inches ; the provision of 
forty-one new electric cranes for the Albert Docks capable 
of lifting three tons, in place of hydraulic cranes lifting 
one and a half tons ; new timber sheds at the Surrey Com- 
mercial Docks ; the reconstruction of the North Quay, 
London Dock, where double-storied ferro-concrete sheds 
were built in place of the century-old single-storied wooden 
sheds ; and the remodelling and equipment of accommoda- 
tion at the Albert Dock, with receiving and sorting lines for 
the South American beef trade. The most important of 
these works decided on in anticipation of the programme 
of improvements were those in connexion with the New 
Zealand trade. Representations had been made to the 


Authority by the agents of New Zealand agricultural and 
other organizations that it was desirable to make improve- 
ments in the facilities for the handling of frozen meat in 
the Port of London. The principal points urged were that 
barge transit from the ship to the cold store should be 
abandoned in favour of the quickest land route, that the 
Authority's store in Smithfield should be extended, and 
that all meat should be discharged direct into a refrigerated 
shed and sorted there instead of being sorted in the ship's 
hold. Different opinions were put forward as to the docks 
to be selected for the improved accommodation, some of 
the traders' representatives preferring the South West 
India Dock as being nearer the meat market, and another 
group preferring the Royal Albert Dock as being more 
accessible for shipping and possessing more possibilities for 
railway communication for meat intended for the provinces. 
The proposed sorting shed was the revival of a project 
considered by the dock companies some years before, and 
then abandoned because, though both shipowners and 
merchants acknowledged its benefits, neither was prepared 
to pay for the accommodation. At first the Authority was 
disposed to adopt the attitude of the dock companies and 
to decline to incur the heavy outlay required without an 
assurance of its being used when constructed. Reconsidera- 
tion of the question, however, induced them to decide on 
erecting the sorting shed at the Royal Albert Dock with a 
large refrigerated store connected with it by conveyors, and 
to take the risk of whether the interests concerned would 
use it sufficiently to give an adequate return. They were 
induced to come to this decision because the meat trade 
was becoming a most important one and well worth running 
some financial risk to maintain. They were able to reduce 
that risk by constructing the sorting shed as the top storey 
of a double-storied shed and by providing for a temperature 
which would enable the sorting shed to be used alterna- 
tively as a frozen meat store if it should turn out not to be 
required by traders for sorting purposes. The total sum of 
about 400,000 was authorized for these works. 

Another item of expenditure was incurred in the reform 
of the ambulance service at the docks. The arrangements 
for dealing with accident cases amongst the employees at 
the docks were found to be unsatisfactory. Many of the 


ambulances and stretchers were defective, and in some 
departments no appliances existed at all, and the lack of 
an organized system of instruction in first aid or for con- 
veying the injured to the hospital was much felt. Acting 
upon the recommendation of a committee, the Authority 
sanctioned the purchase of four electric motor ambulances 
fitted for dealing with accident cases. They are made avail- 
able throughout the twenty-four hours, and every depart- 
ment is in direct telephonic communication with the service, 
which is under the control of the Authority's police, 
instructed in the principles of first aid. 

A draft programme of works of improvement of the 
accommodation in the Port, prepared by Mr. Palmer, was 
submitted to the Authority by Lord Devonport on the 
igth January, 1911. The instruction given to Mr. Palmer 
had been to consider in his report the whole range of possi- 
bilities of dock reconstruction and developments through- 
out the Port, including the provision of new dock accom- 
modation, and he accomplished his task with great ability 
and thoroughness. To facilitate its consideration, Lord 
Devonport classified the various proposals under three 
categories : 

The first, or urgent programme embracing works neces- 
sary to be carried out without delay in order to give at the 
earliest moment the much-needed increase of accommoda- 
tion and estimated to cost 3,896,700. 

The second programme comprising such works as, given 
a continuance of the normal growth of trade in the rort, 
would be necessary by the time the first programme is 
completed. The works under this head are estimated to 
cost 5,722,000. 

The third or contingent programme, depending upon 
eventualities. The estimated cost of these works is 

The following is a statement in detail of the works 
included in the several programmes : 



Reconstruction of Tobacco Dock Entrance ; 
New jetty, Western Dock ; New berths, Eastern 
Dock ; Shadwell Basin, North Quay ; Pumping 
plant .. .. 335. 



Entrance lock ; New basin and berths, passages 
and bridges ; Improvements to Import Dock and 
South West India Dock ; New dry dock ; 
Pumping plant . . . . . . . . . . 960,000 


Dry dock extensions . . . . . . . . 12,700 


A new dock to the south of the existing dock, 
including entrance lock, sheds, dry dock, rail- 
ways, etc. ; land for a dock to the north of the 
existing dock . . . . . . . . . . 2,589,000 



Internal improvements to Import Dock and 
South West India Dock 145,000 


New entrance lock . . . . . . . . 385,000 


Reconstruction of entrance lock ; widening of 

quays; new dry dock .. 615,000 


Completion of works 247,000 


A new dock to the north of the Albert Dock, 
with entrance lock of 1,000 feet by 120 feet, 
with 52 feet depth on sills . . . . . . 4,100,000 


Landing stage ; new dry dock . . . . . . 230,000 



Improvement of Wapping Basin ; Riverside berth 
at Shadwell ; Additional berths, Shadwell Basin 267,000 

New dock and passage ; New entrance lock . . 735, ooo 


Internal improvements to Import and Export 

Dock 268,000 

Reconstruction of dock . . 920,000 


Extension of main dock ; New dock, including 

entrance lock, dry docks, railways, etc. . . 2,618,000 



The total of these estimates is 14,426,700. 

While generally approving of this programme the 
Authority found it impracticable to proceed with the whole 
of the works of the first programme at the same time. In 
view of the growing trade, it would have been impossible 
to close the whole of the berths concerned without causing 
grave delays to shipping and dislocation of traffic. More- 
over, there were certain features in the West India Dock 
scheme which appeared to have objections from the point 
of view of working. The Authority, therefore, decided to 
vary the order of the programme by undertaking such 
works as did not interfere with the carrying on of business 
or as were in situations where the accommodation was 
being utilized only to a small extent. On this principle they 
sanctioned the immediate construction of the new dock to 
the south of the Royal Albert Dock, the rebuilding of the 
Tobacco Entrance of the London Dock and a new ferro- 
concrete jetty there in place of a derelict old jetty, the 
entire reconstruction of the North Quay and its sheds at the 
West India Import Dock, and a similar reconstruction at 
the north and east quays of the East India Dock. At Tilbury 
the work decided upon was an extension by 1,600 feet of 
the south quay of the Main Dock with three new sheds, the 
largest yet erected in the Port. The estimated cost of all 
these works was 2,671,471. Contracts were entered into 
and the works commenced and completed without undue 
delay, except the new dock to the south of the Albert Dock, 
where the circumstances created by the war have much 
delayed the progress of the works. 

By far the most important of these new undertakings is 
the new dock to the south of the Albert Dock. The area of 
the dock will be 65 acres, a length of quay of 9,900 lineal 
feet, and depth of water in the dock maintained by pumping 
at 35 feet, but capable of being dredged to 38 feet ir re- 
quired. The transit sheds will be single and double storey. 
The entrance lock will be 800 feet long by 100 feet broad, 
large enough to dock vessels up to 35,000 tons. By the 
addition of a caisson, the length of the lock can be enlarged 
to 950 feet, and so if necessary enable vessels of 50,000 tons 
to be admitted, but it is held that for this dock, vessels of 
the latter size are unsuitable and that they should be 
accommodated at Tilbury, the docking of the longest 


vessels in the higher reaches being likely to lead to delays 
and difficulties with the river traffic. The dry dock is to be 
750 feet long by 100 feet broad, but it can be lengthened as 
required. The south side of the new dock will be furnished 
with novel accommodation, specially designed to meet the 
peculiar requirements of ocean-going vessels coming to 
London. A narrow quay is being constructed parallel to the 
main quay with sufficient room for barges to lie between the 
two quays, the object being that the cranes to be erected on 
the narrow quays and used to discharge vessels shall also 
be able to deliver goods either into the dock sheds or into 
barges, or that if so desired, goods may be delivered from 
the shed into barges while the discharge of the vessel is 
proceeding. The scheme is intended to satisfy the demand 
for better facilities for barge delivery and remove one of the 
causes of complaints against the London barge system, so 
cheap and efficient, but hitherto involving delays which the 
more expensive rail or road transit avoids. 

The question of meeting the demand for accommodation 
in the river early engaged the attention of the Authority. 
The demand had never been of a specific character from 
any responsible shipowners, and the several abortive 
schemes which had been put forward in the Thames Con- 
servancy period had been promoted by landowners or 
private speculators, and not by shipowners, and were 
intended to attract the investor rather than to meet the 
requirements of shipowners. The Port of London Act, 
whilst not saying so in terms, had obviously underlying it 
the principle that the public accommodation in the Port 
below Barking for ocean-going shipping should in future 
be provided by the Port of London Authority. It would 
have been wasting all the hopes that had been founded on 
the settlement arrived at to extinguish the old dock com- 
panies in favour of a Port Authority, and then gradually to 
allow a series of wharf establishments in the river to be set 
up for the purpose of providing accommodation in com- 
petition with the docks. The Authority would merely 
become a large dock company, unable to operate as an 
impartial body administering the Port, and always have on 
its flank the competition of irresponsible rivals rivals 
which it might even serve the purpose of powerful shipping 
interests to create with the object of bringing pressure to 


bear upon the Authority. The subject provoked much dis- 
cussion at the Authority, and in view of the constitution of 
the Authority and the peculiar feature of the business of 
the Port, there was some hesitation in formally claiming 
the monopoly of providing new accommodation below 
Barking ; but in their first report the Authority expressed 
the opinion that wherever practicable they should them- 
selves undertake the provision of such further accommoda- 
tion for shipping using the river as may from time to time 
be necessary, but they added that applications to construct 
works in connexion with business carried on at the premises, 
as distinct from shipping accommodation for the use of the 
public, would continue to be readily granted. Lest it might 
be considered that the Authority's attitude might have the 
effect of sterilizing enterprise in the class of river accommo- 
dation which had been advocated by many of the witnesses 
before the Royal Commission, the Authority took upon 
themselves the erection of accommodation of their own in 
the river at Tilbury- They sanctioned the construction of a 
deep water riverside jetty i ,000 feet long by 50 feet broad, 
with two decks providing 50,000 superficial feet of transit 
shed accommodation and railway connexions with the 
Tilbury Dock sidings. There will be never less than 30 feet 
of water at all states of the tide. The cranes will permit of 
delivery direct from the vessel to barges inside the jetty as 
well as to railway trucks on the jetty. The jetty will be 
available to all classes of vessels desiring to use it, but it is 
anticipated that its chief value will be to vessels discharging 
part of their cargoes in the Port. No better site or condi- 
tions are likely to be found for such a jetty, and it will offer 
the means of testing by experience to what extent riverside 
accommodation in the Thames is suitable for discharging 
or loading cargo in the case of ocean-going steamers in the 
Port of London. 

Apart from labour, which is dealt with in another 
chapter, the above are the questions to which the Authority 
considered they were bound by the Port of London Act to 
devote most consideration before the outbreak of war in 
August, 1914. There were, however, other questions which 
may be mentioned indicating the scope and variety of the 
operations carried on in the Fort. 

First, the question of the headquarters of the Authority. 
















p. 360 


None of the buildings owned or occupied by the con- 
servancy or the companies was suitable. The position of 
the largest office, viz., that belonging to the London and 
India Docks Company, at 109 Leadenhall Street, was con- 
venient for merchants and shipowners, but it had proved 
too small for the Company, and there was no possibility of 
expansion for the much greater needs of the Authority. 
Pending other arrangements, these offices have been 
utilized for that portion of the establishment which is most 
closely connected with the management, whilst the rest of 
the headquarters staff are housed at various other buildings 
in the vicinity. The Crutched Friars Warehouse, taken over 
by the Authority from the London and India Docks Com- 
pany, suggested itself as the nucleus of an ideal site for the 
purpose, and having obtained by the acquisition of adjacent 
properties, valuable frontages in Seething Lane, Crutched 
Friars, Trinity Square, and Savage Row, the Authority 
decided to erect a public building worthy of the site and 
fitting for its purpose. The professional services of Sir 
Aston Webb, R.A., were engaged to advise the Authority 
and to act as an assessor in an open competition for the 
design. 170 drawings were submitted, the successful com- 
petitor being Mr. Edwin Cooper, and the contract for the 
building was obtained by Messrs. Mowlem & Company. 
The building will occupy about one half of the site avail- 
able, and about three-fifths of it will probably be required 
for the Authority's purposes. The remainder of the site 
will be let under a scheme of development. 

Another question taken up at once by the Authority was 
that of through railway rates to the docks. As has been 
stated above, the Port of London Act had conferred upon 
the Authority the status of a railway company for this pur- 
pose, and it was hoped that the railway companies would 
no longer oppose the granting of through rates for dock 
traffic without the necessity of further litigation. Negotia- 
tions to this end were entered into by the Authority, but 
they proved fruitless, and there was therefore no alternative 
but to bring the matter to an issue by an application to the 
Railway Commissioners. The case was heard in 1912, when 
judgment was given by the Commissioners against the 
Authority, chiefly on the ground that any adjustment of the 
rates such as was sought by the Authority would have 


involved the disturbance of the "group rate" system applied 
to the London district (including Tilbury), and would 
therefore be inimical to the convenience and advantage of 
London traders as a whole. 

One of the complaints against the dock companies' 
administration had related to the delays in the movement of 
vessels to and from the entrances and their berths owing to 
the crowding of barges near the locks and in the fairway of 
the dock waters. The London and India Company had 
endeavoured to deal with the difficulty in their 1902 Act 
by placing upon the lightermen the obligation to enter and 
leave the docks without obstructing other traffic, but the 
remedy had failed. At certain docks it had been the practice 
to work the entrances during a limited period only at tide 
time, and no assistance was rendered to lightermen in 
docking and undocking the barges. With the object, of 
accelerating the movement of the traffic, the Authority 
purchased several new powerful tugs. The Authority 
arranged that the dock entrances should be worked as long 
as possible each tide and that the Authority's staff should 
assist in marshalling barges there and render aid by tugs, 
capstans, and ropes whenever they are available. Other 
concessions were extended, including the free entry into 
the basins and docks of lightermen's tugs engaged in towing 
barges in and out of the dock. The dock dues on tugs and 
barges were equalized and the free time in dock extended. 
The principle underlying these arrangements was co-opera- 
tion in the general interest of the Port instead of each of the 
parties standing strictly on his own rights, and the result, 
though involving the Authority in some annual expense, 
has proved to be of great general advantage to shipowners 
and traders. 

Having regard to the strong opinions to which expression 
had been given for a period extending over many years, as 
to the necessity of relaxing the rules for licensing lighter- 
men, the Authority considered that they should exercise the 
powers which had been conferred upon them by the Port 
of London Act. The governing provision of the statute laid 
down as an essential qualification for a licence or certificate, 
that the applicant should have served under a contract for 
two years with a person authorized to take apprentices in 
assisting to navigate craft on the river. The Authority 


therefore decided to make a by-law to the effect that any 
person shall be deemed to be qualified for a lighterman's or 
waterman's licence if he has for a period of at least two 
years been engaged in working on a craft or boat in the 
Port of London. The Board of Trade held an inquiry 
through a committee who reported that in their opinion the 
by-law was reasonable and proper, and likely to prove 
beneficial to the community at large, including the mercan- 
tile community of London, the employers of labour in the 
Port, and the workmen in and about the Port. The by-law 
was accordingly approved by the Board of Trade. 

The storage of petroleum and petroleum spirit in the 
Port of London is the largest in the kingdom. Petroleum is 
stored at various depots near the metropolitan area, but 
under the regulation of the Authority the storage of petro- 
leum spirit is not allowed above Thames Haven. Soon after 
the Authority assumed office the representatives of the 
petroleum trade urged that the regulations were unduly 
onerous, and placed a serious and unnecessary burden in 
charges upon an article of daily increasing importance as 
an agent for locomotion and traction, and that Thames 
Haven was too distant and inaccessible from the London area 
for the main storage of such an article. The suggestions 
made included Purfleet as the limit, but some of the appli- 
cants demanded the abolition of any restriction of move- 
ment, leaving a vessel loaded with petrol spirit to proceed to 
any part of the river which its draught would allow it to 
reach. Representations were also made as to the necessity 
for an expansion of the facilities for transport by craft which 
were restricted to a capacity of 45,000 gallons (150 tons). In 
considering this question, the Authority learned that if 
vessels with petrol were allowed to proceed above Thames 
Haven the possible reduction in charges would not exceed 
one-sixteenth of a penny per gallon. The capacity of the 
tank vessels engaged in the trade had reached 12,000 tons, 
and the Authority came to the conclusion that the risk 
inseparable from the vessels laden with petrol in the 
narrower and more crowded parts of the river was such a 
serious one that they could not incur it consistently with a 
proper regard for the interests of shipping and of the many 
industries situated on the river banks. It was therefore 
decided to maintain Thames Haven as the limit for vessels 


carrying low-flash petrol. It was, however, found possible 
to meet the traders on the question of the craft-carrying 
petrol. Though the capacity of such craft was limited to 
45,000 gallons each, four being allowed to be towed 
together, the greater number of the craft licensed were 
much below the maximum capacity, and in practice only 
two craft were towed at the same time. The Authority 
decided that the limit of capacity might be raised to 75,000 
gallons in the case of barges not propelled by their own 
motive power, and further, to grant licences for self-pro- 
pelled tank craft protected against the effects of collision 
and with tank space sub-divided, of a total capacity not 
exceeding 150,000 gallons, the motive power to be internal 
combustion engines of a type in which ignition is effected 
otherwise than by any form of spark, flame, or hot tube. 

In the course of the discussions on this question a sug- 
gestion was made to the Authority that they should acquire 
the whole of the oil storage in the Port, but it was not 
entertained. Though the storage of products was a business 
which the Authority carried on and was intended to carry 
on, the services required in connexion with petroleum and 
petrol storage included refining processes under factory 
conditions, and the Authority deemed the business one that 
was outside the scope of their powers. 

The Port of London Act authorized the Authority to 
purchase by agreement the Crown interests in the revenue 
paid to the Commissioners of H.M. Woods and Forests in 
respect of one third of the revenues derived from licences 
granted for works and accommodation upon the shore of 
the Thames and an annual sum for sand and ballast remov- 
able from the bed of the river. Deeming the purchase to be 
a desirable one in the interest of the Port the Authority 
approached the Commissioners, and after protracted nego- 
tiations an arrangement was entered into by which the sum 
of 235,000 was paid in redemption of the annual payments. 

Another financial operation was the extinction of the 
Millwall Equipment Company's rent charge at the Millwall 
Docks. This company had advanced the sum of 200,000 
to the dock company for the purpose of erecting the Central 
Granary and other works, at the rate of 6 per cent, per 
annum, with the proviso that the Dock Company could by 
notice pay off the capital at any time. With their better 










p- 365 


financial position the Authority were able to raise money on 
easier terms than the Dock Company, and at the earliest 
moment gave notice of repayment of the principal. 

An important operation was involved in the purchase of 
the undertakings of the London Grain Elevator Company. 
Under an old agreement with the London and India Docks 
Company, the Elevator Company possessed the monopoly 
of discharging grain in that system of docks, and also 
occupied grain silos erected on the Victoria Dock premises. 
The extinction of the monopoly, which with the plant, was 
purchased for the sum of 80,104, nas secured the 
Authority's freedom of action in dealing with the bulk 
grain trade in all the dock systems of the Authority, while 
the acquisition of the plant, which became available in all 
the docks of the Authority, with the addition of new plant 
subsequently purchased, has enabled the Authority to 
carry out the discharge of grain in a way which has put 
London in the very first rank for the rapid handling of 
grain cargoes. 

In view of the desirability of the Authority ascertaining 
at first hand the needs and wishes of the colonies in con- 
nexion with the handling and storage of their products in 
the Port of London, the Authority in September, 1913, 
sent their commercial superintendent, Mr. J. H. Estill, on a 
commercial mission to Australia and New Zealand. Mr. 
Estill conferred with all the interests concerned at all the 
important centres of trade, and his programme embraced a 
series of lectures imparting information on the development 
of the Port, and the works in course of construction for 
immediate and future requirements. He also discussed the 
methods of shipment in the colonies and treatment at the 
ports of discharge with a view to ensuring colonial produce 
being put on the market in the best possible condition. 

While the above account of transactions of the Authority 
refers to the larger matters upon which decisions of policy 
had to be taken, the regular weekly meetings of the Authority 
and the constant meetings of committees and sub-com- 
mittees were mostly occupied with the routine of the 
multitude of daily current questions, the unremitting 
attention to which is the test or a Board's control of affairs 
and the ultimate test of efficiency and successful administra- 
tion. No body of men have devoted more time or ability 



from the beginning to the present moment to making the 
enterprise committed to their guidance one that shall fulfil 
the purpose to which it has been dedicated. The Authority 
has never been content to leave the superintendence of its 
operations to highly paid officials, but in every detail of 
business done, of works executed, and of the expenditure 
incurred have exercised a close and controlling supervision. 
In these conditions it is gratifying, though not surprising, 
in examining the results of the Authority's operations 
during the five years before the war to find that the business 
of the Port shows considerable expansion, whilst that of the 
docks shows even a greater proportionate progress. The 
following is a comparative statement of the business of the 
first and fifth years of the Authority's administration of 
the Port : 

Tonnage of shipping entered and 

cleared (foreign and coastwise) . . 35,151 ,799 
Tonnage paying Port tonnage dues . . 28,579,648 

Tonnage of shipping using docks . . 17,436,097 

Total value of goods imported and 

exported excluding coastwise . . 322,614,363 
Tonnage of import goods handled at 

docks by Authority . . . . . . 2,050,795 

Tonnage of export goods handled at 

docks by Authority 
Tonnage of shipping using Authority's 

dry docks 



The following is a summary of the receipts and expendi- 
ture on revenue account for the same years : 




Working expenses . . 

Interest on Port Stock, etc. 

1909-10 1913-14 

2,631,676 3.434.453 

1,766,926 2,217,822 



Surplus Revenue 57.9*9 283,845 

Amounts totalling 152,650 had from time to time been 
charged to revenue on account of the special repairs to the 
dock premises mentioned above, and on the 3131 March the 
reserve fund stood at 388,988. The financial position was 
therefore a perfectly well-established one, notwithstanding 
the large increase in the capital responsibilities of the 


The above figures are the merest outline of the results of 
the Authority's business, and give no idea of its multiform 
character, and this chapter may well include a short des- 
cription of the operations carried on by the Authority. 

It may first be said that those operations differ from those 
of any other port authority in the world. In the United 
Kingdom the ports are governed in different ways, but few 
of the authorities do more than provide docks, quays, 
sheds, and cranes for the use of vessels, leaving shipowners 
to make their own arrangements for labour, while if ware- 
housing facilities are afforded they are usually confined to 
grain and timber. Abroad, the State in many cases owns the 
dock premises, whilst local authorities or chambers of 
commerce administer the port and have the responsibility 
of erecting the accommodation above quay level. Few 
authorities are large employers of labour, Hamburg being 
the chief exception. 

In London the Authority are only an authority in the true 
sense of the word, in its administration of the river. In the 
docks the Authority are simply the successors of dock 
companies, subject to all the limitations of competition by 
other interests in the Port. In some ways, the companies 
were less hampered in their operations by restrictions than 
the Authority are, owing to the special provision of the Port 
of London Act for the protection of the wharfingers. 

The duties of the Authority in the river comprise the 
maintenance of the navigable channel by dredging and 
deepening, the regulation of traffic on the river, the licensing 
of all embankments, quays, and jetties on the river, the 
making and enforcement of by-laws in regard to explosives 
in the river, the raising of wrecks in the river, the purifica- 
tion of the river, and the licensing of lightermen and water- 
men. It may be said that in the river, excepting pilotage, 
police, and sanitary inspection, all the functions ordinarily 
pertaining to a port authority are applicable to the Port of 
London Authority. 

In the docks the Authority own and offer to traders 
every class of dock and warehouse accommodation except 
storage for mineral oils or explosives. The whole length of 
the water area of the docks (except the shallow timber 
ponds of the Surrey Commercial system) is lined by quays 
and sheds where vessels may lie alongside and discharge or 


load cargoes. Shed accommodation and cranes are to be 
found at every berth, suitable for the class of business 
which usually attaches itself to a particular department of 
the dock system. At the lower docks, shipowners can hire 
either by the week or for a longer term berths and sheds 
where they can discharge their vessels with their own labour, 
hiring cranes from the Authority as they require them. At 
the upper docks some berths are let in this way, but there 
the Authority has not changed the general policy of its 
predecessors, and for the most part, the work of discharging 
vessels is kept by the Authority in their own hands. The 
loading of vessels is almost invariably undertaken by steve- 
dores in the employ of the shipowner, but the manipulation 
of export goods in the sheds is performed by the Authority's 
staff, who place goods for loading at the ship's side where 
they are put on board by the stevedores. The Authority 
supply tugs for towing vessels to and from the entrance 
locks. Besides the cranes on the quays used for loading or 
discharging cargoes, floating cranes for lifting heavy weights 
are maintained by the Authority, and the work of lifting is 
performed by their staff. In all the modern dock systems 
dry docks are provided by the Authority, thus saving the 
necessity of vessels having to go out into the river for this 
operation. The service of the Authority is confined to the 
provision of the dry docks, the pumping operations there, 
the placing of the vessel on the blocks, and the shoring of 
the vessel safely. The painting, cleaning, and repairing 
operations to the ship are performed by shipowners them- 
selves or by their contractors. The Authority's docks are 
intended primarily for the ordinary cleaning and painting 
done between each voyage, and not for extensive repairs. 
The Authority have nothing to do with the coaling of 
vessels, which is seldom done from railway trucks, the coal 
being sent into the docks by barges and put in the bunkers 
by men employed by the shipowners. 

The Authority is the greatest warehousekeeper in the 
world. The primary occupation of a warehousekeeper is 
that of providing safe custody for goods, but the Authority's 
operations range from the simple service of merely allowing 
goods the right of passage through its sheds, to the most 
complicated examination and manipulation of the valuable 
products of the East. Except at Tilbury Dock, which is a 


transit dock only, there are warehousing establishments at all 
the docks, and in addition, the Authority possess Up-Town 
warehouses at Cutler Street in Houndsditch, and at the 
Commercial Road Depot. Generally speaking, the various 
classes of warehousing business are concentrated at the same 
department. Thus the wool business is carried on in con- 
tiguous floors at the London and St. Katharine Docks ; the 
tobacco business is at the Victoria Dock ; the rum and West 
India sugar business at its original home, the West India 
Dock ; whilst wine and brandy, which under the old mon- 
opolies were assigned to the London Dock, still remain there. 
The Surrey Commercial Dock is the only dep6t for soft 
wood, i.e., deals, boards, etc. Ostrich feathers, chinaware, 
Oriental carpets, and other articles of high value are kept at 
Cutler Street. The special sheds required for the handling 
and storage of hardwood are at the West India Dock. But 
there are other goods which it has been found convenient to 
store at more than one department. Thus grain is stored 
at the Millwall, Surrey Commercial and West India Docks. 
Meat at the Victoria and Albert Docks, West India Docks, 
Surrey Docks, and West Smithfield. Coffee at the London 
Dock and West India Dock, whilst tea is divided between 
the Cutler Street and Commercial Road warehouses. 

Though the Authority and their predecessors have let 
a small percentage of their warehouse accommodation to 
tenants, at the rest of the accommodation all the services 
required by merchants are performed by the Authority's 
staff, who require years of training and experience to 
qualify them for the work they are called upon to undertake. 
The services rendered by the Authority include, besides 
the safe custody of the goods, all the operations required 
by the merchant in the course of the marketing, sale and 
delivery of his goods. These operations are often various 
and responsible. The catalogues issued by the brokers 
describing goods offered by them for sale are prepared 
from descriptions of the quality and condition, weight and 
other essential particulars required to be known by the 
buyer, furnished by the Authority's staff; whilst the grading 
and lotting of goods in a way suitable for the market is 
also done on their advice. Samples to show indications of 
the bulk have to be drawn, and in such goods as rubber 
and fibres the judgment of the expert is necessary to 


produce fair samples. The examination for damage to goods 
in order to ascertain liability as between the parties interested 
is another duty demanding not only skill but the strictest 
impartiality, and perpetually the Authority is placed in 
the position of arbitrator between buyer and seller. By the 
issue of the dock warrant to merchants, the Authority affords 
facilities for financing commercial operations, and by its 
arrangements with the fire insurance offices who superin- 
tend the design of all warehouses and inspect the work 
carried on from day to day with a view to a rigid adherence 
to regulations, aided by the vigilance of their own police, 
the Authority has been able to secure such a record 
immunity from fire as places the warehouses in the docks 
of London at the head of the record in this respect. The 
weighing and measuring of goods, the mending of imperfect 
packages by sewing or coopering, the separation of damaged 
from sound goods, and the making merchantable 
of salvaged goods, the vatting of wines and spirits, are 
amongst the operations carried on as part of the every day 
routine work in the warehouses. The services of the 
Authority as warehousekeepers are supplemented by that 
of carriers in that they undertake the collection and delivery 
of goods from and to the domicile of merchants and manu- 
facturers, employing for this purpose railway, lighterage 
or cartage facilities enjoyed by them at their docks and 
dep6ts at the Commercial Road and East Smithfield goods 
stations. When required the Authority pass Customs 
entries for goods to be warehoused with them, and under- 
take all services performed by forwarding agents. 

In respect of the whole of this warehousing business 
the Authority are in competition with the wharfingers on 
the riverside. No statutory monopoly of any sort has 
survived, but in regard to rum and tobacco and a few 
specially valuable articles, such as ivory and ostrich feathers, 
a practical monopoly has long been in existence. 

The occasion of the retirement of the members of the 
Authority from office in the spring of 1913 afforded the 
opportunity for testing the state of public opinion as to the 
first four years' management of the Authority. All the 
retiring members were re-appointed or re-elected except 
Sir John McDougall, whose place as representative of the 
London County Council was filled by Mr. J. D. Gilbert. 





P- 37 


At the election of members by shipowners and traders, 
three candidates besides the retiring members presented 
themselves for election, but the poll was overwhelmingly 
in favour of the members. 

The health of Mr. Robert Philipson, the general manager, 
gave way in the autumn of 1913 and he was obliged to retire 
in November of that year. He had shown much skill and 
capacity in dealing with the many questions connected 
with the inauguration of the Authority. 


The Watermen and Lightermen 

FOR centuries the Thames was the principal highway 
through the metropolis for both men and goods. The 
silent water thoroughfare required no making and no 
maintenance. The two daily tides provided the opportunity 
of two return journeys of twenty miles each way with little 
exertion on the part of those navigating the small craft then 
in use. Till the rapid pace of steamships introduced a new 
factor of danger, the only serious hazard run by passengers 
was that of shooting London Bridge where the current 
created miniature rapids through the narrow arches, and this 
could be avoided by breaking the journey just above bridge 
and re-embarking at Billingsgate. Till docks were made, 
the custom was for vessels to discharge and load at moorings 
in the river, and very few vessels came alongside wharves at 
the Thames to discharge or load their cargoes. All goods 
had therefore to be conveyed to and from the ship and shore, 
and the ships' crews and the labourers engaged in working 
on the ship had to be rowed to and from their work. Lighters 
or barges (meaning the same) were used for goods. Boats 
of the larger type called wherries were employed for 
passengers. The men in charge of lighters were termed 
lightermen and those in charge of boats or wherries were 
called watermen. 

This traffic must have dated from the very beginning of 
London as a port. It must have commenced with the ferry 
between early London and Southwark. It was obviously 
the method of business in the Port when Ethelred made his 
regulations for tolls at Billingsgate. The volume of the 
traffic in the river gradually became enormous and the 
London public who judge by the appearance of the Thames 
to-day with its deserted surface, except just before and after 
high tide, can have no conception of the constant activity 
of movement on the river both above and below London 
Bridge from Tudor times to the early decades of the 
nineteenth century. 

The earliest records of organized traffic refer to the river 













P- 37 2 


service between Gravesend and London called the "Long 
ferry" used by Continental travellers who came or went by 
road to Gravesend and completed their journey to and from 
London by boat in this service. 

It is mentioned in 1293 that the boatmen on this route 
were in the habit of overcharging their passengers as 
appears from the following record : "The jury presented 
unto the Justice of Assize that the boatmen of Gravesend, 
Milton, and London did take from passengers unjust fares 
against their will, that is where they had formerly taken a 
halfpenny from a person for his passage to London they then 
took one penny, whereof the Sheriff was directed to summon 
the parties. Then came several boatmen of Gravesend and 
they could not deny that they had taken one penny as charged, 
they were therefore in mercy, etc., and it was required 
of them they should take no more than one halfpenny and 
some of them gave a bond of 403. for compliance with their 
sureties." A few years afterwards the fares were increased by 
authority to 2d. between Billingsgate and Gravesend. 

From the thirteenth century onward contemporary 
records are full of incidents relating to traffic on the river, 
ceremonial, political, trading and domestic. 

Thus we have in 1264 in the course of the rebellion 
King Henry III retreating into Kent and prevailing upon 
the authorities of the Cinque Ports to send a number of 
ships to block up the Thames to prevent the City receiving 
a supply of provisions. Queen Eleanor was safely protected 
by the Tower, but terrified by the commotion resolved to 
go to Windsor by water, but approaching London Bridge in 
her gilded barge, the populace assembled against her, intend- 
ing to sink the barge as it shot the bridge. She was glad to 
accept the mayor's protection and was conveyed safely to 
St. Paul's. 

Regulations made in 1370 indicate the growing importance 
of the watermen's traffic in the Port. It was laid down that 
no waterman was to take more than three passengers between 
London and Westminster, and that no waterman should 
leave his boat on the south side of the river but should 
have it moored on the city side to the end that "thieves and 
malefactors might not obtain possession" for incursions into 
the City. It was also ordered that all boats taking in loads 
of rushes, hay or straw should load only the moment before 


their departure and that each boat bringing rushes to 
houses should pay twelve pence for cleansing the place 
where the barge was unloaded. 

In 1422 we find an ordinance of the Common Council 
that the duty of destroying all weirs or kydells on the 
Thames should be carried out by the mayor with the 
members of each of the twenty-six companies and that they 
were all to perform this office. In the same year on the death 
of Henry V the sheriffs-elect were ordered not to ride on 
horseback to take charge at Westminster, but to go in 
barges with their companies, which were the Mercers and 
Drapers. The Brewers' Company have recorded the 
following notice of the King's funeral: "That William 
Walderne was chosen Mayor on St. Edmund's Day when 
it was ordered that the Aldermen and craft should go to 
Westminster with him to take his charge in barges without 
minstrels." Mr. Henry Humpherus, commenting on this 
incident, says that from this it might appear that the 
Mayor's procession to Westminster occurred earlier than 
1454 when Sir John Norman is recorded to have proceeded 
by water. William Walderne's river journey may, however, 
have only been on account of the King's death. According 
to the chronicles of Alderman Fabian, the ancient custom of 
the Mayor riding to Westminster upon the morrow of 
St. Simon and St. Jude's Day on his presentation to the 
judges at Westminster was broken through by Sir John 
Norman who, having at his own expense built a noble 
barge, had it decorated with flags and streamers in which 
he was rowed by watermen with silver oars attended by 
such of the City companies as possessed barges in a splen- 
did manner so that he "made the barge he sat in burn on 
the water." In the Harleian MSS the change in practice is 
described : "And this yere the riding to Wes' was foredone 
and goying thider by barge bigonne." As the number and 
splendour of the companies' barges and pageants increased, 
the Lord Mayor's River Show became the most attractive 
of City sights. The water processions were continued with 
few exceptions until the year 1856. The question of pre- 
cedence in the water procession involved a feud between 
the Merchant Taylors' and Skinners' Companies for thirty 
years after Sir John Norman adopted the water route, one 
company's barge always attempting to get in front of the 


others. On Lord Mayor's Day of 1483 it culminated in the 
rival companies coming to blows which resulted in blood- 
shed and loss of life. The Mayor, having been asked to 
arbitrate, decided that for the future the two guilds should 
alternately have precedence, and that each year on approach- 
ing Westminster they should lash their two barges together 
and drink as a toast : "The Merchant Taylors and Skinners : 
Skinners and Merchant Taylors : root and branch may 
they flourish for ever." The custom continued for many 

A notable river pageant took place in 1487 on the occa- 
sion of the coronation of Elizabeth of York, Queen of 
Henry VII, on her coming forth from Greenwich, accom- 
panied by the Countess of Richmond and many lords and 
ladies. Attending her were the Mayor, sheriffs, and aldermen 
of the City and members of the Common Council chosen 
from every craft in barges freshly furnished with banners 
and streamers of silk richly "beaton" with the arms and 
banners of their crafts. Especially prominent was the 
bachelor's barge garnished and apparelled " wherein was 
ordeynd a great redd dragon spouting flames of fyer into 
the Thames." Accompanied by the sounds of triumph 
clarions and other instruments, the Queen landed at the 
Tower. The bachelor's barge was appropriated to the 
younger sons of the nobility, a similar barge being devoted 
to the maids of honour. The City also possessed its 
bachelors' barge, the bachelors being chosen every year 
of the same company as the Mayor, and numbered from 
60 to 100 young men. 

None of the records of earlier days give any information 
as to the number of watermen and lightermen plying on the 
Thames. In 1471 Thomas Nevile, having collected a num- 
ber of persons of desperate fortunes, endeavoured to 
surprise London, and having obtained possession of the 
Tower, he was able to collect enough boats to transfer 
3,000 of his followers across the river from Southwark with 
the object of assaulting Aldgate and Bishopsgate. This 
incident indicates that by the end of the fifteenth century 
the number of watermen must have been considerable. 

Tragedy went hand in hand with splendour in these 
Royal processions. Within a week Lady Jane Grey in July, 
1 553, had three river journeys. The first was on her way from 


Sion House to fulfil the custom of the monarchs of England 
to spend the first few days of her reign at the Tower, being 
the first opportunity after the accession of showing herself 
to the people. The description of the event reports that a 
gallant tram issued from Sion House and descended the 
stairs leading to the river, where appointed for their con- 
veyance was drawn up a squadron of fifty superbly gilt 
barges, decorated with banners, cloth of gold, and arras 
embroidered with the devices of the civic companies, others 
with innumerable silken pennons to which were attached 
silver bells, while others reserved for the more important 
personages of the ceremony were covered on the sides with 
shields gorgeously emblazoned with the armorial bearings 
of the different noblemen composing the privy council, 
those of Lady Jane's father-in-law, the Duke of Northum- 
berland, being proudly conspicuous. Each barge was 
escorted by a light galley, termed a foist or wafter, manage- 
able either by oar or sail and attached to its companion by 
a stout silk tow line. The Lady Jane embarked in a magni- 
ficent barge with two large banners beaten with the royal 
arms, planted on the foreship. Its sides were hung with 
metal escutcheons, alternately emblazoned with the cog- 
nizances of the Queen and her Consort, and its decks 
covered with the richest silks and tissues. It was attended 
by the bachelors' galley and the galley devoted to the 
maids of honour. In the galleys, besides the rowers and the 
men at arms, sat bands of minstrels provided with sackbuts, 
shalms, cornets, rebecs, and other instruments. 

The conduct of the whole squadron was entrusted to six 
officers, who in small, swift wherries rowed rapidly from 
place to place, maintaining order by threats and commands, 
and keeping off the crowd of craft of all sorts hurrying 
towards the procession from every part of the river. 

Within a week of this dazzling spectacle Queen Mary 
arrived at the Tower, Lady Jane Grey was made prisoner, 
but escaped, and on her second journey returned in a 
small waterman's boat to Sion House, where on the follow- 
ing day she was discovered, conveyed back to the Tower in 
the royal barge by torchlight, unattended and unnoticed 
her last journey on the river on this earth. The Duke of 
Northumberland and his fellow conspirators were subse- 
quently taken by barge from the Tower to Westminster 


Hall, and after their conviction taken back to the Tower 
preparatory to their execution. 

But sovereigns did not restrict the use of the river to 
State occasions. We read in 1552 : "The i3th day of Juin 
rod through London into the Towre Wharffe my lade mare 
(Mary) grace the Kynges sister and toke her barge to 
Grenewyche the Kynges courte and so cam agayn at 
6 a'cloke at nyght and so landyd at the Towre and so unto 
Saynt John's beyond Smythfeld." 

Again, "The zyth day of Juin the Kyngs majeste removed 
from Grenewyche by water unto Pottney and ther he toke 
ys horss unto Hamtun Courte." 

The attempted arrest of Hampden and other members 
of the House of Commons for opposition to the arbitrary 
proceedings of Charles I in the levying of the ship money 
was the occasion of a great demonstration in the Port. On 
the escape of the members when the King's armed force 
endeavoured to arrest them they took shelter in the City. 
The King attended the next day, but the Court of Common 
Council refused to give them up. There was a suggestion 
that the accused members should in a triumphant military 
procession take their seats in the House, and a committee 
of members of the House of Commons and citizens met at 
the Guildhall and afterwards at the Grocer's Hall to concert 
measures for carrying out the arrangements. A thousand of 
the watermen and mariners in the Port, by petition, offered 
to conduct and protect the accused members by water to 
Westminster with proper arms and artillery. The offer was 
accepted, and on the nth January, 1642, the committee, 
with Lord Kimbolton and the five accused members, took 
water at the Three Cranes Wharf with great naval state, 
attended by forty long boats manned by watermen and 
armed with small pieces of ordnance. The river was guarded 
by a hundred lighters besides boats many of them laden 
with small pieces of ordnance. These forces, together with 
the City trained bands which received them on the landing 
at Westminster, conducted the members to Westminster 

When the reaction came the watermen were quite pre- 
pared to change sides with the rest of the country and 
welcome Charles II to the throne. The watermen attended 
at the bar of the House on the 3151 January, 1660, with a 


humble address of congratulation on the establishment of 
the free Parliament which was to restore the monarchy. In 
this connexion Pepys relates that two days afterwards he 
was talking to his waterman, White, "who told us how the 
watermen had lately been abused by some that had a desire 
to get in to be watermen to the State and had lately pre- 
sented an address of nine or ten thousand hands to stand 
by this Parliament when it was only told them that it was a 
petition against hackney coaches, and that to-day they had put 
out another to undeceive the world and to clear themselves." 

The two outstanding historical events which touch the 
imagination of Londoners are the Plague of 1665 and the 
Great Fire of the following year. The watermen were 
vitally affected by both of these events. The Plague ban- 
ished the shipping trade out of the Pool, and as far as it 
could be done trade was kept out of the river altogether. 
Colliers were not allowed to come up above Deptford, and 
their cargoes were landed and piled in great heaps at 
Greenwich and Blackheath. The coal was fetched away 
after the colliers had sailed so that the sailors had no com- 
munication with bargemen. Defoe says that the watermen 
found means to convey themselves away up the river, 
many of them taking their families in their boats covered 
with tilts and furnished with straw, and thus lay along by 
the shore in the marshes, some of them setting up fittle 
tents with their sails and lying under them on shore during 
the day. The river sides were lined with boats as long as 
there was anything for the people to subsist on. Country 
people were active in relieving them, but by no means 
willing to take the refugees into their towns or houses. 

The Fire of London broke out at the King's baker's 
house in Pudding Lane, a few doors from the river and 
adjoining the public warehouses in Thames Street. As 
Pepys relates, the great agents in the salvation of lives and 
property of the people were the carts and the fleet of lighters 
and boats put at the disposal of the City by the lightermen 
and watermen. Large quantities of property thrown into 
barges or into the river were rescued by the lightermen and 
watermen and taken across to Bankside. Pepys notes that 
there was hardly one lighter or boat in three, but there was 
a pair of virginals. Pepys himself put all his goods into a 
lighter and sent them to Deptford, where he had them well 


watched. As it turned out, he might have saved himself the 
expense and trouble, as the fire spared his house in Seething 
Lane. The richer classes sent their furniture to houses 
some miles up the river in fear that the fire might extend to 
the Strand. The King sent most of his choice goods by 
water to Hampton Court. 

For our last instance of the association of the watermen 
with historical events in England let us note that James II 
on his abdication made his escape, accompanied by Sir 
Edward Hall, in his own barge from Whitehall to Gravesend 
rowed by two watermen only. Four days afterwards he 
returned to London and slept at the Palace, but the Prince 
of Orange having arrived he was permitted to leave. 
The morning was wet and stormy, but a barge was 
brought to Whitehall Stairs, and he was rowed back to 
Gravesend, attended by a hundred Dutch soldiers, where 
he stayed the night on the way to France. 

We leave outstanding incidents of life on the river such 
as are given in these instances to deal with the development 
of water transport as an industry on the river. Its growing 
and continued importance is shown by numerous statutes 
and regulations to be found in the records of the last four 
centuries. Before the year 1514 the workers on the river 
were nominally controlled by the Corporation of London. 
But the conditions were not conducive to an effective con- 
trol. The nature of the work spread the industrial members 
over a wide area, not so easily patrolled as the streets of the 
City. The work was irregular, dependent upon favourable 
winds, not only in the high seas, but in the river itself. It 
was hard, dangerous, and dirty. There was much tempta- 
tion to plunder sugar, tobacco, and wine when in bulk with 
little chance of its being missed. The occupation appealed 
therefore to the shiftless, the reckless, and the lawless. The 
good features in it were the fresh-air surroundings and a 
healthy occupation, making for strong men. There was also 
a certain sense of comradeship acquired amongst those who 
worked on it. Such men when disciplined made the very 
finest material for sea fighting, and from the beginning of 
the sixteenth century onwards we find records of the 
impressment of watermen and lightermen for the Navy. 

The earliest Act of Parliament dealing with the watermen 
was passed in 1514. It was designed to suppress the abuses 


of extortionate demands from persons wanting boats for 
journeys on the river or for ferrying across it. The Act 
recites the charges which had been customary for the ser- 
vices rendered, and enacts that they shall be strictly 
observed in future. The maximum remuneration for a 
waterman's services was fixed at 6d. a day, without meat or 
drink unless the trip was as far as Greenwich or Mortlake, 
in which case the figure was raised to 8d. Watermen or 
bargemen demanding more were to be subject to a fine 
equal to three times the fare refused, and to other pains 
and penalties if remaining contumacious. 

The first Act passed for controlling the industry on an 
organized basis was in 1555, viz., that of Chapter 16 of the 
and and 3rd Philip and Mary. The Act details the reasons 
why legislation had become urgent. Divers and many mis- 
fortunes and mischances had happened on the river (so it 
recites) to the nobility and common people through the 
ignorance and unskilfulness of the watermen. Many boys 
of small age and little skill out of the rule and obedience 
of any honest master and governor do for the most part of 
their time use dicing and carding and other unlawful games 
to the great and evil of other such like." Such persons 
when wanted by the press commission for the Navy were 
not to be found, hiding in the country, practising robberies 
and felonies, and returned when peace returned, to their 
former trade of rowing, and, owing to their being unskilful 
and lack of exercise, were the cause of grave accidents by 
which some persons lost their goods while others were 
drowned. Complaint is also registered in the Act as to the 
construction of the boats, it being stated that they were 
straight and narrow in the bottom and were so "shallow 
and tickle" that great peril and danger of drowning had 
many times ensued. The reform prescribed by the Act for 
the evils was as follows : 

The Corporation of London were annually to appoint 
eight of the "most wise discreet and best sort of watermen 
being householders to be called the overseers and rulers of 
all the wherrymen and watermen that from and after the 
ist March shall use occupy or exercise any rowing upon 
the said river of Thames between Greenwich and Windsor." 
The qualification for a waterman was that he should have 
been used in rowing upon the Thames for the space of two 


whole years, and no boat or wherry could take passengers 
except by a man holding a licence from the overseers and 
rulers that he possessed this qualification. If two men were 
rowing in one vessel it was to be sufficient that one of them 
was qualified. Any man offending this rule subjected him- 
self to a month's imprisonment by the order of the over- 
seers and rulers. A similar penalty awaited anyone even 
rowing between Gravesend and Windsor unless they were 
apprentices or under yearly engagement to a master. For 
the protection of the workmen, the Corporation had power 
to revise sentences passed by the rulers, and even to 
"punish correct and reform" the overseers and rulers 
themselves in cases where they had acted unjustly. The 
minimum measurements of wherries or boats to be used 
for the conveyance of passengers were fixed at twenty feet 
six inches for length and four feet six inches broad amid- 
ships, and the vessels were to be "substantially and well 
able and sufficient to carry two persons on one side tight 
according to the old quantity, scantling thickness of board, 
goodness and good proportion heretofore had and used." 
Any boats made contrary to this regulation were to be 
forfeited . 

The principal and probably the only real object of the 
measure appears in the sections referring to impressment of 
men for the Navy. If watermen and lightermen voluntarily 
and obstinately withdrew, or hid themselves, when the 
press was in force into secret places and out corners and 
when it was over came back to their work, then they were 
to be imprisoned for two weeks and banished from the 
Thames for a year and a day afterwards. The overseers and 
rulers were to keep a register of every man they licensed 
and to inspect periodically the craft rowed by them. The 
fares to be charged for passengers were to be fixed by 
the Corporation subject to endorsement by the Privy 

It will be observed that the legislation is confined to 
craft employed for the conveyance of passengers ; no pro- 
visions were made for the protection of property either 
in regard to its safe handling or the price to be charged for 
services rendered. 

Within two years Queen Mary was at war with France, in 
the course of which Calais was lost to the English crown, 


and the first use of the 1555 Act was made in the impress- 
ment of Thames watermen to man the English Fleet, an 
emergency measure to be re-employed in every succeeding 
war till the abolition of the press gang in the nineteenth 
century. The impressment was the frequent cause of 
grievance amongst the men, and the rulers were often 
challenged as to their unfair use of the law. The impress- 
ment made in 1708 excited great discontent. The rulers 
appear to have been allowed 8s. per head for each man 
they procured for the service, and they were charged with 
having avoided service themselves, though they were the 
youngest and stoutest fellows in the company, and even 
with accepting bribes to let men off after they had been 

Though no records appear to this effect, there seems to 
be little doubt that the occasion of the passing of the 1555 
Act was taken to form the guild which became the Water- 
men's Company, and that membership was at first confined 
to the men rowing boats and wherries carrying passengers. 
The Company is referred to in the Act of 1603, and it then 
had a hall, the locality of which is unknown. This Act of 
1603 was the first step taken by the watermen and lightermen 
to make their trade a close corporation on the Thames. It 
provided that no waterman or wherryman transporting any 
passengers or goods in any wherries, tilt boats, or barges 
should take any servant or apprentice to serve him on the 
river unless he should himself have been an apprentice to 
a wherryman or waterman by the space of five years before 
such taking. Apprentices were not to be less than 18 years 
of age, and were to be bound for at least seven years under 
a penalty of ten pounds for every offence. The retention of 
the privileges in certain families was favoured by an excep- 
tion to the Act in favour of the sons of watermen who, if 
trained in rowing, could be admitted to apprenticeship at 
the age of 16. It is to be noted that under the first charter 
of the East India Company granted in 1600 their watermen 
were exempted from impressment. 

The cause of this effort to establish a monopoly is pro- 
bably connected with one of those changes in forms of 
transport which periodically lead to the displacement of 
apparently permanent forms. The coach was superseding 
the horse for the transport of people from place to place. 

1 m 




p. 382 


Not every one could afford to hire a horse, and many could 
not ride one, hence the convenience of the boat or wherry 
as a means of locomotion in London ; but driving in a 
carriage, even in the indifferent streets, was practicable for 
the infirm, whilst one horse could draw four people instead 
of carrying only one. Queen Mary at her coronation in 
1553 was the first to make the new departure by driving in 
a chariot ; her sister and Ann of Cleves were in another, 
and two other chariots were in the procession. Coaches 
were introduced into England in 1565 by Boonen, a Dutch- 
man, who presented one to Queen Elizabeth, and she used 
it when she went to St. Paul's Cathedral in 1588 to return 
thanks for the deliverance of her kingdom from the Spanish 
Armada. "And after awhile divers great ladies with as great 
jealousie of the Queen's displeasure made them coaches 
and rid in them up and down the countries to the great 
admiration of all the beholders, but then by little and little 
they grew usual among the nobilitie and others of sort." 
By the year 1600 the number of coaches, private and public, 
had so increased that the narrow streets were often blocked 
with them, and in the next year a Bill was introduced into 
the House of Commons and passed by them "to restrain 
the excessive and superfluous use of coaches," but the 
House of Lords rejected it. For the next hundred years the 
history of the watermen was chiefly one continuous agita- 
tion and struggle against its powerful rival, which not only 
diverted traffic from the river to the land route, but reduced 
the fares of passengers, and threatened the existence of the 
watermen as a class. In 1614 a Bill was brought into the 
House of Commons, entitled : "A Bill against outrageous 
coaches," and was rejected by the House. 

The water poet, Taylor, took up the cause of the water- 
men in his work, "An Errant Thief e," published in 1622. 
In it he says : 

Carroches coaches jades and Flanders mares 
Do rob us of our snares, our wares our fares 
Against the ground we stand and knock our heels 
Whilst all our profit runs away on wheels 
And whosoever but observes and notes 
The great increase of coaches and of boats 
Shall find their number more than e'er they were 
By half and more, within these thirty years 
Then watermen at sea had service still 


And those that stayed at home had worke at will 
Then up start hel-cart coaches were to seek 
A man could scarce see twenty in a week 
But now I think a man may dayly see 
More than the wherrys on the Thames can be. 

Three years later, when London was visited by one of the 
plague epidemics, Taylor made another moan on behalf of 
the industry in his work "The fearfull Summer," viz. : 

The very watermen gave over plying 

Their rowing trade doth fail, they fell to dying. 

In 1633 the watermen scored by an order from the Star 
Chamber. "As to a complaint of the stoppage of the streets 
by the carriages of persons frequenting the playhouse of 
the Blackfriars, their lordships remembering that there is 
an easy passage by water into that playhouse without 
troubling the streets and that it is much more fit and 
reasonable that those which go thither should go by water 
or else on foot do order all coaches to leave as soon as they 
have set down and not return till the play is over nor return 
further than the west end of St. Paul's Churchyard or 
Fleet Conduit, coachmen disobeying these orders to be 
committed to Newgate or Ludgate." But next year they 
had a set-back by the establishment of hackney carriages. 
Permission was obtained for such carriages plying in the 
streets, and a stand was formed at the Maypole in the 
Strand near Somerset House. The watermen were up in 
arms again and petitioned to the King, informing His Majesty 
"that the Hackney coaches are so many in number that 
they pester and incumber the streets of London and West- 
minster and which is worst of all, they stand and ply in 
Term time at the Temple Gate and at other places m the 
streets and do carry sometimes three men for four pence 
the man or four men for twelvepence to Westminster or 
back again, which doing of this doth undoe the Company 
of Watermen." This petition had the result of bringing out 
a proclamation denouncing hackney coaches for so pestering 
the streets and breaking up the pavements that the thor- 
oughfares were made dangerous and hay and provender 
was made dear, and forbidding any hackney coaches in 
London or Westminster except those travelling three miles 
out of town, and no person was allowed to use a coach in 


the streets unless the owner would constantly keep four 
horses available for the King's service. The poet Taylor, 
who had spent himself and 34 of his money in securing 
this edict in favour of the watermen, appealed to them for 
reimbursement, but only succeeded in obtaining 19 from 
a collection made on his behalf with shameless suggestions 
from some of the watermen that he had fraudulently asked 
for more than he had spent. The public would not stand 
the edict, and the triumph of the watermen was short-lived. 
Two years afterwards, in 1637, the proclamation was prac- 
tically withdrawn by the issuing of an order for the licensing 
of fifty hackney coaches, "finding it very requisite for our 
nobility and gentry as well as for foreign Ambassadors 
strangers and others." The troubles which were rising be- 
tween Charles and his people gradually dwarfed any such 
question as coach versus wherry, but the adherence of the 
aristocracy to the King's cause meant the loss of the most 
valuable patrons of the coach. Cromwell, however, had no 
sentiment for monopoly, even a working-class monopoly, 
and in 1652 his officials increased the number of licences of 
hackney coaches to two hundred. When next year the 
watermen presented a petition to the House of Commons 
against coaches, Cromwell replied by issuing an ordinance 
raising the number to three hundred. Cromwell possibly 
had in mind the petition which the watermen had presented 
to the House of Commons in July, 1648. This petition was 
correct in form, but it begged the House to invite the King 
to London with honour, freedom, and safety, and breathed 
a Royalist atmosphere throughout. Charles II in the first 
few months of his reign, being complaisant to all of his 
subjects, and particularly appreciative of the maritime 
section of them, who had so much aided his restoration, 
issued a proclamation against the hire of hackney carriages 
in the streets, but it appears to have had no effect, and 
probably was never intended to be enforced. Before the 
close of Charles's reign the number was by statute increased 
to four hundred. The ineffective struggle continued till 
1694, when an Act was passed raising the number of 
coaches to seven hundred and appointing commissioners to 
regulate them. The coach had won its claim to traffic in 
London as a competitor of the wherry, and the position 
had to be accepted by the wherrymen. Meanwhile foreign 


trade had been expanding, and what business had been lost 
in conveying passengers was made up in carrying cargo. 
An amusing incident of the competition occurred when, in 
the intense frost of the early weeks of 1684, the coach 
successfully competed with the wherry on its own element 
by plying on the ice-covered river from the Temple to 
Westminster, whilst large boats were used as sledges to 
carry passengers drawn by horses or watermen. 

While the overseers and rulers of the watermen were 
united in the long fight against coaches, there was going on 
an internal struggle between the rulers (the word ruler was 
ultimately adopted as the most convenient for the double 
title of the governing body) and the men, and there are 
constant instances of friction between these two constituent 
classes of the Watermen's Company, covering a long period. 
The democratic principles which developed in the nation, 
as the Puritan principles were extended by the success of 
the Parliamentary army, took a firmer hold in London 
than anywhere, and with the watermen these principles 
found their chief expression in February, 1641, when they 
petitioned the Corporation asking that the rulers to be 
appointed by the Corporation under the 1555 Act should 
be selected by the watermen themselves, and as a matter of 
form only to comply with the Act, that the election should 
afterwards be confirmed by the Corporation. The Corpora- 
tion referred the question to a committee, who as a com- 
promise suggested that the watermen who plied at the 
stairs between Gravesend and Windsor, fifty-five in num- 
ber, "being of the most honest and sufficientest watermen," 
should select twenty of the "most able and best sort of 
watermen," and that in the appointment of the eight rulers 
the Corporation should consider these twenty candidates 
as well as any others submitted to them for consideration. 
The suggestion appears to have been adopted, and the 
candidates so nominated at the Stairs appear, when 
appointed as rulers, to have gradually assumed the title of 
Assistants and Court of Assistants. But the causes of fric- 
tion were not removed by the concession. Scandalous 
charges were circulated against the rulers, thereby so 
exciting the hostility of the watermen that when a Bill was 
promoted for amending the regulations governing the 
Company, agitators threatened to raise many thousands of 


P. 386 


watermen to attend the Parliamentary Committee to oppose 
the proceedings and to cut the petitioners in pieces, "as 
Dr. Lambe was murdered in St. Paul's Churchyard though 
protected by the Royal troops." One of them boasted that 
during the Parliament then sitting they were free from all 
government. The rulers appealed to the House for protec- 
tion vainly apparently, for the Bill did not pass. 

The year 1667 found the watermen at variance with the 
lightermen. The lightermen, as well as the watermen, 
appear to have had a Livery Company of their own, though 
little is certain on the subject. The difficulties appear to 
have arisen owing to the lightermen invading the business 
of the watermen by carrying passengers as well as goods. 
The disputes were brought before the King in Council, 
and the Mayor and Aldermen were asked to reconcile the 
differences or else to report what steps should be taken in 
the public interest. The negotiations between the parties 
went on for six years, at the end of which time the Corpora- 
tion, having been unable to bring the parties together, 
reported in favour of the union of the watermen and 
lightermen into one company. This was strongly opposed 
by the rulers of the watermen, and the dispute was not 
settled till 1700. Meanwhile a diversion was created by the 
demands of the watermen for an investigation into their 
own company's accounts, and a committee of the Corpora- 
tion, after sitting for sixty-four days on the question, 
reported that they had examined the books of the Company 
from 1667 to 1673 and found them very ill-kept, "by 
means whereof we have found it very difficult and trouble- 
some besides the expense of a great deale of time to dis- 
cover what money was received and paid within the afore- 
said time," and further that neither is there "any plaine 
entry made of what money was from time to time taken out 
of the box," but the committee arrived at the conclusion 
that "several sums of money have been taken away by the 
persons undermentioned to the injury of the whole Com- 
pany and especially to the poore thereof who ought to have 
been relieved out of those moneys." The money taken 
amounted to about ,100 in the three years previously, and 
according to the rulers concerned they were, on the advice 
of the clerk, entitled to it as a perquisite attached to their 
office, the clerk himself taking a share. The committee 


could not find the slightest colour for such a pretence nor 
for many other things that had been done by the rulers 
during the same time, and they recommended that the 
rulers should refund the moneys taken and that auditors 
should in future supervise the accounts of the Company. 
A year afterwards some of the rulers were still recalcitrant 
and had not made the refund, nor does it appear on the 
record that they ever did. 

At this period any successful move of the men was always 
immediately arrested by some untoward circumstance. On 
this occasion the blow came by the stoppage of Sunday 
work on the river. This measure had first been contemplated 
in 1641, when the Puritan idea of Sunday observance was 
gaining power ; but though a Bill to restrain bargemen, 
lightermen, and others from labouring and working "on 
the Lord's day commonly called ' Sunday ' passed through 
the Commons, it did not survive the Lords. But in 1677 
Parliament passed an Act forbidding anyone to use, employ, 
or travel upon the Lord's day with any boat, wherry, 
lighter, or barge except it be on an extraordinary occasion 
to be allowed by some Justice of the Peace of the county, 
city, or borough where the act should be committed, upon 
pain that every person offending should forfeit five shillings 
for each offence. 

Whether the law was enforced in the time of the Merry 
Monarch does not emerge in contemporary history, but it 
can be imagined that the rigidity of James II 's compliance 
with religious observance was reflected in his zealous 
officials' carrying out the law strictly. When his daughter 
Mary came to the throne she emphasized her views on the 
subject by issuing an order in council requiring the rulers 
to stop the working of watermen on Sundays. The rulers 
confessed themselves unable of their own authority to 
secure obedience, and in June, 1693, they petitioned the 
Mayor to appoint constables to attend at the river stairs 
every Sunday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. to assist them in the 
performance of their duty, alleging that troublesome and 
disorderly persons at the plying places were endangering 
their lives. The result of the application is not known. The 
question remained one of contention until 1700, when with 
other questions it was settled by the Act of Parliament 
passed during that year. 


This Act of 1700 was one of the most important events 
in the history of the watermen, as it marked the union of 
the lightermen and the watermen a union much to the 
advantage of the watermen, for while their industry was a 
failing one, that of the lightermen was a growing one. It 
was also designed to benefit the public by bringing the 
lightermen under public control. The Act began by enact- 
ing that all lightermen or owners of lighters working 
between Gravesend and Windsor should be deemed to be 
members of the Watermen's Company. The qualification 
for working a barge, wherry, or boat should be service as 
an apprentice to a waterman in accordance with the statute 
of 1555. The owners or occupiers of the quays between 
London Bridge and Hermitage Bridge at Wapping might 
use their own craft if rowed by qualified men. Wood- 
mongers keeping wharves for the retailing of fuel might 
themselves row their craft, or if employing men for this 
purpose the men must be qualified men. A similar con- 
cession was extended to owners of lay stalls carrying soil to 
vessels. Any other men working on the river were to be 
subject to a penalty of 5 for each offence. Three working 
lightermen were to be appointed rulers, bringing the total 
number of rulers up to eleven. The rulers were to appoint 
forty or not more than sixty watermen as assistants. The 
lightermen were to appoint nine of the assistants. Five 
watermen and two lightermen were to be appointed as 
auditors. The court might therefore consist of eighty-seven 
persons. As in the Act of 1855 the appointment of rulers 
lay with the Corporation. The assistants, though appointed 
by election machinery ostensibly democratic, were in 
reality indirectly appointed by the rulers, but as their 
functions were purely advisory it made no difference. 
Public opinion then favoured a strong control of the men's 

The Act endeavoured to settle the question of Sunday 
plying for hire. It is clear that previous legislation to stop 
Sunday traffic on the river had been abortive. The Act 
recites that great numbers of idle and loose boys worked on 
Sunday and exacted excessive fares from passengers "whose 
necessary occasions oblige them to pass and repass the 
river of Thames and generally spend such their gains in 
drunkenness and profaneness the succeeding week." 


Suppression of the traffic appearing to be impossible, the 
ingenious design was adopted of utilizing the energies of 
the watermen working on Sundays in aid of the cause of 
charity for their own class. The Act therefore authorized 
the rulers to allow forty watermen to ply and work on 
Sundays between Vauxhall and Limehouse for the purpose 
of ferrying people across the river at one penny each, such 
watermen paying their receipts to the Company on the 
Mondays and receiving for the Sunday work the ordinary 
daily pay due to them, the overplus being applied to the 
poor, aged, decayed, and maimed watermen and lightermen 
and their widows. The scheme appears to have been an 
adaptation of the arrangement already in operation at 
Westminster, where the watermen at the ferry originally 
established for conveying the Archbishop of Canterbury 
across the river to Lambeth plied on Sundays for the 
benefit of the necessitous of their class. 

We have now arrived at the end of the seventeenth 
century. The eighteenth century was a period of compara- 
tive calm in the history of the watermen. The peaceful 
policy of Walpole during the first quarter of that century 
has already been referred to as developing foreign trade, 
and the rest of the century, owing to the success of the more 
aggressive policy of his successors, was characterized by 
even more signal developments. The prosperous condition 
of trade in London brought occupation to both lightermen 
and watermen, and fully compensated for the injury done 
by the extension of land conveyances. No other new inven- 
tions yet threatened the industry. Hence, though we have 
petty internal disputes and quarrels arising in the affairs of 
the Watermen's Company, we find a more harmonious 
relationship subsisting everywhere in the Port. Such happy 
times, as the proverb teaches us, make little history. 

Had any waterman or lighterman been able to foresee at 
the close of the eighteenth century the changes which 
invention and progressive ideas were likely to bring within 
thirty years, he would have prophesied not only disaster, 
but the extinction of his trade. In those years roads were 
improved, new bridges across the Thames were built, the 
shipping trade accommodation was revolutionized by the 
construction of the docks, and steam-power was applied to 
the propulsion of both vessels on the sea and locomotives 





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on land. The construction of bridges rendered the ferry 
unnecessary. The opening of the docks was avowedly made 
with the object of avoiding the lighterage service, and so 
saving the pillage that went on owing to the facilities to 
thieves while craft were in the river. Steam-power in the 
river offered quicker transit than man-power. Steam-power 
on the railroad offered even greater speed still, with less 
dangerous travelling. Every one of these events was to the 
prejudice of the man who rowed his craft on the Thames, 
and besides, the industry suffered the cumulative disadvan- 
tage that instead of being, as in the case of the coach com- 
petition, a single rival slowly advancing in power,.giving 
time to the river industry to readjust itself to new conditions, 
these new factors presented themselves almost at the same 
time, and with sudden and apparently overwhelming 
expansion. The lightermen and their masters saw all the 
possibilities of the new threats of competition as they rose 
up one after another, and resisted every one of them, 
especially the construction of the docks. Yet, though tem- 
porary losses occurred by diversion of business, the gigantic 
impulse to trade, aided by the inventions and facilities 
which had threatened river traffic, soon provided a huge 
development of business which required the lightermen's 
services in the Port. The original waterman's occupation 
has practically gone, never to return, but his transfer into 
the ever-expanding trade of the lighterage of goods has been 
accomplished without injury to himself, and he has even 
had the satisfaction of witnessing the disappearance of the 
passenger steamer which ousted him. 

The history of the watermen and lightermen since the 
beginning of the nineteenth century has centred round the 
attacks on their privileges. The privileges received a new 
recognition in the Act of 1827, which consolidated the 
powers given under several old Acts. The Company was 
incorporated under the title of "The Master Wardens and 
Commonalty of Watermen and Lightermen of the River 
Thames." Twenty-six members of the Company were 
appointed by name as the first members of the newly con- 
stituted Company, Francis Theodore Hay being the master. 
Vacancies on the Court were to be filled by the nomination 
of three freemen by the Court, the final selection being left 
to the Mayor and Aldermen of the City. Freemen must have 


rowed and worked on the Thames as an apprentice of a 
freeman or his widow for seven years. Apprentices were to 
be between 14 and 18 years old, and no firm could have 
more than four. No one but freemen were to work any 
craft for hire on the Thames. Passenger boats were to be 
specially licensed. The Court were to have power to make 
by-laws for good government of the freemen and appren- 
tices, including the power to punish offenders. In the 
interest of the public the fares for passengers were to be 
fixed by the Mayor and Aldermen. The Sunday ferry 
arrangements were confirmed. Provision was made for the 
ringing of bells at Billingsgate at high water and at 
Gravesend at low water for fifteen minutes to give notice 
of the starting of the ferry boat to and from Gravesend. 
Persons not freemen were not allowed to carry goods for 

The first amendment of these powers came in 1859. The 
Act then passed removed the previous legal incapacity of 
boats other than those belonging to freemen to carry goods 
for hire, but required that all barges so employed should 
be registered with the Company. The provisions as to the 
qualification of watermen or lightermen were modified by 
this Act. No person was to be allowed to act in either of 
these capacities unless he was a freeman of the Company 
or an apprentice duly qualified and licensed. Freedom of 
the Company was to be obtained by an apprenticeship of 
at least five years to a freeman or freeman s widow or to a 
registered barge-owner employing a freeman. Registered 
owners of barges were also to be deemed qualified to 
be admitted as freemen. Every man employed had to 
receive a licence as well as being qualified as freeman of 
the Company. The master of an apprentice might obtain a 
licence for him to take sole charge of a vessel if the 
apprentice had worked and rowed upon the river for 
two years and passed an examination by the Court of 

An Act passed in 1864 still further diluted the old 
reservoir of watermen. It extended the privileged class to 
"contract service men," that is men above 20 years of age 
who had not passed through the apprenticeship, but had 
served a master authorized to take apprentices and had 
assisted him in navigating a lighter or steamboat. A man 


who had fulfilled those conditions could obtain from the 
Watermen's Company a certificate authorizing him to act 
as a lighterman or to work or navigate a steamboat. 

In the Thames Conservancy Act of 1894 further excep- 
tions were made to the strict rule laid down by the Act of 
1827. Lighters passing from beyond one limit of the Port 
to beyond the other, i.e., from Teddington to below 
Gravesend, need not be freemen or licensed men. Lighters 
navigating the Grand Junction Canal and passing from or 
to the Thames and not navigating up and down the river, 
and lighters navigated from above Teddington Lock as far 
as London Bridge were equally free from the Watermen's 
Company jurisdiction. Under by-laws made by the con- 
servators under the same Act they stipulated that any 
lighter when under way in the river should have one 
"competent man" constantly on board in the case of lighters 
up to fifty tons, with an additional man in the case of 
lighters up to 150 tons, and a second additional man for 
lighters exceeding 150 tons. Interpretation of this by-law 
by police magistrates defined the first competent persons 
as a freeman of the Watermen's Company, but that the 
second or third hands need only be physically competent. 

It will be seen that the attempt to break down the men's 
monopoly was only leading to complications in the law 
and practice which were defeating the object in view. This 
aspect of the case appealed to the Thames Traffic Com- 
mittee (a Departmental Committee of the Board of Trade 
appointed in 1879 following upon the Princess Alice disaster 
in the Thames in 1878), who pointed out that the law was 
full of ambiguities and led to singular anomalies. If, for 
example, a steamer plied between Southend and London 
Bridge she was not obliged to employ licensed watermen. 
If she were transferred to a service from Woolwich to 
London Bridge her owners were bound to employ in her 
navigation men licensed by the Watermen's Company. The 
same conditions prevailed in the case of a sailing barge 
working from the Medway to London and then transferred 
to the river above Gravesend. This Committee were in 
favour of clearing away ambiguities by sweeping away the 
privileges of watermen and leaving the responsibility of the 
selection of employees on the river to employers under the 
same conditions as apply to all other employment. They 


express the common-sense of the situation in the following 
extract from their report : 

Considering the great difficulty of establishing a satisfactory 
examination, considering that the western barges and the sailing 
barges requiring at least equal skill are admirably navigated by 
men who are simply selected for the purpose by their owners and 
are not required to pass any examinations, considering also that 
the best way of securing good and skilful service is in general to 
throw the responsibility on the employer and to leave him per- 
fectly free to select whom he pleases, we are not disposed to recom- 
mend any test examination or preliminary proof of qualification. 
We are confirmed in our opinion by the practice on other 
rivers, namely the Clyde, the Mersey and the Tyne. The physical 
and other features of those rivers differ from those of the Thames 
but in all of them skill and experience are required and on none 
of them is there any monopoly or any attempt made to ascertain 
the qualifications of the men employed on the navigation by 
previous examination. On all these rivers the results appear to be 
satisfactory. We are informed by Captain Moodie that at New 
York also where there is an immense and well conducted barge 
traffic, the business of the bargemen is perfectly free. We recom- 
mend therefore that the navigation of barges on the river be 
thrown open entirely, leaving the men employed in it subject to 
penalties in case of misconduct or breach of byelaws and the 
owners liable also to civil damages in case of injury. 

Though not going quite so far as this Departmental 
Committee, a Select Committee of the House of Commons 
in 1890 recommended that steps should be taken to render 
the Watermen's Company a less close corporation, that the 
examination for a lighterman's licence should be more 
strict than at present, and that any person should be eligible 
for a lighterman's licence if found on examination to 
possess the necessary qualification. No action was taken to 
convert either of these suggestions into law, but following 
upon the prolonged lighterage strike of 1900, the master 
lightermen promoted a Bill to enable them to employ upon 
their barges any man that they might choose. The Bill was 
supported by shipowners, merchants, and brokers who had 
suffered by the strike. As the Royal Commission was then 
sitting, the Bill was referred to the Commission, and as their 
report shows, they adopted the view of the Committee of 
1 879 and recommended that the industry should be thrown 
open to all workers. In the passing of the Port of London 
Act the Government had so many contentious questions of 
principle to dispose of that they only attempted to touch the 


lighterage question with a light hand, and the Act merely 
gave the Authority general power to vary the by-laws 
relating to the licensing of watermen and lightermen, but 
restricted them from granting licences to any person who 
had not been engaged for at least two years in working on a 
craft or boat in the Port of London. The action taken by the 
Port Authority since their appointment is mentioned in the 
chapter describing their share in the history of the Port. So 
far as the main objects of the Thames Traffic Commission 
of 1879 and the Royal Commission are concerned, the 
position remains practically where it was. The enormous 
increase in the amount of traffic handled in the river and 
the knowledge that it must still further increase as London 
grows, with the maintenance of the peculiar licensing 
system of watermen, leaves the workers untouched by 
influences tending to make them serve the Port to the best 
of their ability save such as may be derived from their own 
inner consciousness or from the precept and example of their 
leaders. No other community of workers in Great Britain 
is so protected. In such circumstances the temptation to 
use the privileges for their own advantage against the 
community is obvious. By the strike of 1900 they held up 
all water conveyance for three months, and in 1912 they 
were the backbone of the long strike of that year. Although 
both of these strikes were unsuccessful, they caused 
enormous inconvenience to the public and put at risk the 
future of the trade of the Port. The power to do much 
mischief still remains, and if it should be again employed 
to hold up the Port, either for selfish reasons or even out of 
sympathy with other workers, it is hardly to be doubted that 
the public will insist upon the abolition of this virtual mon- 
opoly as it has from time to time abolished other monopolies 
which have proved hurtful to the commonwealth. 

The Long Ferry has already been referred to. The name 
of Long Ferry was given in centra-distinction of the short 
ferry between Gravesend and Tilbury. It is contended by 
Cruden that the hythe at Milton Gravesend mentioned in 
Domesday as of twenty shillings in value with three ser- 
vants was the place where London passengers landed or 
embarked was the landing and embarking place for the ferry. 
Though the ferry was evidently in existence in 1294, it is 
not till 1364 that there is any specific record of it. In that 


year the farming of the ferriage produced twenty shillings 
a year. The ballad of London Lackpenny, written in the 
early part of the fifteenth century, thus describes the scene 
between the poor traveller desiring to go into Kent and the 
waterman : 

Then hyed I me to Belynges Gate 

And one cryed "Hoo go we hence" 

I prayed a bargeman, for God's sake 

That he would spare me my cxpence 

"Thou stepst not here" quoth he "under II pence" 

I lyst not yet bestow my alms dede 

Thus lacking money I could not spede. 

The most interesting document regarding this ancient 
water passage is the Royal grant in 1401 to the men of 
Gravesend of the right of the ferry. The grant relates that 
"from time to time whereof the memory of man is not to the 
contrary, the men of the Town of Gravesend" had been 
accustomed to carry in their own vessels persons desiring 
to go by water to London, and that certain persons of 
London had recently been engaged in diverting the traffic 
to their own vessels to the injury of the Gravesend men. 
The document grants "as much as in Us is, to them who 
now inhabit the town aforesaid and to their heirs and 
successors whomsoever, that they, in their own vessels may 
for ever freely ship such persons coming to the said town 
of Gravesend and willing to go thence to our said city of 
London by water, taking for every such person as in times 
past shall have been duly used and accustomed." 

The grant was confirmed by succeeding monarchs. In 
1562 Gravesend received its first charter of incorporation. 
By this charter it appears that the ferry traffic had dimin- 
ished, due to the lesser traffic to the Continent and probably 
also to the inefficiency of the service. Matters must have 
improved by 1573, as we find that the owners of the barges 
were authorized by the Corporation to appoint seven tilt- 
boats to take turns as auxiliaries to the barges used in the 
service. The tiltboats of smart build were propelled by sails 
instead of oars, and moreover carried an awning for protec- 
tion against the weather. They were originally intended for 
"serving the nobilitie and worshipfull and their attendants." 
The interests of the barge owners were protected by a 
stipulation that the fare for the journey was fixed at six- 
pence, out of which the ordinary fare of twopence had to be 


paid to the owner of the barge taking the corresponding 
trip. The tiltboats were not allowed to transport goods 
traffic. Thirty passengers were the maximum number 
allowed. The superior speed and other attractions of the 
tiltboats soon threatened the existence of the barges, and in 
1595 the Corporation of Gravesend persuaded the Corpora- 
tion of London to agree to a set of regulations intended to 
protect the owners of the barges. The principal regulation 
forbade any tiltboat or wherry plying for passengers until 
the Gravesend barge was full of passengers and had started 
on its voyage. This protection did not, however, save the 
barge from extinction. In spite of legal proceedings intended 
to drive the tiltboat off the river, its superiority was recog- 
nized by the public. The Gravesend Corporation took over 
the management of the barges, and the tiltboats were 
accepted by the Corporation as legitimate carriers on the 
Thames. No barge of the heavy type for this traffic appears 
to have been built after 1639. For some years before 1737 
a change in the construction of the tiltboat had been made. 
In place of the awning, close decks had been provided, and 
this had led to accidents involving danger and loss of life. 
In 1737 an Act was passed forbidding the use of close 
decks or fixed bails (the name given to the hoops upon 
which the tilt was supported). Competition gradually 
improved the character of the fittings of the craft. We find 
in 1789 Mr. John Dominy advertising in this service the 
Princess Royal as "fitted up in an elegant manner for the 
reception of genteel and creditable people only, which will 
sail to-morrow at six o'clock and continue sailing during 
the season at is. per passenger. The master to be spoken 
with at the Darkhouse and Gun Tavern, Thames Street. 
It is Mr. Dominy's fixed resolution to carry no hop pickers 
or people going a harvesting on any account whatever." 

At the end of December, 1816, there were twenty-six 
sailing boats employed in the Long Ferry service, varying 
in size between 22 to 45 tons, besides several decked boats 
which carried fish and passengers. But the knell of this 
ancient sailing craft service had already been rung. In the 
previous year the first steamboat between London and 
Gravesend, the Margery, had commenced to run. Instead of 
being tidal, the new steamboat service was to run at the 
appointed hour of 10 o'clock each alternate day from London 


and Gravesend. The steamboat service did not at first 
prove a success. Interruptions continually took place through 
breakdowns of machinery and the working expenses were 
heavy, but the end was inevitable, and in 1834 the last of 
the tiltboats, the Duke of York, was withdrawn. On one of 
them, the King George No. i, Cruden pathetically remarks 
that "stripped of her wings she lies a hulk at the Hole 
Haven as a depot for lobsters awaiting the demand of the 
London market." 

The steamboat traffic on the Thames, as is related in 
another chapter, was immensely in favour with the public, 
and as cordially detested by those handling dumb craft in 
the river for commercial purposes. Steamboats were to a 
great extent displaced by the railways running eastward of 
London along the Kent and Essex shores, which were made 
between 1830 and 1840, and to-day such has been the effect 
of the change of public habit that no river service of any 
kind exists between London and Gravesend. The public 
with fuller purses journey by train to Tilbury, and embark- 
ing upon sumptuously decorated steamers, seek fresher 
breezes in the estuary of their river, with Clacton, Yar- 
mouth, or Ramsgate as their goal. Gravesend and Rosher- 
ville have ceased to be the scene of the Londoner's holiday, 
and not even the restricted user of sea excursions due to 
the war led to even a temporary restoration to favour. 


The Public Wharfingers 

THE public wharfingers in the Port of London to-day 
are the lineal descendants of the men who first pro- 
vided the wharves and warehouses on the Thames side for 
the landing and warehousing of the goods brought in by 
ships trading in the Port and for the shipment of goods 
exported from the Port. Passengers could embark or dis- 
embark in boats plying between vessels anchored in the 
stream and the causeways or stairs running down the 
slopes of the riverside from the firm land of the City, but 
for such operations as the landing of wine or the shipment 
of wool, wharves with shelter against weather and with 
powerful machinery for the lifting of goods to and from 
the vessels and craft were absolutely necessary. Such 
wharves also offered, as they do to this day, facilities for 
examination of the goods for the assessment of Customs 
duties. In the earliest times at Billingsgate and at Queen- 
hithe there was accommodation for ships alongside to dis- 
charge and load their cargoes, but for the most part, vessels 
lay in the stream below London Bridge in the upper Pool 
and delivered or received their cargoes by means of barges. 
There seems to be little doubt that the first wharves, except 
at Billingsgate and Queenhithe, were erected by individual 
merchants or shipowners for the convenience of their own 
trade and that the system under which public wharfingers 
were established was a development subsequent to the 
privately owned institution. Such a development would 
naturally begin by a merchant finding his own accommoda- 
tion more than he wanted and taking in a lodger. Then 
experience probably indicated the benefit of the co-opera- 
tion of several merchants utilizing one quay, or of a trade 
concentrating its business at one depot. The latter reason 
probably prevailed in the case of the Easterlings, who for 
centuries had their own premises at Dowgate. Then came 
the idea of employing trustworthy agents or contractors to 
render the Port services required, and thus was established 
the business of public wharfingers, who for a consideration 


let their wharves be used for the purpose of landing or 
shipping off the goods of the public, charging a sum per 
ton known as "wharfage." In the course of time, wharfingers 
also became public warehousekeepers, accepting the respon- 
sibility of the custody of goods in warehouses attached to 
the wharves. It is clear that until the middle of the eigh- 
teenth century the wharfage and warehousing services 
were almost always performed under different controls. 
The chief reason for this distinction is to be found in the 
fact that in respect of the duties then payable on entering 
the country the wharves were the places where it was 
convenient that Customs revenue should be appraised and 
collected. This fact entailed the wharves being privileged 
institutions. The warehouses remained for a much longer 
period the property of the merchant. The East India Com- 
pany's warehouses are the outstanding example of privately 
owned warehousing establishments. Ten acres of land in the 
City of London were covered by their storehouses which were 
in their possession at the fourth decade of the nineteenth 
century. The existing Cutler Street warehouse of the Port 
of London Authority, built about 1782, is the last survivor 
of this gigantic warehouse system. Even to-day a few large 
firms of merchant importers own or rent their own ware- 
houses in preference to entrusting their produce to the 
management of the Port of London Authority or the public 
wharfingers. The chief motive is economy, but this method 
can only be cheaper in the case of the very largest firms 
doing a regular business, and it is a question whether the 
interests of buyers or consumers are thereby so well safe- 

The first legislation dealing with the wharfingers is that 
contained in an Act of Parliament passed in the first year 
of Elizabeth's reign. This was a general Act dealing with 
London, Southampton, Bristol, West Chester (Chester), 
Newcastle, and all other ports (Hull excepted) where the 
Customs had been represented for ten years previously. The 
Act begins by lamenting the decrease in the revenue derived 
from the Customs, attributing the decrease to "greedy 
persons " smuggling, and the corruption of the Customs 
officers as compared with the times since Edward III. The 
Act then lays down that goods are only to be loaded or dis- 
charged in daylight (fish excepted), and then only upon 








p. 400 


"some such open place, key or wharf" as may be appointed 
by the Queen. Amongst other provisions is one that 
shipowners are to be required to give due notice when 
they were leaving ports and to lodge manifests of the 
inward and outward cargoes, and another that only the 
owners were to pass entries of goods at the Custom 
House. The Commissioners entrusted by the Queen to 
carry out the Act appointed the following wharves in 
London, known as "legal quays," for the purposes of 
the Act, viz. : 

Old Wool Quay 

New Wool Quay 

Galley Quay 

Andrew Morris's Quay 

Ambrose Thurston Quay 

RaufTs Quay 

Cocks Quay 

Dyce Quay 

Bear Quay 

Somers Quay 
Botolph Wharf 
Sabs Quay 
Young's Quay 
Crown Quay 
Smart's Quay 
Fresh Wharf 
Gaunts Quay 

All these quays were situated between London Bridge 
and the Tower of London on the north side of the river. 
The total length of river frontage occupied by them was 
about 1,100 feet. Many of the names were those of the 
owners of the premises, and were accordingly changed 
from time to time. The only names that survive to the 
present time are Galley Quay, Botolph Wharf, and Fresh 
Wharf. The position of these quays had been fixed by 
experience to be the most convenient for trade. The north 
side of the river was nearer the City warehouses, and 
being east of London Bridge avoided the perilous passage 
of cargo through the bridge. 

The advance in the trade of the Port during the next 
hundred years led to demands for additional quay space, 
and in the year 1663 an Act was passed empowering the 
King by commission to define the limits of the Port of 
London and to appoint "Keys wharffs or places for landing 
and discharging goods and prohibiting the landing and 
discharging of boats, lighters, ships or vessels elsewhere 
without the sufferance and permission of the Commis- 
sioners of Customs." It was two years before the King's 
Commissioners settled the appointed quays. The following 


is a list, and it will be seen that not many were added to the 
existing quays, viz. : 

Brewers Quay Ralphs Quay 

Cheaters Quay Dyce Quay 

Galley Quay ' Smart's Quay 

Wool Quay Somers Quay 

Custom House Quay Lyons Quay 

Porters Quay Botolph Wharf 

Bear Quay Hammonds Quay 

Sabs Quay Gaunts Quay 

Wiggans Quay Cocks Quay 

Youngs Quay Fresh Wharf 

All of the additional legal quays authorized were, as in 
the case of those authorized in 1559, situated on the north 
side of the river between London Bridge and the Tower. 
The name of the Brewers Quay is another which has lasted 
till to-day. Bear Quay got its name from Bear Lane. Galley 
Quay was naturally the name of the wharf where were dis- 
charged the galleys that brought wine from Genoa. Stow 
relates that the Galley sailors had certain silver coins called 
Galley halfpence, the circulation of which was forbidden 
by Acts passed in the reigns of Henry IV and Henry V. and 
that persons bringing into the realm "suskinges or dodkins," 
i.e., little sous or doits, were to be punished as thieves. At 
Wool Wharf a building was used for the tronage or weighing 
of wools in the Port of London. Somers Quay took its name 
from its owner dwelling there, as did Lyons Quay, with 
its sign of a lion. Botolph Wharf, known formerly as 
Botolphs Gate, is close to the parish church of St. Botolph, 
and is one of the earliest mentioned of wharves. Its grant to 
the Abbot of Westminster by Edward the Confessor was 
confirmed by William the Conqueror. 

The position of these wharves fixed the position of the 
markets for the sale of the goods, hence the establishment 
of the markets for the sale of imported produce in Mark 
Lane and Mincing Lane, a position which they still occupy 
to-day. Mark Lane was originally Mart Lane. Mincing 
Lane, once Mincheon Lane from the Minchuns or Nuns 
of St. Helens, Bishopsgate, who lived there became a 
favourite quarter for lodging foreign merchants and sailors 
arriving in the Port of London, including the galley men 
above referred to. Eastcheap is another name which has 
survived, indicating the presence of a market. 


Thirty-one of the Commissioners signed the deed of 
appointment of these quays, including Lord Clarendon, the 
Lord High Chancellor ; Lord Southampton, the Lord 
High Treasurer ; Lord Arlington, and Lord Ashley. 

These quays, thus appointed as legal quays, were the only 
places recognized as the landing and shipping-off places of 
goods arriving or leaving by sea, the primary object of the 
restriction being the security of the Customs revenue. But 
there were at this time many other quays on the river above 
London Bridge connected with warehouses where goods, 
both imported and home-produced, were stored. Some of 
them may be indicated. The Steelyard, long the chief depot 
of the Easterlings, and already referred to, was the principal 
warehouse. Large stocks of steel and iron were kept here 
and in 1708 a contemporary guide-book says that it was a 
"prodigious market" for such goods. Further west were the 
warehouses and vaults of the vintners, where Bordeaux 
wines were stored and sold. Then came Queenhithe, the 
City market for corn for many years. Salt wharf was the 
place where salt was discharged, measured, and sold. At 
Timber Hithe, timber was landed and stored. Brooks 
Wharf and Broken Wharf were existing in Stow's time, and 
both survive till to-day. Broken Wharf was then in dis- 
repair, hence its name. Stow also describes Paul's Wharf 
and Puddle Wharf, whose names survive, the latter, 
like Queenhithe, possessing an open dock. There do not 
appear to have been any wharves or warehouses on the 
south side of the Thames when Stow wrote his Survey of 
London at the end of the sixteenth century. All warehouses 
above London Bridge were filled with every description of 
goods. Many of them were far from substantial construc- 
tions, wood being the principal material used in their 
construction. The erection of buildings was not controlled 
by any authority. Insurance companies did not exist and 
did not exercise the salutary check which they exercise 
now in the separation of risks. 

It is not surprising, therefore, that when the Great Fire 
broke out in Pudding Lane on the 2nd September, 1666, 
and was fanned westward by a gentle east wind, the charac- 
ter of the warehouses, buildings, and their contents was the 
principal contributory cause of the immensity of the con- 
flagration and devastation. The effect of that fire so far as 



the Port was concerned was to destroy in three days vir- 
tually the whole of the accommodation for landing and 
storing goods, and the whole of the goods in the warehouses. 
Fortunately the community did not then depend upon 
imported food. Were such an event possible in the twentieth 
century, when London is fed from the sea, the disaster 
would be dire and almost irremediable, but the distribu- 
tion of fire risks in the great stores of foreign produce, 
under the advice of the insurance companies, is now so 
systematically arranged that any fire in the Port can be 
limited to the section of the building in which it commences. 
In the report of the Commissioners appointed under the 
Act of 1663, the measurements of the space at each wharf 
to be licensed are laid down. There was a uniform width of 
quay provided for of forty feet. The frontage of each wharf 
is given as follows, viz. : 

Brewers Quay 
Chesters Quay 
Galley Quay 
Wool Dock 
Custom House Quay 
Porters Quay 
Bears Quay 
Sabs Dock 
Wiggans Quay 
Ralphs Quay 
Dyce Quay 
Smart's Quay 
Somers Quay 
Lion Quay 
Botolph Quay 
Hammonds Quay 
Gaunts Quay 
Cocks Quay 
Fresh Wharf 
Billingsgate Dock 

Length of frontage 

in feet. 




I0 3 













. 549 

The river stairs which divided these wharves were not 
allowed to be used for the landing or shipping of goods. 

On the south side of the river, the Commissioners 
allowed corn for the City to be landed at Bridge House. 
Another exception to the regulations was sanctioned by 



the Commissioners, viz., that between London and Wool- 
wich, horses, coal, beer, stone, fish, and corn might be loaded 
direct into any ship in the river, provided Customs officers 
were in attendance, and, further, that timber could be dis- 
charged in the river between Westminster and Limehouse 
Dock, provided the owner first paid the duty, and that 
Customs officers were in attendance. A special suffer- 
ance or permission was required for this privilege, hence 
the name of sufferance wharves, which was later applied 
to such wharves as were to be allowed by the Commissioners 
of Customs to deal with the overflow of traffic from other 
wharves. In the case of coal and other goods to which the 
special sufferance privileges were first accorded, the 
arrangement was doubtless made because of the inability 
of the legal quays to deal with any large quantity of bulky 

The Commissioners took the opportunity of imposing 
other conditions upon the owners of the legal quays 
intended to facilitate the transit of goods and the avoidance 
of congestion. Thus, crane houses were not to be more than 
12 feet in breadth for single cranes, and 20 feet for double 
cranes, with a depth in either case of not more than 20 feet. 
The floor of the crane house was to be at least 10 feet 6 inches 
above the ground so that carts could pass under it. The 
cartways leading to the quays were to be at least 11 feet 
wide. As the river walls of the quays were not of uniform 
height, the Commissioners recommended that they should 
be brought up to five feet above high water mark, some of 
them then being only three feet above the mark and that 
the gradients of the streets should be lowered to make the 
drawing of loads more easy. But the records do not show 
whether these sensible recommendations were carried out. 

Quay or key is a term often loosely employed as an alter- 
native for wharf, but it would appear that quays were then 
places dedicated primarily for the discharge and loading of 
ships and hoys. Wharves were limited to the passing over of 
goods to and from barges. 

The term dock was applied to small open harbours cut 
into the land. Of these docks Billingsgate was for centuries 
the principal one in the Port both as regards size and the 
business carried on. The fish trade became so important 
at this dock that an Act was passed in 1699 for making 


Billingsgate a free market for the sale of fish. Vessels with 
salt fish using the dock paid 8d. per day groundage, or 2od. 
for the voyage. Lobster boats with fresh sea fish and every 
Dogger Bank boat with sea fish paid 2d. and i3d. respec- 
tively. At the head of the dock was a square plot of land 
compassed with posts known as Roomland which, with an 
adjacent part of the street was the usual place where ship- 
masters, coal merchants, woodmongers, lightermen and 
labourers met for the marketing of coal. Execution Dock 
between Wapping New Stairs and King Edwards Stairs 
was the place where pirates were hung in chains ; St. 
Katharine Dock was the landing place for the monastery 
dedicated to that saint ; Puddle Dock and Queenhithe Dock 
in Upper Thames Street, exist to-day much in their ancient 
design ; St. Saviour's Dock on the South side of the Thames 
was formed from a sheltered creek for the convenience of 
small ships. Other docks were Sabs Dock already mentioned, 
Dowgate Dock, Wapping Dock, Ratcliff Dock, and Lime- 
house Dock in the districts which they are named after. 
Savorys Dock near Shad Thames, Scotland Dock at White- 
hall easily identified with Scotland Yard, Tower Dock at 
the Tower, and Whitefriars Dock, complete the list. 

Of the facilities given to traders at these quays up to 
the end of the eighteenth century it must be said that they 
were of a primitive character even for times when steam or 
hydraulic machinery had not been thought of. No vessel 
could lie alongside any quay afloat for the whole period of 
the tidal flow. The quays were generally uncovered and 
unless goods could be removed as they were landed, were 
exposed not only to the effects of heat and cold and wet, 
but to the depredations of the army of thieves that haunted 
the river. The trucking of goods was apparently not 
practised, probably because of the rough surface of the 
quays or streets. Goods which could not be carried by a 
man on his back were slung on poles resting on the 
shoulders of two men. Most of the goods appear to have 
arrived in barrels which could be rolled over the quay to 
the conveyance. Though complaint was evoked by the 
leisurely and expensive methods of doing business the chief 
grievances of the merchants were directed rather to the 
exorbitant charges made than to the inefficient services. 
In 1674 there were disputes between the owners of the legal 


quays and the merchants as to their charges, and it was 
referred to the Court of Aldermen to settle the rates for 
the services rendered on the quays. Schedules were sub- 
mitted by both the parties. The wharf owners claimed that 
the rates were moderate and took credit for their not having 
been increased after the great fire, when such calamitous 
losses were sustained. The merchants answered that they 
had been raised 50 per cent, in 1650, and they considered 
that the increase of trade since the Fire had afforded the 
wharfingers an ample recompense for their losses. The 
Aldermen came to no decision. Possibly the City's interest 
in the wharves led them to favour them rather than the 
merchants. In 1705 the merchants again brought pressure 
to obtain relief against the exactions of the wharfingers, 
and applied to Parliament in January of that year. Their 
petition complained that the proprietors of the legal quays 
had created a monopoly by entering into a combination "or 
co-partnership to make them all one joint concern which, if 
continued, the burthens and losses trade will be subject to 
by this co-partnership will be intolerable." One result of 
the monopoly complained of in this petition was that ships 
were twice as long in discharging in consequence of the 
number of lighters in attendance for cargo having been 
reduced, one lighter only doing the business of three under 
the previous arrangements. Again, rates of wharfage and 
rents of warehouses on the wharfs had been advanced and 
there was no limit to further advances. Further, and this 
was considered the most intolerable grievance, when by the 
negligence of their servants, lighters were sunk and goods 
lost, or when goods were stolen from the lighters or ware- 
houses, merchants knew not from whom to obtain reparation, 
having no certain knowledge of the persons concerned as 
no deeds of partnership were enrolled in the Courts of 
Record, and therefore they were "left without remedy 
unless by the great charge and delay of a suit in Equity in 
order to every action that your petitioners may have occasion 
to commence at law to recover their damages." 

Parliament appointed a committee to deal with the 
petition. It met several times but made no report. During 
the 1705 session while the committee were sitting, attention 
was drawn to a section in the Act for rebuilding London 
after the Fire which appears to have been overlooked. This 


section required wharfingers to publish schedules of their 
charges and gave merchants a right of action against wharf- 
ingers who might demand exorbitant charges. The 
merchants thereupon stopped further proceedings before 
Parliament and decided to enter upon an inquiry of what 
had been done to give effect to this section. Here the matter 
evidently dropped for the time being, a merchant who 
wrote in the last decade of the century guessing with some 
probability of accuracy that further action was stayed by 
some palliating measures of the wharfingers. It may be 
guessed further from what occurs in modern times that 
conditions of trade may have meanwhile so improved that 
merchants may have felt able to pass the heavy charges on 
to the consumer with perhaps something added. However 
this may be, it is clear that as the eighteenth century 
advanced and trade advanced with it, the wharfingers 
became more and more masters of the situation. As an 
instance of this, there is a notice sent out to merchants in 
November, 1756, by the proprietors of the legal quays. 
These gentlemen coolly told their merchant customers that 
they did not admit that sugar which they lightered from 
ships in the river to their quay was in their charge, and 
that to prevent disputes for the future they gave notice 
that they would not accept liability for any loss or damage 
which might happen to goods put into their lighters, and 
that only on those terms would they consent to perform 
the service of lighterage. 

The granting of sufferance privileges by the Crown to 
wharves outside the favoured territory between London 
Bridge and the Tower was of little benefit to merchants 
and in no way tended to correct the ill-effects of the mono- 
poly. The sufferance grant was of too spasmodic and uncer- 
tain a nature to tempt the capitalist to erect new wharves. 
Such wharves would in any case start with a geographical 
disability and with the handicap that carmen and lighter- 
men had vested interests in the legal quays, where the 
conditions of congestion and chaos provided opportunities 
for plunder. And then there was the certainty that the legal 
quays were strong and unscrupulous enough to freeze out 
any undertaking which threatened their monopoly. 

At the end of the eighteenth century the merchants, with 
the shipowners, at last succeeded in gaining the ear of 


p. 408 


Parliament on this and other scandals of the Port and 
secured reforms that ended the autocratic reign of the legal 
quays and established a revolution in port management and 
facilities. This is recorded in another chapter. It may, 
however, be convenient here to summarize the case against 
the legal quays as it was put to the public in 1705, and as it 
remained for the next hundred years. 

1. The limitation of landing and shipping off of mer- 
chandise to the legal quays between London Bridge and 
the Tower brought about congestion, and although relief 
was given by the granting of sufferance privileges, this 
entailed an additional charge on the merchant, who was 
also obliged to fee the Customs officer who attended at the 
sufferance wharves. Such officers, in order to enhance their 
gratuities, knew how to bring about delays and to let the 
goods lie in the craft, giving opportunity for innumerable 

2. The lack of space at the legal quays was attended not 
only by impositions in the rates for wharfage and lighterage, 
but with many difficulties, delays, and inconveniences. 
Thus, when goods were waiting on the quays to be shipped, 
the loaded lighters with import goods were obliged to lie by 
until the quays were cleared. Ships were frequently stopped 
in their working for want of lighters. The blocking of the 
quays led to constant quarrels amongst the labourers, 
' raising such clamour that if the property of the ground 
itself were in question it could not be contended for with 
more heat and animosity." Another grievance resulted from 
the fact that many of the wharfingers were owners of 
lighters and gave a preference at the quays to goods carried 
in their own lighters. These wharfingers were accused of 
paying wages lower than the standard wage, knowing that 
the men would compensate themselves either by plundering 
the goods or by insisting on bribes from merchants before 
they would carry out their duties. Again, great inconveni- 
ence arose from the landing of goods belonging to different 
merchants at one spot at one and the same time, especially 
in regard to wine and fruit. It was a common practice for 
ships lying alongside one another to be discharged simul- 
taneously, and in such case the goods were rolled from ship 
to ship or carried on men's backs to the landing place, 
resulting in the goods of every ship lying on the quay 


mixed and undistinguished, for two or three days at a 
time. The wharfingers laid the blame upon the merchant 
for not removing nis goods, and the merchant retailated 
upon the wharfinger for confounding his goods with 
others. The true cause of the disputes the noise and 
the confusion was attributed to the want of room, and it 
was urged that unless this cause was removed all reform 
would be baffled. 

3. The existence of the monopoly of accommodation 
was perhaps the greatest grievance of the merchants. They 
pointed out that this monopoly had been retained in a great 
measure by the representations made after the Great Fire 
of the great losses then sustained and of the extraordinary 
expense of rebuilding the accommodation. But any sacri- 
fices made had long been liquidated, and the merchants 
pertinently observed that as they were confined to the 
narrow bounds of the legal quays it was absolutely neces- 
sary that the wharfingers should have bounds to their rates. 
The charge of combination of ownership was emphasized. 
It was alleged that the majority of the wharfingers had for 
many years been united by partnership under one joint 
interest and direction, and that they commanded the 
renewal of every lease, regardless of cost. This provided the 
inevitable excuse that high rents must be supported by 
high rates a policy carried out so thoroughly that not only 
wharf and warehouse rates were continually raised, but also 
rates for lighterage. It was estimated that the rates at the 
legal quays were double those in force at other wharves. 
Yet so strong was their position as the holders of exclusive 
rights that they could enforce their exactions without fear 
of losing their business. 

4. The merchants supported their case by pointing to 
the outports, where, as trade increased, the wharf limits had 
been extended at the request of the merchants. The Crown 
had never denied any application there, nor had the mer- 
chants been opposed by any private interest. It was stated 
that in the last seventeen years of the reign of Charles II 
no less than forty-eight extensions of public wharves in the 
kingdom outside of the Port of London had been granted. 
In the reign of William and Mary the public wharves at 
Bristol had been established, and there were 4,000 feet of 
public wharves there as against 1,400 feet in London. 


Falmouth and Plymouth had recently had extensions of 
wharves granted to them. Arguing from these precedents 
and from the greatly increased trade of the previous fifty 
years, the merchants contended that none but wharfingers 
could desire any proof of the necessity of enlarging the 
authorized public quays in London. They lamented the 
case of London when they considered what it had lost by 
trade being forced out of its channel into the outports, "all 
owing to the acts of a few wharfingers for their own 
private interest suffered to increase by slow steps and 
degrees, too much unattended to by those whose business 
it was and who might long ago have prevented it. The 
merchant no doubt will seek and prefer that port where he 
can carry on his trade with the best economy, ease and 
dispatch and not where his accounts must be loaded with 
exactions and impositions and his thoughts disturbed with 
loss and delay, and therefore it is not to be wondered at that 
the outports have flourished and increased at the expense 
or loss of the mother city." 

Old as it is, the doctrine laid down in this last sentence 
as to the policy which should govern the management of a 
port is as sound to-day as it was in the circumstances of the 
year 1705, and it is worthy of observance by all employers 
and employed who are concerned in the welfare of the 
Port of London. 

The establishment of the great dock systems at the 
beginning of the eighteenth century was an immense 
upheaval in the Port and vitally prejudiced the interests of 
the legal quays. In the five years beginning with the opening 
of the West India Docks in 1802, the principal trades of the 
Port were compulsorily transferred from their existing 
spheres of operation to the West India Docks, the London 
Dock, and the East India Dock. Instead of lying in the 
stream, the vessels concerned in these trades were taken 
into the particular docks assigned to them, and their mer- 
chandise was landed there. Thus the wharves which had 
received sugar, rum, logwood, ginger, pimento, brandy, 
and wine and they were the majority of the wharves 
lost the whole of the businesses of landing and warehousing 
these goods. East India produce, which had been landed at 
various wharves on its way to the Up-town warehouses of 
the East India Company, was now landed at the East India 


Docks and carted to Town. No more drastic change was 
ever made in the working of a port, before or since. The 
business that was left to the wharfingers of those days was 
the coastwise trade with corn, hemp, flax, fruit, and hides 
from foreign ports. The taking over of the wharves by the 
Government doubtless sweetened the loss of business and 
prestige to the wharves concerned. The removal of the 
congestion caused by the transfer of so much traffic to the 
docks must have been as beneficial to the new tenants of 
the legal quays in the cost of manipulation as it was to the 
merchant, in the dispatch given to the restricted quantity 
of goods which were allowed to pass over the quays. 

The monopolies accorded to the docks were in force for 
twenty-one years from the date of opening of the respective 
docks. During that time the trade of the Port grew substan^ 
tially, and the wharves, in their favoured position so near 
the heart of London, received their share of imports not 
tied by law to the docks. 

The cessation of the dock privileges did not at once 
benefit the wharves. The convenience of dock accommoda- 
tion for the valuable produce housed there was too obvious 
to tempt away merchants, many of whom still had memories 
of their sufferings under the monopolist regime of the 
legal quays. Moreover, the merchants themselves were 
managing the docks whilst they and their relatives were 
shareholders. The only loosening of connexion was in the 
direction of warehousing goods at the new St. Katharine 
Dock. Even when the East India Company went out 
of direct trade and sold its immense City establishments, 
the wharfingers made no bid for the warehousing of 
East India produce. The City warehouses were bought 
up by the dock companies between them, and tea, indigo, 
and silk, which had been housed there for nearly a 
century, remained there. 

But in the middle of the nineteenth century a movement 
began for the erection of riverside wharves of modern con- 
struction equal in accommodation to those at the docks and 
owned by substantial firms whose warrants were good 
enough for bankers to accept as security for advances to 
merchants. They were aided by the lack of energy on the 
part of the dock institutions, who, trusting in their old 
prestige, were inclining to the conservative views towards 


modern ideas of accommodation which had marked the 
wharf institutions which they had displaced. Dock manage- 
ment was bound to become largely impersonal as the result 
of the vastness of their undertakings, whilst the more com- 
pact wharf establishments had the inestimable benefit of 
being managed by their owners. The conditions of trade had 
changed. The West India trade was no longer so large, 
relatively to other trades. The Free Trade policy of the 
Government had not only affected the character of sea- 
going trades using the Port of London, but by removing 
the duties on many descriptions of merchandise had made 
it practicable for many wharves and warehouses to carry on 
business which Customs regulations had confined to the 
docks, and, moreover, a more liberal policy was adopted by 
the State towards new ventures desiring to accommodate 
the continual advancement in the volume of trade. The 
position of the wharfingers was strengthened by the sections 
in the Dock Acts which exempted their barges from charges 
and by the fact that the remunerative part of dock business 
was the warehousing of goods which enabled the wharf- 
ingers to undercut them and yet make a good profit. As is 
pointed out elsewhere, it was the pressure upon the dock 
undertakings by the diversion of trade to the up-river 
wharves which led the companies to the unsuccessful 
request to Parliament in 1855 to sanction charges on barges 
taking away goods from the docks. The later developments 
of the relationship of the wharfingers with the dock under- 
takings are dealt with in the chapter "London and India 
Docks Joint Committee." 

It remains only to refer to the enormous accommodation 
which private enterprise has provided and maintained on 
the riverside for the needs of the Port during the last fifty 
years, accommodation which in many cases could not have 
been so conveniently provided in the docks. The facilities 
so undertaken are a standing answer to the criticism often 
passed upon the Port by those who do not know, that the 
great asset that it possesses in its river banks is not ade- 
quately utilized. From Blackfriars to Shadwell the river is 
lined on both sides with public wharves and warehouses. 
Their chief purpose is the warehousing of goods, and they 
share with the dock warehouses, about equally, in giving 
storage to the enormous entrepot trade or London. They 


also serve, as they did originally, in the useful purpose of 
providing for the landing and shipping off of cargo im- 
ported or exported in ships lying in the river. Some of 
these wharves also give accommodation for the discharge 
of ships alongside, and both sides of the river in the Pool 
are busy scenes. Thus at Hay's Wharf an establishment 
equal to the St. Katharine Dock in the floor space 
devoted to warehousing, vessels with provisions discharge 
regularly in the proximity of the provision market in Tooley 
Street. At Fresh Wharf, on the north side of the river, 
vessels with fruit find it convenient to unload their cargoes 
because of the fruit market in Pudding Lane. A little further 
down on the same side of the river the large fleet of steamers 
owned by the General Steam Navigation Company use the 
St. Katharine and Irongate Wharves belonging to the 
Company. The Carron Line to Edinburgh finds its London 
home still further eastward. The Morocco vessels of the 
Royal Mail Company are to be found at Morocco Wharf at 
Wapping. On the south side of the river are two very 
important wharf properties ; one, Mark Brown's and Davis 
Wharf, just above the Tower Bridge, has a thoroughly 
modern equipment for discharging the medium-sized 
vessels that can reach this part of the river ; and the other, 
Bellamy's Wharf, opposite the Shadwell entrance of the 
London Dock, not only undertakes to discharge and load 
ordinary cargoes, but has modern installations for the dis- 
charge of grain, besides storing the grain and other cargo. 
To the eastward of Bellamy's Wharf are situated most of 
the riverside granaries. Immediately below Shadwell we 
get few public wharves of any importance. The riparian 
interest becomes one of dry docks and manufactories of 
every class, many of the latter, such as those of Messrs. 
Tate, Messrs. Lyle, and Messrs. Knight at Silvertown, 
being of the highest national importance and of world- 
wide reputation. In this neighbourhood begin the wharves 
devoted to the discharge of coal for bunkering, for gas 
factories, and for private consumption. The coal trade is 
the largest individual trade in tonnage in the Port, the 
quantity of fuel arriving by sea in the Port of London 
during 1912 being 8,159,000 tons. The line of continuous 
wharves may be said to come to an end at Plumstead, a 
distance of nine miles from London Bridge, but beyond 



p. 414 


Plumstead at intervals, other developments of port accom- 
modation besides coal are to be found in the wharves of the 
cement and margarine factories and timber yards. An unique 
series of facilities for the landing and shipment of coal and 
other goods are afforded at the wharf called Dagenham 
Dock, belonging to S. Williams & Son, Limited. Not only do 
they give direct rail facilities for goods landed and shipped, 
but as owners of a large tract of land adjoining the wharf, 
they are able to let sites for factories with the enormous 
benefit of combining rail, road, and water access. Of great 
and growing importance are the installations for the dis- 
charge and storage of petrol and other liquid fuels, which 
are situated at Purfleet and Thames Haven. 

Though up to the end of the eighteenth century the 
public wharfingers owning the legal quays were a close 
corporation, their successors were long afterwards individ- 
ualistic in their relations with the public and each other, 
but in recent years they have, commencing with their associa- 
tion with the dock companies, found advantage in common 
action, and recently they have formed a Wharfingers' 
Association for the furtherance of their interests and as an 
official body authorized to speak for them. Parliament has 
so far recognized the vital connexion of the public wharf- 
ingers with the Port that in the Port of London Act it gave 
them one representative on the Authority. In the appoint- 
ment of the first Authority in 1909 the Board of Trade chose 
four other gentlemen to represent various other interests, 
but who also happen to be public wharfingers, thus giving 
the Authority five members not only able to represent this 
great private interest in the Port, but also from personal 
experience, in a position to advise the Authority on many 
matters of practical management. 


The Trinity House 

THE Trinity House is the colloquial and convenient 
name given to the body responsible in the United 
Kingdom for the lighting and buoying of the coasts and 
estuaries, and also (in some of the ports) for the appoint- 
ment of pilots and the regulation of pilotage. 

The first charter which was granted by Henry VIII in 
1514 was bestowed upon the mariners of England with 
the title of "The Master Wardens and Assistants of the 
Guild Fraternity or Brotherhood of the most glorious 
and Undivided Trinity and of St. Clement in the parish 
of Deptford Strond in the county of Kent." Of the 
earlier history of the body nothing certain is known. Mr. 
Henry Leach enunciates the theory that the institution was 
primarily a religious one, and identifies it with an order 
existing in King Alfreds reign. Mr. Cornwall Jones 
attributes the foundation to Stephen Langton, who, in 
the reign of King John organized in London a corporation 
of "godley disposed men who for the actual suppression 
of evil disposed persons bringing ships to destruction by 
the showing forth of false beacons do bind themselves 
together in the love of Lord Christ in the name of the 
Masters and Fellows of Trinity Guild, to succour from 
the dangers of the sea all who are beset upon the coasts 
of England to feed them when ahungered and athirst, to 
bind up their wounds and to build and light proper beacons 
for the guidance of mariners." 

The navigation of the Thames estuary must have called 
for the assistance of skilled seamen from the earliest 
times. The channels in the estuary are narrow, tortuous, 
and there are many shoals. Unlighted and unbuoyed as 
they were then, they must have been dangerous in all 
weathers. The navigators had to rely upon landmarks (often 
these were trees) familiar to them, and these landmarks 
were sometimes removed between voyages without notice 
and occasionally with intent of enticing the mariner out 
of his course to the advantage of the wrecker. The natural 


P- 47 


residence of the men who followed the calling of pilots, 
responsible for navigating ships from the sea to the pool 
in London, would be at either end of their water journeys. 
Leigh and Deptford appear to have been chosen for tnis 
purpose. It is a reasonable inference that the pilots according 
to the example of all other trades in these early days, 
formed a guild for the protection of their interests. The 
guild had evidently gradually acquired property and the 
grant of Henry VIII confirmed their holding of it. At first 
sight, the introduction of St. Clement into the title of 
the guild appears puzzling as he had no special association 
with mariners. The explanation put forward for this is 
that as the order was a religious one, it took its name from 
the churches at the places where the pilot establishments 
were centred, viz., Deptford in the parish of Holy Trinity 
and Leigh, where the church was dedicated to St. Clement. 
This is supported by the fact that Masters and Brethren of 
the Trinity House are buried in Leigh churchyard. 

The historian is at a great disadvantage in tracing the 
early history of the Trinity House, owing to the loss of 
documents in two disastrous fires which destroyed their 
archives, the first in the great fire of 1666, when the Trinity 
House in Water Lane was burnt to the ground, and again 
in 1714 when a similar fate overtook the new building 
erected on the site. According to a monument in the 
chancel of Stepney Church, the charter of 1514 was 
granted at the instance of Sir Thomas Spert, who was the 
first master of the Trinity House. Sir Thomas Spert was 
a man who had risen from the position of yeoman to that 
of Comptroller of the Navy. He had been master of the 
celebrated Henry Grace a Dieu under two captains and 
two petty captains before rising to his high office under 
the Crown. In 1517 he received the office of ballasting ships 
at some of the most lucrative stations on the river, paying 
10 for the privilege. He was knighted in 1541. No docu- 
mentary evidence exists as to the connexion of Spert with the 
inception of the charter and the sole authority is the inscrip- 
tion on the monument above referred to. This monument was 
not erected till 1622, eighty-one years after his death, and 
took the place of a decayed one. It seems hardly likely, how- 
ever, that such a memorial could have gone unchallenged at 
the time had it not been correct in its statements. 


We reach more solid ground with the charter itself. 
Under this document a licence was given to found a guild 
in honour of the Holy Trinity and St. Clement in the 
Church of Deptford Strond, for the reformation of the 
navy by the admission of young men and foreigners as 
pilots, and also for the larger purpose of making England 
a great naval power by the relief, increase and "augmenta- 
tion of the shipping of this realm of England." The guild 
was constituted of Brothers and Sisters. It had power to arrest, 
punish, fine and chastise all offenders against any laws 
and ordinances made by them in pursuance of the objects 
of their charter. The establishment included a chaplain 
to celebrate divine service for the safe estate of the King 
and his "most dear consort" Katharine and for their souls 
when they were dead. The larger purpose of the guild 'was 
more clearly revealed in 1520 when the Admiralty and 
Navy Boards were established, and the building yard at 
Deptford was placed under the direct control of the Trinity 

The dissolution of the monasteries in 1536 left the 
Guild untouched, perhaps because of its recent institution 
by the King himself, but doubtless the secular utility 
of the Guild for the advancement of the navy was a 
legitimate factor in securing immunity from the general 
confiscation of the property of the orders. The disappear- 
ance of the ecclesiastical elements of the institution was 
indicated by the simplification of the name to "The 
Corporation of the Trinity House of Deptford Strond," 
and by the withdrawal of Sisters from the Order except as 
pensioners. At Newcastle and Hull, the two most important 
ports on the east coast similar institutions were established 
by Henry VIII with the same object in view. 

Shipping and all other institutions connected with it 
dwindled in importance during the rancorous religious 
struggles of the reign of Henry s son and elder daughter, 
but the Trinity House succeeded in preserving its position 
and property, and was evidently held in high esteem by 
the Ministers of Elizabeth, as we find in the eighth year 
of her reign an Act was passed describing the Corporation 
as "a company of the chiefest and most expert masters 
and governors of ships charged with the conduction of the 
Queen Majesty's navy royal" and conferring upon them 


the further duty of erecting "such and so many beacons 
marks and signs for the sea in such place or places of the 
seashores and uplands near the sea coasts or forelands of 
the sea only for seamarks as to them shall seem most meet 
needful and requisite whereby the dangers may be avoided 
and escaped and ships the better come into their ports 
without peril." This, it will be observed, extended the 
jurisdiction of the Corporation as a lighthouse authority 
beyond the limits of the Port of London. The Act also 
enabled the Corporation to grant licences to row in the 
river to poor seamen who were not freemen of the City. 
It was two centuries, however, before the Corporation 
obtained full control of all English lighthouses, owing to 
the practice of the Crown of granting lighthouses to private 
individuals who collected tolls in consideration of paying 
rents and maintaining the lighthouses. It was an Act passed 
in 1836 that gave the Corporation power to expropriate 
all other interests in English coast lights and to take over 
their management and revenues. 

Later in Elizabeth's reign an extended function was 
conferred upon the Corporation by the transference 
to them of the rights of ballastage in the Thames. Every 
vessel then coming to the Port required to be ballasted 
as she was discharged. This was done by the employment 
of vessels which dredged up the gravel and sand from the 
river bed and then transferred the dredged material either 
direct or by means of barges to the vessel requiring ballast. 
The profit on this service or from farming it out to private 
individuals had from time immemorial been allocated to 
the Lord High Admiral. These rights were formally 
bestowed upon the Trinity House Corporation in 1593. 
With the ballastage privileges were transferred the revenues 
from shipping for the services rendered for beaconage and 
buoyage. What these revenues were at this time does not 
appear, but in 1660 the dues payable to the Corporation 
for vessels entering the Thames were : through the North 
Channel 43. per 100 tons, and through the South Channel 
33. per 100 tons. Colliers from the north paid |d. per 
chaldron on the coal carried. Vessels from Norway, the 
Baltic and other northern ports paid is. 4d. per 100 tons. 

A revised charter was granted in 1604, and we first read 
of the division of the Brethren into Elder and Younger. 


At this period the personnel of the establishment was 
considerably enlarged. The Corporation were called upon 
to advise upon questions affecting seamen for the navy. By 
1636 they were raising wrecks in the channels of the 
Thames. Their services were enlisted for the suppression 
of pirates on the English coast. They granted certificates 
to pilots. They recommended masters for the navy. Their 
endorsement was wanted for the appointment of English 
consuls at certain foreign ports. In disputes upon matters 
of seamanship they were constantly acting as arbitrators, 
and also on questions of sea limits. 

At the advent to power of the puritans the Corporation 
was at its zenith. But the new regime had little confidence 
in them. The Brethren were divided in their religious 
attachments, and they were suspect alike from their close 
association with the Court and from a name which suggested 
objectionable Popish associations. In 1647 Roundheads 
were added to the Corporation, and this was followed by the 
revocation of the charter by Parliament. The event which 
probably decided this revocation was a petition in June, 
1648, from the Younger Brethren together with Masters 
and Mariners on the Thames praying for a personal treaty 
with the King. No fresh charter was granted during the 
Commonwealth, and the Trinity House staff was run as a 
Government office closely watched by the Parliamentarians. 
In this position they were engaged in pressing crews for 
the navy and in the following January were inflicting 
penalties on defaulters. 

The confiscation of the property by Parliament was 
cancelled by the Restoration but the Trinity Corporation 
never recovered their former position in naval affairs. In 
that respect they were gradually relegated to the position 
of advisers on some of the technical sides of the Admiralty 
operations. Till the middle of the nineteenth century they 
conducted the examination of masters for the navy. 

At the call of patriotism the skill and experience of the 
Corporation was always at the service of the country. 
When the Dutch fleet arrogantly sailed up the Thames in 
1667 and panic seized upon the metropolis it was to the 
Trinity Brethren that the King turned for advice as to 
the scheme for sinking ships in the Thames to obstruct 
the navigation of the Dutchmen up the river. When the 


mutiny at the Nore took place in 1797 and it was feared that 
the mutineers would take their ships over to the enemy, 
it was the Elder Brethren who suggested that the vessels 
could be imprisoned in the river by the device of removing 
all buoys and beacons and seamarks in the river and 
to the carrying out of this suggestion may be attributed 
the early quelling of the mutiny. The threat of Buonaparte 
in 1803 to land an army in this country provided an occasion 
for the Corporation to perform a notable act of patriotism 
in equipping ten frigates for the protection of the Thames. 
These ships were manned by 1,200 volunteers raised by 
the Corporation and for the two years while there was 
danger of invasion the vessels were moored in the Lower 
Hope ready to resist the invader. The volunteers were 
embodied under the name of the "Royal Trinity House 
Volunteer Artillery," and included the Elder and Younger 
Brethren of the Trinity House, commanders and officers of 
Indiamen, masters and mates of merchantmen, and other 
seafaring people. William Pitt, who was then Master of the 
Trinity House, was the colonel of the corps. 

Returning now to the Restoration period let us note 
that Charles II did not grant a new charter in place of that 
revoked by Cromwell. Pepys, whose influence on adminis- 
trative details was great, seems first to have favoured the 
functions of the Corporation being carried out as a Govern- 
ment Department. Whether he was eventually propitiated 
by being made an Elder Brother and Master does not appear, 
but he was responsible for the new charter granted by 
James II based upon the revoked charter, the chief alteration 
being that the governing body was increased from thirteen 
to thirty-one by the addition of eighteen Elder Brethren 
to the then body of Master, four Wardens and eight 
Assistants, and the Crown reserved its right to remove the 
Elder Brethren and clerks at pleasure. The charter 
endorsed the exemption of members of the Corporation 
from land service, even making them immune from service 
on juries and inquests, except Admiralty sessions where 
their skill and experience are still utilized in the position 
of nautical assessors. 

Since the charter of James II, the constitution of the 
Corporation has remained unchanged except that in 1871 
the number of the Corporation was reduced to the original 


number of thirteen acting members. The number of 
honorary members was fixed at eleven, and vacancies on 
that section of the Corporation are filled by the process 
of conge d'elire. 

The original guild character of the Corporation is 
indicated by the fact that it has administered charities, 
chiefly almshouses and pensions for old and wounded 
seamen and their widows, the funds being derived from 
special benefactions or accumulated from surplus income 
in prosperous years. The only public challenge of the 
excellence of their administration has been on the subject 
of these charities. There were investigations in 1732, 1845, 
1861 and 1895, but the Corporation's administration was 
reported to be satisfactory in each case. The only almshouses 
left are those in the Mile End Road, built in 1695. 

Two other inquiries may be recorded, the one of 1834 
which resulted in the legislation of 1836 enabling the 
Trinity House to buy up all private lights ; and the other 
of 1853 which led to the control of funds collected from 
dues and tolls being transferred to the Board of Trade, 
causing a large reduction in the annual income available 
for charity. 

The value attached to the advice and counsel of the 
Corporation is attested by numerous instances in the 
history of the Port. In particular, the House of Commons 
Committee which sat on the Port of London question in 
1796 were much influenced by the advice of the Trinity 
House in coming to their decisions on the practical ques- 
tions involved in schemes of docks and river quays. Their 
position in this respect may be gathered from the fact that 
in the many plans, whether suggested or consummated, 
proposed during the late nineteenth century for the recon- 
stitution of the Port, the authors have always provided for 
the presence of the Trinity House on the controlling body. 

One recent change in duties of the Trinity House touching 
the Port of London was the surrender of the rights of 
ballastage to the Thames Conservancy in 1894. Those 
rights were always conservancy rights. Owing to the 
supersession of sailing ships by steamers and the use of 
water ballast by steamers, the raising of gravel from the 
bed of the river had ceased to be profitable, and the passing 
of the privilege to the Thames Conservancy was viewed 

Q i 


merely as an arrangement for the general convenience in 
that it brought under the same public authority the control 
of the deepening of the river and the disposal of the 
materials raised. It may be added here that the demand for 
Thames ballast for building purposes has grown of late 
years and has made the granting of licences for dredging 
ballast a source of considerable income to the Port of 
London Authority as the successors of the Thames 

The present constitution of the Trinity House Corpora- 
tion is as follows : 

There are two classes of Brethren, Elder and Younger. 
The Elder Brethren are divided into active and honorary. 
The active Elder Brethren are the managers of the Corpora- 
tion. They consist of a Master and Deputy Master, four 
Wardens and eight Assistants. The Master is an eminent 
man, sometimes a royal personage, and his position is 
usually an honorary one. The Deputy Master is the head 
of the executive. The Elder Brethren are principally men 
distinguished by capacity in matters connected with the 
mercantile marine, including the commanders of large 
steamers and retired officers of the Royal Navy. Vacancies 
are filled by the Elder Brethren promoting Younger 
Brethren, and the latter are appointed by the Elder Brethren 
from outside. The number of the Younger Brethren is not 
fixed. The only privilege assigned to the Younger Brethren 
is the power of voting at the election of the Master and 

The honorary Brethren are princes, distinguished states- 
men and naval officers of high standing. 

The Trinity House is the general lighthouse authority 
for England and Wales, the Channel Islands, and Gibraltar. 
While it is not the universal authority in the Kingdom for 
pilotage or the buoying of channels it still performs these 
functions in the Port of London, and in this respect con- 
tinues to execute its ancient duties in spite of the recom- 
mendations of the Royal Commission of 1900 that these 
duties should be transferred to the Port of London 
Authority. In the Port of London they control the 
lighthouses, one light- vessel, six gas buoys and ten other 
buoys, and they continue also to carry out the duty imposed 
upon them by the early dock acts of examining persons 


who are aspiring to be dockmasters in order to certify 
that they are competent to handle ships. 

The considerations involved in the maintenance of the 
Trinity House as the pilotage authority in the Port of 
London are discussed in the chapter dealing with the 
Report of the Royal Commission of 1900. 


Dock and Wharf Labour 

IN recent years the question of dock labour on the Thames 
has come into prominence in connexion with all dis- 
cussions relating to the conditions of employment of labour. 
In these discussions dock labour has often been taken as the 
typical example of the most undesirable form of labour. It 
has long been alleged (and little trouble has been taken on 
the employer's side to confute the allegation) that it is the 
most underpaid, the most irregular and the least skilled type 
of labour and only resorted to either by the lowest classes of 
the community or by men who are unemployable in any 
other sphere of industry. The general character of labour 
at the docks is not of high rank, but it is absolutely foreign 
to the truth to charge this class of labour with possessing 
the aggregate of forbidding qualities attributed to it. The 
docker has long been better paid than the carman for the 
hours he works. The majority of dockers get as much 
regular work as they want, and the most casual candidate 
has more days work in the year open to him than the hop 
picker, the herring curer or the numbers of the numerous 
seasonal trades centred in London. To wheel a truck along 
a smooth quay is the simplest form of work till it is tried, 
then the experimenter will learn that even this elementary 
operation is not as mechanical a one as are multitudes of 
operations in factories. The attack on the character of the 
men employed is altogether beside the mark in these days. 
Their work is often rough and dirty but on the whole the 
men are a steady and honest class of worker, especially 
having regard to their opportunities for pilfering both food 
and drink. Their patriotism is beyond question, for though 
as a class they were immune from recruiting in the Great 
War, on account of the national importance of transport 
facilities being maintained at the highest standard of 
efficiency, a very large percentage of the men insisted upon 
joining the colours. 

The truth is that a legend has grown around the occupa- 
tion of the docker founded possibly upon the House of 


Commons Committee's report of 1796 which contained 
severe charges against ship labourers of that day on the 
subject of the theft of goods in the Port. Later, picturesque 
writers on London found good material for contrasts 
in the setting of the docker in his humble rough attire 
against the valuable silks, ivory and other luxurious mer- 
chandise he had to handle. The author Timbs, writing in 
1855, relates that dock labour included bankrupt master- 
butchers, publicans, old soldiers and sailors, Polish refugees, 
broken down gentlemen, lawyers, clerks, suspended govern- 
ment clerks, discharged domestic servants and thieves. 
In 1872 there was an alleged discarded heir to a baronetcy 
regularly engaged in weighing hogsheads of sugar on the 
West India Dock quays, and with scions of the aristocracy 
come down in the world through drink, earning a guinea a 
week (hence termed guinea pigs) was pointed out to all 
fresh arrivals on the staff. Journalists drew sketches of ragged 
out-of-works in a frenzied crowd answering the call of the 
foreman at the dock gates. The sketches were taken as facts. 
No one ever went to the docks to check the statements. It 
was too far away for any one to go down to Poplar at taking- 
on time at 7.45 in the morning and so the public, rather 
liking to have its sympathies aroused by a horrid tale of 
white slavery in their midst, accepted the idea that a man 
who worked at the docks was little better than an outcast. 
No one can pretend that even now the conditions of em- 
ployment of dock labour are ideal. What follows will, it is 
hoped, convince the reader that whatever faults there may 
have been on the part of the employers in the past, there 
has in the last generation been a genuine desire to ameliorate 
the effects of the difficult conditions of work in the Port 
arising from its peculiar character and contingencies. 

The annals of the early days of the Port leave us destitute 
of any certain information regarding the terms of employ- 
ment of the labourers in it. The chief employers were prob- 
ably the owners of the vessel who engaged their crews to 
discharge and load cargoes. Such a practice is not infrequent 
in Bristol and foreign ports to-day. Even in London to-day 
a foreign shipowner occasionally avails himself of the 
permission accorded by the Port of London Authority at 
all its docks to discharge the cargo by the crew of the vessel. 
In earlier times the operations of receiving and shipping 


off goods at the quay edge of the wharf may have been 
carried out by men sent there by the merchant, and such 
goods would be conveyed to and from the merchant's depot 
by the carmen. Where the goods were discharged or loaded 
in the stream, the conveyance to and from the quay was 
effected by the lightermen. 

That the work in the Port was not of bad reputation 
amongst workmen in the fourteenth century is indicated by 
Langland in "Piers the Plowman," for he says of labourers in 
London that "some chose merchandize, they throve the best." 

At what period the men employed on the quays came 
under any central control cannot be ascertained. The City 
Corporation claimed immemorially the right of making 
by-laws for the regulation and government of all persons 
concerned in the unloading and delivering of merchandise 
imported into the Port, and they exercised that right until 
the West India Dock Act of 1799 practically put an end to 
their monopoly of control in this respect. In 1607 we find 
a petition of the Tacklehouse porters objecting to a proposal 
to establish a new office for lading and unlading of all 
merchants' goods of the twelve leading City Companies. 
The Corporation had always appointed poor decayed 
citizens to this office, and it was held that the proposed 
arrangements would throw out many deserving men and 
give great dissatisfaction to merchants. Apparently the 
contemplated changes were not carried out, for, fourteen 
years later an attack was made on the City privileges of 
managing the labour of the Port on the ground that trade 
was being interfered with by reason of the difficulty in 
controlling labour, and the Lord Mayor defended the 
City's position by holding that they had time out of mind 
and still possessed the portage "of all things measurable" 
brought into the Port of London, and that the Company of 
Porters had also been time out of mind a fraternity called 
the Billingsgate Porters, freemen of the City and bound on 
all occasions to attend to that service and to carry corn to 
His Majesty's granaries at rates settled by the Common 
Council. The privilege being so ancient and one upon which 
so many freemen (300 to 400) and their families depended, 
the Mayor prayed that it might not be interrupted because 
of the turbulence of a few men. Again, the defence appears 
to have been successful. 


Early in the eighteenth century we find the porters 
organized into close associations. They were not then an 
incorporated company like the watermen, but were formed 
into four brotherhoods under the control of the common 
council. The first brotherhood consisted of the Ticket 
Porters. These were all freemen of the City. They landed 
and shipped off goods imported from or exported to all 
parts of America. They also housed goods at merchants' 
warehouses. The Fellowship Porters were the second 
brotherhood. They landed or shipped off such goods as 
were measurable by dry measure such as corn, salt, coals, 
etc., and also had the right of housing these goods in 
merchants' warehouses. Both the ticket porters and fellow- 
ship porters were credited with being well governed under 
an organization which required admission fees and fined 
offenders for misconduct. They were the precursors of 
the Dockers' Union of to-day. The ticket porters had to 
give "good security" for fidelity. They wore metal tickets 
on their girdles. One curious custom that marked them 
was that on the Sunday following the 2Qth June they 
attended at St. Mary at Hill to listen to a sermon for their 
special edification. The night before the sermon was 
delivered, they waited on the merchants living near Billings- 
gate and furnished them with nosegays for the service. The 
ticket porters themselves at the service went nosegay in hand 
to the communion table and offered gifts in relief of the poor. 
The merchants with their wives, children and servants 
attended and bestowed their offerings also. The third brother- 
hood, the Tackle Porters, were ticket porters who were 
furnished with weights and scales and they weighed goods. 
The fourth brotherhood is described as the Companies' 
Porters who rendered services for goods landed from or 
loaded into vessels from the Baltic, Holland, France, Spain, 
Italy, Germany, Turkey and towards or beyond the Cape of 
Good Hope. 

The charges then made by the different classes of porters 
are stated to have been as follows : 

Shipping off. Landing. Housing. Weighing. 

Sugar (hogshead) 3d. . . 3d. . . 3d. . . 4d. 

Tobacco (hogshead) ad. . . zd. . . 2d. . . ad. 

Logwood (ton) .. is. .. is. .. IB. 

By the end of the eighteenth century the organizations 


of the porters had developed and consolidated. Evidence 
was given at the 1796 inquiry as to their constitution by 
Mr. Samuel March, clerk to the tacklehouse and ticket 
porters. From this evidence it appears that the tacklehouse 
porters were then appointed by the twelve principal livery 
companies of the City of London, and were entitled to 
the work or labour of unshipping, landing, carrying and 
housing all goods imported by and belonging to the South 
Sea Company, or the East India Company, and of all other 
goods and merchandises coming from any other ports 
except from the East Country (Baltic coasts), Ireland, coast- 
wise, and the British Plantations. No person was admitted 
in any tacklehouse as a master or as a fellow porter unless 
he was a freeman of the City. Tacklehouse porters were 
required to enter into bonds of 500 with four sufficient 
householders as sureties as security for making good losses 
sustained in the handling of goods. Any unqualified person 
attempting to perform the work of a tacklehouse porter 
was liable to a penalty of 5. No tacklehouse porter was 
allowed to charge for his services higher rates than those 
authorized by the Corporation. 

The ticket porters were appointed by the City itself 
and were entitled to the monopoly of work connected 
with pitch, tar, deals, flax, hemp, and other goods imported 
from Danzig and other East Country ports, as also 
all iron, ropes, green wood, all Irish goods, coastwise 
goods except lead, and goods from the foreign planta- 
tions. They were required generally to work under the 
tacklehouse porters. They also had to be freemen. Before 
admission to their society each candidate was required to 
produce to the governor (who was always to be an alderman) 
a certificate from the minister and churchwardens of his 
parish testifying to his being an industrious man and willing 
by his labour to support himself and his family. He had 
to enter into a bond with two sureties in the penalty of 100 
that he would "behave and demean himself in the vocation 
and business of a porter" and to make other numerous and 
exacting promises as to the faithful performance of his 
duties. If he refused to work when applied to by the tackle- 
house porters or left work before it was finished he was 
fined 53. and in default of payment his ticket was taken 
from him and he stood suspended during the pleasure of 


the governor. The rates of remuneration of the ticket 
porters were laid down in a tariff fixed by the Corporation. 
The Corporation appointed the alderman who was to act as 
governor, and he had full power to determine all differences 
between members touching their labour and work or 
questions affecting discipline. Members not conforming 
to his decisions were subject to a fine of 135. 4d. At this 
period the number of ticket porters sanctioned was 1,500 
and upwards, and no labour in the Port could be performed 
by any other person whilst there was a sufficient number 
of these men offering themselves. It is noteworthy that 
in the grievous complaints made at the 1796 inquiry as 
to the pilferage of goods no serious charge was made against 
that section of labour which carried out the operations on 
the quays or in the warehouses. All the witnesses attributed 
their losses to the plundering which took place on board 
ships and from barges, the crews of the ships and lightermen 
with the connivance of the lower ranks of customs' officers 
being the persons involved. It will not be overlooked that 
in the river the opportunities of robbery were greater than 
on the quays, but the comparative immunity from robbery 
when once goods were ashore cannot altogether be dis- 
associated from the fact that some care was exercised in the 
selection of the porters, and that they were more strictly 
governed and disciplined. 

The tacklehouse and ticket porters were amongst the 
most strenuous opponents to the project for the construction 
of the docks, claiming that their craft would suffer great 
injury from the diversion of labour to the docks and the 
cessation of the City privileges in respect of the labour 
carried on there, and they were amongst the interests 
compensated for loss of privileges. On the occasion of the 
scheme of the St. Katharine Dock being brought before 
Parliament in 1825 the porters again presented themselves 
as an aggrieved body by reason of the proposal which 
involved further curtailment of their powers. It was then 
declared that there were 3,000 of these porters licensed by 
the Corporation. It was stated on their behalf that under 
the rules of the Fellowship they were obliged to attend as 
ordered at all times, and at all places without any choice 
on their part on the chance of getting work, at 4 a.m. till 
8 p.m. in the summer and from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the 


winter at the various offices where they were taken on, and 
that a ruler of the Fellowship was always in attendance to 
compel the men to carry out jobs in cases where the 
men might think the work was likely to be unprofitable. 
When accused of charging excessive rates such as 1 os. lod. 
for discharging 100 quarters of malt against 8s. 4d. charged 
by other porters, the reply was that they must be judged 
by the average gain from their labour which they averred 
was only 33. a day taking the year through. By the time the 
St. Katharine Dock Act was passed, the public disposition to 
recognize claims of privileged institutions had passed away, 
and like the older dock companies the porters failed in 
enlisting the sympathies of the Houses of Parliament. 
Gradually the privileges of the porters so far as they had 
remained in the riverside wharves disappeared, leaving no 
privileged class of labour in the Port save the watermen and 
lightermen. With the privileges, disappeared the machinery 
of organization. 

The West India Dock Company, in opening their new 
dock in 1802, were faced with the question of finding 
labour for the very important section of trade which was 
forced into their system. Poplar was then a sparsely in- 
habited suburb, but there is nothing to show that there was 
any serious trouble in procuring the labour that was wanted. 
Doubtless many of the tacklehouse and ticket porters who 
had been engaged at the wharves handling West India 
produce followed the work when it left the wnarves for the 
docks. The wages were fixed at 5^d. per hour, or 35. 6d.aday. 
The question of guarding the docks was one that exercised 
the minds of the directors long before they were ready for 
business. The Government for a time supplied a guard, 
but eighteen months after the docks were opened the 
directors required every labourer and cooper in their service 
to join a regiment formed by them for the protection of the 

The casual nature of the dock work was early the subject 
of consideration. Two hundred permanent labourers were 
appointed, but these were too many for constant employ- 
ment. The West India Dock trade was the most seasonal 
of all the trades of the Port and there was no other trade 
in this system of docks to compensate for the slack seasons. 
Attempts were made to keep employment regular by 


utilizing the spare time of men on levelling and mending 
roads. A remedy for the worst of all the evils of casual 
labour, viz., that of expecting men to turn up to the morning 
call and then disappointing them, was tried in 1804, 
resembling the existing regulation with the same object, 
which has been in operation at the London and India dock 
system for the last twenty years. A book was kept at the 
principal storekeeper's office in which was inserted the 
orders for the delivery of goods expected to be executed 
on the following day and this enabled the officers to know 
approximately the evening beforehand how many men 
would be required and to inform the men who were likely 
to be taken on. 

The idea of converting their officers and servants into a 
military corps was not imitated by the London Dock 
directors, but as their property was within half a mile .of 
the City boundary the case for special protection was not 
urgent. A staff of permanent and preference labourers was 
appointed to the London Dock in 1 805 , several months before 
the dock was opened. Wages had risen since the West 
India Dock was opened in 1802, and the London Dock 
directors found it necessary to give their permanent men 
243. a week. The rest had 33. 6d. a day. Foremen coopers 
received 100 a year, and had to give security in the 
sum of 300. Labouring coopers only earned i8s. a week. 
A foreman of labourers was paid 80 a year, and gave 
security for 100. Shortly after the London Dock was 
opened, the permanent and preferable staff of labourers 
was fixed at 100, any balance being taken on as required 
daily. A minute of the board passed in 1809 laid down the 
vicious rule that in future the vacancies for preferable 
labourers (who were promoted in turn to the permanent 
ranks) should be filled up by the directors in rotation 
beginning with the chairman, deputy chairman and treasurer 
and afterwards in alphabetical order. At the same time 
the labour arrangements were reconsidered in view of 
altered conditions of work then pending. When the dock 
was first opened the hours for labour were in summer from 
6 a.m. until 6 p.m. and in the winter from 7 a.m. till 5 p.m., 
those being the hours of attendance of customs, officers, 
an hour and a half being allowed for dinner. But under a 
recent statute, business was so regulated that the work could 


be continued without interruption from 8 a.m. to 4 p. m in the 
summer and 9 a.m . to 4 p.m. in winter, and with this reduced 
number of hours of attendance, the board conceived it 
possible to reduce the wages to ordinary labourers down to 
33. a day. The meal interval was reduced from an hour and 
a half to a quarter of an hour only. A permanent staff of 300, 
which was equal to the minimum number employed at slack 
times was appointed on these terms. Two years afterwards 
there was a strike of these men but it does not appear to 
have been a serious one. The most unsatisfactory feature 
of this revision of the arrangement from the men's point 
of view was not the reduced hours, but the limitation of 
the time of rest and refreshment, and though the company 
anticipated a saving of 2,400 a vear > it > 8 doubtful whether 
it remained more than a paper saving. This restriction of 
meal times lasted for many years at the docks generally. 
Up to 1889 the meal time was not more than twenty minutes. 
In that year it became half an hour. It was afterwards 
raised to threequarters of an hour, and in 1911 to an hour, 
where it now stands. 

The East India Dock Company began its career as an 
employer by the enunciation of the praiseworthy principle 
that the first consideration was that the company should 
have efficient and reputable characters in their employ, and 
that it would be a mistaken economy "to adopt the line 
of frugality too close" in relation to its staff, especially at 
the outset when the utmost vigilance and circumspection 
would be needful. The chairman of the company, Mr. 
Joseph Cotton, was a director of the East India Company 
and this admirable doctrine which he propounded and his 
board approved was doubtless a reflection of the policy 
which had guided that company in its administration of its 
Indian possessions. How the doctrine worked out in 
practice may be gathered from the organization of the 
staff which was approved. The establishment of the East 
India Dock on the opening of the dock was as follows : 

Per annum. 

Dockmaster . . . . . . . . . . . . 400 

His deputy.. .. .. .. .. .. .. 300 

Assistant . . .... . . . . . . . . zoo 

Gate opener . . . . . . . . . . . . 70 

Six officers for 180 days, at 6s. a day each . . . . 312 

Six subordinate working men . . . . . . . . 216 


24 constant men at 38. a day .. .. .. ..1,127 

100 men aa lumpers to load and unload for 240 days. . 3,600 
6 watchmen at 33. 6d. a day . . . . . . . . 383 


As the East India Dock was the latest of the three 
systems of docks opened at the beginning of the nineteenth 
century, it may be assumed that this organization was the 
best that the experience of dock management could con- 
ceive up to that time. The salaries and wages of the labourers 
and subordinate officers do not suggest that the "line of 
frugality" had been advanced far towards the line of 
extravagance. The dockmaster acted as superintendent as 
well as actually supervising the docking and undocking 
of shipping at the entrance. In the earlier years of the dock 
undertakings this officer was sometimes called the captain 
of the dock. The six officers who acted as supervisors of 
the discharge and loading of ships were pensioned chief 
officers of East India ships. They were guaranteed 6s. 
a day for a six months' season. The six subordinate working 
men acted as foremen of the gangs in the holds of the 
ships. These were ablebodied men conversant with an 
India ship's stowage and preference was given to gunners. 
The gate opener was primarily to check persons and goods 
entenng or leaving the dock. The twenty- four "constant" 
men were men who were dispersed amongst the lumpers 
when working in the hold to 'prevent idleness or pecula- 
tion." Presumably the results were to be secured by the 
example as well as precept of the constant men, but 38. 
a day pay in times when wheat reached 1263. a quarter 
hardly provided the guarantee. The 100 who were to be 
employed as work needed them were required to be persons 
of some character and respectability, and their adhesion 
to the terms of employment was secured by the issue of 
tickets which protected them from the press gang. It was 
remarked "that however inferior their station, by a 
selection and regulation to this effect they will become and 
feel respectable in themselves." 

The pressure of economic conditions caused by the 
European wars led to labour everywhere temporarily 
receiving higher remuneration. After Waterloo, the re- 
action set in and wages came down to the old level. Thus we 


find that in February, 1816, the payments by the East 
India Dock Company, who contracted for the lumpers' 
work in loading vessels were reduced by about 20 per cent. 
And in the following month the board of that company 
passed the following resolution which gives as good an 
estimate as is available of the value at which port labour 
was appraised in 1816, viz. : 

The Court taking into consideration at the commencement of 
the season 1816 for delivery of the ships the relative proportions 
between the wages arranged in a time of war and the great advance 
on bread and other necessaries of life during that period, and the 
present period of peace, as well as the reduction in the price of 
bread and other articles, and likewise the reduced scale of wages 
throughout all establishments and circumstances connected with 
the labour, the time upon duty and other particulars, have Resolved 
that upon and after the 251(1 of March the wages of the under- 
mentioned persons employed at the docks be upon the following 
scale : 

Labourers and working gangs . . . . 3/- per day 

Foremen of labourers and working gangs 3/6 

Transport gang above 4 years' service . . 3/8 

Transport gang under 4 years' service . . 3/2 

Lock gatemen . . . . . . . . 4/2 

Export dock gatekeeper and collector of tolls 25/- per week 

Other gatekeepers with houses . . . . 22/- 

Gatekeepers without houses . . . . 24/- 

Principal gatekeepers having no house .. 3i/- 

Foreman carpenter . . . . . . 5/- per day 

Working carpenter . . . . . . 4/6 

Carman having a house and Sunday work 24/- per week 

The St. Katharine Dock was opened in October, 1828. 
Their organization provided for an elaborate set of rules 
for the governance of labourers. There were two classes, 
preferable and extra. The former had a permanent status, 
the most active, willing and intelligent of them having the 
opportunity of becoming foremen. All preferable labourers 
were required to attend daily a quarter of an hour before 
work commenced when the roll was called, and if not 
punctual, only received half a day's pay. Extra labourers 
were engaged outside the dock gates and were required 
to have a reference as to character. Vacancies in the prefer- 
able staff were filled by the best of the extra men. A high 
standard was set in the regulations by the statement that 
"honesty and sobriety were indispensable qualifications, 


the slightest deviation from them will be attended with 
immediate and irrevocable dismissal." No cans, bottles or 
other vessels capable of containing liquids were allowed 
to be brought into the docks by the labourers. Beer was 
supplied inside the docks when required with a limit of 
one pint per man daily. Labourers were subject to be 
searched upon being dismissed for the day, first by the 
foreman in the presence of heads of departments, and 
subsequently at the dock gates. It had been proposed that 
the wages of the labourers should be i8s. per week, but 
this was reduced to i6s. a week for permanent labourers. 
Extra labourers were paid at the rate of 4d. per hour. The 
regulations showed some humane sentiment on the part of 
the directors in one to the effect that should any man of good 
character and known industrious habits find the description 
of work to which he was appointed, beyond his physical 
powers he would be relieved if possible on application to 
his principal without in any way prejudicing his position, 
and that when in course of time from infirmity he became 
incapable of more laborious duties he would be employed 
in departments to which his declining powers were best 
adapted. No provision was made, however, for any allowance 
to men when they were past work. The St. Katharine labour 
establishment consisted of 225 permanent men and 200 
preferable men, the classes of men having been renamed 
to fit the actual conditions of employment. The maximum 
number employed at the dock at this time would be about 

From this time forward for the next half century there 
are few outstanding happenings in the employment of 
port labour. The conditions varied only slightly at the 
docks of the different companies and at the riverside 
wharves. The supply of efficient labour was generally equal 
to the demand whilst there was always available enough 
labour of a sort to deal with emergency demands. Though 
it was not highly paid, the hours were not long, and as 
machinery came to be introduced the work was not so 
arduous or dangerous. The out of work and the out of 
character of the great city found their way to the dock 
gates in the morning on the chance of being wanted, 
knowing that if the demands of trade were urgent no 
questions would be asked. The opportunities for the petty 


pilfering of food in the docks were not infrequently found 
to be an attraction. We have in 1839 the superintendent of 
the London Dock reporting that the appointment of 
labourers to permanent positions frequently lessened the 
value of their services by producing decreased exertions, 
and in order to get better results from his department he 
recommended that a special allowance of is. 6d. a week 
should be given to the more efficient of the extra men 
employed. This had the effect of making the position of 
extra men more attractive than that of permanent positions. 
No organizations for the dock labourer were in existence. 
The Stevedores' Union for the men engaged in loading 
ships was the first of these organizations. The men in 
this occupation are a more skilled class of labour than 
the ordinary dock labourer and have always enjoyed 
a higher wage sometimes double than that of a dock 
labourer. The competition amongst the dock companies 
for the business of the Port had its effect in the character 
of the labour employed. Cheapness was the chief con- 
sideration, and the casual labourer was very cheap 
apparently. There was no Employers' Liability Act or 
Workmen's Compensation Act to invoke if he met with 
accident, and the best of the directors thought all claims 
were met when they had paid a few shillings a week for 
a few weeks as compassionate allowance and subscribed 
50 or 100 guineas to the local hospital. Men could be had 
by the day or half-day, or even for a couple of hours, so 
that no waste of time waiting for the job was entailed to 
the company. It was the men that paid for the waiting 
time by waiting. By 1872 day wages were at the rate of 
4d. an hour to ordinary dock labourers. The employers' 
point of view must not, however, be lost sight 01. Their 
difficulty arose from the seasonal nature of the trades 
they dealt with. The West India arrivals of vessels were 
limited to the spring and summer, and at the West India 
Dock, therefore, the autumn and winter only provided 
work for men engaged on deliveries of sugar and rum. 
Even in the season itself, trade was irregular. An east 
wind in the spring would keep back the West India fleet 
for several weeks, with the result that a great rush of work 
came into the docks when west winds blew again. Had how- 
ever there been a single control of the docks, or a friendly 


agreement made for the exchange of labour by the com- 

Eanies, much of the evil of casual labour might even then 
ave been mitigated. 

A vivid picture of the condition of port labour in the 
middle of the nineteenth century is given by Henry Mayhew 
in his London "Labour and the Labour Poor." His account 
is, no doubt, prejudiced by the attempt of his book to estab- 
lish the connexion between casual labour and the evils of 
drunkenness, but allowing for this prejudice, the account 
is entitled to be recorded in this connection. Mayhew visited 
every dock and some of the wharves, and interviewed both 
employer and employed. The former did not receive him 
effusively ; the employees were more confiding. One thing 
may be gathered from Mayhew's inquiry, and that is that 
the character of labour had deteriorated during the half 
century that the docks had been opened, and that the com- 
panies almost entirely relied upon casual labour. The usual 
defence of intermittent character of the work was given. It 
was shown, for instance, that at the West India Dock, in 
one week in 1861, there were 42 ships entering, in the next 
week, 131 ; in the following week, 209 ; and in the fourth 
week, only 85. Again, at the London Dock, in 1860, whilst 
the lowest number of ships entering the dock in any one 
week in the previous year was 29, the highest number was 
141. But this variation in arrivals was no new thing ; it 
had prevailed since the opening of the docks and long before 
that, and was bound to be a condition of working while 
the arrivals of vessels was regulated by seasonal sailings and 
the direction of the wind. The explanation is rather to be 
found in the struggle for existence between the companies, 
caused by the senseless competition that supervened upon 
the expiry of the dock privileges. To maintain the dividends 
at as high a level as possible, economies were resorted to, 
and the easiest economy was to take advantage of a falling 
labour market. It should not, therefore, be without signifi- 
cance in relation to the public pressure for cheap services 
that it is not necessarily the competing capitalists who 
suffer from the first squeeze of the vice. The East 
India Dock had been amalgamated with the West India 
Dock Company in 1838 who were not moved by the 
noble sentiment of the junior partner, expounded in 
1806, of only having "efficient and reputable characters," 


and of renouncing the line of "too close frugality" in rela- 
tion to its staff. Mayhew found that for ordinary dock 
labour the wages averaged 2s. 46. a day in winter and 
2s. 6d. in summer, or at the rate of 4d. an hour, and this 
was the prevailing rate in the Port. Timber workers at 
the West India Docks and Surrey Docks then, as now, a 
purely seasonal occupation, might earn from 153. to 308. 
a week with overtime, but the season was only a six-months 
one. At the London Dock a small number of permanent 
men at i6s. 6d. a week was maintained, the rest were 
casual. Mayhew cites this dock as the worst example of 
the system and it is also to be remembered in this con- 
nexion that the London Dock was at this time the most 
impecunious. The "taking on" arrangements are described 
in detail. Masses of men, of all grades, were congregated 
within the principal road entrance of the dock at 7.30 in 
the morning, "some in half-fashioned surtouts burst at 
the elbow, with the dirty shirts showing through ; others 
in greasy sporting jackets, with red pimpled faces ; others 
in rags of gentility ; some in rusty black ; others with the 
knowing thieves' curl on each side of the jaunty cap ; 
whilst here and there was a big, whiskered Pole. As the 
foremen made their appearance, began the scuffling and 
scrambling forth of countless hands high in the air. All 
were shouting, appealing, or coaxing," and the scene is 
described as one to sadden the most callous, with thousands 
of men struggling for one day's hire the struggle being 
the fiercer from the knowledge that hundreds must be 
left to idle the day out in want. Those who were lucky 
enough to be chosen, were engaged on the hardest of hard 
work, for everything was then done by hand. Cranes 
were used, but steam power was not applied, because of 
the danger from fire, and hydraulic power was only in its 
infancy. The cranes for discharging vessels were worked 
by the system of the treadmill, with the difference that 
the force was applied inside instead of outside the wheel. 
From six to eight men entered a wooden cylinder or drum, 
upon which battens were nailed, and the men, laying hold 
of ropes, trod the wheel round, singing the while. The wheel 
was about 16 feet in diameter and 8 to 9 feet broad, and it 
was estimated that they would lift 18 to 20 cwt. forty times 
in an hour, an average height of 27 feet. The larger number 


of the men were, however, engaged in cramped positions 
drawing cargo from its stowage on ships, or in trucking 
and piling weighty, dirty, rough packages on the quays 
and in the warehouses or vaults. Only at the St. Katharine 
Dock was there any method of selecting candidates for work. 
No labourer was employed there without a previous 
recommendation, and the system of gradual promotion to 
the permanent staff already alluded to was still in existence. 
The men at this dock were of a more decent class, notwith- 
standing that the wages were on the same low scale as at 
the other docks. 

With the union of the London and St. Katharine Docks in 
1864, the policy adopted by the amalgamated board tended 
to be that of the London company, and no improvement in 
labour conditions resulted. In the eighth decade of the 
century the position of things had improved by the intro- 
duction of machinery, but the large employers in the Port 
carried on their operations mainly by casual labour. 

The years 1871 and 1872 marked an important era in the 
Port, in that dock labour as a class re-awoke and fought for 
higher status and remuneration. In those years British 
trade was exceedingly prosperous and the general demand 
for labour very great. Wages, especially in the skilled trades, 
were advanced and the agitation for better wages was 
extended to the agricultural labourers and to other classes 
where combinations of workmen had hitherto not been 
organized. In November, 1871, a small strike broke out 
amongst the tea-blenders at the West India Dock, and was 
immediately stopped by firm action. Without any organiza- 
tion in evidence, some of the men employed in certain of 
the docks and wharves in the Port demanded increased 
wages in June, 1872, and left work before an answer could 
be given. The centre of the movement was at the West 
India Dock, where the men went out on the 25th June, 
1872. After making an effort to obtain other labour, 
negotiations were opened by the Company with the leaders 
of the strike, and with a promise to consider any just 
grievances the men were induced to resume work on the 
3rd July, receiving immediately afterwards an undertaking 
that the minimum rate of wages should be increased from 
4d. to 5d. per hour. This proved satisfactory to the men, 
and this rate was adopted throughout the Port, the docks 















p. 440 


and wharf owners compensating themselves by increasing 
the charges to merchants and shipowners by 25 per cent. 

There were local dock labour disturbances in the spring 
of 1880, arising from irregular practices in cases where 
the work was let out to contractors. The men had cause 
for complaint and resumed work immediately they had 
the promise of redress. 

Some of the employers endeavoured to safeguard them- 
selves against future strikes by again reverting to the plan 
of having a substantial nucleus of permanent men, but 
under the stress of later competition the East and West 
India Dock Company, who were the chief exponents of 
this policy, deemed it expedient to disperse their per- 
manent staff, and by the end of the year 1886 the conditions 
of employment were much what they had been for half a 
century, save that the day wages were higher, that a piece- 
work system was in force in many docks and wharves, and 
that a qualified protection against the results of accident 
had been given to labour by the Employers' Liability Act. 

At the end of 1886 a strike broke out at Tilbury Dock. It 
lasted a short time only and did not succeed. It is note- 
worthy now as marking the first appearance of Mr. Ben 
Tillett as a Labour leader in the Port of London. Though he 
failed then, the experience he gained could not have been 
without results in equipping him to take a prominent share 
in the great strike of 1889. There might have been more 
success in this local strike if it had not taken place in 
winter, or if there had been organization, or if the public 
could have been interested in the cause. 

Three years later the circumstances were more favour- 
able for action. Unemployment had largely disappeared 
from the East End of London, and there had developed a 
public conscience on the subject of the conditions of life of 
the East End working classes, represented in its practical 
form by the settlements at Toynbee Hall, Bethnal Green, 
and Canning Town. The life of the casual docker was 
accepted as the specially typical case of the sordid, dull, 
and precarious existence in the East End, which called to 
society for drastic and immediate remedy. The dockers 
needed remedy, but it was never so radically bad as society 
was taught to believe by such articles as Mr. G. R. Sims 
wrote for the Daily News under the heading of "How the 


Poor Live" and "Horrible London." A small union had 
been founded called the Tea Operatives' and General 
Labourers' Association, with Mr. Ben Tillett as secretary. 
The first step taken in the strike of 1889 was a letter written 
by Mr. Ben Tillett on the jih August, addressed to Mr. 
H. Norris, the head of the South West India Dock Depart- 
ment, asking that the pay of dock labourers should be 
increased from 5d. to 6d. per hour between 8 a.m. and 
6 p.m. and to 8d. per hour after 6 p.m. This was followed 
by a further letter on the i3th demanding a reply. This 
reply not being forthcoming, a number of labourers, 
estimated at 2,500, suddenly declined to go to work at 
the East India Dock and West India Dock systems, 
which had been the scene of Mr. Tillett's activities since 
the abortive strike in 1886. The men formed themselves 
into a procession and visited the Victoria Docks, and sub- 
sequently the London Dock, with the object of drawing out 
the men working there. They had only partial success on 
the first day. On the i6th, with an increasing number of 
adherents, the men went in procession to the City, passing 
the offices of the London and India Docks Joint Com- 
mittee in Leadenhall Street and returning to the docks. 
Mr. Tillett and six dock labourers were given an interview 
with the managers, and in the evening he met the men, who 
had awaited their return outside the London Dock. With 
him was Mr. John Burns just then a public figure by 
reason of his imprisonment for speaking in Trafalgar 
Square. Mr. Burns came upon the scene voluntarily to help 
a movement entirely after his own heart. He was asked to 
address the multitude of men and convey the result of the 
deputation. He was selected on the ground that he had a 
powerful voice, and announced that whilst the Joint Com- 
mittee would concede the demand that no man should be 
taken on for less than half a day, they would not give any 
increase of pay. Mr. Burns had other qualifications for 
leadership in addition to the demagogic asset of a strong 
voice, and after this first appearance he immediately 
became the leader of the movement. But for his intervention 
the strike might have failed. In the course of the next week 
practically the whole of the dock and wharf employees in 
the Port had been brought out, and these were joined by 
the stevedores and the lightermen, who, coming out at first 


ostensibly in sympathy with the docks, became afterwards 
aggressively active for their own advancement. The man- 
agers of both the Millwall and Surrey companies stated in 
the Press that their men were content with their conditions 
of work and accused the organizers of the strike of using 
threats of violence to induce their men to cease work, and 
cited cases of assault where the men had remained at work. 
On the whole, however, the behaviour of the men was 
orderly. The dock directors endeavoured to obtain labour 
elsewhere by advertising permanent employment at i per 
week, but the response was not satisfactory. At the end of 
a week's strike only about 250 men were at work, and these 
men had to be lodged and fed on the dock premises. Mean- 
while shipping was entering the Port and traffic was con- 
gested. A partial relief of the situation so far as it affected 
the public was the diversion of vessels to Southampton, but 
this relief only lasted a few days, as that port had little 
accommodation suitable for large liners. A much more 
serious step was taken by merchants as the strike advanced 
of ordering their consignments to Continental ports such as 
Antwerp and Rotterdam, and disposing of them there, thus 
giving an impetus to these ports of considerable advantage 
to them, though it must be fairly observed that this transfer 
of business was inevitable, and was rather precipitated than 
caused by the strike. 

The strike commanded the sympathy of the public from 
the first, it appealed to the men, and it had as its leaders 
men who had motives for making it a success. The public 
were impressed with the evils of the casual and contract 
systems, and they subscribed large sums for the mainten- 
ance of the strikers. The men saw the prospect of a 20 per 
cent, rise in wages. The leaders were intent on founding a 
trade union for the dockers. The movement received a 
blessing from an unexpected quarter. The shipowners 
interested in the principal lines using the Port had for 
some time been anxious to discharge their own vessels 
instead of being compelled to entrust the operation to the 
Joint Committee. For some days they bore patiently with 
the delays and distractions caused by the quarrel, probably 
realizing that if the companies gave way the bill would 
ultimately have to be shared between the merchants and 
shipowners. Then Mr. Thomas Sutherland, the chairman 


of the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, 
wrote to the Times criticizing the management of the docks 
and expressing the opinion that if the shipowners controlled 
their own work they could do it more satisfactorily, and 
proposing that a co-operative dock should be established in 
the Port by the shipowners. This attitude of the shipping 
interest was the first indication of serious dissension 
amongst the employers. A further weakening of their posi- 
tion was caused by some of the wharfingers feeling the 
pinch of loss of business and showing anxiety to settle with 
the men. Meanwhile other sections of workers in the Port 
ceased work, partially because of the holding up of ships 
and goods in the docks and partially because they demanded 
concessions for themselves. This applied especially to the 
coal porters and carmen, but in their case the strike was 
over by the end of August, the majority of their demands 
having been conceded. 

The strike of the dockers continued through August into 
September. No strike was ever marked by so many attempts 
of the parties concerned to come to terms. Conferences took 
place day after day at the Dock House, Leadenhall Street, 
between directors, managers, and the men's leaders. When- 
ever an approach to a settlement appeared possible on the 
majority of the points it inevitably broke down on the 
question of the additional penny an hour. Exasperated by 
the obdurate attitude of the directors, the men's leaders 
issued a manifesto on the 3oth August appealing to the 
workers of all grades and callings in London to refuse to go 
to work on the following Monday, the 3rd September, if 
by Saturday the sixpence had not been conceded. The 
position was now threatening the existence of the metro- 
polis. Yet no intervention on the part of the Government 
had been made. The line taken by them was merely to hold 
the ring while the combatants fought out their fight. It was 
left to the initiative of Cardinal Manning to take the first 
step which led to the termination of the struggle. On the 
loth August he called on Sir Andrew Lusk, the acting Lord 
Mayor, and together they saw the dock directors with the 
object of inducing them to concede the demands of the 
men. For the moment the mediation failed, but it secured 
the withdrawal of the manifesto for a general strike, and 
one immediate result was the formation of a committee by 


the Lord Mayor (Sir James Whitehead), as representing 
the City, with the object of bringing about a settlement of 
the dispute. The members of the committee were the 
Bishop of London, Sir John Lubbock, Cardinal Manning, 
and Mr. Sydney Buxton, M.P. Meanwhile the strikers 
appealed to the public for funds, and especially to the 
trade unions. Several of the London newspapers also made 
appeals. A considerable response was made to these appeals 
in England, but the main contributions came from Aus- 
tralia. 4,000 was sent from Melbourne alone, and the total 
sum from Australia was 24,000. It was this evidence of 
world-wide sympathy with the dockers more than any 
other circumstance that perhaps had more weight in 
determining the directors in conference with the Lord 
Mayor's committee to yield the 6d. Even then a hitch 
occurred by reason of the stipulation of the directors that 
the 6d. should not come into operation until the ist 
January, so as to give time for arrangements to be made for 
securing additional income by a revision of the rates. The 
men refused to wait, and after fresh agitation and confer- 
ences the date for the commencement of the increased pay 
was fixed as the 4th November, and work was resumed on 
Monday, the i6th September. The following is a copy of 
the document embodying the terms applying to the 
majority of the strikers concerned : 


1. The 5d. rate per hour to be raised in the case of all labour 
not piecework on and after November 4th next to 6d. per hour 
and 8d. per hour overtime. No pay for meal times. 

2. Men called in not to be discharged with less than 28. pay 
except in regard to special short engagements in the afternoon. 

3. Present contract work to be converted not later than 
November 4th into piecework under which the men will be paid 
not less than 6d. per hour with 8d. per hour overtime and the 
surplus, if any, to be equally divided between them all, payments 
being made to the men under the supervision of the dock officials. 

4. The hours of overtime at the docks and Uptown warehouses 
shall be from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. 

5. The existing strike to be terminated and all the men con- 
nected with dock, wharf or river work to return to work forthwith. 

6. The strikers and their leaders unreservedly to undertake that 
all labourers who have been at work during the strike shall be 
unmolested and treated as fellow labourers by those who have 
been out on strike. 


7. In employing fresh men after the strike is ended, the Director* 
will make no difference between those who have not taken any 
part in it and will not directly or indirectly show resentment to 
any of the men who have participated in the strike. 

The above terms of arrangement had been fully explained by us 
to and discussed with the leaders of the strike and are accepted 
by them. 


i4th September, 1889. SYDNEY BUXTON. 

On behalf of the London and India Docks Joint Committee and 
by their authority 1 accept the above terms of arrangement. 
1 4th September, 1889. RODOLPH A. HANKEY, Deputy Chairman. 

On behalf of the Millwall Company. 

G. R. BIRT. 

On behalf of the Surrey Commercial Dock Company. 

JOHN H. BOVILL, Deputy Chairman. 

On behalf of the men on strike and by their authority we accept 
the above terms of arrangement. 




Witness to the signatures of the representatives of the men 
on strike. 
i4th September, 1889. W. J. SOULSBY. 

This strike is known as the Great Dock Strike, perhaps 
because there has never been a strike in which the public 
took such a deep interest, indicated by the enormous pro- 
portion it occupied in the columns of the newspapers of 
the month it lasted. As regards the workers affected, it 
was a smaller strike than the 1912 strike, to be hereafter 
referred to. Its benefits to the men may be summed up as 
an increase of pay of id. an hour and the substitution of 
direct employment by the Dock Company for that of 
contractors. This substitution was, however, never carried 
out so as utterly to extinguish the contractor, who survives 
to this day to a small extent with the Port of London 
Authority, and to a very large extent in the loading and 
discharging of ships where this is left to shipowners 

The question of casual labour, which had excited the 
public sympathy, was practically left untouched by the 
settlement. Merely to stipulate that men should not be 


taken on for an hour or two hours, but must be taken on 
for four hours, was trifling with the subject. One ultimate 
result of the strike was to make the casual problem a more 
difficult one than it had been. For the next twelve months 
labour became difficult to handle. The victory had spoiled 
some of the leaders, and a policy of ca-canny (that is, 
"go slow with the work ") had been adopted, at the lower 
docks especially. Continual small strikes occurred, and 
pressure was exerted for further concessions, which were 
granted for a time, amounting to 6d. a day for a large 
number of workers. The vexatious delays to shipping led 
to renewed applications from the shipowners to do their 
own work, and partly out of the weariness of being buffeted 
between the labourer and the shipowner and partly with a 
desire to make more money, the London and India Docks 
Joint Committee agreed to renounce the right of discharg- 
ing ships at most of the dock berths. It was this act that 
intensified the casual labour problem. Instead of one pool 
of employment at the docks, there immediately became 
twenty employers with their own individual maximum and 
minimum labour requirements, meaning that the margin 
of labour had to be multiplied considerably in order to 
provide for the regular working of the docks. This question 
is developed in another chapter of this history. 

But the outstanding event which issued from this strike 
was the revival of the organization of the dock and 
wharf labourers. The leader of the strike, Mr. John 
Burns, quitted the scene directly his work was done, giving 
as his parting advice that the men should go and earn the 
higher wages which they had obtained. The organization 
was naturally carried out by Mr. Tillett and the other 
prominent leaders in the strike. The chief union which 
emerged was that of the Dock Wharf Riverside and General 
Workers' Union, of which Mr. Tillett became secretary, 
whilst others were formed of a local character representing 
the men on the south side of the river, such as grain 
workers and deal porters. Mr. Tillett 's union subsequently 
developed in the provincial ports, and for a time was 
relatively stronger at Dundee and the Bristol ports than in 

Though, as has been said above, the Mansion House 
Agreement did not of itself provide for any remedy of the 


casual labour problem, an honest attempt was soon after- 
wards made by the London and India Docks Joint Com- 
mittee to grapple with it so far as they could deal with their 
own labour as the largest employers in the Port. They 
decided to have four classes of labourers : 

1. A permanent staff of men with sick pay, fourteen days 
holiday, and after fifteen years' service entitled to retirement 
through old age or ill-health to pensions of 6s. to 158. a 
week according to length of service. The pension was non- 

2. Registered or "A" labourers, weekly servants with the 
holiday benefit. Vacancies in the permanent staff to be filled by 
the promotion of "A" men and in such cases half their services as 
"A" men was to count for pension purposes. 

3. Preference or "B" labourers to have the first call for employ- 
ment after those on "A" and to be promoted to that class as vacan- 
cies occur. The "B" men were given tickets numbered according 
to their seniority, and to save useless attendance at the dock 'gates 
information was published at the gates every evening as to the 
ticket numbers of the men likely to be wanted the next morning. 

4. Casual men to be taken on on the few occasions when the 
"B" list would be exhausted. They were to be considered for 
filling vacancies in that class. 

Such a scheme provided for the gradual promotion of 
the individual from the casual class in which he might 
begin to the permanent class with prospects far better than 
those of the labourer in other callings. With the exception 
of strikes of lightermen, there was no general disturbance 
of peace in the Port between 1889 anc * 1911. and this may 
in fairness be attributed to the steadiness of the labour in 
the London and India Docks systems brought about by 
this genuine effort to ameliorate the casual labour evil. The 
new system of labour was subsequently acknowledged by 
the Board of Trade to be a great advance in the administra- 
tion of port labour, and it was by far the most important 
practical contribution to social reform which followed 
upon the strike. 

In 1910 the leaders of the various transport organizations 
spread over the ports of the kingdom conceived the idea of 
federating the unions, and succeeded in forming the Nat- 
ational Transport Workers' Federation under the presidency 
of Mr. Harry Gosling, the secretary of the Amal- 
gamated Society of Watermen and Lightermen of London. 





P- 449 




In July of 1911 the Federation approached the Port of 
London Authority with an application for an improvement 
in the pay and conditions of employment in the Port, 
chiefly on the ground of increase of cost of living. The 
Authority agreed to discuss the question with the Federa- 
tion, and were able to bring into the conference the great 
shipowning lines and the principal wharfingers. Lord 
Devonport, the chairman of the Port of London Authority, 
presided at the conference, which occupied four successive 
days far into every evening, and the result was that on 
July 2yth an agreement was come to known as the Devon- 
port Agreement. The terms of the agreement were as 
follows : 

1. That the day rate of pay be raised from 6d. to yd. per hour. 
Overtime rate from 8d. to qd. per hour. Piecework rates of the 
Port Authority except bulk grain discharging rates to be raised 
id. per hour per man. Subject to the arbitration provided for 
below, men now receiving yd. per hour for ship and quay work 
to receive 8d. and id. increase on overtime rates where less than is. 

2. Day conditions of working to be from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. instead 
of from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., as hitherto. Overtime rates to commence 
at 6 p.m. and to run until 7 a.m. 

3. Double pay for work on Sundays and statutory holidays. 

4. The present arrangements of the Port of London Authority 
as to dinner time to be abolished and one hour allowed at all 
departments without pay. 

5. No man to be paid off with less than four hours' day or night 

6. Times of call of the Port Authority to be four in number at 
the following hours, viz., 6.45 a.m., 7.45 a.m., 1245 p.m., 
5.45 p.m., and for perishable cargoes any time during the day, 
due notice having been given at the previous time of call where 

7. Granary keepers' day work hours to remain as at present. 
Piecework rates to be raised on the same scale as the Port Authority. 
All conditions of meal times to remain as at present. 

8. Working arrangements and conditions to remain as at 

The following points to be reserved for arbitration : 

i . Whether, in view of the increase of pay granted by the Port 
Authority and wharfingers, there shall be an increase of id. per 
hour to men at present employed at -d. per hour and for overtime 
where this rate is now less than is. This is to apply only to the 
discharge of vessels engaged in the oversea trade where the opera- 
tion is carried on by shipowners or their contractors. 


2. Federation Ticket. Any complaints of the National Sailors' 
and Firemen's Union against the principle of the Shipping Federa- 
tion Ticket or the system under which Federation Tickets are 
issued to be submitted to an arbitrator to be nominated by the 
London Conciliation Board, who shall decide whether such com- 
plaints are well founded, and if so what change in the system 
should in consequence be adopted. If the Federation are not 
prepared to adopt any recommendation which the Authority may 
make, the issue of Federation Tickets is to be discontinued. 

[The Federation Ticket question referred to seamen only, and 
will not further be referred to.l 

The proceedings which resulted in this agreement were 
conducted with perfect pleasantness throughout, notwith- 
standing the extremely not weather then prevailing, and 
no one who was present will forget the demonstrations of 
cordiality on the part of Mr. Gosling and the other labour 
leaders, or the compliment paid by them that if employers 
were only so accessible and reasonable as the Port em- 
ployers had been there would be no labour outbreaks. The 
agreement was subject to ratification by the men, and a 
meeting was called at which Mr. Gosling declared it to be 
carried. Two days later Mr. Gosling and the other leaders 
called out the whole of the men employed in the Port, 
claiming for the dockers a further id. per hour. What had 
caused such a sudden repudiation of the agreement ? The 
only explanation ever given was that Mr. Gosling had 
rushed his audience in declaring that the motion for accept- 
ing the terms had been carried, and that as the majority 
of the men were dissatisfied, the leaders were bound 
to follow the men and denounce the agreement. This 
explanation was only given long after the event. The imme- 
diate effect was to render it patent that reliance on the 
result of negotiations with dock labour leaders was useless. 
The majority of the dockers responded to the call, including 
i ,500 of the permanent men of the Port Authority. The men 
were induced, some by exhortation not unaccompanied by 
violence, to leave their work, and the hot weather was not 
without its effect in promoting idleness. Coal porters, 
lightermen, and carmen, who were utilizing the precedent 
of the rise already awarded to the dockers, joined the 
movement. The employers generally had always been 
willing that all classes in the Port should obtain equivalent 
increases of wages given to the Port Authority staff, but 


were determined to resist any further demands, and the 
public took the same view and supported the employers. 
On the nth August the leaders declared the strike at an 
end, trumpeting a victory. But the Devonport Agreement was 
intact at the end of the strike, and remains so in principle 
to-day. The "victory" was limited to the men having secured 
from the shipowners an agreement that the men employed 
by them should be taken on outside the dock gates instead 
of inside, thus enabling the union officials to bring pressure 
not otherwise open to them upon the men to join the 
unions. It appeared subsequently that this concession was 
only agreed to by the shipowners on the urgent representa- 
tions of the Government that the then strained relations 
with Germany made it necessary for them to make some 
sacrifice in the interest of the State. It was this fact that 
justified the shipowners in withdrawing the concession 
when they found the opportunity twelve months later after 
the crisis of 1911 was over. 

Under the Devonport Agreement the question of the 
extension of the extra penny per hour to certain labourers 
employed by the shipowners had been left over for arbitra- 
tion. The reason for the unwillingness of the shipowners at 
once to fall in line with the general advance of a penny an 
hour to dockers was never understood by the other 
employers in the Port, nor was anyone surprised when Sir 
Albert Rollit, the arbitrator appointed, awarded these men 
the additional penny. Unfortunately there was left an 
opening for further dispute, which came to a head in the 
case of the Sea Belle, belonging to Messrs. Leach & Co., 
where the labourers claimed that the 8d. per hour, which 
was without doubt originally intended to apply only to the 
men employed on liners at the docks, equally applied to 
oversea vessels discharging at river wharves. They were 
able to carry their reading of the agreement at an arbitra- 
tion in which Lord Alverstone was the arbitrator. 

There can be no doubt that, in spite of the failure of 
the 1911 strike, the Transport Workers' Federation had 
gained ground. The officials had so cleverly managed their 
propaganda as to persuade the men that they had 
obtained the concessions which the Devonport and sub- 
sidiary arrangements had brought them, not by means of 
peaceful negotiation, as was the fact, but by the strike which 


had followed the negotiation. The consciousness of growing 
strength, or it may be the necessity of maintaining the 
interest of the adherents of the various unions in their 
membership, tempted the executive of the National Trans- 
port Workers' Union to resume the battle in the late spring 
of 1912. In the new campaign the avowed object of 
their action from the outset was the aggrandizement 
of the Federation by making it impossible for any 
man to work in the Port unless he was a member of a 
union affiliated to the Federation. Again the weapon of 
the strike was employed to carry out the intention of 
the Federation. 

On the i gth May, 1912, certain lightermen refused to 
work with a man named Thomas because of alleged 
non-compliance with the rules of the Lightermen's Union. 
Other transport workers then left work at the instigation of 
the Federation leaders without formulating any demands, 
without expressing any grievance, and, where agreements 
existed, without giving the notice required by the terms of 
their agreement. The Government were soon alive to the 
threatening nature of the action taken, and on the 23rd 
took steps with a view to the pacification of the trouble by 
appointing Sir Edward Clarke to make an immediate 
inquiry into the circumstances attending the disputes. The 
proceedings began on Friday, the 24th, and finished on the 
next day. On the 27th he made his report. The Port 
Authority declined to attend the inquiry, and though some 
of the other Port interests were present, the proceedings 
were for the most part limited to questions between the 
lightermen and their employers. The inquiry was so 
obvious a political expedient to shelve a disagreeable 
question that it utterly failed. Things were made worse 
rather than better, especially as Sir Edward Clarke's 
report was inconclusive on the facts of the case, and his 
recommendations were confined to a suggestion that the 
Board of Trade should, in accordance with existing agree- 
ments, decide the differences in the lighterage cases. 

By the 27th May work had practically ceased throughout 
the Port. Not only was the withdrawal of labour accom- 
panied by the demand that no man who did not hold the 
Federation ticket should be employed in the Port, but it 
was demanded that it should be obligatory on employers 


to coerce their own men, as well as other employers' men, 
to join the Federation. No question of wages was at first 
raised, and it may appear singular how such a sudden 
stoppage of work could be brought about amongst men 
comparatively unaccustomed to the union whip, merely on 
what must have appeared to them to be a more or less 
academic issue. The explanation appears to have been that 
the Federation had during the winter and spring prepared 
the ground by the employment of an army of paid delegates, 
absorbing so much of the Federation funds that no money 
was ever available for strike pay during the struggle. Care- 
fully organized and well versed in the arts of intimidation, 
these delegates were able, in order to aggrandize the 
Federation, to make impossible not only the lives of the 
men who wanted to work, but the lives of their wives and 
children in their homes. 

Within a week of the zyth May it was clear that if the 
parties in the fight were left to themselves the employers 
would be the victors. The conditions were favourable to 
them. The Federation ticket was not a cause to die for. The 
British public does not favour the idea of coercing a man 
for his own benefit, and worst of all from the Federation 
point of view, there was an abundance of unemployed 
labour available. Very quickly, labour from all parts of the 
country offered itself for a rate of wages accompanied by 
conditions of employment far superior to the conditions in 
rural districts. By the 3rd June 4,300 men were at work in 
the docks, and by the loth these numbers had nearly 
doubled. A week later, there were 9,600, and the numbers 
continued to increase week by week until by the beginning 
of July they reached the numbers required to keep the 
Port going. The chief inconvenience felt was that caused 
by the absence of the lightermen, but the master lightermen, 
their managers, and their staff of foremen were able by 
co-operation and the waiving of by-laws by the Authority, 
to give a sufficient service to overcome the difficulties due 
to the emergency. On the ground that the food supplies 
must not be endangered by the strike, the Government 
provided police protection for vehicles used to bring goods 
up from the docks, and they also dealt firmly with cases of 
intimidation where they could be proved. 

As soon as it became manifest that the battle was a lost 


one, the men's leaders changed their policy. To stiffen the 
men they let the Federation ticket retire into the background 
and put forward fresh demands for higher pay and uniform 
pay, and also for shorter hours of work. The demand for a 
uniform rate of pay proved to be bad tactics, because few 
men in the Port except those on the lowest scale favoured it. 
There are degrees of aristocracy even in dock labour. With 
these demands a campaign of obloquy against the em- 
ployers was entered upon, culminating in outrageous 
personal attacks upon Lord Devonport. The public were 
begged to bring pressure upon the employers, and pathetic 
pictures of women and children struggling with starvation 
were drawn by orators on Tower Hill, especially by Mr. 
Benjamin Tillett. His appeals were much discounted by 
the attacks in the Daily Express to the effect that while he 
spent his days in this class of oratory, his evenings were 
occupied in pleasant personal enjoyment. Towards the end 
of the campaign a final effort was made to induce the trade 
union organizations to proclaim a general strike, but the 
unions failed to make any response. 

While these efforts to keep the battle going were bound 
to fail, a more subtle attempt to cover the consequences 
of defeat was made by the Federation approaching the 
Government with the object of securing their intervention 
and obtaining a form of settlement to which the Govern- 
ment should be a party. Proposals were made with the 
countenance of the Government for the formation of an 
Association of Port Employers to meet the National Trans- 
port Workers' Federation from time to time to adjust future 
differences that might arise. The Federation would thus 
achieve a recognized status in the Port for future discus- 
sions on labour questions and have been able to point to 
this achievement as well worth the sacrifices of the fight. 
It was part of this programme of settlement that all the 
strikers should be taken back into their old positions with 
their privileges and that the free labourers who had saved 
the situation should be got rid of. The Government, feeling 
bound to put forward any proposition likely to heal the 
quarrel, endeavoured to induce the employers to meet the 
men's leaders, and there were many interviews between 
members of the Cabinet and the employers. Amongst the 
prominent members of the Ministry engaged were Mr. 


Lloyd George, Mr. Haldane, Mr. Sydney Buxton, and 
Mr. John Burns. It was not without interest in this con- 
nection that Mr. Burns had led the great strike of 1889 and 
that Mr. Buxton had been a mediator in that strike. To all 
the proposals which were put before them by Ministers 
and their subordinates for obtaining a settlement which 
should in some way let the strike leaders off easily, the 
employers always gave the same reply, and it was this : 
They would have no dealings with the Federation whilst 
its leaders were the men who had repudiated the Devon- 
port Agreement of 1911 three days after it had been signed, 
or with any organization that made as a condition of port 
employment an unqualified submission to the rules of trade 
union officials. They intended to retain every man who had 
come into their service during the strike and who wished 
to stay. They could not ignore the fact that during the 
previous twelve months their servants had repeatedly 
struck and had been forgiven and reinstated, and they 
would only agree that these men would be re-employed as 
vacancies occurred. A resolution was carried in the House 
of Commons on the ist July, on the motion of Mr. O'Grady, 
that it was desirable that the employers in the Port of 
London should meet the strikers, but the employers 
ignored the resolution. There was, in fact, no public opinion 
to back the resolution. The employers had themselves 
struck against the pressure of the Government and the 
strike of the men was dead. It lingered on officially during 
July. The Prime Minister, Mr. Asquith, who had been 
away in the Mediterranean visiting the Fleet, had really 
settled the strike on his return by advising Mr. Gosling to 
let the men go back, and the termination came by a simple 
order from the leaders that the men should return to work 
on the 2Qth July. 

A few of the strikers had drifted back to work meanwhile. 
Many of them never offered themselves for re-employment. 
The newcomers who were efficient were made permanent 
where they desired to stay, and were not thrown aside 
as mere strike-breakers after they had served their purpose. 
As to the balance of the strikers, they got back in most 
employments with the loss of the pay not earned during 
the prolonged fight. 

In the case of the Port Authority such a serious view was 


taken of the conduct of the men, some of whom had within 
a year broken their agreements on three occasions, that it 
was decided to reorganize the permanent labour staff and 
meanwhile to reinstate strikers only as labourers on the 
"B" list. This reorganization scheme came into effect in 
October, 1914, and is the basis of to-day's organization. 
It was as follows : 

I. (a) Engagement terminable on either side by seven days' 

(b) Wages 283. per week of eight working hours between 

7 a.m. and 6 p.m., rising to 293. after two years and 

to 303. after two more years. Overtime at rate* of 

Devonport agreement. 
(e) Six days' leave annually in addition to statutory and 

proclaimed holidays. 

(rf) No sick pay. (This is provided by National Insurance.) 
(e) No pension, but Authority will consider exceptional case* 

for retiring allowances. 
(/) Every permanent labourer to be transferable from one 

dock to another. 

(g) Participation by men in piecework as required. 
(h) 3,000 permanent labourers to form first staff (since 

increased to 4,000). 

II. Preference Tickets to be issued to selected extra labourers 
on same lines as the "B" class of labourer under scheme of 1889. 

Men on the existing permanent staff and the strikers 
were allowed to join the new scheme on special terms, 
which, as they applied to transitory circumstances only, 
need not be recorded here. 

Deal porters and overside corn porters were excluded 
from the scheme, chiefly on the ground that they were 
averse from accepting conditions which necessitated regular 
attendance at work. 

The course of the strike had raised again the whole 
question of decasualization of labour, and the Authority 
while they were carrying out their reorganization also 
reviewed this question, especially having regard to the 
obligation cast upon them by the Port of London Act to 
take it into consideration. A suggestion that it should be 
dealt with by the establishment of Labour Exchanges at 
the docks had been considered in 1910. A further sugges- 
tion involved the adaptation of the Liverpool Dock labour 
scheme to London. The first suggestion had broken down 
through the refusal of the shipowners to be parties to the 


establishment of Labour Exchanges. As regards the second 
suggestion the Authority were informed by the Government 
that the Liverpool scheme had not put an end to labour 
troubles there and had also contributed nothing towards the 
problem of decasualization, there being times when numbers 
of men were unemployed at Liverpool, whilst plenty of 
work was offering and no men available or willing to accept 
it. Moreover, many of the London union leaders were against 
the Liverpool scheme. The Port Authority felt that the 
Port of London Act was ineffective for the purpose of deal- 
ing with decasualization, as, while it laid upon the Authority 
the duty of doing certain things by themselves or in co- 
operation with other bodies, it provided that no one should 
be deprived of any of their rights, so that if the other bodies 
refused to co-operate, the Authority were precluded from 
acting. The new organization of the labour staff would 
reduce casual employment to a minimum so far as the 
Authority's labour was concerned, but the Authority felt, 
further than that, nothing beyond what was possible from 
the force of example could be done by them in the absence 
of statutory powers. The Government were duly informed 
of the view of the Authority. Meanwhile the war tem- 
porarily solved the problem. 

In the following chapters the developments affecting 
labour during the war and the relation of this important 
question to the future prosperity of the Port are discussed 
at some length. It may be generally stated here that no 
outbreak of unrest involving strikes has taken place in the 
Port since July, 1912. 


The Port of London from August, 
1914 till the end of 1920 


THE first rebound in the mind of the public after the 
momentous decision of the 4th August, 1914, was 
a sudden anxiety as to the position of our oversea trade 
during war-time with its possibilities that supplies of food 
and other necessaries would be delayed in their transport 
to the country and involve scarcity and, perhaps, famine. 
The country had, in respect of some articles of food, 
lived from hand to mouth, notably in the two important 
articles of wheat and sugar. Some amount of panic was 
at once created, and the nervous members of the public, 
rich and poor, began to besiege shops with the object 
of laying in stocks of food against any evil time that might 
arise. Prices were at once raised ana to avert this natural 
effect of the panic, the Government on the yth August 
fixed provisional maximum prices for the principal articles 
of food. Considerable help in calming the public mind at 
this critical time when everyone was unstrung with the 
seriousness of the situation was afforded by the Port of 
London Authority in communicating through the Press 
almost daily, reassuring information as to the actual 
state and prospects of food supplies. On the yth August 
it was pointed out that the stocks of imported meat were 
double those held two months previously, and that though 
the stocks of grain were, as usual in August, comparatively 
small, a fine harvest was being reaped. The convinced 
opinion was expressed that with so many Continental 
ports closed, London was bound to have a large accession 
of business. An instalment of such vessels carrying grain 
and other foodstuffs had already been diverted to London 
and were lying at Gravesend on the afternoon of that 
day. Every indication showed that as the war proceeded, 
produce of all kinds would have to come to the United King- 
dom as the producer must realize his produce and the only 



free markets would be the British markets. The precedent 
of the Napoleonic wars was cited to show that London, being 
the safest of the great ports, would receive the surplus 
stocks of the world. By the end of August all tendency 
to panic had been dissipated. In the four weeks following 
the declaration of war, the receipts of foodstuffs in the 
Port of London had been considerably in excess of normal 
imports, especially grain. Forty-eight vessels had been 
diverted from Continental ports to London, most of them 
with captured German cargoes. The stocks of food in the 
London dock warehouses had never been so large. Stocks 
of meat were 60 per cent, above the average, wheat was 
150 per cent., maize 200 per cent., barley 600 per cent. 
The only exceptions to the general prosperity of the Port 
were in the export trade and amongst the small vessels 
running to the near Continental ports. The situation as 
regards sugar had been eased by the Government purchases 
of 250,000 tons in Java, of which 20,000 tons arrived in 
London during the early days of September. 

During the whole of the autumn the receipts of food 
and goods of all descriptions continued to gain on the 
deliveries. The warehouses were full, and goods which 
could not be absorbed, blocked many of the quays, both 
in the docks and at the riverside wharves. Some of the activity 
was attributable to the transfer of regular services from 
Southampton, and some to the fact that regular shipments 
of foodstuffs and of equipments and accoutrements manu- 
factured in England were being made for the French and 
Russian governments. But the more important additions 
to the ordinary export operations which made all hands 
busy were in connexion with the packing of immense 
quantities of sugar, maize, oats, wheat, and barley for 
British troops in France, and the vatting and bottling of 
the whole of the rum for the Army and Navy. The out- 
standing feature of the import business during the late 
autumn was the enormous arrivals of sugar. In pre-war 
time most of the sugar supplies came in regular weekly 
instalments by Continental steamers, and went straight 
to the grocer or manufacturer. At first, the circumstances 
of war required that the whole year's supply should be 
imported within four months, and the problem of housing 
the sugar pending consumption was found to be a difficult 


one not only in London but in Liverpool, Bristol and 
Greenock. By the middle of January there was congestion 
of all descriptions of shipping in all the ports, perhaps less 
in London than at the others. Grave complaints arose in 
all quarters. Vessels were kept waiting for berths, and at 
one time there were as many as forty vessels held up at 
Gravesend. The position in London had been worsened 
by the weather in December, the records showing that the 
rainfall had been continuous and the heaviest in quantity 
for many years. The quays were never dry during the 
whole of the month. Such goods as tea, butter, sugar, and 
frozen meat could not freely be landed under such con- 
ditions, and overtime would not be worked as labour was 
getting short and the docks had to be darkened at night by 
military orders. Amongst other causes of congestion were 
the Customs regulations for the defence of the realm, the 
sudden requisitioning of steamers by the Admiralty, 
sometimes necessitating the turning out of a cargo directly 
after it was loaded, and the occupation of sheds and ware- 
houses by the War Office and Admiralty for war purposes. 
The position in London was not, however, without hope. 
The law of averages should give the chance of better 
weather, and the growing daylight, longer working time. 
But the Port Authority was able to give even more sub- 
stantial assurances by the imminent bringing into use of 
some of the new accommodation forming part of the 
programme of improvements begun in 1909. Four sheds 
at the East India Import Dock taking 25,000 tons had just 
been finished, as also the new jetty warehouse at the London 
Dock, holding 30,000 tons. For snipping, two new berths at 
the West India Dock had been made available, and four 
others could be completed in twelve months. The East 
India Import Dock would be re-opened in three months' 
time giving berths for eight steamers. One new berth for 
the largest class of vessel had been completed at Tilbury, 
with two others in rapid construction. Anticipating a later 
programme, the Authority had put in hand two sheds at 
the South West India Dock, and these were to be completed 
within two months. The Authority had also in hand the 
extension of the Albert Dock due to be completed in 
eighteen months' time, giving eleven berths for the largest 
ocean liners. They therefore contended that so far as 


they were concerned the question of congestion was but a 
passing one and that they would soon be able to deal in 
London with a trade far larger than that which was 
responsible for the extraordinary pressure. In any case they 
were in a position to promise that unless there were urgent 
requirements beyond those in sight, there would be great 
relief by the end of January. 

The enormous increase in the forces sent abroad with 
even greater forces in prospect, made the maintenance of 
the flow of traffic through the ports of the kingdom a 
question of vital importance to the nation, and in the early 
part of 1915 the Board of Trade appointed an Advisory 
Committee of members of dock and railway authorities 
of the kingdom to investigate the causes of the congestion, 
and to propose measures of relief. Lord Devonport, Mr. J. G. 
Broodbank and Mr. H. T. Moore represented the Authority 
upon the Committee which sat through February, March 
and April, with Lord Inchcape, the chairman of the 
Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, as 
chairman. Sir Eric Geddes was also a member of the 
Committee. The Committee quickly reported. They advised 
that the Government departments should give stringent 
orders for the avoidance of detention of rolling stock at 
sending or receiving stations, that a system of common user 
of railway wagons at docks should be adopted, that repre- 
sentatives of port authorities and other transport interests 
should hold regular meetings at the chief ports in order 
to co-ordinate their efforts for the removal and prevention 
of congestion, that the Sugar Commission should vacate 
all quayside sheds and warehouses wanted for goods in 
transit, and either take accommodation elsewhere, or make 
arrangements for the erection of temporary storage, that 
incoming cargoes of sugar should be diverted to ports 
which were not congested, that the Admiralty and War 
Office should be requested to revise their arrangements 
with a view to the more economical use of the accommoda- 
tion they occupied, and that the War Trade Department 
and Customs and Excise should be invited to facilitate the 
issue of licences and permits for the clearance of goods and 
generally to reduce the obstructions to the shipment of 
export goods. 

The policy of the Authority was to meet the abnormal 


demands on London and elsewhere by the provision of ad- 
ditional space in the Ports themselves. They regarded this 
as in every way economically preferable to one of the alter- 
natives suggested of forwarding goods to inland centres for 
housing immediately they arrived at the ports. Such a 
method would have meant a wasteful journey on the rail- 
ways for the goods, and in many cases, a return journey 
to the port of discharge at a time when it was desirable to 
keep the railways as clear as possible for the transport of 
troops and munitions. They continued to carry out this 
policy with great energy in spite of the growing disabilities 
of scarcer supplies of labour and materials, and they com- 
pleted in twelve months about 2,000,000 square feet of 
accommodation, thereby providing additional storage for 
300,000 tons of goods. 

During the greater part of 1915 the resources of the 
Port of London were taxed by the heavy and irregular 
arrival of goods. The demands upon the Authority may be 
best measured by the fact that the number of dockers em- 
ployed on the quays and warehouses, which was normally 
about 4,500 before the war, was now constantly above 7,000, 
and sometimes beyond 8,000. The export trade especially 
was carried on under great difficulties by reason of the lack 
of shipping tonnage offering for mercantile purposes. But 
by the end of 1915 the congestion in the Port had dis- 
appeared. Co-ordination of working had been effected with 
wharfingers, shipowners, railway companies and lighter- 
men. The Government had commenced to restrict imports, 
and lighterage and van facilities had improved. Valuable 
assistance was afforded by a number of motor lorries lent 
by the War Department for the delivery of goods from 
the docks, but undoubtedly the chief source of relief was to 
be traced to the additions made to the storage and transit 
facilities at the docks. 

The clearance of the congested areas was in no way due 
to any falling off of business. This appeared at the time 
difficult to reconcile with the fact that the tonnage entering 
the Port continued to show a marked decrease as comparea 
with the previous year. The answer given was that a 
ton of shipping of the day represented far more in cargo 
to London than it did before the war. For several years 
previously, the practice had been growing of shipping 


companies discharging part cargoes in London, then going 
on to Antwerp and Hamburg to finish discharge and partly 
load there, and then coming back to London to finish 
loading. A large amount of shipping which counted as two 
entries before the war only counted once during the war, 
and any tonnage comparison suffered accordingly. But the 
cargoes manipulated and stored in London from each ship 
were double what they were, because full and not half 
cargoes were dealt with. 

The Committee on Congestion at the Ports having com- 
pleted its labours, the ports were for a time left to shift for 
themselves. But on the ist November, 1015, the Govern- 
ment, realizing that executive action had become necessary 
to secure the regular maintenance of the transit facilities 
at all the ports, appointed the Port and Transit Executive 
Committee by an Order in Council, with powers to issue 
directions for regulating the traffic at the ports and harbours 
of the United Kingdom for the purpose of preventing 
congestion. The powers conferred upon the Committee 
placed the whole of these undertakings under their control 
for all purposes in the same way that the railway under- 
takings had been made subject to the control of the Railway 
Executive Committee. Lord Inchcape was appointed the 
first chairman. The Committee was formed chiefly of 
representatives of Government Departments, and included 
Sir Norman Hill, of Liverpool, and Mr. Broodbank, of 
London, but no other ports were represented. The Com- 
mittee had its first meeting on the 4th November, 1915, 
and remained embodied until the spring of 1921 for the 
purpose of assisting the ports in dealing with congestion of 
traffic which occurred after the cessation of hostilities. 
Lord Inchcape retired from the chair on the 23rd July, 
1917, and was succeeded by Sir Norman Hill, who re- 
mained the chairman until the end of 1919, when he was 
succeeded by Sir John Barran. During 1917 the Committee 
was enlarged by the addition of several representatives of 
labour and fresh recruits from the new Government De- 
partments. The policy of the Committee was from the first 
as far as possible to leave the administration of the ports in 
the unfettered hands of those responsible for their manage- 
ment. Only in rare cases have the Committee exercised the 
autocratic powers vested in them, and then only after 


exhaustive inquiry into the circumstances attending each case. 
Their business has been by means of regular returns sup- 
plied to them to satisfy themselves that the flow of traffic 
through the ports is being kept free from obstruction, and 
in cases of failure, by mandate or suggestion to secure that 
result as quickly as possible. Three of their principal 
executive acts should be dealt with here : 

First, the direction that all imported goods which might 
appear to any authority to impede the flow of trade should, 
ii not removed within forty-eight hours of notice given, be 
either removed and stored at the cost and risk of the owner, 
or be subject to penal rates of is. per ton for first seven 
days, 2s. per ton for the next seven days, and 33. per ton 
after fourteen days. This direction was given to meet cases 
chiefly in outports where merchants were blocking quays and 
sheds by taking advantage of the relatively cheap statutory 
rates of Port Authorities as compared with the higher rates 
claimed by private stores and carriers under war conditions. 
The power has only rarely been applied in London, and in 
most cases the offender has been a Government Department. 

Secondly, the direction that a prescribed form (known 
afterwards as "the pink form") indicating that certain 
particulars required by the Customs regulations should be 
filled up and lodged with the Authority before consign- 
ments of export goods could be received into the sheds, the 
object being to prevent the blocking up of the sheds by 
export goods before Customs regulations had been complied 

Thirdly, the formation in 1916 of the mobile Transport 
Workers' Battalions. These battalions consisting of soldiers, 
were organized by the Committee for the purpose of 
providing labour for Port work when the civil labour was 
insufficient for the purpose. The battalions proved immensely 
useful, as civil labour was drawn upon by the authorities 
for military service abroad, in preserving the flow of traffic 
in the ports. The first battalion experimentally organized 
was 700 strong, and styled the i6th (Transport Workers' 
Battalion) York and Lancaster Regiment, and it was largely 
recruited from men who had been employed as dockers in 
civil life. Local committees, consisting of one representative 
each of the Admiralty, War Office, Port Authority and 
Labour were constituted at each of the ports and these 

< ^ 

>H ** 

p. 464 


committees considered applications of employers for a 
contingent of the Battalions, and decided whether the 
applications should be recommended for approval. The 
Battalions were never permitted to work where civilian 
labour was available, only being allowed to supplement 
the existing supply of labour. It was in no sense a strike 
breaking weapon for the employer to wield. The utility of 
such a mobile body in times of irregular congestion was so 
obvious that advantage was bound to be taken of it, and the 
first battalion was never able to keep pace with the demands 
made upon it. Four more battalions were soon sanctioned, 
and by the end of the war the number of the men had been 
raised to 15,000, and the scope of their usefulness had been 
extended to the railways, canals and ironworks. The em- 
ployers had to pay for the services of the non-commissioned 
officers and men of the battalion at the current rates 
applicable to dock workers (no charge being made in respect 
of officers) so that no question of undercutting labour could 
be involved. One of the most satisfactory features from the 
beginning was the excellent relations existing between the 
civilian and military docker as they worked together in 
the speeding up of national transport. As a war weapon it 
combined the merits of discipline in working, speed in 
action, and economy in cost. The battalions have repeatedly 
been employed in the Port of London both by the Port 
Authority and the wharfingers, sometimes as many as 
1,000 being engaged in the Port at one time. They nave 
been put to all kinds of work, including the difficult task 
of deal portering. They proved teachable and their spirit 
was excellent. Demobilized, they should prove a most 
valuable asset to the transport service of the country. 

During the whole of the year 1916 the activity of trade in 
London which had marked 1915 continued, and the volume 
of goods dealt with, was practically about the same, though 
the tonnage of shipping that paid dues indicated a further 
falling off. The measures taken by the Authority in 1915 
to cope with the increasing trade had proved efficacious 
in preventing congestion and there were no delays or diffi- 
culties due to that cause. With these measures, coupled with 
the advent of the Transport Workers' Battalions, just alluded 
to, London was now secure against the evils of congestion. 

All risks, however, of this evil being repeated in 1917 


disappeared with the inception of the ruthless submarine 
campaign and its success in sinking many millions of tons 
of British and neutral vessels. By this means the Port of 
London during 1917 suffered severely in the losses of 
shipping and goods on the voyage home, and even more 
severely from the policy of the Government in deciding, 
as part of their protective measures, to divert large volumes 
of traffic to other British ports. This course was apparently 
adopted in response to agitation in the House of Commons 
following upon the loss of a ship with food which had called 
at Falmouth for orders and had been torpedoed outside 
that port on her way to London. The argument used in 
the agitation was that the vessel ought to have been dis- 
charged at Falmouth, and the cargo sent by rail to London, 
and developing this line of reasoning pressure was brought 
upon the Government to consign all ships to West Coast 
ports and dispatch the cargoes to London by rail. The West 
Coast was further from the submarine bases and also 
possessed some of the most commodious ports in the king- 
dom. The argument left out of consideration the fact that 
the concentration of ocean-going traffic in the Irish Channel 
would be offering a larger target to the submarines. The 
Admiralty were doubtless seized with this obvious result, 
but the number of destroyers available was at that time 
not sufficient to escort convoys up both the Irish and 
English Channels, and the Government therefore yielded 
to the clamour and proceeded to make wholesale diversions 
of traffic to the West Coast. At one time they contemplated 
the diversion of the whole of the East Coast traffic to the 
West Coast, and appointed a Committee, chiefly composed 
of railway and port experts, to submit detailed arrangements 
for carrying out such a scheme. 

This Committee reported that such a diversion was only 
practicable to a limited extent. Some of the conditions of 
the problem seemed simple to solve to those unacquainted 
with the working of traffic, and it may be well to deal with 
them here. Most of the West Coast ports were already being 
fully utilized for Admiralty and War Office purposes. Their 
geographical position and facilities had dictated this use. 
Where they were not so used it was because the accommo- 
dation was unsuitable, and if they were unsuitable for war 
traffic they were equally unsuitable for merchandise. As 


an instance, what was the value of the highly efficient coal 
hoists employed in the shipment of coal at South Wales for 
landing frozen meat or bulk grain ? More important were 
the questions of depth of water for deep-draught ships 
and the capacity of the transit sheds. New port accommoda- 
tion could not be improvised by the waving of the wand of 
a magician, especially in war time when all construction 
work was hampered by the system of priority necessarily 
adopted. Organization, staff and labour for working for 
new undertakings were even more difficult. In such circum- 
stances the experience of London in regard to congestion 
during the year 1915 would be intensified at the Western 
ports. The greatest problem was, however, not to be found 
at the port of discharge, but arose in the transit and dis- 
tribution of the cargoes. If cargoes were all of one descripton 
such as grain in bags and intended for one merchant only, 
the cargo could reach its destination easily. But un- 
fortunately the cargoes coming to London from the Colonies 
and America consisted of every class of goods mixed in the 
holds of the vessels. There were often 500 consignees 
interested in one American cargo. Therefore it would be 
necessary to land the whole of the cargo and sort it before 
delivery. The sorting would not be carried out at the port 
of discharge as, if it were attempted, there would in any 
case have to be a further sorting in London. The whole 
cargo would therefore have to be placed in trucks as it 
came ashore and sent on to London by rail. With one cargo 
alone of 15,000 tons about 3,000 trucks would be required, 
occupying about twelve miles of railway. The railway 
depots in London already overcrowded, could not possibly 
handle such a traffic, and the only accommodation available 
would be the dock sheds in London, and it is undoubtedly 
to the docks that the train loads of cargo would be forwarded. 
Here again was another difficulty. The dock sidings and 
sheds had been designed to receive import cargo from the 
water side, and not from the land side. Nor could sheds 
be spared for the long time they would be occupied between 
the first arrival and final delivery if full cargoes had to be 
dealt with in the sheds, instead of part being delivered 
overside. When, at last, some weeks after the vessel had 
discharged at the outport, the last consignment of the cargo 
reached the docks, the real process of delivery to the 


consignee would only have just begun. Let the incidence of 
cost, of delay and especially of the wastage and spoiling 
of food resulting from such arrangements be considered, 
and it will at once be seen that the regular supply of food 
to London would be disastrously crippled. The truth is 
that the effects of interfering with existing methods of 
distribution even in peace are inconvenient and confusing 
to a degree not realized except at such times as those of the 
dock strike of 1912. It seemed better to lose a vessel 
occasionally than adopt the alternative proposed, though to 
the uninstructed lay mind of that time, it seemed better 
still to have provided ample protection to mercantile 
shipping while sailing in the danger zone. 

During the autumn and winter of 1917 the policy of 
the Government in regard to the diversion of shipping 
traffic from London remained unaltered, and the returns 
of the Port indicate the severity of the losses sustained. 
They show that in the year ending 3ist March, 1918, there 
had been a reduction of nearly 29 per cent, in the shipping 
tonnage entering the Port as compared with the previous 
twelve months, and of nearly 20 per cent, in the goods 
handled by the Authority. Though in adopting the diversion 
scheme it had been proposed that the cargoes should still come 
to London, this was not carried out in practice. Attempts 
were made to distribute goods such as tea direct from the 
Western ports, instead of using the London market, the 
idea being to avoid unnecessary rail carriage. London lost 
this lucrative class of business, but it also lost even more 
severely by the fact, that, to save rail transit, provisions 
which would have in the ordinary course served for London 
supplies, were disposed of at the ports of discharge to the 
advantage of the outport population at the expense of 
Londoners. This is one of the explanations why the difficulties 
of food supplies in London and the South East of England 
were so accentuated in the winter of 1917-18. 

Representations were made to the Government on 
behalf of the Authority and by the leaders of port labour 
as to the unwisdom of continuing the policy of diversion, 
but any suggestion for immediate change was resisted on 
the ground that the demands of the Admiralty were still too 
onerous to allow of more warships being spared for convoying 
merchantmen up the English Channel. The Government 


attitude was stiffened by the events at the Front in 
March, 1918, which threatened the safety of the French 
Channel ports and the entire closing of the Straits of Dover 
to mercantile shipping. The question, however, had become 
such a grave one for London, that on the initiative of 
Mr. J. D. Gilbert, M.P., a member of the Port of London 
Authority, it was earnestly taken up by the London Members 
of Parliament, and strong representations were made by 
them to the War Cabinet. 

Judged by its results the London members' intervention 
was successful. The Government gave assurances that no 
unnecessary diversions would take place, and promised 
that as more escorts would soon be available a larger share 
of the traffic would be despatched to London. The position 
at the Front also became stabilized, and on the i5th July 
began the series of operations which terminated in the 
capture of Zeebrugge and the final victory of the Allies. 
But even in April, 1918, the tide of traffic began to turn 
towards London, and as the months passed it flowed 
stronger and stronger, until by the end of 1918 something 
like an equal distribution of trade was being made between 
the East and West Coasts. With the month of May, 1918, 
began arrivals of American troops in the Port of London, 
and by the end of November, 114,000 had been landed in 
the Port from ninety-five vessels. Though it is fair to 
acknowledge that the circumstances of the end of 1918 
were more favourable to London than those of the end of 
1917, the intervention of the London members was justified 
both by the circumstances at the time and by its results. 


Early in October, 1914, the Port Authority were 
requested by the Military Authorities to construct a pontoon 
bridge across the Thames between Gravesend and Tilbury. 
By continuous working day and night the approaches and 
the bridge, with a removable section 600 feet wide for the 
passage of navigation, were completed within the one 
month specified, and on the i5th November a trial of the 
bridge was ordered by the Army Council. At this trial, 
which was in all respects satisfactory, the bridge opening 
was closed in 3 hours 19 minutes after the receipt of 
instructions, being 41 minutes less than the four hours 


provided for. The navigation passage was restored in 
2 hours 8 minutes. The Authority maintained tugs and 
staff always in waiting to close or open the passage at any 
time. The bridge was dismantled immediately after the 
armistice was signed. 

From time to time the Authority placed their dredging 
plant at the disposal of Government Departments, twenty- 
six vessels having in all being chartered to the Government. 
The vessels were used, some in dredging operations con- 
nected with defence works in the north, some were adapted 
for carrying cargo, and others were converted into oil 
tankers for bunkering purposes at sea. 

In July, 1915, the Authority, at the request of the 
Munitions Department, undertook the manufacture of 
i8-pounder shells. Volunteers were called for, and the work, 
which was carried out chiefly after ordinary working hours, 
was continued until the temporary shortage was made up. 

In the numerous air raids made upon the metropolis the 
docks and warehouses of the Port have always been one of 
the objectives of the invaders. Yet, though damage was done 
to house property by enemy aircraft in Poplar and several 
children killed, the property of the Authority and the 
wharfingers remained practically immune from damage 
throughout the war. Only a few German bombs ever 
descended upon their premises, and these either dropped 
into water or upon open ground. Only one bomb actually 
struck a building, and the total of damage to the Authority's 
property inside and outside the docks occasioned by the 
enemy and by our own aircraft defence guns amounted to 
3,239. The strict carrying out of the lighting regulations 
at the docks and the adequate anti-aircraft equipment pro- 
vided by the War Office were probably the chief factors in 
securing this immunity from attack. The nature of the 
construction and contents of the dock warehouses made 
them in many ways suitable for air-raid shelters, but for 
obvious reasons they were not places where it was possible 
to admit indiscriminately the public who would be likely 
to use them. No general permission could therefore be 
given to the public to resort to the warehouses during the 
raids, but in consultation with the local and police authorities 
certain premises at the London and St. Katharine, Millwall 
and Victoria Dock, with proper sanitary accommodation, 








P. 470 


were reserved for the public during raids, and many 
thousands of people took refuge therein under the super- 
vision of the Authority's police. 

Torpedo nets were fitted in front of every lock gate at 
the river entrances to the docks, whilst the entrances them- 
selves were regularly patrolled, at first by soldiers and later 
on by the Authority's police. 


The labour question in the Port was naturally one of the 
most difficult problems of the war. The facilities for rapid 
transport at the ports were essential to the campaign, and 
the Government, recognizing this from the first, made the 
occupation of transport worker exempt from the conscript 
call. When the war broke out a large number of port 
workers were called up to the Army and the Navy because 
they were reservists or in the Territorial Forces. A further 
withdrawal took place, when many volunteers responded 
to the appeal of Lord Kitchener. When the Government 
wanted transport workers at Havre and other French ports, 
about 1,270 London men were enlisted for service there, 
still further depleting the staffs of the Authority and other 
employers. Other men left for the munition works in the 
neighbourhood, drawn there partly by the laudable patriotic 
impulse of more direct service to the Army and others by 
the higher pay offered. One feature of the early methods of 
recruiting for munition work adopted by Government 
Departments created much criticism, and has had evil 
effects throughout the war and since. This was that instead 
of approaching the employer and endeavouring to arrange 
with them to spare a portion of their mechanics, the 
Government agents took the short and easy course of 
tempting men to leave by offering dazzling wages, often 
standing outside the gates of East End engineering estab- 
lishments and soliciting men as they entered or left the 
works. The worst immediate effect was the discontent 
engendered in the minds of the workers left behind. The 
ultimate effect was to encourage the general unrest and 
demands for higher wages everywhere in skilled and un- 
skilled trades. It must be said to his credit that so far as the 
docker was concerned he was one of the last class of worker 
to put forward claims for war bonuses. By February, 1915. 


the higher freights of shipping had been followed by higher 
prices for food, and an application was made on behalf of 
the dockers for an advance of wages to meet the increase in 
the cost of living, and a war bonus equal to 35. per week was 
agreed to at the end of the month. By July, 1916, the cost 
of living had increased again, and a further bonus equal to 
6s. per week was agreed to. Two further rises were given in 
1917, one in April of 33. per week and another in December 
of 6s. per week. These four war bonuses totalled i8s. per 
week, and were given by the Authority in consultation with 
the other employers and the men's representatives. This 
1 8s. applied to ordinary dock and wharf workers. The other 
classes of port employees had proportionate increases. In 
March, 1918, the National Transport Workers' Federation 
suddenly put forward a claim on the Government for a war 
advance to be standardized at 8d. per hour over pre-war 
rates (equal to 325. per week approximately), and it was re- 
ferred to the Committee on Production, who invited the 
employers in the ports to the hearing of the case. The in- 
vitation was declined by the London employers. The Port 
Authority in a letter to the Chairman of the Committee 
pointed out that no application had been made to them by 
the men or by the labour members of the Authority as to 
any grievance affecting wages, that the claim for standard- 
ization was against the known sentiment of the workers, 
that no claim as to enhanced cost of living had been raised, 
and that the proposal of the Federation was advocated 
merely on the ground that the men were entitled to exploit 
the economic position in the critical state of the nation's 
fortunes. The Authority called in aid the report of the 
Select Committee on National Expenditure recently issued. 
This report had pointed out that the succession of fresh 
cycles of wages advances was vastly increasing the cost of 
the war, and had recommended that the strongest case 
should be required to be established before any advance of 
wages was conceded on any ground other than the rise in 
the cost of living. The Authority, therefore, felt justified 
in taking the stand that until a Government Committee 
which had just been appointed to inquire specifically into 
the cost of living had made their report they would give no 
countenance or be parties to any proceedings. Though the 
reason was not stated in the correspondence, the Authority 


was largely influenced by the conviction that the Com- 
mittee on Production was not a judicial body, and 
that they were merely agents appointed by the Gov- 
ernment to dole out to the men such increases of 
wages as might appear to be necessary from time to time 
to keep the men quiet. The Government felt forced by the 
action taken by the Authority to proclaim the Port of 
London as a district where a difference existed for adjudica- 
tion under the Munition Acts, and this was followed by a 
hearing where no evidence was tendered by the Authority 
and an award equivalent to another 8s. a week bonus pay- 
able from the 6th May, with a further bonus for overtime 
work. A new application was heard in October, 1918, when 
again the employers were practically not represented for the 
same reasons as had influenced them in the spring, and 
again an award for the men, this time equivalent to 6s. 
When the armistice was signed on the nth November, 
1918, the total of the war bonuses given by agreement were 
therefore equal to 325. a week. To provide the funds to pay 
this extra wage and the many consequential increases to 
lightermen, carmen, and other port workers, and also to pay 
for higher wages in the maintenance departments and the 
higher cost of stores, it became necessary from time to time 
to increase the tariffs of rates and charges on shipping and 
goods, and by the end of 1918 the tariffs were 85 per cent, 
in excess of those in force in 1914. 

The character of the labour employed necessarily 
suffered during the war by the losses through enlistment in 
the early stages of the war, and by the fact that no young 
men were available to fill vacancies. The numbers of the 
men had to be increased for the work done because of the 
inferior quality, but on the whole it may be said that the 
labour was more efficient at the close of the war than in 
1915 or 1916, experience having benefited the men who 
had come in. But for the creation of the Transport Workers' 
Battalion the supply of labour available would rarely have 
been equal to the work on hand. 

Though there has been much restlessness due to the 
crude processes by which it has been attempted to meet the 
increased prices of food by periodical war bonuses, it must 
be fully acknowledged that during the war the dockers 
generally did recognize their responsibilities as a vital link in 


the equipment and feeding of the Army and civil population 
and worked to the best of their ability. The only serious 
exception to the rule in the early stages of the war was the 
action of certain stevedores and men employed by ship- 
owners who saw the opportunity of getting a regular 
Saturday afternoon holiday and availed themselves of it 
during the rest of the war. 

When the Derby scheme of recruiting was started in 
October, 1915, the importance of retaining sufficient 
transport workers for efficiently carrying out the work of 
the Port was pointed out to Lord Derby by the Authority, 
and it was agreed by him that the arrangements to secure 
this end should be made through the Authority. It was 
decided that such men on enlistment should be starred in 
groups and at once placed in the Army Reserve and sent 
back to their civil occupation, and that all applications for 
the release to private employers of men inadvertently 
detained by recruiting officers should be vouched by the 
Authority. The Authority thus acted as a clearing house 
for the whole of the transport workers of the Port. This 
arrangement lasted until May, 1916, when the work of 
exempting transport workers from military service was 
taken over by the London Shipowners and Transport 
Workers Military Service Committee, which consisted of 
representatives of the following bodies : 

Board of Trade. 

Port of London Authority 

London General Shipowners' Society 

London Shipowners' Dock Committee 

London Short Sea Traders' Association 

London Chamber of Commerce 

Association of Public Wharfingers of the Port of London 

London Cartage Contractors' and Horse Owners' Association 

London Master Stevedores' Association 

Association of Master Lightermen and Bargeowners 

Steamship Owners' Coal Association. 

Representatives of Transport Workers' Unions 

Military representatives 

The chairman of this important committee was Mr. 
J. B. Wimble (now Sir John Wimble, K.B.E.), and it was 
largely due to his ability and impartiality that the duties of 
the committee were carried out with satisfaction to all the 
interests involved. This committee after the cessation of 






hostilities was entrusted with the arrangements for releasing 
transport workers from the Army in the general demobiliza- 

Immediately after the armistice an agitation was com- 
menced for a shorter working week for dock labourers, the 
men having in view a national half holiday on Saturday 
throughout the country. No objection was raised in London 
to the Saturday half holiday so long as the men were willing 
to work for 48 hours during the week. The National Trans- 
port Workers' Federation voiced the men's demands and 
asked that the question should be settled on national lines, 
and not locally. The demand was accompanied by the 
condition that there should be no reduction in pay for the 
shorter working week. Numerous informal conferences 
took place between the Federation and employers from 
various ports, and in the end, owing to the pressure put 
upon them by the Ministry of Labour, the demand was in 
effect granted by the employers as from the 24th April, 
1919. In the case of some employers where the hours had 
substantially exceeded 48 per week a compromise was 
arrived at in settling the new rates of pay. Though the 
concession involved considerable cost to the Port of London 
Authority and other London employers, no addition to the 
charges of the Port was necessary as the conditions of trade 
were then so prosperous that the burden could be met out 
of the current revenue. 

In October, 1919, the National Transport Workers' 
Federation, in pursuance of their policy of endeavouring to 
obtain national settlements of wages, made an application 
to all port employers with demands, the principal of which 
were that the minimum pay for day workers and piece- 
workers should be at the rate of :6s. a day for the 44-hour 
week, and that pay for overtime should be at the rate of 
time and a half. Though such a serious demand obviously 
required treatment by the employers on national lines, no 
national employers' organization was in existence. The 
employers at the leading ports, with London at the head, 
decided after consultation to form a Provisional Com- 
mittee, with Lord Devonport as chairman, for dealing with 
the emergency, and eventually agreed with the Transport 
Workers' Federation to accept the offer of Sir Robert 
Home (then the Minister of Labour) to let the question be 


threshed out before a Court of Inquiry under the Industrial 
Courts Act, 1919. The Court was constituted as follows : 










The inquiry opened on the 3rd February, 1920, and 
there were twenty public sittings, the evidence being con- 
cluded on the nth March. Sir Lynden Macassey, K.B.E., 
K.C., was the principal spokesman for the employers and 
Mr. Ernest Bevm for the labourers. The Press soon dubbed 
Mr. Bevin as the Dockers' K.C., and the skill and thorough- 
ness with which he conducted his case entitled him to the 
compliment. There were fifty-three witnesses. The men's 
case was based broadly upon the claim that they were entitled 
to a higher standard of life, that the industry could afford 
this, and that in view of the casual nature of their employ- 
ment they were also entitled to maintenance during the time 
they were idle. The employers resisted the demands upon 
the ground that the dockers were, relatively to other indus- 
tries, sufficiently well paid by the existing minimum of 
3 45. 2d. a week, and that the increases of pay given during 
the war had been followed by a most serious falling off in 
output. Seven members of the Court, namely, the chairman, 
the four labour members, Sir Lionel Fletcher, and Mr. 
Smethurst, reported in favour of conceding the i6s. demands, 
though Mr. Smethurst qualified his assent by objecting to a 
minimum wage, but was in favour of a substantial percent- 
age advance on earnings. Sir Joseph Broodbank and Mr. 
Scrutton declined to sign the report and submitted a report 
of their own. 

The majority report summed up the results of the inquiry 
as follows : 

i. That with a view to establishing a national minimum standard 
(to use the words of the claim) the minimum for day workers and 
pieceworkers should be i6s. per day on the basis of the national 
agreement for the 44 hour week. 


2. That a system of registration of dock labour should be intro- 
duced into all the ports, docks, and harbours of the kingdom. 

3. That the principle of maintenance of unemployed casual 
labour is approved. 

4. That wages of dock labour should be paid weekly and that 
this system should be introduced at the earliest possible date. 

5. That the constitution of a national joint council and its 
correlative and local bodies should be undertaken for the dock 
labour industry on the lines of the Report of the Whitley Committee. 

6. That these bodies should, failing agreement by the parties, 
be charged with the settlement of the incidental matters mentioned 
in this report, and of the remaining items of claim. 

The majority report confirmed the correctness of the 
employers' complaints as to the falling off in output and 
breaches of contract on the part of the men, but relied upon 
the hopes held out by the men's leaders that increased 
output would follow increased wages and upon a broad 
appeal to the honour of the men. 

The minority report pointed out that to raise the 
minimum pay of dockers to i6s. a day would make it nearly 
3^ times what it was before the war, and that the concession, 
if given, would, as the Prime Minister had indicated in a 
recent demand of the miners, be followed by demands from 
every grade of skilled workmen in the country, and create 
a new vicious circle still further inflating currency and 
enormously increasing the cost of living. Sir Joseph 
Broodbank's and Mr. Scrutton's suggestions for dealing 
with the situation were : 

(a) That the rise in prices since the rates of wages were last 
fixed in October, 1918, warrants a further immediate increase in 
the present rates. 

(b) That a scheme of maintenance should be at once jointly 
considered, and after its effect on the ordinary rates of pay has 
been estimated the parties by agreement should fix permanent 
standard rates of pay. 

(c) That pending such agreement (and in no case before the 
ist January, 1921) no reduction should be made in the rates of pay. 

(d) That having regard to the experience of the 44 hours' agree- 
ment related at length in that report, better output would not be 
secured by merely giving an all-round increase of wages irrespect- 
ive of results actually achieved, and that in many cases existing 
piecework rates might be increased in the hope of encouraging 
better results. 

The employers, after consideration, decided to accept 
the majority report as a whole. Negotiations with the 


National Transport Workers' Federation were opened, and 
an agreement was signed on the 5th May, 1920, under 
which as from the loth May the minimum of i6s. is applied 
to the majority of the ports and 155. to certain or the 
smaller ports. 

The increase in pay to the labourers necessitated corre- 
sponding increases to other sections of the Port establish- 
ments, the total being estimated at 15,000,000 per annum 
for the country, of which about one-third was referable to 
London. The liability thus incurred was transferred to the 
consumer by an increase in the rates and charges for port 
services. In the case of the Port of London this was achieved 
by increasing the all-round war addition of 85 per cent, to 
150 per cent. 

The employers proceeded to establish a permanent 
organization of their own, and in the following July the 
National Council of Port Employers was formed. Certain 
members of this Council have been appointed to meet 
representatives of the men for the purpose of dealing with 
labour problems in the Port, and thus constitute the first 
Joint Industrial Council for port labour. 


The Authority during the whole of the war undertook 
the charge of the secret examination service on the river 
of all incoming vessels, the officer in charge being Captain 
Kershaw, the harbourmaster of the lower section of the 
river. The Authority's police force co-operated with the 
Government Aliens' Officers in carrying out orders affecting 
enemy and friendly aliens in the prohibited area of the 
Port. It was felt that the docks were the chief channel in 
London for the conveyance of intelligence to the enemy, 
and a large number of persons, not aliens, whom it was 
considered undesirable to allow in the docks were pro- 
hibited from entering altogether. As the dock statutes 
permit the public to enter or leave the docks freely so long 
as they have business to transact there, the performance 
of this duty required great care and circumspection on the 
part of the police in the scrutiny of persons passing through 
the dock gates. It also necessitated a registration system 
adapted to the differing circumstances of neutral and 
enemy aliens and questionable characters of British origin. 






p. 478 


The control of alien crews of vessels, who provided the 
chief danger of communication to the enemy, was nomin- 
ally maintained by Home Office officials, but the whole of 
the executive work was carried out by the Authority's 
police, including the conduct of all charges and prosecu- 
tions. This work proved to be one of no little difficulty, the 
more so in that in deference to the supposed wishes of the 
shipping community the duties had to be carried out with 
little attempt at strictness. Real segregation of alien ships' 
crews was scarcely enforced until the middle of 1918. No 
alien was allowed to pass over lock gates, and an additional 
safeguard of these vulnerable points of the dock system was 
the prohibition of passage over them by the general public 
except to certified employees of firms engaged on work of 
national importance. The control of all permits to take 
photographs or drawings in the dock and river jurisdiction 
of the Authority was also vested in their police. Even more 
responsible work was thrown on the police in the guarding 
of the many thousands of tons of explosives passing through 
the docks. Minor but indispensable services were rendered 
by the police in attendance at the embarkation and landing 
of troops and the use of the Authority's ambulances for 
the conveyance of wounded soldiers and sailors and 
returned prisoners of war. 

The following figures express in terms perhaps more 
easily understood, the extent and value of the police services 
of the Authority : 

Aliens registered 

Aliens arrested and convicted 
Prosecutions for sketching, etc. 
Dock passes issued after full inquiry 
Lock passes issued 


I 9 



These arrangements were organized with high ability by 
Mr. E. Stuart Baker, the Authority's chief police officer. 


Immediately upon the declaration of the war the Authority 
approached the Government with regard to the payment 
for the services and accommodation at the docks for trans- 
port, with the result that an arrangement was made with 


the Admiralty, based upon that made with the London and 
India Docks Joint Committee at the time of the South 
African War, which provided for payment in full of dock 
tonnage rates on ships and an agreed schedule of charges 
for the special services accommodation and facilities 
required by the Government. Three months later the 
Admiralty suddenly terminated the agreement and claimed 
complete exemption under the Harbour, Docks and Piers 
Clauses Act, 1847, for all Government ships, including 
hired transports, proposing in substitution an ex gratia 
payment of 75 per cent, of the rates leviable on the mer- 
cantile marine, and further demanding that in respect of 
goods handled for the Government the dock charges should 
be based on the out-of-pocket expenses of labour alone, 
allowing nothing for wharfage or as a contribution towards 
interest on capital. The effect of submitting to the applica- 
tion of this principle to the shipping and goods then under 
Government control would have been sufficient to endanger 
the payment of interest on the capital of the Authority. If 
it had remained in operation until the end of the war, when 
about 90 per cent, of the services to goods and shipping 
were on Government account, the Authority would have 
even with its reserve fund defaulted in its interest by the 
end of 1915, and have been hopelessly bankrupt and 
unable to carry on. The same treatment was in contempla- 
tion for the whole of the port authorities in the kingdom. 
Remonstrance with the officials of the Treasury was made, 
the authorities pointing out that Parliament could never 
have intended the powers under the 1847 Act to be so 
abused as to give the community the free use of ports in 
the middle of war, which had diverted practically all 
shipping and food imports into the hands of the Govern- 
ment, and also pointing out that while private firms whose 
works were taken over for war purposes were being accorded 
arrangements giving them large profits, undertakings 
managed by public authorities strictly for the benefit of 
the public were to be starved and ruined by the application 
of a statute obviously designed for normal peace conditions. 
No redress being obtained from the officials, the authorities, 
in concert with Members of Parliament representing the 
constituencies in which the principal harbours and docks 
were situated, sought and obtained the opportunity of 


approaching Mr. Asquith as a deputation. The deputation 
was received on the lyth February, 1916, and after hearing 
Lord Devonport and other members of the deputation, 
Mr. Asquith undertook to consult with the Departments 
concerned with the object of arriving at terms of payment 
which could be accepted on all hands as reasonable and just. 
Months of negotiation ensued ending in the following 
offer being made by the Government to take effect from 
the 4th August, 1914, and accepted by the Dock and 
Harbour Authorities : 

Percentage of 

I. In respect of ships. ordinary tariff. 

A. Port and Harbour Dues. 

(a) for ships belonging to the Royal Navy and 
ships requisitioned during the war for naval 
use as transports, mine sweepers, patrol ships, 

(1) Port harbour and dock dues where 
vessels have the use of berths in open or 
closed docks or at other quays or jetties 

in the port . . . . . . . . 75 

(2) Port and harbour dues in open harbour* 
where use is not made of the facilities 
specified under (i) above .. .. nil 

(b) For requisitioned and prize ships engaged 
in discharging and/or loading grain, sugar, 
timber, meat, and other goods which are 

not munitions or naval or military stores . . 100 

B. Payments for Services. 

Graving dock rates and payments for tonnage, towage, 
cranage, water, light, power, labour and all other specified 
services to be in accordance with the ordinary tariff 
applicable to such services. 

II. In respect of Goods and Stores. 

On all goods loaded into and/or discharged from all ships, 
including requisitioned ships, the Government to pay the rates, 
dues, and charges payable in accordance with the ordinary tariff 
in force at the port, harbour, or dock concerned, that is to say, the 
Government is to be put on the same terms as a large importer or 
exporter dealing with similar quantities under similar circumstances. 

This arrangement, though not giving the authorities all 
that they considered they were entitled to, was on the 
whole satisfactory to the larger ports. Some of the smaller 
ports had been so denuded of business by the war that even 
had the Government terms been more generous the 
authorities would still have found it impossible to maintain 


their position and these cases were met by an undertaking 
of the Government to favourably consider hard cases. 

It may be recorded here that the many thousands of 
tons of gifts and comforts for soldiers and sailors and 
refugees sent home or abroad were handled or stored during 
the war at the docks of the Port of London Authority free 
of charges. This concession was even applied to such con- 
signments as the 200,000 bags of flour, part of the immense 
gift from Canada in the early days of the war. 


War had the effect of seriously modifying the programme 
of improvements and new works which had been adopted 
by the Authority. Briefly put, it may be said that whilst 
works in that programme approaching completion in August, 
1914, were allowed to proceed, those not so forward have 
been seriously delayed. Further works not contemplated, 
but necessary to meet war emergencies, have been carried 
out promptly. Some of the programme works completed 
during the war have already been mentioned earlier in this 
chapter. Others in this category included the important 
new store for frozen meat at the Royal Albert Dock, with 
part of the adjacent meat store, the new cold store in 
Smithfield, the new ferro concrete jetty with double storey 
transit sheds in the London Dock, the extension of the 
Tilbury Main Dock, and the great installation of forty-three 
electric cranes for the Royal Albert Dock. The works carried 
out for emergency purposes were mostly in the nature of 
shed and warehouse accommodation for goods. 

The programme works which suffered great delays from 
priorities given to other war work in the country were the 
deepening of the river, the extension of the Albert Dock 
and the river jetty at Tilbury. 

River deepening was stopped early in the war owing to 
the difficulty of obtaining labour and to the acquisition of 
most of the dredgers by the Government. The river jetty at 
Tilbury was in the hands of contractors who found them- 
selves continually handicapped by lack of labour and mater- 
ial and made slow progress . In the summer of 1 9 1 8 the contract 
was cancelled by agreement and the Authority is now car- 
rying on the work with some hope of the early completion 
of the jetty with the more favourable conditions of peace. 


The Authority viewed the completion of the Albert 
Dock extension as of great national importance and con- 
tinually brought all the pressure in their power to secure 
the priorities for steel and other materials, but these 
priorities were persistently refused until the summer of 
1918, when the Government, requiring increased dry dock 
facilities for the repair of torpedoed vessels, approached 
the Authority with an offer to give the necessary priorities 
and to pay them a sum of about 200,000 to secure early 
completion of the dock and dry dock. The circumstances 
of the offer necessitated the cancelling of the contract 
entered into with Messrs. Pearson. This has been done 
and the work is being rapidly proceeded with under the 
direction of Mr. C. R. Kirkpatrick the chief engineer of the 
Authority. It is anticipated that the connexion with the 
main Albert Dock will be ready for passage of vessels by 
the summer of 1921, thus giving access from that date to 
the new dry dock of vessels of about 12,000 tons. The new 
river lock will probably be available for use about the same 
time, and then both the new wet and dry docks will be 
available for vessels up to 35,000 tons. It is a part of the 
arrangement made with the Admiralty that all the dry 
docks of the Authority shall be furnished with cranes and 
pneumatic compressors, and this work is proceeding. 

One unexpected series of works of reparation on a large 
scale were thrown upon the Authority by the Silvertown 
explosion on the igth January, 1917. A vast amount of 
damage was caused to the buildings in the Victoria Dock 
by the calamitous explosion. Many sheds were blown 
bodily down, others were set on fire and burned to the 
ground, and nearly every other building in this area had 
their doors and roofs damaged. The clearance of debris and 
the re-erections and repairs occupied nearly two years, and 
the claim of the Authority on the Government who accepted 
liability for the effects of the disaster was settled for 

Amongst a number of various minor works carried out 
for war purposes were 

(a) The construction of the landing stages in connexion with the ferry 
used by munition workers between Gallions Jetty and Woolwich. 

(b) The supply of ballast for the making of concrete in defence 
work* on the South Coast. 


(r) The widening and strengthening of the Ctttle Market at the 
Deptford Supply Reserve Depot of the War Department. 

(</) Sheds for the War Office at Tilbury and Royal Albert Dock. 

(e) Many salving operations in the raising of sunken vessels, 
including one gunboat. 


The members of the Authority's staff who were called 
up or volunteered for service with His Majesty's Forces 
up to the armistice numbered 3,542. 

Of these 397 lost their lives in the defence of their country, 
717 were wounded or disabled through illness. 

Many distinctions were gained by members of the staff 
including two Victoria Crosses. 

The number of casualties amongst the men drawn from 
the Port as a whole is not known, but approximately it 
may be taken as about five times the number referable to 
the Port Authority. 


The canteen arrangements for workmen at the docks have 
long been far from ideal. The general movement throughout 
the country during the war for an improvement in the 
conditions under which meals are served to workers was 
extended to the docks, and the Authority in co-operation 
with the Liquor Board and the Young Men's Christian 
Association erected several temporary canteens in the 
docks for the entertainment of the largely increased numbers 
of men employed there during the war. Besides adopting 
these temporary measures, the Authority erected two 
permanent canteen buildings (one at Tilbury and the 
other at the Albert Dock) over which they are exercising 
direct control through their hotel manager, having in mind 
also the possibility of extending that control to the whole 
of the refreshment arrangements in the docks. 

During the summer of 1915 to 1918 inclusive the 
Authority provided a steamer for trips for wounded soldiers 
on the Thames. A second steamer was provided by a 
committee of the members of the Authority out of funds 
derived from private sources during the last three of the 
summers. In all 50,705 soldiers were carried. The manage- 
ment of the trips was in the hands of Mr. F. Carbutt, 


acting on behalf of the British Red Cross Society. None 
of the many excursions given to soldiers appears to have 
met with such favour on the part of the men and there was 
universal testimony from the commandants of the hospitals 
as to the beneficial effect of these trips on the health of 
the men. 

During the war period the Port Authority were able to 
bring about a revision of the arrangements between them- 
selves and the public wharfingers in regard to rates. The 
many agreements in regard to dock companies and sections 
of the wharfingers, every one of them in different terms, 
were abolished. In their place was set up the Port of London 
Working Association, the object of which is to secure that 
all merchants transacting business in the Port shall be 
charged the same rates for equal services. The governing 
body is a joint committee consisting of eight members of 
the Authority and an equal number of wharfingers, the 
chairman of the Authority being the chairman of the 
Association. The complicated details affecting individual 
rates are discussed and settled by sectional committees, 
subject to the final approval of the joint committee. The 
articles provide for the provisional maintenance of existing 
arrangements where loss of business would have followed to 
any individual wharfinger, but these exceptional cases have 
been reduced to very few in number, and will, it is believed, 
soon disappear, and it may be said that the adhesion of 
wharfingers to the principle of the Association has been so 
general that for all practical purposes there is now a single 
tariff applicable throughout the Port. There is no fear that 
the joint committee will develop into a ring to the detriment 
of merchants inasmuch as merchants are safeguarded by 
the Port of London Act. One most useful measure adopted 
by the Authority during 1920 was the promotion of a Bill 
which became law for unifying and consolidating their 


The Future of the Port 

THE pages of history show that with few exceptions 
once a great community establishes itself on a site, 
that site permanently remains a dwelling place of crowded 
humanity. The vicissitudes due to war and other destructive 
agencies or to the starting of rival communities may 
temporarily dim the prosperity of the inhabitants, but the 
conditions which originally attracted men to settle on the 
site reassert themselves with the passing away of the adverse 
influences. Thus we have such old cities as Paris, Moscow, 
Rome, Athens survive through the ages the direst effects of 
fire, pestilence and sword. Even Carthage, the classic 
example of the deadly vengeance of its implacable foe, has 
risen again in its suburbs and become the modern Tunis. 
Even more distinctly is this principle illustrated in the case 
of ports which have served generations as international 
channels for the distribution of merchandise. The prosperity 
of such ports may ebb and flow with the circumstances of 
the trades which use them, but they almost universally 
continue to serve their original purpose. To select the 
oldest instances, Marseilles, Genoa, Athens, Alexandria, 
Constantinople, Bristol, Southampton have been ports 
since the countries in which they are situated had a cor- 
porate existence, and they are to-day in the first rank. 
London is perhaps the outstanding example of this per- 
sistence of adherence to its original function in the common- 
wealth, and London has been less subject to fluctuations 
of prosperity than any of the other great ports of the world. 
We may judge therefore from its 1,900 years' history which 
this work is attempting to record that the future of the 
Port of London is as secure as the future of any human 
institution can be. Even though the British Empire should 
have been disintegrated and despoiled as the result of the 
late struggle it is impossible to believe that the Port of 
London, with its natural advantages enhanced by the 
expenditure of many millions on facilities, would have 
ceased to occupy its pre-eminent position as a market or 

! . 

p. 486 


distributing centre. But with the triumph of the Allied forces 
and the extension of the Empire's power and influence, we 
have the prospect of increased commercial operations in 
the chief port of the Empire, and as a consequence an 
augmentation of shipping and merchandise there, which 
should, as the years proceed, bring an increment of trade 
to the Port enormously beyond anything that has hitherto 
been dreamed of. 

London will remain, as it has long been, the chief inter- 
national market for Eastern and Colonial produce. The 
most valuable of its imports has for many years been 
Colonial wool, an inversion of the conditions of its earlier 
history when wool was its chief export. Many attempts 
have been made by rival ports to capture the wool trade of 
London. British ports like Liverpool and Hull have en- 
deavoured to cajole merchants with the argument that a 
saving in carriage between London and Yorkshire could 
be brought about by discharging Colonial wool nearer the 
point of manufacture. The Germans before the war bought 
largely in the Australian markets and shipped wool direct 
to German ports. America and Japan have also bought 
direct and continue to do so. Our home manufacturers 
also adopt this practice to a limited extent. But the fact 
remains that by far the greater part of such wool as is not 
bought in Australia is sent to the London wool warehouses 
and put on show for sale there, and buyers from all parts of 
the world congregate there with the knowledge that in the 
vast supplies laid out for inspection on the floors of the 
London warehouse, they will have a greater selection to 
choose from than at any other point in the world, that their 
individual requirements will be satisfied at the ruling market 
price, and that they will receive what they have bought and 
paid for. 

Tea has been a practical monopoly of the London market 
ever since its importation began. During the war for the 
purpose of saving shipping tonnage and railway transit, 
considerable quantities of tea were sent to northern ports 
and distributed from there. The scheme was not a success 
even as a war measure, and though the Port of London 
suffered, the consumer suffered even more. There was 
disadvantage by reason of the ignorance of the methods 
of managing the business. This might have been cured 


by experience, but the blending and packing and distribution 
of teas had been centred in London, and also the financial 
operations, and it was not easy to move these important 
items from London at a moment's notice. Hence much 
confusion and loss of quality and quantity at the expense of 
the community. In some cases it was found that tea landed 
at Liverpool was being sent to the south of England, whilst 
consignments landed in London were dispatched to 
Yorkshire, thus defeating the objects of the Food and 
Shipping Controllers in departing from the ordinary 
methods governing the business. What has happened during 
the war has proved so clearly that the trade practice was 
founded on principles of utility that no other evidence is 
required to justify the assurance that the tea trade will 
remain a London one. 

Rubber is relatively a new trade. Wild rubber finds its 
way to Liverpool but the cultivated product, plantation 
rubber, has its market in London. This trade is one which 
must inevitably grow. 

Another modern article of import, immensely increased 
in volume during the last five years has been liquid fuel 
in the form of mineral oils and spirits. Vast tanks for the 
reception of petroleum and petrol have been erected on the 
banks of the Thames at safe distances from the City, and 
yet with such facilities for distribution that the conveyance 
from the tank to the receiving station in London can be 
performed at an infinitesimal cost per gallon. This trade is 
certain of expansion. 

The Port of London has always been the chief mart 
for imported goods used in highly specialized and luxury 
trades. Thus we find there the markets for articles of 
medicine, such as bark, rhubarb, ipecacuanha, jalap, 
iodine, etc., for spices, such as cloves, nutmegs, mace, 
cassia and cinnamon, and for all the valuable working 
metals such as copper, tin and quicksilver. The luxury 
trades include carpets, feathers, silk and silk piece goods, 
china ware, ivory. All these imports are so closely identified 
with the industries of the metropolis that their development 
with the increasing influence of the British Empire cannot 
be questioned. 

But in point of volume and weight the largest trades are 
those which arise out of the consumption of commodities 


by Londoners themselves, and the population which is 
served from London. Most of the coal for London under 
normal conditions arrives by sea, and it is an ever-increasing 
proportion. Corn, including wheat, oats, maize and barley, 
reaches London by sea. Under war conditions more wheat 
has been grown in England, but no one anticipates that the 
conversion of pasture into corn lands is anything but a 
temporary measure. Imports of wheat still continue to 
arrive in enormous quantities, and it may be assumed that 
so far as these imports are in excess of what is necessary 
to compensate for the deficiencies still left in spite of the 
improved home supplies, they will be used to maintain a 
higher reserve in the Ports than that which was thought 
sufficient in pre-war times. Sugar, meat, butter, cheese, 
bacon and other provisions, with fruit, wines and spirits 
also represent large tonnages in the imports of consumables. 
Timber, both the hard wood and the soft wood types, arrives 
in the Port of London in fleets in the summer season when 
the Baltic and St. Lawrence, free of ice, allow navigation 
to penetrate to their inmost recesses. 

As the permanent population in and around London 
grows with an ever-increasing number of visitors, the 
demand for all these commodities must increase, and with 
it, the demands upon the Port must be greater. Railway 
transit from Channel ports may be serviceable to the 
metropolis in the case of certain perishable goods of high 
value coming from the Continent, and where products 
originate in the interior of England that mode of transit 
will chiefly be resorted to, but for the great proportion of 
commodities the sea route into London is the cheaper, the 
more convenient, and, in fact, the only practicable route. 
Whilst the automatic developments of the production of 
raw materials and food in the territories of the East and the 
Colonial possessions will tend to maintain the pre-eminence 
of London in those trades, there are recent indications that 
a larger share of the Canadian and American trades will 
make London their headquarters. 

In connexion with the importation of raw materials, 
it must be remembered that the London area is the largest 
manufacturing district in the Kingdom. No single London 
manufacture is equal in importance to the cotton or wool 
manufacture of the northern counties, but the aggregate 


of the enormous variety of factories in London exceeds 
that of any other district. Amongst the articles so produced 
in London are flour, furniture, pianos, chemicals, sugar, 
rubber goods, motors, margarine, paper, biscuits, paints, 
varnishes, oils, matches and electrical fittings. The majority 
of the factories are not directly associated with the docks 
of the Port, but the raw materials reach them through it, 
and the finished article that is exported leaves London 
through its Port. On the waterside itself, many factories 
are, however, erected and utilize the facilities afforded 
there and at the docks. Notable instances are the flour 
mills of Messrs. Rank and Messrs. Vernon in the Victoria 
Dock. The capital value of the waterside factories in the Port 
was ten years ago officially estimated by their association 
at 1 00,000 ,000, a value that has probably been more than 
doubled since that time by additions and the increased 
value due to higher prices. Though the advantages of the 
waterside factory on the Thames have not yet been fully 
exploited by manufacturers, there are unmistakable 
signs that those engaged in new enterprises are realizing 
those advantages. Evidence of this is to be gathered from 
the recent erection of the huge factory for the production 
of margarine by the Maypole Dairy Company and the 
installation of Messrs. Vickers Maxim's works at Erith. 
Consider the factors which make the Port attractive to the 
manufacturer. A deep river allowing vessels to discharge 
raw materials and fuel alongside the factory ; the biggest 
produce and labour market in the world at its doors ; and 
barge transit which is by far the cheapest in the country, 
available for the whole length of the river and its canalized 
tributaries. Vessels from every port in the world come into 
the docks where delivery or shipment can be made by barge 
free of dock charges for imports or exports. Trunk railways 
for the whole of Great Britain with waterside depots within 
easy and cheap reach of the factory, and the great Contin- 
ental ports of Antwerp and Rotterdam within twelve hours' 
steaming. To this let it be added that the Port charges 
proper payable in London on vessels and goods are on the 
lowest scale of any of the great ports, and are negligible in 
their effect on the cost of manufacture. Even in the matter 
of fuel, the position of London is not so unfavourable as 
it is usually considered to be. Coal is brought by colliers 


from South Wales or the North, and the rates of freight 
prevailing in normal times enable the best coal to be placed 
alongside the Thames factory at a cheaper cost than in 
many manufacturing districts which are served by rail 
carriage. With the dearer cost of production now applying 
to coal and with the prospect of even heavier cost, 
it may ensue that liquid fuel will largely supplant coal 
for factory use as well as for shipping, and in this 
event, London will be equal in point of fuel supplies to 
any other port and superior to those inland districts 
which are now benefited by the presence of coal mines 
at their doors. Allowing, however, only for the maintenance 
of the present relative cost of fuel in London and coal 
producing districts, the other factors of advantage which 
are set forth above show such a balance of considera- 
tion in favour of London as a manufacturing centre that 
its progress is certain, and with this progress an advance in 
the user of the Port, both for imports and exports. 

It is to the increase of manufactures that the Port must 
look for an extension of its export trade. Whilst the Port 
has been first in regard to the volume and value of 
imports, its exports have been considerably below those 
of Liverpool which has benefited by the immediate proximity 
of Lancashire and Yorkshire factories. Even, however, with 
its disadvantage of distance, vast quantities of goods for 
exports are forwarded to London from the North, but it 
cannot be too strongly emphasized that to maintain even its 
present relative position, let alone improve it, London must 
more and more utilize its river side for factory development. 

The one exception to the general advancement of in- 
dustries on the Thames, viz., that of shipbuilding and 
ship-repairing has already been referred to. The loss of 
the business had its commencement in the substitution of 
steel for timber as the material of construction, and while 
Londoners could but lament that an industry so long their 
pride was threatened, the event was one which arose in the 
course of evolution of the industry. What has, however, 
given rise to a much keener sense of disappointment is 
that it was not in the inevitable nature of things that the 
whole of the business of shipbuilding and ship-fitting should 
have disappeared from the Thames. Whilst the ordinary 
cargo steamship could be built more economically where coal 


and iron were found in the same neighbourhood these 
elements of cost did not so much apply to vessels where the 
interior organization and fittings were of a complicated and 
special character, and there was no reason why the yards 
where such vessels were constructed should not to-day be 
even busier than they were fifty years ago. Unhappily, 
masters and men were apparently not able to meet the new 
situation with the energy and skill which is so often stimu- 
lated by adverse conditions, and the shipbuilding industry 
left the Thames. The only explanation ever offered was that 
the workmen had insisted on conditions that their Clyde 
and Tyne competitors dispensed with. The demands on 
the Port for the repair of British vessels damaged in the 
war seem to provide the opportunity for reviving ship- 
building on the Thames. A beginning has been made in the 
improvement of the facilities for ship-repairing in the Port, 
but few dry docks exist for this purpose in the Port. The 
Port Authority's docks are only available for ordinary 
painting and cleaning between voyages. The best of the 
private docks are unable to accommodate the largest liners 
which, if requiring repairs involving lengthy stay in dock, 
have to proceed to a northern port for the purpose, with the 
consequent delay, risk and expense. The recent decision 
of Messrs. Harland & Wolff to commence shipbuilding 
and ship-repairing work at the Royal Albert Dock is an 
event that promises a resuscitation of London's lost trade 
in this respect. 

Another section of traffic in which the future presents 
possibilities is the passenger traffic in the Port which has 
almost disappeared in the upper reaches of the river. The 
busy scene of lively human traffic which marked the Pool 
for centuries is peopled now only by cargo steamers and 
lighters and their crews. It is regrettable that the river 
service initiated by the London County Council was 
abandoned. Mr. J. D. Gilbert and his colleagues on the 
Rivers Committee of the London County Council, who 
initiated the service in 1905, made an error in telling the 
public that the enterprise would at once be a remunerative 
investment. They should have relied on the ground of 
utility and amenity. No one can gainsay that on those 
grounds the service was well worth the rate of one-fifth 
of a penny in the pound which it cost the ratepayers. But 







u o 

S fc 


p. 492 


the conduct of the Moderate Party when they came into 
power in abolishing the service in 1909, and in selling for 
18,000 the thirty steamboats which cost 200,000, is 
defensible on no ground that can commend itself to anyone 
who is not a slave to the narrowest theories of party politics. 
With suburban trains becoming more crowded and vehicu- 
lar traffic making greater demands upon London streets, 
the conclusion is irresistible that in spite of their unhappy 
experience, the London County Council will be driven to 
consider the question of reviving the steamer service on 
the Thames Highway. Co-operation between the Council 
and the Port Authority might secure a better and more 
remunerative service than that of 1905, and is, in any case, 
desirable for complete success. The only passenger services 
remaining are a few small up-river excursion steamers 
running in the summer, the ferry service between Tilbury 
and Gravesend, and the summer services to Thanet and 
East Coast watering places. From the point of view of the 
Port, the chief consideration arises in connexion with 
passengers on ocean-going vessels. Here again the glory of 
the Thames has departed. The river from the Pool to 
Blackwall was once full of crowded points of embarkation 
and disembarkation of passengers and emigrants, but no 
longer serves the purpose. Liverpool and Southampton 
obtain the greater share of this traffic. Such passengers as 
sail to India or the Colonies direct to or from London, for 
the most part embark or disembark by tender in the open 
river at Tilbury. The Port of London Authority are making 
strong efforts to revive the ocean passenger traffic on the 
Thames. In their endeavours to accomplish this it has to be 
recognized that though London is the destination of most 
ocean-going passengers the way there by the sea route is 
not the shortest, and if it is a question of saving passengers a 
few hours, London cannot compete with Liverpool for pas- 
sengers from America or with Southampton for passengers 
coming from any port west of Boulogne. Owners of ocean- 
going ships carrying no cargo and intended to carry passen- 
gers destined for London only, can therefore find no benefit 
in using the Port of London either for the passengers or for 
the vessels themselves. Southampton offers better facilities, 
better even than Liverpool for such traffic. But there is a 
class of vessel (rapidly increasing in number in late years) 


which carries large quantities of cargo and reserves the upper 
decks for passengers, often carrying 500 to 600. These 
vessels chiefly trade with Canada and the Australasian 
Colonies. The speed is not that of the Atlantic greyhounds, 
though often between 18 and 20 knots, and the fares are 
proportionately much lower than on the faster boats. 
With such vessels the cargo is the principal element which 
governs the decision as to the port of discharge and loading, 
while the question of saving the passengers a few hours 
longer on the sea is relatively unimportant. The shipowner 
in the case of such vessels has, therefore, no particular 
inducement to incur the delay and expense of calling at an 
intermediate port to land or embark his passengers if he 
can conveniently do so in the port to which he is carrying 
the cargo. It is for such vessels that the Port of London 
Authority is catering in proposing to erect a floating 
passenger landing stage at Tilbury. This stage will be avail- 
able at any time of the tide. It will adjoin the Tilbury Station 
of the Midland Railway Company which is within thirty 
minutes' journey from the City, and not more than forty 
minutes from St. Pancras. Three ocean-going vessels will be 
able to use it at one time. Its manifest utility and the success 
which has been achieved with a similar stage at Liverpool 
make the Authority confident that this venture will prove 
a welcome addition to the facilities of the Port, and restore 
London to the front rank of ocean passenger ports. 

Amongst the numerous possibilities of expansion in the 
operations of the Port, there is that of London becom- 
ing a -transit port for Switzerland's oversea trade. Under 
the projected scheme, London would be the destination 
and shipping port for the ocean-going vessels carrying the 
imports and exports of Swiss traders and manufacturers, 
the transit to and from Switzerland being by means of self- 
propelled barges of 1,000 tons capacity running between 
London and Basle, which would be the distributing centre 
for Switzerland. In anticipation of the scheme being re- 
alized, a large dock is in course of construction at Basle. 
The projected service would bring great advantage to both 
British and Swiss traders, as it would replace a service 
which necessitates three transhipments between London 
and Basle, viz., at Rotterdam, Cologne, and Strasburg, 
involving in the repeated handlings, much damage to the 


goods and unnecessary expense to the trader. It is essential 
for the success of this service that the Rhine above Stras- 
burg should be deepened, and unfortunately the carrying 
out of this work is being suspended until a final decision is 
arrived at with regard to the making by the French of a 
canal alongside the Rhine, which is intended to serve the 
double purpose of providing a navigable channel for vessels 
and a source of electrical power for industrial works. As 
the construction of the canal may take 30 years, and (owing 
to its huge cost) may never be made, the trade interests of 
London are anxious that the existing river bed should in 
any case be regularized and that this should be done at 
once. Urgent representations to this effect have been 
made to the British Government by the Port of London 
Authority and the London Chamber of Commerce. 

We come now to the question of accommodation and 
facilities for shipping and merchandize in their con- 
nexion with the future of the Port. Is London prepared 
with the necessary channels, docks, wharves and other 
facilities without which the development of a great 
trade cannot be secured ? The general answer to this 
question is to be found in the programme of improve- 
ments already sanctioned by the Port of London Authority 
and described in an earlier chapter. Its execution has been 
delayed by the war but even with all the difficulties of the 
war situation, such progress has been made with the principal 
dock works commenced before the war that the whole of 
them are practically completed and are in use. Those which 
will yield the largest benefit to shipowners and traders are 
the great extension to the south of the Royal Albert Dock, 
the extension of the Tilbury Main Dock, the reconstruction 
of the Tobacco Dock and Quay Sheds at the London Dock, 
the widening of the lock into the East India Import Dock, 
and reconstruction of its North Quay sheds, the rebuilding 
of the sheds on the north side of the West India Dock, 
and the erection of the Riverside Cargo Jetty at the Tilbury 
Dock. It is estimated that the completion of these works 
will provide accommodation for the discharge and loading 
of steamers of a net tonnage 5,000,000 tons per annum, 
equivalent to the whole of the annual tonnage of shipping 
entering the port of Hull. When the entire programme of 
dock extension at present contemplated is carried out 


provision will have been made for a further annual 
15,000,000 tons, making a total accommodation to be added 
equal to 20,000,000 tons. This does not take into account 
any extension of riverside quays to be undertaken either 
by the Authority. 

Less progress has been made with the deepening of the 
river because of the diversion of the Authority's dredger 
and hoppers to war purposes. But though it is an essential 
part of the programme to deepen the river, the depth already 
obtained is sufficient to give access to the docks of such 
steamers as are likely to present themselves for many years 
to come, and the utmost inconvenience likely to be suffered 
by shipping meanwhile is an occasional detention of the very 
largest class of vessel for an hour while the tide is making. 

The Authority is determined that all the equipment 
such as sheds, cranes, conveyors, tugs, etc., shall be of. the 
most modern and efficient type, and that so far as they are 
responsible, there shall never be any question as to the 
traders or shipowners having to wait for facilities. In one 
department of port facilities, however, the Authority has 
not been able to attain that perfection of service to traders 
which they have aimed at, viz., that of the railway access 
to the docks. At the lower docks, viz., the Tilbury, Albert 
and Victoria, East and West India and Millwall systems, 
there is direct connexion with the various railway systems. 
But there are no railways in the London and St. Katharine 
Docks or at the Surrey Commercial Dock system. Connected 
with the Great Eastern Railway there is a branch line at 
Leman Street which is carried into the East Smithfield 
depot of the Authority, but though it is carried a few yards 
further into the Wool Warehouses of the London Dock, 
it is never utilized in the dock itself, the reason being that 
up to the present, engineers have not been able to submit 
any workable scheme for retaining the complicated ware- 
house system there and at the same time arranging for the 
line to be continued into the dock or the neighbouring 
St. Katharine Dock. It is hoped that modern ingenuity in 
dealing with difficult transport problems may not be perma- 
nently baffled in this case. No such physical difficulty, 
however, applies to the introduction of railways into the 
Surrey Commercial Docks. Both the South Eastern and 
Brighton Railway Companies have lines immediately 


adjacent to this dock system, and the connexion with dock 
lines could easily be made. The problem here is the getting 
of traffic to and from the north side of the river. It is a 
problem that not only touches dock traffic, but is concerned 
with the whole of the through traffic between the north 
and south of England, and it can only be satisfactorily 
dealt with by the making of new tunnels or bridges across 
the Thames. The Ministry of Transport may well turn 
its attention at an early date to the improvement of this 
manifest defect in the metropolitan railway systems. A 
suggestion has been made for temporarily dealing with 
the disability of the Surrey Dock systems in this respect 
by the employment of a train ferry to and from the Millwall 
Dock, but the expense appears to be prohibitive. 

Whatever our hopes, no one can state with absolute 
confidence what effect the Allied victory is going to have 
on the future of the Port of London. Much depends upon 
the time which elapses before the full industrial activity 
of Germany and Russia is resumed, and commercial relations 
with this country re-established. Before the war, trade 
with both these countries was important to London. So, 
too, was the trade with Belgium and Holland, which was 
to a considerable extent of German origin. In spite of 
the provisions in the articles of peace as to the future relations 
of the belligerent nations, it seems hardly possible that for 
several years there can be trade of any great extent between 
Germany and this country. London and other East Coast 
ports will be the losers by this suspension of trade exchanges. 
The loss will appear to be greater than it really is if the 
tonnage figures of shipping entering London are merely 
considered by themselves. In pre-war times these figures 
were, as has already been pointed out, artificially swollen 
by the practice of shipowners in calling at more than one 
port on a voyage, the tonnage mto London being often 
counted twice for one voyage by reason of the vessel having 
been to Hamburg and Rotterdam after discharging her 
London cargo. Hence the falling off in tonnage figures of 
shipping will not be the true measure of loss, but will 
exaggerate the loss. As regards Russian trade, there will so 
far as can be seen no sentimental obstacle to the resumption 
of commercial relations, but the conditions of business 
there are so overshadowed by the vagaries of Bolshevism 


that it is impossible even to speculate as to when the ports 
of the Baltic and Black Sea will find regular traders seeking 
and bringing freights of cargo. But whether there is or is 
not to be trade with Germany or Russia in the near or 
distant future, it is not open to doubt that any deficiencies 
in London will be made up by additional trade elsewhere. 
London and the districts it supplies must be fed, and any 
deficiency in such articles as the sugar which came from 
Germany and Austria will be obtained from some other 
sources. We have obtained our sugar supplies during the 
last four years of the war chiefly from Java, Mauritius, 
Cuba, and from the West Indies, and huge quantities have 
passed through London docks and warehouses. These 
sources and others will equally be available in future with 
benefit to our tropical possessions. The wheat which we 
derive from Russia has been supplied from Canada, the 
Argentine, and the Cape. Provisions which Russia sent us 
before the war have been replaced by consignments from 
the United States and Canada. So far as in future we find it 
expedient to import manufactured or semi-manufactured 
articles, formerly imported from Germany, we have the 
markets of Belgium and the United States to buy in. Not 
only should these supplies be assured, but the British 
merchant has the opportunity of recapturing some of the 
entrepot trade in goods such as coffee, lost by London to 
Hamburg during the last fifty years. To maintain our 
world-wide position and to pay the interest on our debt 
the export trade must be greatly expanded, and the oppor- 
tunity for this expansion will be the more favourable by 
the world-wide prejudice against, if not the elimination or, 
our severest competitor in pre-war times. Much of the work 
of restoration in northern France, Belgium, and Serbia 
must of necessity be carried out with materials manufac- 
tured and exported by this country. The augmentation of 
exports involves a corresponding augmentation of imports 
of raw materials. All these factors will increase the amount 
of traffic through the ports of the kingdom, and London as 
the chief port should get the chief share, and all the more so 
because the vessels which will be employed in trafficking 
to the ocean ports will be of a larger type than those engaged 
in the former cross-channel traffic to Germany. It does not 
appear, therefore, that the position of London will be 

















p. 498 


endangered by any developments following upon the war, 
but that if handled with skill it is more likely to be improved. 
There still remains to be considered the threat of the 
competition of the great Continental ports of Antwerp and 
Rotterdam and later on the ports of Hamburg and Bremen. 
All of these ports have suffered severely by the war. If 
German trade is to be reduced in volume these ports will 
continue to suffer, as German traffic constituted the bulk 
of the largely increased traffic passing through these four 
ports in the years before 1914. Many millions have been 
spent upon the docks by the States owning them. Antwerp 
may find some compensation by Belgium being able partly 
to take the place of Germany in manufacturing for export. 
Rotterdam has no such alternative. Holland has neither 
coal nor iron for the purpose of manufactures, and the 
outlook of Rotterdam in regard to exports will therefore be 
unpromising, whilst such imports as are conveyed into the 
interior of Germany may be diverted from Rotterdam to 
Hamburg and Bremen in order that better use may be 
made of German ports. Threatened by such a loss of trade, 
both Antwerp and Rotterdam may look with covetous eyes 
upon the entrep6t trade of London and attack it by means 
of lowering the rates for port accommodation. This would 
be an undoubted danger because in the long run the 
cheaper route or market will prevail. Antwerp and Rotterdam 
will be helped by the fact that the resources of the State or 
municipality will be at their disposal, whilst in London the 
burden of maintaining the Port is confined to the direct 
users of the Port. If the Port of London in such circum- 
stances is to be left to get on by itself the question will 
largely be determined by the attitude of labour. It is quite 
certain that if a substantially lower rate of wages is to pre- 
vail at Antwerp than at London the transfer of much of the 
entrepot business of London to Antwerp is inevitable. On 
the other hand, if wages are generally kept up to the higher 
level throughout the near Continental ports London has 
little to fear. So far, the wages in Antwerp have nominally 
kept pace with London war wages, but the currency con- 
ditions are so abnormal in the former port that it is impossible 
to make any forecast as to whether the workers there will be 
able to maintain the present standard. Should, in the result, 
there be any marked difference in the relative charges 


between Rotterdam, Antwerp, and London, to the detriment 
of London, it will be a question whether it may not be im- 
perative for the State or the municipality, for a time at all 
events, to subsidize the Port of London a consummation 
which is devoutly not to be wished. 

This brings us to the consideration of the vital question 
of the future of labour in the Port. It may first be 
remarked that all the features of the effect of war on labour 
observed in the rest of the community apply to labour 
employed in the Port. Beginning the war like every one else 
in a wave of patriotism, determined to sacrifice everything 
to victory, dock labour left at home, exempted from military 
service because it was wanted for transport of men and 
munitions, gradually went the way of so many other 
sections of society, and by the end of the war was thinking 
more of what it could make out of the war than of winning 
it. Who were the first profiteers in the war ? Labour gives 
the credit first to the shipowners and then to dealers in 
food, and on this, bases its defence for the repeated demands 
for increased wages to meet the increased cost of living. 
Labour claims to have said to the Government in August, 
1914, "Keep food prices steady and we will keep labour 
prices steady," and it must be said in favour of this claim 
that no application for higher wages in London was made 
by the transport workers until 1915. But it must be added 
that once the game of demands for war bonuses began, it 
was kept up unceasingly, and in the long run certain 
classes of dockers, as represented by their unions, were pre- 
pared to be as fine profiteers as any of the shipowners 
whom they served, without having the checks upon them 
provided against the shipowners by the right of the State 
to commandeer shipping and to claim an enormous per- 
centage of their excess profits. The taste acquired of fresh 
increments of wages, apart form merit of service, bestowed 
by a Government often offering to be blackmailed, has 
naturally not been satiated by the cessation of hostilities on 
the Continent, and further demands have flowed in from 
transport workers, usually involving more pay for less 
work. At the date of writing the minimum pay of the least 
skilled man is i6s. a day, compared with 45. 8d. before the 
war. No class of worker can show such an advance. It is 
unbelievable that such a demoralizing condition of things 


can persist in a nation having such vast responsibilities and 
hitherto credited with steadiness of view and the ability to 
govern. Some statesmen will arise who will teach the people 
that the motive that should dominate their life is not "What 
is England going to do for me ? " but "What can I do for 
England ?" If we could not feel that such a reaction is near 
at hand it would indeed be a hopeless outlook both for 
England and the Port of London. 

No grounds exist for assuming, as is so often done, that 
port labour in London to-day is in any way more dis- 
affected, more unreliable, or presents more knotty problems 
than any other form of labour. There are, however, several 
points connected with it which have to be understood by 
those who desire to improve its conditions in future and to 
make it a more stable asset to the Port and Empire. 

(a) There is the question of casual labour. So far as the 
Port Authority's labour is concerned the worst features have 
long since passed away, and though casual labour is taken 
on at busy times there is always the prospect of a casual 
labourer of fair character becoming a permanent servant of 
the Authority. As regards labourers employed by ship- 
owners and stevedores, the position of the labourer is some- 
times less secure, and a man who gets worn out early 
in their service may go to the wall, but it must be admitted 
that many labourers seem to like this employment, accept- 
ing its contingencies as one of the risks of the better wages 
paid and often enjoying the enforced leisure. The ideal 
remedy for disposing once and for all of the casual labour 
question would be to make the Port Authority the only 
employer of port labour. Whilst the wharves remain in 
private hands this cannot be done, but a great step towards 
this end would be achieved if the action of the old dock 
companies in renouncing the right of discharging ships 
could be reversed. The adoption of this renunciation policy 
led to the introduction in the docks of a large number of 
irresponsible employers competing with the dock com- 
panies for labour and also with each other. The casual 
labour question was intensified because a larger pool of 
labour had to be drawn to the docks to satisfy the varying 
demands of so many individual employers, leaving a much 
larger margin in the aggregate of unemployed applicants 
each day than would be necessary if only one employer 


were in the labour market. An incidental but important 
objection to this system is that it creates differential rates of 
wages in the docks, for though nominally the wages 
employed by shipowners and stevedores follow agreements, 
cases are continually occurring where men are given 
inducements beyond those laid down in the agreements. 
Much of the success of the administration of the port of 
Hamburg was due to the fact that all the port labour was 
controlled by the port authority. Such a general control by 
a supreme authority need not interfere with the freedom of 
the shipowner to control the discharge or loading of his 
ship, as the Port Authority could let out labour (as they 
do now in some instances) to work under the supervision 
and direction of the shipowner. 

There is an alternative scheme possible in London which 
would not invade vested interests, and therefore not excite 
the opposition to which the above solution would be ex- 
posed. This scheme would provide that all port labourers 
should be registered and be available for work in any part 
of the Port and be prepared to work on any job within their 
capacity. In other words, the whole of the work in the Port 
would be pooled. The number of men on the register 
might be 10 per cent, in excess of the average total number 
of men working in the Port. The register would consist of 
(a) regular men on weekly wages, and (b) preferential men 
with a guarantee of at least two days' work a week. The 
preferential men would move up to permanent rank as 
vacancies occurred. The men would be given, as far as 
practicable, the work they have been usually engaged on 
at the time the scheme comes into operation. All men 
would receive weekly the pay applying to the class of 
work performed. The registration, appointment, and allo- 
cation of men would be supervised by a joint committee 
of employers and workmen. The work in London is now 
fairly regular from week to week, and with the stipulation 
made above as to mobility and interchangeabiliry, preferential 
men could be practically sure of at least four days' work a 
week, whilst the cost to the employers of their guarantee 
would not exceed their contributions under the Unemploy- 
ment Act. Under such a system the casual man would 
disappear from the Port. 

(b) Much of the unrest in labour is caused by the fact 


that masses of men get the same rate of wages. A man of 21, 
inexperienced, and with no responsibilities is paid for the 
same class of work, the same wages as the man of 40 or 50. 
This means that he has no prospects of advancement ; 
indeed, there is the probability of his being regarded as 
less valuable as an ordinary labourer at 40 than at 21. The 
only method of his getting advancement is therefore by a 
general rise in the wages of the class of labour to which he 
belongs. Or the more intellectual of their class have to find 
an outlet to their ambition by becoming trade union 
leaders, where to maintain their position they are com- 
pelled to be aggressive agitators against their employers. 
If a proper minimum wage were established and then 
increments were given for good service, or grades were 
provided for promotion as years went on, a docker would 
have some incentive to produce good work, and not be con- 
cerning himself so much about combination with his 
fellows against his employer. It is the difference in this 
matter of prospect of promotion of the individual that 
largely accounts for the difference between the relations of the 
clerk and labourer to his employer. Trade union leaders do 
not, however, favour labour being organized on such a basis. 
(c) It would be an advantage to the future of labour in 
the Port if the relations with the trade unions could be 
placed on a more satisfactory basis. The Authority and 
other employers have always recognized them as repre- 
senting the men, have listened to their advocacy, and have 
made agreements with them for wages and conditions of 
working. But perhaps because leaders are not always able 
to insist upon the carrying out of agreements which they 
sign, it is a fact that agreements have often been thrown 
over by sections of men without notice or argument. One 
grave instance of the scrapping of an agreement by the 
leaders themselves has already been referred to as following 
upon the agreement of 1911, but subsequent to the 
armistice few weeks went by without some sudden attempt 
to depart from signed agreements. As a rule, the leaders 
speak fairly to the employers on such questions, but it is 
to be feared that they have not always the courage to speak 
with the same frankness to the recalcitrants. It may be 
guessed that they find it expedient to maintain their leader- 
ship by occasionally following their followers for fear of 


being ousted by an ambitious subordinate. Some of them 
have so fostered the doctrine that a strike is the only 
weapon that they find it used against themselves with 
deadly effect, and so they adopt the precepts of the politi- 
cians they so often become, and agree to what they know 
to be wrong merely to preserve their leadership. The pity 
of it is that the impossibility of reliance upon agreements 
made with unions produces a distrust of the idea of trade 
unionism which is not justified. Moreover, there is the 
unfortunate view taken by some leaders that they do not 
want the employers to have a contented staff, as such men 
become "old soldiers" or "slaves." This prejudice against a 
contented staff can, without injustice, be attributed to the 
fear that such a staff might not need the intervention of a 
trade union and the leaders' occupation would be gone. 
This is probably also the reason why labour leaders have 
hitherto been so apathetic when the Question of casual 
labour has been discussed. Permanent labour might be too 
satisfied and prefer to deal direct with the employer. To 
keep the labourer in the union fold, the leader has, there- 
fore, to preach the doctrine of aloofness between employer 
and employed. This appears to be a short-sighted view of 
the case, as the convenience and benefit of unions as 
channels for negotiation and arrangement of conditions of 
employment are indisputable. But this view illustrates the 
fundamental vice of the inspiration of union policy, which 
is that the Port exists for the interests of labour alone, and 
that consequently the union is the thing and not the Port. 
Hence we find the labour members on the Port Authority 
who have always been union officials concern themselves 
with little else than labour interests, and so devoted are 
they to their theme that without exaggeration it may be 
said that one-half of the time spent in Port committees is 
devoted to innumerable points of wages and cognate ques- 
tions originating in the zeal of local union officials on 
behalf of their members. The leaders show no real care for 
the imperial questions of maintaining or attracting trade, 
the provision of accommodation (where their experience 
should be useful), or in the all-paramount questions of 
finance. It is to be hoped that with the growing numbers of 
the Labour Party, and with their own anticipation of being 
trusted with the formation of a Government, there may be 


found men who, while never forgetting the class whom 
they represent, will administer enterprises on broader lines 
than those of incessantly endeavouring to draw upon the 
tax-payers for an increased share of national wealth to be 
awarded to one class of the community without having in 
mind the necessity of contributing an additional share 
towards the production of that wealth. 

(d) The general practice in the Port is to pay labourers 
daily, the exceptions being the permanent men of the 
Authority and a few other employers. This is a most 
undesirable practice. A man taken on by the day and paid 
by the day takes a view of things circumscribed by a day. 
It is literally with him "sufficient unto the day is the evil 
thereof." The men generally desire no change in this 
respect, nor do the London leaders. At Liverpool there is 
a scheme in force which, combined with arrangements 
made under the National Insurance Act, provides for the 
men, whether extra or permanent, receiving their wages 
weekly. To adopt the Liverpool scheme at London would 
hardly be practicable, but the object aimed at is admirable, 
and it should be educative to all concerned on the subject 
of casual labour. 

(e) It is often said that as the unions fail to realize that 
the prosperity of the Port is dependent upon their co-opera- 
tion, the remedy should be found in the intenser application 
of machinery to the operations carried out. This is an 
alternative which has been present to dock management for 
the last fifty years. It obviously becomes the more patent as 
the cost of labour increases daily. New forms of machinery 
are constantly being introduced, but the work at docks is 
not comparable with that at factories. So far, machinery is 
used in the storage and delivery of heavy cargoes, such as 
mahogany and teak, in the discharge and housing of grain, 
where London can claim to have always been in the van of 
progress, and in the use of conveyor forms of transport for 
cargoes of case goods where the packages are much of the 
same size. Recently this conveyor principle has been 
adopted for meat cargoes, where, however, the object has 
been not so much cheapening of the operation as avoiding 
damage by handling. Trucks and piling machinery moved 
by electric power are also used to great advantage in a 
limited sphere of action. But the most careful recent study 


of this subject does not give any hope of the substantial 
supplanting of existing labour by new forms of mechanical 
power, and it is only necessary to state the problem to 
appreciate the difficulties. Take the most ordinary case of 
the discharge and delivery of the cargo of an Amercan 
liner. She will bring usually some thousands of tons of 
grain in bulk which can be dealt with by the floating 
elevators very quickly. The rest of the cargo will consist of 
boxes of lard, bags of flour, bundles of loose hides, cases of 
canned goods, casks of lubricating oil, bales of flax, and a 
hundred other varieties of goods and packages all stowed 
together in the holds irrespective of the owners or destina- 
tion of the goods. All these goods have to be landed and 
deposited for sorting in sheds. The sorting is not merely a 
separation of classes of goods, but first to consignees and 
secondly to destination via lighter, rail, or cart. At intervals 
goods come on shore with the package damaged and have 
to be mended. Others are landed with damage to the con- 
tents, which have to be examined to settle the question of 
liability. Attending the discharge and other operations are 
the officers of H.M. Customs, who direct certain packages 
to be examined for revenue purposes. The accessibility of 
goods in dark holds and the state of the weather are constant 
variants in the progress of the work. The regulations for 
protection against fire necessitate that fibres and other 
inflammable goods should not be stored in the transit sheds. 
The handling of meat is another problem. When the dis- 
charge of all this mixed cargo into the sheds is completed 
and the goods sorted to the piles, delivery to the conveyance 
of the consignee commences and proceeds according to the 
applications. This operation, comparatively simple, has, 
however, its complications and delays when craft do not 
turn up to time. Mr. Gattie has made large claims in 
regard to the handling and sorting of traffic at railways and 
docks, and he has been invited to suggest a scheme 
for the application of his clearing-house idea to the 
London dock systems. But the alternative his scheme 
presents, whilst it might reduce labour, would be so costly 
in capital outlay and so doubtful in working that no respon- 
sible authority could proceed with it. It would appear, 
therefore, that it is visionary to place reliance upon a whole- 
sale displacement of labour in the Port by machinery. 



p. 506 


(f) A last word on this subject of labour concerns a 
national aspect of it, but it is more applicable to London 
than anywhere else, viz., the multiplication of the machinery 
for dealing with labour questions. It is instructive to set 
out a list of those agencies with which at the end of the 
war Port employers were brought into contact : 

1. Two labour members on the Authority. 

2. The Port and Transit Executive Committee, who dealt with 
labour disputes interfering with flow of traffic. 

3. Military Service Committee, charged with recruiting and 
demobilization problems. 

4. Port Labour Committee, dealing with the employment of 
Transport Workers' Battalion. 

5. The Dock and Riverside Workers' Union, and other Port 
Unions for Corn Porters, Deal Porters, Lightermen, Stevedores, 

6. National Transport Workers' Federation, speaking sometimes 
for all the above. 

7. All the trades unions connected with engineering and 
building trades. 

8. The National Union of Railwaymen. 

9. The Ministry of Labour, including the Committee on Pro- 
duction, and the Chief Industrial Commissioner. 

10. Government Committee for general questions of demobiliza- 
tion of labour at ports. 

n. Government Committee for casual labour in the Port of 

12. Whitley Council Scheme. 

Peace has brought no relief from the multitude of 
counsellors, and the conduct of the administration of the 
Port is becoming more and more strangled by all these 
devices for cajoling and petting labour. They make the 
labour world believe that labour disputes are the only 
things that count. Can it be wondered that with such 
patronage from the Government Departments, union leaders 
continually push forward their claims, or, that that section 
of the public which suffers from interminable labour 
troubles regards the Ministry of Labour as a Ministry 
likely to stimulate the propaganda of disputes rather than 
their extinction ? And what has all this machinery done for 
the worker himself ? Is he really better off in the conditions 
of existence ? He certainly is less satisfied, and according to 
some of his leaders is even verging on a revolution resem- 
bling that of his defeated arch enemy. In the abnormal 
conditions of war he has been taught that high wages are 


everything, and only a feeble voice here or there protests 
that wages are counters and that production alone will 
give wealth. 

A candid enlightening discussion of the economic ques- 
tion never took place during the war, and is being avoided 
now, because unfortunately the politicians of to-day are 
more afraid of the people in peace than they were of the 
enemy during war, and therefore live from hand to mouth. 
Labour leaders who know dare not tell their followers 
economic truth. It cannot, however, be long before the idea 
so fast getting accepted as gospel, that a nation can eternally 
live on its capital, gives away before painful disillusionment, 
and then the worker may consider whether his interests are 
not, after all, more to be identified with those of reasonable 
employers than with those of the many friends who flatter 
him now. 

No chapter on the future of the Port could be complete 
without touching on the all-important question of the 
constitution and powers of its governing body. The story of 
the existing administration has been briefly told in the 
previous pages, and the public must judge as to whether it 
has justified its existence and its continuance in being. In 
studying this question it will never be forgotten that 
institutions like ports depend more upon the men who 
administer them than upon their parchment constitutions. 
The predominant feature of the constitution of the Port 
Authority is that no one interest should be able to run the 
Port for its own benefit. It was pointed out when the Bill 
was before Parliament that though this was an excellent 
device for preventing jobbery it might tend to destroy the 
quality of initiative much required after so many years 
lethargy in the Port. The danger of a negative policy was, 
however, guarded against by the appointment of a chairman 
of great experience and success in business gained by con- 
spicuous untiring energy, assisted by a number of City men 
as members who had been in the forefront as reformers of 
the Port. The result is that, whatever criticism may be 
passed upon the Port Authority, it cannot be said that they 
have treated their job as an ornamental one. Great demands 
on time have been willingly met by men who have been 
unpaid and who get no honour or particular reputation for 
their pains. Will the future successors of the original 


members be so public spirited ? The risk is that new mem- 
bers will not have the incentive of the first Board to make a 
success of a scheme which they had had a share in shaping. 
Not the least difficulty is due to the fact that the class of 
City merchant or shipowner whom it is most desirable to 
have in charge of matters where the broad and experienced 
view is indispensable is so occupied by his own business 
that he cannot spare sufficient time to arrive at a considered 
judgment on port affairs. Failing the maintenance of interest 
of the highest class of City trader in the Port, the repre- 
sentation of the trade element may be liable to fall into the 
hands of second or third-rate traders who will exploit the 
Port for their own benefit by a policy of log-rolling not at 
all impossible under the existing constitution of the 
Authority. The importance of keeping the Port efficient is 
so absolutely vital to the general community that rather 
than there should be any lowering of the status of member- 
ship it would be better to secure the best men by reducing 
the attendances at committees and entrusting wide execu- 
tive powers to a highly paid competent chairman and 

Beyond the question of the personnel of the governing 
body there is that of the area which it should control. The 
word "Authority" is a misnomer when applied to the Port 
of London. Whilst the Authority is an authority in the 
docks and on administrative details of navigation, dredging, 
and licensing of embankments in the river, it cannot be 
regarded as the sole authority in the Port whilst the public 
wharfingers on the riverside are allowed to discharge ships 
and warehouse goods in competition with the Authority. 
That this situation was not intended to be a permanent one 
is evidenced by the fact that in the Port of London Act the 
Authority was given power, subject to certain procedure, to 
acquire these riverside premises. No action has been taken 
since the Authority came into existence, except that negoti- 
ations have taken place with some few wharfingers, leading 
to no result. The war has, in any case, interfered with 
the financial operation which would be necessary upon any 
wholesale acquisition of wharf property. From the Port 
point of view it is inconvenient that there should be a 
number of irresponsible rivals in the Port with no obliga- 
tions and restrictions cast upon them in their methods of 


doing business, such as the Port of London Act places upon 
the Authority; and that, moreover, the Authority should be 
forced to have amongst its members at least one repre- 
sentative of wharfinger interest who is entitled to know and 
communicate to his friends all particulars and projects 
relating to the Authority's business without any right on 
the Authority's part to be present at the councils of the 
wharfingers. No other port authority is placed in such a 
situation, and it is no defence of the system that the five 
members of the Authority who are wharfowners have 
always most honourably abstained from exploiting this 
position. This point alone is one which can be urged in 
favour of the completion of the transaction of purchase of 
port accommodation begun in the purchase of the docks, 
by the early purchase of the whole of the wharves affording 
facilities to the public. But, apart from this reason, there 
are cogent other reasons for their acquisition. It would 
benefit traders generally by enabling the concentration of 
businesses at present split over diverse establishments ; it 
would guarantee equal treatment as to services and rates 
all over the Port ; it should lead to considerable economy in 
working ; and it would also set free many properties which 
could be realized or used for other purposes. Fear has been 
expressed that these undoubted advantages might be out- 
weighed by the creation of the monopoly of warehousing 
facilities in the hands of the Authority. The answer to this 
fear is that the appointment of the majority of the Authority 
is in the hands of the traders themselves, and that if justice 
should be denied to any particular trade by other traders 
there is an appeal to the Ministry of Transport against any 
act of oppression or levy of excessive rates. With the 
removal of this defect there is little likelihood of any 
questioning of the composition of the Authority. 

The recent decision of the Government to place the 
railways and docks of the kingdom under the supervision of 
the Ministry of Transport raises serious considerations in 
regard to all harbour and dock undertakings. The railway 
companies are owners of large systems of docks which have 
been built or acquired for the purpose of feeding their 
railways with traffic. In the effort to achieve this object, 
railway companies quote rates for dock services in no way 
commensurate with the cost of the operation. Though they 









may even lose money on dock operations they look for their 
remuneration to the anticipated carriage of goods over 
their railways. The effect of this form of competition 
has been to draw away traffic from other ports, privately 
or publicly owned, not furnished with any weapons of 
retaliation, and yet bound to maintain a revenue at least 
sufficient to meet the interest on its financial obligations. 
Parliament has endeavoured to meet the just complaints of 
these ports by compelling railway companies to publish 
separate accounts of their port operations, but the informa- 
tion given is meagre and the protection against a practically 
subsidized competition is a sham one. The Ministry of 
Transport Act for the time being affords some real protec- 
tion, but if eventually the railways are to be nationalized 
the desire of the railway officials to aggrandize their ports 
will certainly not be less than now, whilst the power to 
attract railway traffic by concessions at the docks will be 
unlimited. In this case the Government docks may be 
engaged in an aggressive attack on all the other docks of the 
kingdom. London would not be the worst sufferer, but it 
would have to be prepared for such a conflict, and it will 
behove its Port Authority, in common with other dock and 
harbour boards, to see that any legislation for the control 
of the railway companies is framed on lines equitable to 
competing ports. Logically, if it is desirable in the national 
interest that the means of transport should be completely 
under the direction of the Government, the docks of the 
kingdom, as the marine terminal stations of the railways, 
should equally be controlled by the Government. Of the 
ultimate results of the immense addition to the number of 
civil employees in the public service this book is not so 
concerned to discuss. But it may be pointed out that some 
amelioration of the dangers of the political pressure thereby 
certain to be used and more equitable conditions of com- 
petition would be secured if the railways were controlled 
by a body constituted on the model of the Port of London 
Authority instead of being administered by a Government 
Department. The alternative favoured in certain Labour 
quarters, that the next step in the Port's development should 
be to hand the Port over to the control of the London 
County Council, does not at all commend itself to the 
mercantile public, having regard either to the composition 


of the council or to the treatment of the Port when it was 
a department of the older London municipality the City 

Whatever form of administration the fashion or mood of 
the times may design for the Port of London, it can hardly 
interfere with the development of its trade. Whilst the 
channel of the Thames is kept clear of shoals and the docks 
and warehouses are maintained to meet the demands of 
shipowners and merchants, the market of London the 
oldest, the freest, and best in the world ought as the 
result of the victorious war to be extended beyond what 
would have been brought about by the effluxion of time ; 
and whether the future transit of the world's commerce is 
to remain with steamers sailing the sea or is transferred to 
airships sailing the sky, the market will not be displaced. 
Given efficiency in its operations, a constant alertness to 
accommodate new forms of trade, labour intelligently 
applying its strength to work, and a moderate tariff of 
charges, the future of the greatest port in the world can be 
regarded with as much confidence as we look forward to 
the future of the Empire of which it is the capital. 



Port of London 


year. Tons. 

1700 435,000 

1750 746,000 

J 795 1,775. 

1854 S.7S 2 . 000 

1913 20,088,000 




Note. The returns for 1795 are quoted as having been considered by 
the Select Committee of 1796. The year 1854 is exactly half-way between 
1795 and 1913, the last complete year of normal trade. There are no com- 
plete figures of values of trade for 1 854 available. 




2 53. 8 79. 








Port of London 




Beef . . . . . . . . 5,567.000 

Butter 7,869,000 

Cars and Cycles 5,234,000 

Cheese 3,732,000 

Chemicals 1,803.000 

Coffee 2,083,000 

Eggs 2,848,000 

Gutta Percha 1,002,000 

Hemp 2.749.000 

Jute 3,444,000 

Lead 2,234,000 

Leather 5,563,000 

Machinery . . . . . . . . . . 2,875,000 

Motor Spirit 2,571,000 

Mutton 7,094,000 

Oats 2,795. 

Paper 3,529,000 

Rubber . . 12,399,000 

Silk Manufactures 2,864,000 

Skins and Furs . . . . . . . . . . 6,305,000 

Sugar 7,443,000 

Tea 13,486,000 

Timber . . . . . . . . . . . . 7,775,000 

Tin 9,021,000 

Wheat 7.753. 

Wool 21,458,000 

(a) British Manufactures and Produce. 

Arms and Ammunition . . 


i ,401; .000 

Boots and Shoes 
Cotton Manufactures 



Exports (continued) 


Electrical Goods 4,046,000 

Iron and Steel Manufactures . . . . . . 5,538,000 

Machinery 5,784,000 

Tobacco i ,735,000 

Woollen Goods 7,140,000 

(b) Foreign and Colonial Merchandize. 

Coffee 1,728,000 

Copper .. .. 1,068,000 

Hemp 1,222,000 

Jute 3,047,000 

Leather 1,632,000 

Rubber 6,565,000 

Skins and Furs 4,316,000 

Tallow . . . . . . i ,409,000 

Tea 2,290,000 

Tin . . . . . . . . . . . . 6,108,000 

Wool 8,275,000 


ACCIDENTS at docks. 108, 
Adams, 52 

Addington, Henry, 108, 117 

Admiralty claim of jurisdiction on 
Thames, 175 

Admiralty, 183, 418 

African Company, 53, 58 

Agreements between Dock Com- 
panies and Wharfingers, 264 

Agricola, 8, 30 

Ahlfeldt, F. C., 233 

Air raids on London Docks, 66, 470 

Albert Dock, Royal, 188, 191, 195, 
217, 228, 233, 237, 257, 258, 
275, 290, 320, 335, 492 

Albert Dock Extension, 262, 269, 
284, 295, 303, 320, 358, 483 

Albert, Prince, 195 

Albion Dock, 133, 223 

Alexander, D., 116 

Alexander, J., 159 

Alexandria, 486 

Alfred the Great, 13, 17, 416 

Aliens, 478 

Allectus, 9 

Allemanii, 9 

Almshouses of Trinity House, 422 

Alverstone, Lord, 238, 451 

Amalgamation of Dock Companies, 

'97- 2 5S 

Ambrose Thurston Quay, 401 
Ambulance Service, 355 
America, discovery of, 50 
American troops, 469 
Ammianus Marcellinus, 9 
Amsterdam, i, 2 
Anchor Line, 241 
Anderson, Sir J. W., 96, 101 
Anderson, J., 346 
Andrew Morris Quay, 401 
Anglesea, 6 
Anglo-Saxons, 12 
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, 13 

Anlaf, 1 8, 21 

Antoninus, Itineraries of, 9 

Antwerp, 2, 49, 52, 53, 298, 299, 

333. 443- 49. 499 
Appledore, 17 
Arlington, Lord, 403 
Ashley, Lord, 403 
Ashley, Mr., 338 
Asquith, Rt. Hon. H. H., 338, 455, 


Assingdun, Battle of, 21 
Atacotti, 9 
Athelstan, King, 13 
Athens, 486 

Atkins, T. F. Burnaby, 247 
Atkins, J.. 122 
Atlantic Transport Line, 241 
Augusta London called, 9 
Aulus Plautus Conquest of 

Britain, 7 
Austin, Capt., 185 
Australia, 365, 445 
Authority for Port of London (see 

under " Port ") 
Avebury, Lord, 339 
Avonmouth, 294 
Ayliffe, F., 349 
Ayrton, A. S., 225 

BACHELORS Barge, 375 
Baggally, H. C., 290 
Baily, E. H., 253 
Bainbridge, T., 115 
Baker, E. Stuart, 350, 479 
Baldwin, Mr., 323 
Balfour, Rt. Hon. G., 322 
Ballastage, 83, 417, 419, 422 
Balliage, rights of, 61 
Baltic Dock, 134 
Banking benefited by EntrepAt 

trade, 2 

Banks, Sir Joseph, 106 
Bannerman, Sir H. Campbell, 338 
Barber, T. W., 329 

5 i8 


Barges exemption from charges, 
98, 193, 2ii. 267, 304, 313, 320, 

3 2 7. 4'3 
Barge traffic, 46, 58, 81, 164, 288, 

291, 294, 302, 334, 351, 362. 363 
Barham, Lord, 127 
Barking, i 

Barran, Sir John, 463 
Barry, Sir John Wolfe, 191, 221, 


Barrage Scheme, 327, 329 
Basle, Port of, 494 
Bates, Sydney E., 248, 319, 347 
Battersea, 27 
Baynes, C., 115, 116 
Baynes, Sir Donald, 237 
Beacons, 184, 419 
Beaconsfield, Lord, 108 
Bear Quay, 401 
Becket, Thomas a, 36 
Bede, 14 
Belgium, 299 
Bellamy's Wharf, 414 
Bell Dock, 118 
Benfleet, 17 

Benn, Sir I. Hamilton, 346 
Bercot, 58 
Betts, E. L., 193 
Bevin, E., 476 
Bidder's Pontoons, 195 
Billingsgate, 19, 20, 28, 37, 67, 372, 

399, 405, 428 
Billingsgate Porters, 427 
Billiter Street Warehouse, 210 
Bills for Dues on Barges, 211, 267, 

Blackwall. 57, 64, 65, 66, 79, 80, 

121, 211 

Blackwall Projected Canal at, 84, 


Blackwall Railway, 211 
Blackwall Entrance Reconstructed, 


Blackwater River, 29 
Blake, Sir Acton, 346 
Boadicea, 6, 9 

Board of Trade, 183, 343, 345 
Boddington, T., 115, 116 
Bonding System, 74, 109, 151, 198 
Bonham, H., 122 

Boston, 5, 26, 30 

Botolph Wharf, 401 

Bowen, Lord Justice, 260 

Boyle, Sir E., 247, 248, 319 

Bradwell, 10 

Bramwell, Sir F., as Arbitrator, 238 

Brancaster, 10 

Brassey, Messrs., 193 

Bremen, 26, 499 

Brentford, 7, 303 

Brewers Quay, 401 

Brickwood, J., 115 

Bridge of Barges, 66, 469 

Bridge House, 404 

Brightman, E. C., 346 

Bristol, 53, 55, 77. 2 94- 3'3. 335. 

400, 410, 486 

Britain Caesar's Account of, 6 
Britain Exports of Ancient, 8 
Broken Wharf, 403 
Brokers, 58 
Broodbank, J. G., 291, 320, 346, 

Brook Street, Ratcliff, 57 
Brooks Wharf, 403 
Bruges, 40 

Brunswick Dock, 64, 68, 70, 124 
Bryce, Lord, 270 
Buckle, J. W., 159 
Buildings in Port, after Great Fire, 


Bull, Sir W., 339 
Bullock, Deputy, 101 
Buonaparte, 421 
Buoys, 184,423 
Burns, John, 442, 447, 455 
Burrell, Sir C., 155 
Business of Port Character of, 

Butter Trade, 63 

Buxton, Mr. Sydney, 445, 455 
Bye Laws (see Regulations) 

CABLE System Influence on 
Trade, 4 
Cabot's Expedition, 51 
" Ca-Canny." 447 
Cade's Rebellion, 46 
Caen Stone, 25 
Caistor, 10 


Calais, 49, 335, 381 

Camulodunum, 7 

Cambridge, 5, n 

Canada Dock, 220, 223 

Canal Constructed by Canute, 21 

Canteen Arrangements, 484 

Canterbury, 13 

Canterbury, Archbishop of, 390 

Canute, King, 16, 20, 21, 27 

Cape of Good Hope, 50, 299 

Capital Expenditure of Joint Com- 
mittee, 255 

Capital London as the, i, 5, 512 

Capital of Dock Companies, 99, 
109, 114, 119, 122, 125, 131, 
132, 137, 159, 194, 200, 208, 
223, 240, 249,253,311, 317,340 

Capital of Port of London Author- 
ity. 348 

Carausius, 8, 9 

Carbutt, F., 484 

Cardiff, 302 

Cardwell, Lord, 267 

Cardyke, 30 

Carmen, 87, 96 

Carron Line, 414 

Carthage, 486 

Casual Labour, 431, 446, 448, 456, 

477. 5! 

Cattle as Export, 8 

Causes of London's Progress as a 
Port, 4 

Cavendish, 52 

Cecil's Influence on National Ex- 
pansion, 52 

Cerdic, 13 

Chambers, Sir G., 228, 319 

Champion, A., 115 

Champion, Alderman, 101, 102 

Channels of Thames, 296, 301, 

37. 354 

Chapman, A., 122 
Character of Business at Ports, i , 367 
Charges on Goods and Shipping, 

56, 71, T 2 . 97. 9 8 - "4. I2 3. 12 8. 
144, 150, 157, 160, 185, 190, 

196, 201, 204, 210, 234, 241, 

246, 264, 282, 293, 294, 298, 
306, 313, 320, 331, 342, 407, 

473. 478. 479- 490 

Charles I, 60, 377 

Charles II, 62, 377, 421 

Charlton, C., 346 

Charmouth, 13 

Charters of London, 32, 43, 59, 

60, 61, 62 
Chatham, 66 
Chelsea Dock, 206, 303 
Chester, 6, 7, 400 
Chesters Quay, 402 
Chichester, 17 
Chisholme, W., 101 
Chitty, Lord Justice, 242 
Christ's Hospital, 96 
Churchill and Sim, 136 
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston, 338 
Church's Influence on Trade, 38 
Cinque Ports, 38, 373 
City Canal, 92, 95, 97, in, 127, 

209, 213 
City Corporation as Conservators, 

32, 88, 115, 129, 163, 175, 183, 

374, 380, 427 
City Corporation Contributions 

to Improvements, 312 
City Plan for Docks and Canal, 85 
City Scheme at Royal Commission 

of 1902, 276 

Claims Settlement of, 126 
Clan Line, 241 
Clarendon, Lord, 403 
Clark, E., 242 
Clarke, Sir Edward, 452 
Classification of Produce, 141, 149, 


Claudius, Emperor, 7 
Clearing House London as a 

Trade, 5 

Clinton, Lord, 338 
Cloth, Prohibition of Imports, 40 
Coaches in London, 383 
Coal Trade, 46, 63, 65, 81, 170, 

175, 489, 490 
Cobden, 42 
Cock, S., 157 
Cocks Quay, 401 
Colchester, 8 
Cold Storage Accommodation, 262, 

Coles, John, 243 



Collier Dock, The, 212 

Collier Docks, Projected, 162, 170, 


Collin, G., 215 
Collingridge, Dr., 187 
Cologne, 2, 15, 1 6, 26, 404 
Colonies, Trade with, 5, 489 
Colquhoun's Scheme for Policing 

the Port, 89 
Combe, H. C., 96 
Commercial Dock, 70, 133, 145 
Commercial Road, 125 
Commercial Road Depdt, 236 
Commercial Sale Rooms, 3 
Companies Establishment of 

Trading (see Trading Companies) 
Companies' Porters, 428 
Compensation to Legal Quays and 

others, 96, 115, 126 
Competition in the Port, 147, 153, 

156, 170, 198, 241, 262, 499 
Complaints against Port Adminis- 
tration, 77, 164, 406 
Congestion of Traffic, 77, 80, 166, 

407, 409, 459 
Congestion of Traffic, Committee 

on, 461, 463 
Connaught, H.R.H. The Duke of, 


Conservancy of River, 32, 164, 183 
Consolidation Act, 484 
Constantinople, 486 
Constantius, 9 
Constitution of Dock Companies, 

100, 113, 122 
Constitution of Port Authority, 

3 '4. 34 

Consuls, Reports from British, 273 
Continent, Direct Steamship Ser- 
vices, 4 

Continental Industries, 4 
Continent, Trade with, 4, 497 
Cooper, Edwin, 361 
Cork, 302 

Corn Laws, 42, 56, 63, 152 
Corn Trade, 7, 8, 37, 41, 404, 427, 


Cornwall, Sir Edwin, 277, 279, 346 
Corporation of London (see City 

Cotton, ]., 122, 123, 433 

Count of Saxon Shore, 10 

Court, C., 115 

Court of Exchequer, 34 

Court of Inquiry re Wages, 476 

Cracklow's Plan for Docks, 86 

Cranes, 105, 405, 482 

Cramer, Sir John, 96 

Crawford, W., 159 

Crayford, 13 

Cromwell, 62, 385, 420 

Crosfield. G. F., 346 

Cross, Viscount, 323 

Crown Quay, 401 

Crown Rights on River, 175, 364 

Crutched Friars Warehouse, 210, 


Crutwell, Mr., 338 
Cummins, J. J., 194 
Curling, R., 115 
Currie, Sir Donald, 238 
Curtis, W., 96, 101, 122 
Customs and Excise Arrangements 

and Regulations, 108, 109, 316, 

400, 401, 461, 506 
Cutler Street Warehouse, 122, 200, 

210, 400 
Cynric, 13 

DAGENHAM. 71, 233, 234, 
266, 415 
Dakin, T., 185 
Dane Geld, 17, 1 8 
Danish Invasions, 13, 16, 17 
Davidson, H., 101 
Davidson, R. C. H., 273, 303 
Da vis's Wharf, 414 
Deepening of River (see Dredging) 
Deffell, J., 101 
Denmark, n 
Deptford, 27, 57, 65, 68, 80, 121, 

181, 303, 417 

Derby Scheme of Recruiting, 474 
Desborough, Lord, 329, 331 
Devaynes, W., 115 
Devitt, T. L., 248 
Devonport Agreement, 449, 451, 

Devonport, Viscount, 347, 449, 

454, 461, 475, 481, 508 


Digby, Sir Kenelm, 239 

Directors of Dock Companies, 93, 

145, 198, 214, 247, 318, 345 
Discharging of Vessels, 80, 149, 

256, 265, 426, 447, 501, 506 
Distribution Centre, London as a, 

4. ". 

Diversion of Traffic during War, 

459, 466 
Dividends Limitation of Dock, 

93- 2 95. 3S 
Dobree, H. H., 233, 238, 247 

Dock Charges (see Charges) 
Dock Companies Compensation 

to, 310, 323, 337, 348 
Dock first on Thames, 64 
Dockmaster, 146 
Docks Maintenance of, 216, 303, 


Docks necessary to Port, 91, 307 
Docks (open), 20 
Docks, Purchase of, 311 
Docks, Schemes for New, 84 
Dockers' Union, 428, 447 
Docks versus River Quays, 91, 333 
Dock and Wharf Labour, 425 
Dodd, R., 131 
Dogs, as Export, 8 
Domesday Book, 31 
Domett, Mr., 144 
Dominy, J., 397 
Domoney, J. W., 346 
Dorsetshire, 21 
Dortmund, 26 
Douglas Silvester, 106 
Dover, 10 

Dowgate, 20 37, 399, 406 
Drake, 52 

Drapers' Company, 374 
Dredging of Thames, 5, 29, 83, 

171, 184, 188, 189. 192, 289, 

301, 354,482,496 
Drinkald, Mr., 144 
Dry Docks, 64, 95, 123, 210, 226, 

234. 483 

Du Buisson, T., 319 
Duckham, F., 226 
Dues (see Charges) 
Duke of Wellington, 215 
Dundas, Henry, 105 

Dunkirk, 68 

Dunnage, J., 115 

Du Plat Taylor, Colonel, 211, 215, 
247, 248, 319 

Dusseldorf, 2 

Dutch, Expenditure by, on Rotter- 
dam, 2 

Dutch, Invasion of Port, 66, 420 

Dutch, Trading of, 61, 299 

Duthie, T., 346 

Dyce Quay, 401 

EADRIC, King, 15 
Earliest Days of Port, i 
Earliest Site, 10 
Eastcheap, 402 
East Country Dock, 135 
Easterlings, The, 15, 19, 25, 37, 

43- 48, 49. 53. 399 
East India Company, 53, 54, 57, 

58, 70, 101, 121, 210, 382, 400, 

East India Dock, 92, 121, 140, 146, 

207, 217, 218, 233, 411, 433, 

435 T ,- 
ast India 

East India Dock Road, 125 

Eastland Company, 58 

East London Waterworks Com- 
pany, 1 20 

East Saxons, 14, 15 

East Smithfield Station, 230 

East and West India Dock Com- 
pany, 200, 207, 253, 317, 441 

Edgar, King, 19, 26 

Edmund, King, 21 

Edreds Hithe, 28 

Edward I, 38 

Edward III, 38, 39 

Edward IV, 42 

Edward VI, 50 

Eel Trade, 67 

Egerton of Tatton, Earl, 273 

Elbe, 4, 15 

Eleanor, Queen, 373 

Elder Brethren of Trinity House, 

Electric Light Installation, 230 

Ellis, J. E., 273 

Elizabethan Era, 48 

Elizabeth of York, 375 



Elphinstone, Sir ]., 225 

Elwell, W. H., 350 

Embankment of Thames, 29, 184 

Emma, Queen, 19, 21 

Employers' National Council of 

Port, 478 

Employers Liability Act, 437 
Entrepot Trade, i, 3, 16, 43, 298, 


Enth, 31 
Esc, 13 
Essex, 1 8, 31 
Estill, T. H., 350, 365 
Ethelbert, King, 13 
Ethelred, King, 17, 19, 20, 21, 25, 


Ethel woulf, King, 13 

Evidence before Royal Commis- 
sion, 274 

Examination Service during War, 

Excise Bill, 73 

Execution Dock, 406 

Export Trade, 8, 15, 26, 491 

FACILITIES in Port, 367, 406 
Factory Legislation, 152 
Falconbridge, 46 
Falmouth, 41 1 
Fellowship Porters, 428 
Fenchurch Street Warehouse, 210 
Ferry at London Bridge, 20 
Field, Admiral Sir Mostyn, 346 
Figgins, Mr., 101 
Findlay, Sir G., 242 
Finnis, Sir T. Q., 185 
Fires in London, 37, 44, 46, 65, 

82, 378, 403, 407, 410 
Fisher, Captain, 174 
Fisheries of Thames, 32 
Fish Trade, 405 
Fitch's Expedition, 52 
FitzAylwin, first Mayor of London, 


FitzStephen, William, on London, 

^A 45 

Flanders, 39, 40, 42, 49 

Fleet River, 10, 37, 46, 65 
Fleming, J., 274 

Flemish Artizans, Immigration of, 


Flemish Artizans, Expulsion of, 49 
Fletcher, Sir Lionel, 476 
Florida, 52 
Fog in River, 300 
Food Supplies during War, 458, 


Foreign Trade, 36 
Forster, E., 115, 116, 117 
Fowler, J., 225 
France, 19 

Franks, London occupied by, 9 
Freemen of City, 60 
Free Trade Legislation, 39, 40, 45, 

Freshfield, James, 155 
Fresh Wharf, 126, 401, 414 
Frobisher, 52 
Frost Fair, 386 

Frozen Meat (see Cold Storage) 
Fry, T. H., 185 
Furness, Lord, 346 
Fusion of Companies in 1864, 197 
Future of Port of London, 486 

Galleons Reach, 193, 228, 275 
Galley Quay, 401 

Garbling of Goods, 43 

Gattie's Scheme for Cargo Hand- 
ling, 506 

Gauging of Goods, 43 

Gaul Trade and Relations with, 
6, 8, 12 

Gaunt 's Quay, 401 

Geddes, Sir Eric, 461 

General Steam Navigation Com- 
pany, 414 

Genoa, 37, 298, 486 

Geographical Advantages of Lon- 
don, 4 

George, The Rt. Hon. D. LJoyd, 

333. 336. 338. 347. 455 
German Trade, 2, 26, 42, 256, 298, 


Ghent, 40 
Gibraltar, 423 
Giffen, Sir R., 273 



Gilbert's Expedition to Newfound- 
land, 52 

Gilbert, J. D., 277, 370, 469, 492 

Gladstone, W. E., 198 

Glasgow, 5, 313, 332, 333 

" Globe," 124 

Gloves, 20 

Glyn, Sir E. Carr, 155 

Glyn, G. Carr, 159 

Godsell, E., 127 

Gold as Export, 8 

Gomme, Lawrence, 277 

Gordon Riots, 153 

Gosfrith the Portreeve, 25 

Gosling, H., 346, 448, 455, 476 

Government Ships and Goods, 
Charges on, 479 

Gowland, T., 101 

Grain Elevators, 365 

Granary, Millwall Docks, 227 

Grand Surrey Basin, 132 

Gravesend, 45, 63, 164, 211, 236, 

30. 373. 39 

Graving Docks (see Dry Docks) 
Great Eastern Railway, 194, 228 
Great Western Steamship, 193 
Greenland Dock, 131, 134, 221, 338 
Greenock, 294 
Greenway, F., 320 
Greenwich, 65, 377 
Grenfell, Pascoe, 155 
Gresham, Sir Thomas, 52 
Grey, Lady Jane, 375 
Grocers Company, 127 
Guilds of London, 42 
Gwydyr'g Lease of Mooring Chains 

93. 9 6 - I2 7 

HAGUE, The, i 
Haldane, Lord, 455 
Haldimand, W., 159 
Hale, Lord, on Conservancy Rights, 

3 2 . '7 6 

Hall, Alderman, 185 
Hall, Sir John, 132, 156, 161, 166 
Hamburg, i, 2, 26, 287, 298, 333, 

499, 502 

Hamilton of Dalzell, 338 
Hamilton, J. J., 319 
Hammonds Quay, 402 

Hamond, Sir A., 106 

Hampden, 377 

Hampshire, 18 

Hankey, R. A., 242, 248, 253, 319 

Hanseatic League (see Easterlings) 

Harbour Docks and Piers Clauses 

Act, 201, 234, 480 
Harbour Staff, Criticism of, 129, 

Hardy, Lawrence, 323 

Hardy, T., 290, 319 

Harland & Wolff, 492 

Hartland, Sir F. Dixon, 300, 322 

Havre, 2, 298, 335 

Hawkesbury, Lord, 105, 107, 117, 

3 2 3 

Hawkins' Expeditions, 52 
Hay's Wharf, 414 
Heath, J. B., 159 
Hengest, 13 
Henry II, 27, 32 
Henry III, 32 
Henry VII, 48 
Henry VIII, 50 

Herodian Description of London, 9 
Hertford Union Canal, 205 
Hext, Sir John, 273 
Hibbert, Alderman, 101, 102, 125, 

"7. '43 

Hickson, Mr., 215 
Hill, Sir Norman, 463 
Hills, Arnold, 327, 329 
Hirst, T., 350 
Hithes on Thames, 20 
Hlothere, King, 15 
Hobart, Lord, 117 
Hodgson, J., 159 
Holland, i, 299 
Holland, Hon. Sydney, 247, 249, 

253. 3'9. 3 2 7 
Home Trade, 15 
Home, Sir Robert, 475 
Housing of Working Classes, 160 
Howland Great Wet Dock, 67, 131 
Hubbard, John, 155 
Hubbard, W. E., 248, 253, 319 
Huddart, J., 115, 122, 124 
Hudson's Bay Company, 63 
Hudson's Bay Trade, 52 
Hull, 5, 298, 335, 418 



Humphrey, Alderman, 185 

Hunter, R., 115 

Huy, 19 

Hydraulic Machinery, 196, 217 

ICE, in River, 81, 386 
Import Trade, 8, 15, 26 
Improvement of Port, 129, 303, 

3 12 - 34. 35. 353. 354. 35 6 . 


Inchcape, Lord, 461, 463 
Indian Trade, 37, 52, 54 
Inglis, J., 115, 144 
Insurance, 56, 63 
Insurance Companies, benefited by 

Entrep6t Trade, 2 
Internal Struggles on Trade, Effect 

of, 38 

Ipswich, 17 
Iron as Export, 8 
Irongate Wharf, 414 
Isle of Dogs, Docks at, 85, 89 
Italy, Trade with, 8, 44, 48 
Itineraries of Antoninus, 9 

JAMES I, 58, 179 
James II, 62, 64, 66, 379, 421 
James of Hereford, Lord, 239 
Jetty System in Docks, 194 
Jewry Street Warehouse, 210 
Johnston, J., 101 

Joint Industrial Council, 477, 478 
Joint Committee, 244, 318, 448 
Jones, Charles, 175 
Julian the Apostate, 9 
Julius Caesar on Britain, 6 
Junction Dock, 214 
Jurisdiction on River, Dispute re- 
garding, 175 
Justus, 14 

KEARLEY, Sir Hudson (see 
Viscount Devonport) 
Kelk & Aird, 225 
Kemble, E., 101 

Kemble's " Saxons in England," 5 
Kennard, J. P., 193 
Kent, 6, 18 
Kimbolton, Lord, 377 
King, T., 115 

Kirk & Randall, 237, 238, 242, 

249, 250 

Kirkpatrick, C. R., 349 
Knight, Messrs., 414 
Knutsford, Viscount (tee Hon. 

Sydney Holland) 

LABOURERS, Statute of. 40 
Labour in Port, 141, 256, 259, 
409, 425, 471, 499, 507 
Labour during War, 471 
Labour Exchanges, 456 
Lambeth, 21 

Lancaster's Expedition, 52 
Lancastrians and Yorkists, 42 
Landing Stage in River, 494 
Lands Clauses Act, 311 
Lands for Dock Construction, 95, 


Langland, 427 
Langton, Stephen, 416 
Larpent, G. G. de H., 159, 160 
Laurentius, 14 
Lavender Lock, 135 
Lawrie, A., 242, 248, 258 
Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar, 332, 339 
Lea, The, 6, 17 
Leach, C. F., 346 
Legal Quays, 55, 77, 84. 88, 95, 

96, 115, 126, 145, 198, 401, 404 
Leigh, 417 
Leigh Middle Shoals, 191, 296, 


Leith, 302, 335 
Leith of Fyvie, Lord, 338 
Le Lacheur, W., 319 
Le Marchant, Sir Henry, 242, 248, 

253, 265, 278, 279, 305, 319,324 
Lennox, W., 115 
Lewin, R., 122 

Licenses for Embankments, 184 
Licensing of Barges, 313, 351 
Liege, 19 
Lightermen, 88, 302, 362, 372, 

387. 389 

Lighters (see Barges) 
Lighthouses, 419, 423 
Limehouse Dock, 406 
Limits of Port, 183, 310, 339 
Lincoln, 5 



Lincolnshire, Sea Dyke, 30 

Liquor Control Board, 484 

Lisbon, i 

" Little Edward," The, 47 

Liverpool, i, 2, 5, 53, 60, 70, 92, 
IS 1 - 235. 2 S7. 273. 298, 313, 
3*4. S3 2 , 335. 45 6 - 488. 493 

Locks on Thames, n, 186 

London and India Docks Com- 
pany, 223, 290, 308, 317, 327, 

336, 338 
London and India Docks Joint 

Committee (see Joint Committee) 
London and India Docks Scheme 

of Port Reform, 293, 327, 336 
London and St. Katharine Docks 

Company, 197, 200, 237, 241 

3'7 44 

London as a Roman Town 7 
London, Bishop of, 14, 445 
London Bridge, i, 5, 21, 27, 37, 

45- 54. 372, 373. 399 
London Chamber of Commerce, 

London County Council, 189, 269, 

270, 293, 323, 327, 331, 492 
London County Council, Con- 
tribution to Improvements, 312 
London County Council, Scheme 

at 1902 Inquiry, 280 
London Dock, 90, 92, 113, 230, 

London Dock Company, 113, 140, 

142, 156,213 

Londoners Ignorant of Port, i 
London Grain Elevator Company, 


London Lackpenny, 396 

London not originally intended 
for Port, 6 

London, Wall of, 14, 16, 20, 36 

Long, Beeston, 115, 116 

Long Ferry, 373, 395 

Longlands, H., 145, 146, 158 

Lord Mayor's Show, 374 

Loughborough, Lord, 105 

Lower Thames Navigation Com- 
mission, 191, 290, 300 

Lubbock, Sir John, 445 

Lubbock, Sir J. W., 155, 159 

Lubbock, Sir Nevile, 248, 319 
Lucas & Aird, 228, 238, 239 
Ludenwic, 15 
Ludlow, Lord, 323 
Lumpers, 83 
Lushington, W., 101 
Lusk, Sir Andrew, 444 
Luxury Trades, 488 
Lyle, Messrs., 414 
Lymne, 17 
Lympne, 10 
Lynn, 5, 26 
Lyon, D., 101 
Lyons Quay, 402 
Lyster, A., 191 
Lyttelton, Hon. A., 273 

MAAS, Expenditure on Im- 
provements, 2 
Macassey, Sir Lynden, 476 

Machinery at Docks, Utilization 
of, 505 

Maconnochie, J. A., 221 

Magna Charta, 45 

Maintenance of Casual Labour, 477 

Maintenance of Docks, 2 1 6, 303 , 3 5 1 

Malcolm, N., 102 

Maldon, 8 

Mangles, C. E., 194 

Management of Docks, 99 

Manchester, 5, 273, 294 

Manning, A., 233, 237 

Manning, Cardinal, 444 

Manufacturing District, London 
as a, 489 

March, S., 429 

Margate Boats, 164, 211 

Mark Brown's Wharf, 159, 414 

Mark Lane, 402 

Market, London as a, 2 

Markets, Continental and Ameri- 
can, 4 

Marlborough, Duke of, 64 

Marseilles, 298, 486 

Martin, Lionel A., 346 

Martindale, Colonel, 248, 319 

Mary, Queen, 51, 376 

Matilda of Flanders, 25 

Matilda, wife of King Stephen, 28, 



Mayhew, Henry, 438 

Maypole Dairy Company, 490 

McDougall, Sir J., 346, 370 

Measuring of Goods, City Privil- 
eges. 43. 59 

Mediterranean Ports, 3, 10 

Mediterranean Route, 298 

Medway, n, 33, 288 

M ell it us, 14, 15 

Mellor, Mr., 323 

Mercers Company, 374 

Merchant Adventurers, 58 

Merchants Plan for Docks, 84 

Mersea, 17 

Mersey Ferry, 60 

Merchant Taylors Company, 374 

Mercia, 5 

Metropolitan Police, 300 

Midland Railway Dock, 205, 303 

Military Service Committee, 474 

Milligan, R., 102, 103 

Mills, Charles, 115 

Milner, Viscount, 338 

Milton (near Gravesend), 17, 395 

Millwall Dock, 197, 213, 225, 232, 
290, 308, 336, 338 

Millwall Equipment Company, 227, 


Mincing Lane, 402 
Mints, 8, 19 
Monopoly of 21 years given to 

Docks, 96, 114, 123, 141 
Monopoly of Port Authority, 

Question of, 360 
Moore, H. T., 346, 461 
Moore, J., 134 

Moorings in River, 80, 170, 184 
Morgan, D. J., 322 
Morgan, H. J.. 253, 320 
Morocco Wharf, 414 
Moscow, 486 
Mowlem & Co., 361 
Munitions, 470, 471 
Munster, 26 
Murray, Capt., 129 

NARES, Admiral Sir George, 
National Expenditure, Com- 
mittee on, 472 

National Transport Workers Feder- 
ation, 448, 472, 475 
Navigation Committee, 129, 169, 


Navigation Laws, 41, 42, 56, 298 
Navigation of Steamers on Thames, 

163, 1 66 

Navy, The. 41, 55, 380, 381 
Neave, Sir Richard, 115, 116, 117 
Nelson, Lord, 136 
Nevile, T., 375 
Newcastle, 55, 313, 400, 418 
Newfoundland, 52 
New Zealand, 365 
Newman, R. Finch, 177 
New Street Warehouse, 200 
New York, 335 
Nivelle, 19 

Norman, Sir John, 374 
Normandy, 19 
Norris, E. S., 248, 319 
Norris, H., 350, 442 
North London Railway, 212 
Northumbrian Kingdom, 14 
Norway Dock, 1 34 
Norwood, C. M., 248, 253, 257 

OAKLEY, Sir Henry, 242 
Ogle's Plan of Improvements, 


O'Grady, Mr., 455 
Old Broad Street, 10 
Old Gravel Lane, 80 
Orient Line, 241 
Orwell, The, 21, 29 
Oxford, ii, 37, 58 

PACKING of Goods. City 
Privileges, 43, 61 
Pallmer, C. N., 144, 146 
Palmer, F., 349, 352 
Palmer, J. H., 159 
P. & O. Company, 260, 266, 444 
Pannell, W. H., 346 
Paris, i , 486 
Parkes, J., 182 
Parmoor, Lord, 238 
Passenger Traffic in Port, 492 
Paul's Wharf, 403 
Payment of Labour Methods, 505 



Payment of Members of Port 

Authority, 315, 340, 349 
Peace as an Asset of Trade, 21 
Pearson, Contract with Messrs., 


Peckham, 131 
Peel, Sir Robert, 152 
Peel, Hon. W. R. W., 273 
Penal Rates, 464 
Pepper, 20, 54 
Pepys' Diary, References to, 64, 66, 


Perry's Dock, 70, 124 
Peter of Cole Church, 27 
Peto, S. Morton, 193 
Petrograd, I 
Petrol, Storage and Conveyance 

of, 363, 488 
Pevensey, 10 

Philipps, Sir Owen, 346, 349 
Philippa of Hainault, 39, 153 
Philipson, R., 349, 371 
Physical Advantages of Port of 

London, 4 
Picts, 9 

Piecework, 477 
Piers, the Plowman, 427 
Piggott, Captain, 185 
Pilotage, 282, 301 
"Pink Form, "464 
Pirates, 420 

Pitt, William, 105, 108, 421 
Plague in London, 64, 378, 384 
Pleasure Boats, 190 
Plender, Sir William, 335, 338 
Plummer, T., 102 
Plundering of Goods, 82, 138, 143 
Plymouth, 411 
Poitou, 19 

Policing of Port, 89, 300, 303 
Pollard, E. H., 239 
Pollution of River, 187 
Pook, F., 319 

Poplar Dock, 206, 212, 303 
Porta, Meaning of, 25 
Port and Transit Committee, 463 
Port Authority, Legislation, 322, 

336. 339 

Pott Authority suggested by Royal 
Commission, 306, 313 

Port, Character of Business carried 

on, i, 367 
Port Committee of City, 129, 171, 


Porterage of Goods, City Privil- 
eges, 43, 61, 427 

Porters Quay, 402 

Portland, Duke of, 107 

Port of London Authority, Ad- 
ministration of, 346 

Port of London Authority Com- 
mittees, 349 

Port of London Authority, Con- 
stitution of, 356 

Port of London Authority Offices, 

Port of London Authority, Pro- 
gramme of Improvements, 356 

Port of London Working Associa- 
tion, 485 

Porto Rico, 52 

Port Rates on Goods, 313, 342, 350 

Portreeve, The, 25 

Port Sanitary Authority, 187, 275, 

Portsmouth, 13 

Port Stock. 312, 338, 340. 342, 348 

Portuguese Trade, 50, 52, 58 

Powell, D., 247 

Preferential Rates, 246, 342 

Preston, 294 

Price, Sir Charles, 133 

Pringle, Captain, 182 

Privileges of Watermen, 391 

Privileges, Termination of Dock, 
138, 412 

Proprietors of Docks, Regulations, 

Protective Legislation for Trade, 

41, 42. 44, 49, 55, 56, 61. 62 
Provision Trade, 223 
Pudding Lane, 65, 403 
Puddle Dock and Wharf, 20, 403. 
Pugh, A., 476 [406 

Purfleet, 415 
Putney, 377 

Queenhithe, 28, 37, 399, 



RACING of Steamers on 
Thames, 164, 181 
Raikes, W., 115 

Railway Companies' Act, 1867, 249 
Railway Commissioners, 246, 295, 

329. 3 6 ' 
Railway Companies, Docks of, as 

Competitors, 510 
Railways at Docks, 194, 218, 226, 

23. 235. 328, 344. 3 6 i. 49 
Railways, Influence of, on River 

Traffic, 181. 391 
Raleigh's Expedition, 52 
Rank, Messrs., 490 
Ratcliffe, 27, 406 
Rates (see Charges) 
Rauff's Quay, 401 
Rea, Russell, 323, 338 
Rebuilding of London, Act of 1 667, 

Reculver, 10 

Redesdale, Lord, 240 

Reed, J., 115 

Reform of Port Administration, 77 

Regent's Canal Dock, 170, 205, 303 

Registration of Labour, 477 

Regulations, Port and Dock, 100, 

171, 176, 182, 202, 209, 260 
Relations of London and India 

Companies on Joint Committee, 


Rendel, Sir Alexander, 228 

Rennie, J., 103, 123 

Renshaw, Sir C., 323 

Reserve Fund of Port of London 
Authority, 343 

Reserve Fund of West India Dock 
Company, 140, 142, 147 

Reveley's Plan of Port Improve- 
ments, 87 

Revelstoke, Lord, 273 

Rhine, Projected Lateral Canal, 495 

Rhine Traffic, 2, 4, 9, 10, n, 15, 

Richard I, Vesting of Conservancy 

in City Corporation by, 32, 41 
Richard II, 41 
Richard III, 44 
Rich borough, 8, 10 
Ritchie of Dundee, Lord, 338, 346 

Ritchie, Rt. Hon. C. T.. 269 
Ritchie, W., 69, 134 
River Banks of Thames, 29, 405 
River Quays and Jetties, 91, 275, 

333. 359. 412 
Roads of England, London as 

Centre of System, 6, 9 
Roberts, J., 122 
Robinson, G., 116 
Rochester, 14 
Rogers, J. Innes, 282 
Rollit, Sir Albert, 269, 451 
Roman Building of Embankments, 


Roman Operations in London, 6 
Roman Trade in Britain, 8 
Rome, 486 
Romney Marsh, 31 
Ronald, R. B., 319 
Rother, The, 1 1 
Rotherhithe, 21, 67 
" Rothsay Castle," 163 
Rotterdam, i, 2, 298, 299, 333, 

443. 49. 499 
Rouen, 19, 25 
Rowles, R., 159 
Royal Albert Dock (see Albert 

Royal Commission on Port of 

London, 269, 273, 296, 320, 321 
Royal Oak, 64 
Royal Victoria Dock (see Victoria 


Rubber Trade, 488 
Rupert, Prince, 64 
Russia Company, 51, 53, 58 
Ryder, Dudley, 105 
Ryder, Sir George, 274 

SABS Quay, 401 
St. Albans, Lord, 269 
St. Aldwyn, Lord, 350 
St. Augustine, 14 
St. Botolph Without, 160 
St. Clement, 417 
St. Friedswide, n 
St. Katharine Dock, 28, 153, 166, 

406, 412, 430, 435, 440 
St. Katharine Hospital, 28, 153, 



St. Mary Overy, 27 
St. Saviour's Dock, 162, 406 
Salt as an Import, 8 
Saltmarsh, Sir George, 346 
Samuel, Sir Marcus, 275 
Sampson, W., 159 
Sandeman, A. G., 248 
Sansom, P., 115, 116 
Sandwich, 13, 21 

Sanitary Authority (see Port Sanit- 
ary Authority) 
Saturday Half-holiday in Port, 474, 


Savory's Dock, 406 
Saxon Port, 12 
Saxons, 9 

" Saxons in England," 5 
Saxon Shore, Count of, 10 
Scandinavia, 21 
Scavage, City Privileges, 61 
Scheldt, 4 
Schemes of Arrangement with 

Creditors, 249 
Schemes of Port Improvement, 84, 


Scholey, Sheriff, 132 
Scotland Dock, 406 
Scots, 9 
Scott, C. J. Cater, 248, 253, 291, 

305, 319, 328 
Scrutton, F., 476, 477 
Scrutton, T., 279 
" Sea Belle " Case, 451 
Sea Coal Lane, 46 
Seine, i, 4 
Severus, 9 

Shadwell Waterworks, 87, 119, 120 
Shaw of Dunfermline, Lord, 476 
Sheds on Quays, Use by Shipowners, 

257, 265 
Sheerness, 66 
Sheffield, Lord, 96 
Shepherd, Captain, 185 
Shepherd, Commodore, 185 
Shipbuilding in London, 47, 55, 

6 3. 49 1 

Shipmoney Tax, 60 

Shipowners' Case at Royal Com- 
mission, 285 

Shipowners Labour, 449, 451 

Shipowners' Opposition to Legis- 
lation, 246, 269 

Shipowning in London, 47, 75 
Ships (see Vessels) 
Shoebury, 17 
Shoreham, 10 
Shorter Week for Dock Workers, 

Short Sea Traders, 287 

Sibthorp, Colonel, 163 

Sierra Leone, 52 

Silting up of River, 83, 171 

Silver as Export, 8 

Silvertown Explosion, 483 

Sim, Captain, 136 

Simmonds, T., 101 

Sims, G. R., 441 

Sion House, 376 

Situation, Potency of, 5 

Skinner, Alderman, 107 

Skinners Company, 374 

Skins as Exports, 8 

Slaves as Exports, 8 

Sluys, Battle of, 41 

Smart's Quay, 401 

Smethurst, J., 476 

Smith, Hugh C., 346 

Smith, Sir H. Llewellyn, 347 

Smuggling, 74, 83, 400 

Soldiers and Sailors, Charges on 

Gifts to, 482 
Sollis, S., 127 
Somersetshire, 21 
Somers Quay, 401 
Southampton, 13, 17, 53, 55, 256, 

298, 400, 443, 486, 493 
Southampton, Lord, 403 
South Dock, 135 

South London Dock Scheme, 162 
Southwark, 28, 372, 375 
Southwark, Plan for Docks at, 86 
South West India Dock, 210, 213, 

216, 217, 229, 232, 262 
Spalding, 30 
Spaniards, Destruction of Antwerp 

by, 2 

Spanish Trade, 50, 58 
Spence's Plan of Docks, 86 
Spencer, Earl, 105 
Spert, Sir Thomas, 417 



Spicer, Sir Albert, 339 

Spice Trade, 488 

Staff of the Port, 145, 204, 214, 

245- 253. 344. 45 6 - 484 
Stafford, 5 
Staines, 18, 33, 183 
Standing Arbitrator, 245 
Staples, 39, 43 
Stave Dock, 136 
Steamers on Thames, 163, 207, 


Steele, Thomas, 106 
Steelyard, 26, 49, 195, 403 
Stephen, King, 27, 28 
Stepney Church, 417 
Sterry Trustees, 127 
Stevedores' Union, 437 
Storm of 27th November, 1703, 68 
Strabo, 8 
Strasburg, 494 
Stratford in Essex, 31 
Strikes of Labourers, 440, 450, 

4S 2 - 457 
Strover, Mr., 146 

Subscribers to West India Dock 
Company, 93 

Submarine Campaign, 466 

Suetonius Paulinus, 6 

Suez Canal, Influence on Trade, 3 

Sufferance Wharves, 77, 88, 405, 

Sugar Trade, 81 

Sullivan, Capt., 185 

Sunday Ferry, 388, 389, 392 

Surrey Canal Company, 131 

Surrey Commercial Dock Com- 
pany, 131, 133, 197, 203, 220, 
290, 308, 338 

Sutherland, Sir Thomas, 189, 260, 

287, 443 
Swansea, 302 
Sweyn, King, 18, 20 
Switzerland, Trade with, 494 
Syria, 52 

TACITUS on Agricola, 8, 30 
Tacitus on London, 6 
Tacklehouse Porters, 87, 96, 
126, 427, 428 
Tate, Messrs., 414 

Taylor, Seth, 248, 319 

Taylor, Water Poet, 383 

Tea Trade, 487 

Tees Ports, 302 

Telford, John, 161 

Termination of Dock Privileges, 

Thames, The, 4, 5, 8, 10, n, 12, 


Thames Conservancy, 180, 183, 
289, 299, 307, 308, 315, 327, 

33 1 - 34i. 347- 393.422 
Thames Haven, 363, 415 
Thames Traffic Committee, 302, 

rTM 393 

Thanet, 17 

Theodosius, 9 

Thieves in Port, Classification of, 

8 3 

Thomas, J. H., 350 
Thompson, A. H., 159 
Thompson, W., 159 
Thornton, W., 122 
Thorp, J.. 185 
Three Cranes Wharf, 377 
Ticket Porters, 96, 126, 428 
Tickner, E., 173 
Tidal Variations, 12, 334 
Tilbury Contracting Company, 236 
Tilbury Dock, 212, 218, 229, 232, 

246, 258. 270, 275, 304, 337, 358 
Tilbury Passenger Landing Stage, 


Till, R., 194 
Tillett, Ben, 441, 442, 447, 454, 


Tilt Boats, 396 
Timber Hithe, 403 
Timber Trade, 221, 223, 226, 405, 


Timbs, 426 
Timperson, J., 102 
Tod, J. H., 248, 253, 319 
Tooke, T., 145, 159, 160 
Tooley Street, 223 
Torrey, C. F., 346 
Torrington, Lord, 156 
Torpedo Nets at Locks, 471 
Tower of London, Privileges of 

Keepers, 32, 59 


Town Warehouses, 123, 195, 200, 

Trade of London, Effects of Vic- 
tory, 497 

Trade of London, Volume and 
Value, 74, 156, 167, 297, 366 

Trade Unions, Relations with, 503 

Trading Companies, 50, 51, 53, 


Transit Trade, i 
Transport Workers Battalion, 464, 


Travel, Cheapening of, 4 

Travellers to London, 45, 373, 395 

Trinity House, 35, 86, 87, 103, 
169, 171, 172, 176, 183, 185, 
281, 300, 301, 307, 308, 416 

Trotter, J., 226 

Turkey Company, 53 

Turner, Sir Montagu, 346 

Turner, S., 115 

Turnley, J., 185 

Tyler's Rebellion, 46 

Tyne Ports, 302, 333 

Tyrell, T., 103, 107, 123, 127 

UPPER Navigation Commis- 
sion, 1 86 

Upton, H. E., 350 
Utrecht, 26 

VAUGHAN, William, 78, 84, 
102, 115, 116 
Venice, 37 

Vernon, Messrs., 490 
Verulam, 7 

Vessels, Character of, n, 13, 16, 47 
Vessels, Wrecked, 184 
Vickers, Maxim & Co., 490 
Victoria Dock, Royal, 26, 193, 212, 
217, 225, 228, 257, 258, 275, 483 
Vikings, n 
Vinegar, 20 

Vintners Company, 127 
Virginia Company, 53 

WAGES, Claim of 1 6s. a day, 

Wagg, Edward, 247, 319 
Walbrook, 10, 20, 37 

Walderne, W., 374 

Walker, R., 103, 124 

Walker's Plan of Docks, 86 

Wallace, Lord, 141 

Wall, London, 14, 16, 20, 36 

Walls round Docks, 94 

Walpole, Policy of, 72, 109, 390 

Wapping, Docks projected at, 79, 
84, 88, 90 

Ward, G., 115 

Warehousing Acts, 109, 198 

Warehousing Business, 198, 232, 
258, 264, 291, 294, 309, 368, 400 

Warehousing of Goods, City 
Privileges, 43 

Warehouse-keepers (see Wharf- 

War, Influence of, on Trade, 4, 16, 
75, 458, 498 

Warlters' Wharf, 132 

War, Operations and Accommo- 
dation in Port, 459, 460, 469, 

War Wages, 472, 500 

Warwick, 5 

Water Companies, Payments by, 
187, 190 

Waterloo, 434 

Watermen, 51, 88, 302, 372, 379 

Watermen's Company, 165, 181, 
182, 289, 300, 302, 308, 341, 349, 
382, 386, 389 

Waterpassage to London, 45, 373, 


Waterside Manufacturers, 490 
Watling Street, 6 
Watson, Brook, 96 
Watts, H. H., 349 
Webb, Sir Aston, 361 
Weddel, W., 346 
Wedderburn, J., 102 
Weighing of Goods, City Privileges, 

43- 5. 6o 

Weirs, Regulations as to, 32 
Welch Deputy, 101 
Welland, The, 30 
Wells, Messrs, j. & W., 69 
West Coast Diversion Committee, 
West India Committee, 144 



West India Dock, 90, 92, 104, 232, 

West India Dock Acts, 208, 427 
West India Dock Company, 92, 

in, 138, 161, 207 
West India Trade, 76, 82, 413, 

43'. 437 
Westminster, 6 

West Saxons, 13 

Whale Trade, 63, 67, 69 

Wharfingers, 3, 77, 88, 96, 184, 
188, 198, 262, 288, 289, 291, 
309, 324, 326. 337, 339. 370, 
399, 485, 509 

Wharfingers Association, 415 

Wharves as Alternative Facilities, 

2 75. 333- 359. 4 12 
Wharves First, on Thames, 10, 20 
Wherry Traffic, 46, 164, 166, 372, 


White, R., 346 
Whitehead, Sir James, 445 
Whitley Council, 478 
Wiggan's Quay, 402 
Wight, Isle of, 21 
Wigram, R., 123 
Wigram, Sir C. H., 242 
Wildman, H., 102 
William (Bishop), 25 
William I, 24 
William III, 66 
William of Ypres, 28 
Williams, H. W., 253, 320 
Williams, R., 476 
Williams, S., 122 
Williams, W., 123 

Williams, W. Varco, 346 

Williams, S. & Son, 415 

Williamson, Mr., 339 

Wilson, Fletcher, 159 

\Vilson, T., 159 

Wimble, Sir John, 474 

Winchester, 5, 13, 17, 19 

Wine Trade, 8, 19, 37, 39, 41, 43 

Wisbech, 30 

Witham, The, 5, 30 

Wolverton, Lord, 323 

Wood, T. McKinnon, Rt. Hon., 

277, 280 

Wool Exchange, 3 
Woolmore, J., 123 
Wool Quays (Old and New), 401 
Wool Trade, 3, 19, 37, 39, 40, 42, 

43. 44. 5. 6 3- 2I 7. 487 
Workmen's Compensation Act, 437 
Wounded Soldiers, River Trips 

for, 484 

Wyat, Sir Thomas, 27 
Wyatt's Plan of Docks, 85 

YANTLET, 33. 183 
York, 5, 9, 1 1 
Younger Brethren of Trinity 
House, 419 

Young, Sir William, 79 
Young Men's Christian Associa- 
tion, 484 

Young's Quay, 401 
Ypres, 40 

'EPPELIN Attacks, 66 







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