The Port of London in the Age of Steam —Page 4

Dockers manually manoeuvre lighters at Tilbury Docks, where several steamships are moored. The opening of Tilbury in 1886 moved the Port of London further downriver. They were not initially successful but as ships grew ever larger Tilbury found itself as the only docks in the port capable of handling the largest vessels.

Britain became increasingly industrialised during the 19th century and there were various attempts by workers to take action to improve their conditions. In August 1889 an incident at the West India Docks prompted workers to walk out while unloading a ship. A strike committee was formed and the dispute quickly spread as dockers in other parts of the port joined in sympathy. It lasted a month, almost closing the entire port, from the City down to Tilbury. Once unions came into being, industrial action became a regular feature of the docks and wharves throughout the following century.

Sources include: John Pudney ‘London’s Docks’; Fiona Rule ‘London’s Docklands’; Christopher West ‘The Story of St.Katharine’s’; Jerry White ‘London in the 19th Century’; Liza Picard ‘Victorian London’; Arthur Bryant ‘Liquid History’; Ian Friel ‘Marine History of Britain & Ireland’; John Richardson ‘The Annals of London’.

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