Warehouse of the World

  • Posted on 15th August 2017 by Guest - Emma

  • Piled high on the quaysides and arriving daily from the farthest flung corners of the globe in a burst of exoticism; the rarest treasures in dizzying abundance; London was the Warehouse of the World. Travel through time as we visit the Victorian trading hub.

    1. By the start of the Victorian age, 32 acres of docklands and nearby areas were dedicated to the warehousing of goods coming in to London.

    2. By 1820, the amount of tea arriving in the London docks amounted to 32,000 tonnes and came from China, India and Ceylon.
    3. The Isle of Dogs is not an island but a peninsular. It isn’t exactly known how it got its name but in Tudor times, it was used to keep the dogs from Placentia palace. The palace located in Greenwich (now the site of the University of Greenwich) was a muddy walk across the Thames.
    4. Much of the docklands was below sea level and the marshes of Wapping kept most people out of the area. In the 17th Century, Dutch engineers were called in to help with drainage and damning. They helped create an area of London that was suitable for homes and warehousing and helped London become an important port.
    5. The Gun public house on the Isle of Dogs is one of the oldest pubs on the peninsular. It is over 250 years old and gets its name from the nearby dockside iron foundries which produced guns for the Royal Navy. Lady Hamilton and Horation Nelson used to meet in an upstairs room.
    6. Looting and theft from warehouses was a big problem. In 1798, the London River Police was set up to tackle these issues. It is England’s oldest police force.
    7. Wapping was featured in BBC’s Taboo which was not only the location of the home of Tom Hardy’s character, James Delaney but was where they spent much of their time wading through the mud.
    8. The architect of West India docks also designed Dartmoor prison. He was clearly good at keeping criminals in, so hoped that the warehouses filled and rum and sugar would be secure enough to keep criminals out.
    9. In 1820 the young Charles Dickens visited his godfather in Limehouse and allegedly danced on the bar of the Grapes. He refers to the pub in My Mutual Friend as "A tavern of dropsical appearance". The Grapes’ leasehold was bought by Sir Ian McKellen in 2011 and he has co-owned it ever since.
    10. London’s docks and the river Thames were popular with writers including Oscar Wilde and Arthur Conan Doyle. It was also a place that inspired some distinguished painters including Francis Bacon, JMW Turner and James McNeill Whistler.

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