Next to the Blackwall Tunnel – the East India Docks Commemoration Plaque

By coincidence, I started writing this yesterday evening, and then stopped to turn the telly on and watch a programme about TfL — which then spent half the show talking about the Blackwall Tunnel.

If you were to stand near to the monstrous road network that is the northern end of the Blackwall tunnels, you might come across a gigantic stone plaque on a wall.

Erected in 1806, it commemorates the opening of the East India Docks, the remains of which are just around the corner from the the plaques current resting place.

East India Dock gate plaque

It stood proudly above the imposing gate house to the docks for just over 100 years — a reminded to all those who passed within of its grand origins, if rather less grand function, the delivery of goods to the Metropolis.

Those gates were not simply decorative, they were indeed one of the few ways in and our of the docks, and when dockers went on strike, the gates would be symbolically shut during the day.

However, the private docks fell into the control of the Port of London Authority in 1909, who undertook a major upgrade of the area. The gatehouse, was suffering a bit though and was restored in 1914.

Its restored home was not to last long though, as the continuing decline of the London docks in the post-war years meant the eventual closure of the East India Docks — and the fate of the gatehouse was sealed when expansion of the Blackwall tunnel was carried out in the 1960s.

The plaque was moved, to its current home, where is sits, not that far from another entrance, to the road tunnel.

East India Dock gate plaque

A transcript:

UNDER

AUSPICES OF OUR MOST GLORIOUS SOVEREIGN

GEORGE III

THE SANCTION OF HIS MAJESTY’S GOVERNMENT

AND THE

PATRONAGE OF THE EAST INDIA COMPANY

THESE

WET DOCKS

APPROPRIATED TO THE COMMERCE OF INDIA

AND SHIPS IN THAT EMPLOY

WERE ACCOMPLISHED IN THOSE EVENTFUL YEARS

MDCCCIV, MDCCCV, MDDCCUI.

THE FIRST STONE BEING LAID MARCH IV., MDCCCIV

THEY WERE OPENED BY THE INTRODUCTION

OF FIVE SHOPS FROM 1,200 TO 800 TONS WITH VALUABLE CARGOES

ON IV AUGUST MDCCCVI.

THE GRAND UNDERTAKING

ORIGINATED IN THE LAUDABLE ENDEAVOURS OF THE MANAGING OWNERS

OF SHIPS IN THE COMPANY’S SERVICE

AND THE IMPORTANT NATIONAL OBJECTS

OF INCREASED SECURITY TO PROPERTY AND REVENUE,

COMBINED WITH

IMPROVED ACCOMMODATION, ECONOMY AND DESPATCH

WERE THUS EARLY REALISED

THROUGH THE LIBERAL SUBSCRIPTIONS OF THE PROPRIETORS,

AND THE UNREMITTING ATTENTIONS OF THE DIRECTORS

OF THE

EAST INDIA DOCK COMPANY

« « Previous Blog Post Next Blog Post » »

Sign up for my free weekly email newsletter

Sample Issue

2 Comments

  1. Caroline Munns

    I am a direct descendent of Joseph Cotton, the chairman of the East India Dock Company as mentioned on the plaque (Cotton is my maiden name) – I’ve been to the site of the docks but have never seen the plaque. I’m obviously due another visit to the area! By the way, I really enjoy your blogs and emails – I have been to several exhibitions that you have suggested and have found them fascinating.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

web