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 plaques current resting place.
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 the expansion of the Blackwall tunnel was carried out in the 1960s.
The plaque was moved, to its current home, where it sits, not that far from another entrance, to the road tunnel.
AUSPICES OF OUR MOST GLORIOUS SOVEREIGN
THE SANCTION OF HIS MAJESTY’S GOVERNMENT
PATRONAGE OF THE EAST INDIA COMPANY
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,
IMPROVED ACCOMMODATION, ECONOMY AND DESPATCH
WERE THUS EARLY REALISED
THROUGH THE LIBERAL SUBSCRIPTIONS OF THE PROPRIETORS,
AND THE UNREMITTING ATTENTIONS OF THE DIRECTORS
EAST INDIA DOCK COMPANY