In a dark corner of a museum can be found a large scale model of London’s docks when they were a maze of warehouses and light railways.


The museum is the Museum of London Docklands, and the dark corner can be found on the second floor of the old warehouse building they occupy.

It is a truth that no matter how often you visit a museum, there is always something fresh to discover, and this big model, which has probably been there for decades is a case in point. How on earth I’ve missed it before is a mystery, but there it is.


The model shows the docks probably around the post war years, with the long lines of light railways snaking around the wharfs and leading to riverside berths.


The docks of Rotherhithe are still in use, a reminder that much of the peninsula was once more water than land.


And a nod to just down the river, with Tilbury docks, who survived the move to containers on cargo ships that had such a damaging effect on central London.


It is one of the huge advantages now of having so many museums to visit for free, that it is possible to just pop by and wander in for half an hour or so. These random wanderings spread over years often uncover far more to see than spending half a day inside because you want to get the most out of a hefty entry fee.

To be able to just wander in for a short dose of history is an incredible freedom, and leads to random discoveries such as this model.



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  1. Marc says:

    Did there used to be an identical/very similar model at the back of the Ship gallery in the Science Museum?

  2. paul says:

    Agree totally about the importance of free museums for wandering real discovery. One of britain’s and london’s remaining glories of which we can be proud. That and free travel across the metropolis for old folks. With those two, and your wonderful blog, as long as the basics of life are taken care of, they can keep active mentally and physically. Am sure you remember the Thatcher blight of paid for public museums. The Docklands museum charged for a while as well I think. Will definitely track down the model – I wandered around that area a fair bit as the 80s dawned. Thanks again.

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