The Surrey docks

Plan of the Surrey Commercial Docks Based upon the Ordnance Survey Maps with the sanction of the Controller of HM Stationery Office.

British Isles London
  • Publication place: [London]
  • Publisher: Port of London Authority, Trinity Square, E.C.3
  • Publication date: 1968.
  • Physical description: Lithographed map, dissected and mounted on linen, folding into original blue covers, title in gilt.
  • Dimensions: 539 by 438mm. (21.25 by 17.25 inches).
  • Inventory reference: 13952


There were docks on the site of the Surrey Commercial Docks for over three centuries. The first dock was built there in 1696. a product of an astute political marriage between Elizabeth Howland and Wriothesley Russell, later 2nd Duke of Bedford. The couple were only 11 and 14 at the time, but their families combined their land and interest in the East India Company to push an act through Parliament sanctioning the construction of the Howland Wet Dock. It was particularly popular in the eighteenth century for traders from the Arctic and Eastern Europe, reflected on the map in the names of the docks and yards: Greenland Dock, Norway Dock, and Russia Dock. “Cuckold’s Point”, visible at the upper left, was supposedly named after the land there was given by King John to a local miller, who had come home to find the king in a compromising position with his wife. A combination of serious damage from bombing during the Second World War and a move to container shipping forced the docks to close in 1969. The area has now been redeveloped and is known as Surrey Quays.

The Port of London Authority was formed in 1909. It was prompted by a series of industrial actions by dock workers, including their demand for the ‘Docker’s Tanner’, a wage of 6d. an hour, in 1889. The Port was a vital part of the British economy: refining and processing industries grew up around goods brought in to the docks and it was the centre of British shipbuilding and repair. The PLA continues to supervise and manage the Port of London, the docks, and the London stretch of the River Thames. This map was issued from the former PLA headquarters in Trinity Square.

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