ABOUT: London has been an important port since the Romans, but it wasn’t until the reign of Queen Elizabeth I that the River Thames became so overcrowded that a system had to be introduced. Companies such as the West India Company began to build Docks on the waterfront, which allowed ships to moor next to their own warehouses. This became a success and other companies began to build docks. The East India Docks and London Docks soon followed. England was in the midst of the industrial revolution and larger docks were soon required. As the British Empire grew the Docks became inadequate for the purpose and the Royal Docks were built downstream. Soon the Docks were supplied by rail and road and became a huge employer and an integral part of industrial England. Dock workers were very badly paid and in 1960 demanded higher wages- this put a massive financial strain on London and made the docks expensive to run. The invention of heavy duty Lorries meant that fewer people were required to run the docks.
Larger ships were unable to use the narrow Thames and soon diverted away from the London dockland to the easier accessed ports of Felixstowe and Tilbury.
In modern times the London docklands have become popular with new developments- office buildings, new media enterprises and entertainment facilities were quick to buy up the last space available in Central London. The Docklands were vitally important to the history of London and England.