(Almost) 1000 Years of the Isle of Dogs

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First recorded evidence of a settlement on the Isle of Dogs when William of Pontefract builds a chapel on his estate, later known as the manor of Pomfret (otherwise Pountfret, or variants). It is a hamlet with about 80 acres of arable land and a windmill.

Population of London: c20,000
Murder of Thomas à Becket in Canterbury Cathedral


Pomfret has cornfields worked by 12 villeins.

Population of London: c25,000


The Pomfret manor house is reported to be in ruins.

English becomes official language in English Parliament and Law Courts


Earliest reference to a chapel in the marsh dedicated to St Mary. This chapel may have been the old one, or perhaps a new chapel of ease had been erected for the marsh-dwellers: such a chapelry was founded in Stratford-at-Bow, Stepney, in 1311.


On Lady Day, the river bursts through the wall opposite Deptford. It was almost certainly this flood which led to the abandonment of the hamlet around the Chapel of St. Mary.


First mention in historical papers of a ferry from the current Ferry St to Greenwich (although it was probably present much earlier). Plying to and from the manor of Pomfret it came to be known as Popeler Ferry and eventually Potter’s Ferry.

Jack Cade’s Rebellion: Kentishmen revolt against Henry VI, Battle of Southwark


Evidence of waterlogging is given in the Stepney Manor accounts, which record the receipt of 46s 8d in 1464–5 for ‘fishing and fowling’ in the marsh.

Population of London: c100,000


The first written mention of the Isle of Dogs is in the ‘Letters & Papers of Henry VIII’. In Volume 3: 1519-1523. 2 October 1520. No. 1009 – ‘Shipping’, there is a list of purchases, which includes:

A hose for the Mary George, in dock at the Isle of Dogs, 10d


After the 1449 flood, the land was reclaimed by sublessees of Kempe, but in 1529 it was once more under water.

1547 (Approximate year)

Antony van den Wyngaerde draws his ‘Panaroma of London’ between 1543 and 1550. It measures 10 feet by 17 inches and is today considered to be the earliest surviving, topographical representation of London. It contains also probably the first image of the Isle of Dogs. The loop of the river is visible opposite Greenwich Palace, and the Island is unoccupied except for a cluster of buildings (probably Chapel House).


Panorama of London, Antony van den Wyngarde. Extract.


Poplar Ferry is granted, along with land in Hackney and Stepney (including the manor of Pomfret), to Thomas, Lord Wentworth by Edward VI. The area is described in the ‘Surveys of the Manors of Stepney and Hackney’.



Robert Adam’s Thamesis Descriptio shows the south-western part of the peninsula as the Isle of Dogs, and is thought to be the earliest map to use the name. Saunders Ness is also named on the map.


Thamesis Descriptio (Adam).


Construction of one of the earliest houses in Coldharbour, on the site of the present No. 1. A deed for the house describes it as having been built on ‘part of the wall commonly called Blackwall’, and the street as ‘the way which lieth on the same wall called Blackwall’.

The most accepted meaning of the common name ‘Coldharbour’ is that a cold harbour was a “shelter of bare walls… used by travellers who carried their own bedding and provisions”, often along a well-known route and similar to a modern bothy. Coldharbour was originally twice as long, but the northern half was cut off by the construction of the Blackwall entrance to the West India Docks (at the later Preston’s Rd swing-bridge).

Population of London: c200,000


Responsibility for upkeep of the river wall around the Island is given to a permanent body of Commissioners of Sewers for Poplar, who, with a jury of marshmen, constitute a court with powers to regulate activities impinging on the wall and the drainage of the marsh.

Charles I dissolves parliament.


A survey records the Isle of Dogs as covering 757 acres


A breach of the river wall occurs at Saunders Ness.

Population of London: c350,000


On 20th March a serious breach of the river wall occurs, to the south of Limehouse. The breach is caused by ballast-digging on the foreshore. Several acres of the Island are lost to the river and a large pond or ‘gut’ is formed.


Pepys’ first diary entry. Sunday 1 January 60. “Blessed be God, at the end of the last year I was in very good health, without any sense of my old pain, but upon taking of cold…..”
First record of tea being drunk in London.
Honourable East India Company founded


Pepys’ diary entries


24th July


31st July


The engineer, agriculturalist and ‘improver’ Andrew Yarranton (1616– ?), comes up with a scheme for turning the Isle of Dogs into a ‘fishing city’, to provide safe berths for a shipping fleet and houses for fishermen.

Oil lighting first used in London streets


Samuel Hart occupies the Starch House, later rebuilt as a public house and named the Ferry House.

First Jacobite rising in Scotland


A white-lead plant starts business at Limehouse Hole

First Masonic Lodge opens in London


A windmill is built at the north end of the Barnfield Estate, beside Drunken Dock, together with a house and granaries.

First records of the Gun public house, known at the time as the King and Queen.

Knatchbull’s Act, poor laws


The King and Queen public house (later The Gun) is renamed Rose and Crown.


Old Bailey Proceedings, 28th February



The Barnfield Estate is bought by the Ironmongers’ Company from Sir Gregory Page, bart, of Wricklemarsh near Blackheath.

Irish Famine


William Atterbury, a butcher, builds a house at the south-west corner of the Gut; this becomes a public house which by 1750 is known as the Gut House.


Gut House Pamphlet

Opening of Covent Garden Theatre.


A survey records the Isle of Dogs as covering 836 acres (compared to 757 in 1646).

The Starch House is rebuilt as a public house, and renamed the Ferry House


The Rose and Crown public house (later The Gun) is renamed the Ramsgate Pink.

British national anthem ‘God Save the King’ is sung for the first time.


Detail of ‘View of London, &c. from One Tree Hill in Greenwich Park’, Peter Tillemans Image: National Maritime Museum


Thomas Davers, esquire, of the Middle Temple, acquires the copyhold of 1½ acres of the Osier Hope, a parcel of riverside land south of Blackwall, where he builds, ‘at vast expense, a little fort . . . known by the name of Daver’s folly’. Davers is forced by poverty to surrender his mock fortress soon after building it. He commits suicide in 1767.

Private collection of Sir Hans Sloane forms the basis of the British Museum


John Forward, a contractor of transports, buys two plots of land in Millwall. They are later inherited by his daughter Elizabeth, wife of Robert Byng – the third son of George Byng, 1st Viscount Torrington.

First British troops not belonging to the East India Company despatched to India


First recorded mention of the Fisherman’s Arms at 9 Cold Harbour. It would later be rebuilt and renamed the Fishing Smack.

Publication of Dictionary of the English Language by Dr Samuel Johnson


Henry Annis obtains a license to sell liquor at Folly House (although it would be a few years before it is referred to by that name).


Folly House in 1858

India stops being merely a commercial venture – England begins dominating it politically – The East India Company retains its monopoly although it ceased to trade


Richard Warner (one of a family of Masters of the Royal Barges under successive monarchs from Elizabeth I to William III) sells Potter’s Ferry for 15 guineas to a group of Greenwich watermen, later known as the Potter’s Ferry Society.

France surrenders Canada and Florida


The windmill and granaries beside Drunken Dock are replaced by a warehouse, dwelling house, and cottages, which later become the centre of a large mast-works that flourishes for a century.

Christie’s auction house founded in London by James Christie


The Ramsgate Pink public house is renamed the Gun.

Right to report Parliamentary debates established in England


Peter Mellish of Shadwell is one of several eighteenth-century butchers who owns or rents pasture on the Isle of Dogs, buying more than 30 acres on the east side of Marsh Lane in this year.


Peter Mellish Painted in 1798 by Mather Brown Image: City of London Corporation

Judge Mansfield rules that there is no legal basis for slavery in England
First Travellers’ Cheques issued by the London Credit Exchange Company
Morning Post first published (until 1937)


The 16-acre field south of Tooke’s estate is bought by the Commissioners for Victualling the Royal Navy, to relieve congestion at their Deptford yard.

Gordon Riots – Parliament passes a Roman Catholic relief measure – for days, London is at the mercy of a mob and destruction is widespread


The name Mill Wall is used for the first time, in rate books, referring to the western marsh wall, where windmills stand.
Peter Mellish Junior buys 16 acres on the other side of Marsh Lane, with a good river frontage.

First golf club founded at St Andrews


Several Wapping men are fined for damaging the Millwall foreshore in breaking up hulks.

Mozart composes ‘Marriage of Figaro’


Pontifex & Wood is founded in Shoe Lane, Fleet Street.

First convicts (and free settlers) arrive in New South Wales (left Portsmouth 13 May 1787)


William Cubitt is born, the second son of Jonathan Cubitt, a carpenter at Buxton near Aylsham in Norfolk.

William Cubitt

William Cubitt MP

William later went on to build Covent Garden, Fishmongers’ Hall, the portico and original station buildings at Euston, and Cubitt Town. He was also active in politics, becoming MP for Andover in 1847 and Lord Mayor of London in 1860.

Sugar prices rise steeply
John Bell, printer, abandons the “long s” (the “s” that looks like an “f”)
Establishment of the Ordnance Survey of Great Britain
Dec 4: First publication of The Observer – world’s oldest Sunday newspaper


Lyson, in his “Environs of London”, describes Chapel House as “the only dwelling place on the Island”.

George Byng, grandson of Elizabeth and Robert Byng, buys two more plots of land in Millwall, adding to the two already in his possession.

Robert Milligan (c. 1746-1809) lobbies for the construction of secure, walled docks. A wealthy West Indies merchant and shipowner, who returned to London having previously managed his family’s Jamaica sugar plantations, he is outraged at losses due to theft and delay at London’s riverside wharves. Milligan heads a group of powerful businessmen, including chairman of the West India Merchants of London George Hibbert. Foundation of the Orange Order

Consumption of lime juice made compulsory in Royal Navy
France adopts the metric system


Notice of Intent for a dock bill to create docks on the Isle of Dogs.


London Gazette


Pitt refers dock bills to a House of Commons Select Committee for a decision. The Committee reported a month later, recommending that both the Wapping and the Isle of Dogs schemes should proceed.

Introduction of the Act for Rendering more Commodious and for Better Regulating the Port of London, which receives the Royal Assent on 12 July. Excavation begins on 3 February the following year.

A 1799 map and painting show the proposed new West India Docks in the year before building commenced.


1799 Map

Projected West India Docks (looking west) Image: National Maritime Museum

Projected West India Docks (looking west)
Image: National Maritime Museum

The large Hall-Preston estate extends from the site of the later Queen’s public house to Old Blackwall. The southern section of the estate is purchased in this year by the City Corporation for making the City Canal.

Post Office introduces an Annual Directory
Rosetta Stone discovered in Egypt, made possible the deciphering (in 1822) of Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics
Perfect mammoth discovered preserved in ice in Siberia


The West India Dock company experiments with bricks created with clay excavated during the building of the docks. The bricks are of an inferior quality and are used only for dock and lock walls.

12 July, William Pitt and Lord Loughborough, the Lord Chancellor, ceremonially lay the foundation stone of the first warehouse, at the south-east corner of what would late become No. 8 Warehouse. The stone carried a commemorative inscription, later replicated at the base of the clock-turret on No. 5 Warehouse, at the centre of the north quay.

Excavation of the Blackwall Basin.

Opening of the riverside public house called the King’s Arms (west of present-day Tiller Rd).

Malta becomes a British Dominion
Electric light first produced by Sir Humphrey Davy
Royal College of Surgeons founded
British trade accounts for about 27% of world trade
Volta makes first electrical battery
Population of London: c910,000


Limehouse Basin excavated.

Building of the Mill Wall iron foundry.

First census puts the population of England and Wales at 9,168,000 – population of Britain nearly 11 million (75% rural)


Act leading to the creation of Commercial Rd


London Gazette

The construction of West India and East India Dock Roads.

Six workers killed during construction of the Blackwall Entrance Lock, when a coffer-dam is breached.

Opening of Blackwall Entrance Lock (Preston’s Road) Bridges.

Construction of Limehouse Entrance Lock Bridge

Old Bailey Proceedings, 27th October:


Regular mail service started between England and India


Limehouse Basin completed. Excavation was delayed because in 1802 a high tide passed over and behind the uncoped south wall, part of which collapsed.

Opening of the first public railway. Horse-drawn, running 9 miles from Wandsworth to Croydon.


The City Canal, built by the Corporation of London, is opened.


City Canal

Battle of Austerlitz; Napoleon defeats Austrians and Russians
Admiral Nelson’s victory at Trafalgar


West India Export Dock opened to shipping.


West India Docks shortly after opening. Image: National Maritime Museum

Opening of South Dock west entrance lock (near the later City Arms public house).

A timber bridge is built over the West India South Dock east entrance lock (site of the future Blue Bridge). The first bridge at this location.

The Gut House is displaced by the West India Export Dock in 1806 and the establishment moves to new premises north of the City Canal west entrance lock.

State funeral of Nelson in St Paul’s Cathedral
Dartmoor Prison opened (built by French prisoners)


Robert Batson Junior inherits his father’s estate and lays out two principal streets: Robert Street (following the southern boundary of the rope-ground) and Alfred Street (named for his brother).

Parliament prohibits slavery and the importation of slaves from 1808 – but does not prohibit colonial slavery



Transit rates for the recently-opened City Canal. London Gazette


Following the death of co-founder Robert Milligan, the West India Dock Company commissions a commemorative statue from sculptor Richard Westmacott. The statue is erected on West India Quay in 1813. (It was later relocated to the nearby Main Gate aka Hibbert Gate, and then held in storage, before being re-erected at its original spot in 1997.)


Robert Milligan Commemorative Statue


Mounting of replacement Limehouse Entrance Lock Bridge

George Byng obtains an Act of Parliament enabling him to grant long building leases on the property.

Thomas Spratley, boatbuilder and shipwright, takes a 61-year lease of the land between the site of Regent Dock and the potash factory, with a river frontage of 123ft.

Opening of Millwall Dry Dock (later named Glengall Dry Dock) on West Ferry Rd. John McAdam begins road construction in England, giving his name to the process of road metalling
1811 After just 5 years at the site, the Gut House is demolished for a realignment of Bridge Road. The proprietor, James Oughton, moves slightly further south to build the City Arms public house.

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City Arms in the 1920s, before reconstruction. Photo: Island History Trust

Luddite uprisings (machine breaking) in the Midlands against weaving frames started


Replacement by Rennie of the ‘very rickety’ Blackwall entrance bridge.

The Poplar and Greenwich Ferry Roads Company is set up by local landowners and others, and incorporated by Parliament with powers to ply a horse-ferry between Greenwich and the Isle of Dogs, and to make toll-roads to the ferry on each side of the river, including two on the north side (now West Ferry and East Ferry Roads).


London Gazette

Brown goes into partnership with Samuel Lenox, and they build a factory opposite the naval dockyard at Deptford.

Assassination of Prime Minister Spencer Perceval – shot as he entered the House of Commons by a bankrupt Liverpool broker, John Bellingham, who was subsequently hanged
Start of American “War of 1812” (to 1814) against England and Canada
Napoleon retreats from Moscow with catastrophic losses


George Henn, a ship-chandler, builds a beerhouse, later called the Waterman’s or Watermen’s Arms, at 6 West Ferry Road.

John Fugman, a Spitalfields emery-paper maker, moves his business to the Isle of Dogs, later going into partnership with James Hilton to manufacture colours at the former fish works near the Starch House.

Birth of Joseph D’Aguilar Samuda, the son of an East and West India merchant of Finsbury.

Jane Austen ‘Pride and Prejudice’


Byng Street, originally planned to be named Harriet Street (after George Byng’s wife) is laid out.

London beer flood


Opening of the West Ferry and East Ferry Roads by The Poplar and Greenwich Ferry Roads Company.

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London Gazette

Davy develops the safety lamp for miners
Napoleon escapes Elba; arrives in France
The Battle of Waterloo: Napoleon defeated and exiled to St. Helena


Act of Parliament creates the parish of All Saints, Poplar, comprising Poplar, Blackwall, and the Isle of Dogs.

Regent (or Regent’s) Wharf is constructed on a site with a river frontage of some 200ft.

William Tooke puts a road called Moiety Street through his riverside land

Opening of the Millwall Independent Chapel at 127A West Ferry Road. The chapel was erected by a congregation which had been meeting since 1812, at first in a house on the Mill Wall belonging to John Howard, a mast- and block-maker.

Constable paints ‘Flatford Mill’


The future Regent (or Regent’s) Wharf is let on a 61-year lease to Thomas Noakes, esquire, of Poplar, and laid out as a timber-yard, with a residence on the marsh wall. At the north-east corner a smaller house is built, which becomes the Mechanic’s Arms beerhouse.

First human blood transfusion
Mary Shelley writes “Frankenstein”


The area that would later be Hesperus Crescent is described as ‘three meadows and a patch of swamp’ when it is bought by William Mellish.

Construction of Nelson House at 3 (formerly 33) Coldharbour.

Opening of Regent’s Canal


The West India Dock Company’s monopoly on West Indian imports expires.

Peel begins penal reforms – death penalty abolished for over 100 crimes


Construction of a chemical-processing works of the Imperial Gas Light & Coke Company.

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Old Bailey Proceedings

Founding of RNLA and RSPCA
Pitt’s Combination Acts repealed (Trades Unions allowed)
Portland cement patented


Construction of Isle House at 1 (formerly 32) Coldharbour, a dockmaster’s residence for the West India Dock Company.

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Isle House

Founding of London University (later renamed University College)
Telford’s Menai Straits Bridge opened – considered the world’s first modern suspension bridge


An 1827 map shows initial ideas for the design of the future Millwall Docks. The eventual docks would be quite different in design. This map also shows no development other than in the far west of the Island.

The rest is mostly marshland and grazing areas.

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1827 Map


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Old Bailey Proceedings


The West India Dock Company acquires the City Canal.

A beer house opens at 41 West Ferry Rd that would later become the Anchor & Hope public house.

First regular bus service in London
Peel’s Act creates a police force in London.


Samuel Lovegrove builds a large tavern at 37-45 Coldharbour, known as the West India Dock Tavern.

west-india-dock-tavern-b1830-coldharbour 15065135562

West India Dock Tavern

Beerhouse Act liberalized regulations on the brewing and sale of beer by individuals – By this act it was possible for any householder assessed to the poor rate to sell beer, ale and cider without a licence from local justices; in the six months following its enaction, nearly 25,000 such excise licenses were taken out.
First Metropolitan Police Officer killed on duty
Revolution in France, fall of Charles X and the Bourbons – Louis Philippe (the Citizen King) on the throne


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Old Bailey Reports, 1833


Margaret Lauretta, Countess of Glengall, daughter and co-heir of William Mellish, inherits her father’s estate on the Isle of Dogs.

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Old Bailey Reports

The Houses of Parliament burn down.
Poor Law amendment, tightening up relief
‘Tolpuddle Martyrs’ transported (to Australia) for Trades Union activities
Slavery abolished in British possessions


George Wright Binks (future owner of Binks’s wire-rope and galvanizing works in Strafford St) is a foreman ropemaker at Woolwich Dockyard, experimenting in the use of soft iron wire instead of hemp.

Richard Tappin Claridge patents the use of Seyssel asphalt for pavement building.

Opening of The Union beerhouse, the last of a row of small houses in Union St built by Henry Bradshaw.

Shipbuilding company Ditchburn and Mare is founded in Blackwall by Thomas Joseph Ditchburn and Charles John Mare. When Ditchburn retires 10 years later, the company continues business as CJ Mare and Co.

Christmas becomes a national holiday
Municipal Corporations Act – major changes in England and Wales
Word ‘socialism’ first used
First still-surviving photograph taken by William Fox Talbot


The Poor Law Amendment Act transfers responsibility for poor relief to the Board of Guardians of the newly formed Poplar Union.

David Napier, marine engineer, buys the site of Napier Yard, undeveloped except for a row of old cottages. He lays it out as a shipyard for his sons John and Francis.

Death of George Hibbert, co-founder of the West India Dock Company.

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Old Bailey Proceedings

Euston opens as first London railway station.
Compulsory registration of Births, Marriages & Deaths in England & Wales


The Glengall Arms public house is built at 367 West Ferry Road by Henry Bradshaw, a local grazier. Over the next few years Bradshaw would add some very small cottages at the back of the public house, and build terraced houses along the main road and the new Cahir Street, and more cottages along Marsh Street.

Legal battles over the use of a Thames footpath (the former Mill Wall path) near the Ferry House:

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London Gazette

Rennie Brothers of Millwall provided the engine for SS Archimedes – the first successful screw steamer in the world.

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SS Archimedes

Coronation of Queen Victoria.
First ocean steamers to the U.S. – SS Great Western 14½ days; SS Sirius 18 days


Thomas Tooke, son of William Tooke, settles his estate on his son Charles Chevall Tooke, a barrister.

Bullivant’s Wharf is acquired by Seaward & Company for the boiler-making arm of their Canal Iron Works business.

The Robert Burns public house is built.

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The Robert Burns in the 1960s

Scottish blacksmith Kirkpatrick MacMillan refines the primitive bicycle, adding a mechanical crank drive to the rear wheel, thus creating the first true “bicycle” in the modern sense.
Samuel Cunard establishes his Cunard Steamship Co.
Charles Goodyear invents vulcanized rubber


The inauguration of the London and Blackwall Railway.

Britain has 24% of world steam tonnage, and 24% of world trade


The Poplar Gas Light Company set up a gasworks at the corner of West Ferry Road and Union Road to supply the Isle of Dogs.

Population: Britain 18.5M, USA 17M, Ireland 8M
Thomas Cook starts package tours


Construction of Manchester Road.

The timber bridge over the West India South Dock east entrance lock is replaced by an iron swing-bridge. This new bridge is the same size as that built over the South Dock west entrance lock (Kingsbridge) a few years before.


Old Bailey Proceedings

Edwin Chadwick publishes his influential “Report on an Inquiry into the Sanitary Condition of the Labouring Population of Great Britain”.
Depression: 60% of Bolton cotton mill workers and 36% of Bolton ironworkers out of work
British Mines Act outlawing women and girls in the mines, and supervising boy labour


Millwall Lead Works is set up at 308 West Ferry Rd by Edmund and William Pontifex of the firm Pontifex & Wood.

The earliest houses are built in Cubitt Town, on the east side of Ferry Street.

Factory safety regulations enacted in Britain
News of the World first published (closed in July 2011)


The Poplar and Greenwich Ferry Roads Company scraps its horse-ferry service, but continues to collect road tolls.

Companies Act in Britain – companies must register for the first time.
Factories Act 1844 – working hours of women and children restricted
Introduction of the Metropolitan Buildings Act to regulate the construction and use of buildings in the metropolitan area of London, to improve the standard of houses and business premises, and to regulate activities that might threaten public health.


The name Tooke Town first appears in leases.
Newcastle Drawdock is built.

First voyage of ‘Great Britain’ – to America


St Edward’s Roman Catholic Chapel is opened on the river side of Moiety St.

The Poplar Gas Light Company loses its monopoly of the gas supply on the Isle of Dogs, and in 1849 the rival Commercial Gas Company, of Stepney, which had earlier considered setting up its own Isle of Dogs plant, begins negotiations for a take-over.

Opening of the Pride of the Isle public house at 20 Havannah St (corner of Cheval St).

The saxophone is patented by Adolphe Sax
The sewing machine is patented by Elias Howe


Millwall British St School is built.

The development of Church Street (known from 1891 to 1937 as Newcastle Street, and since 1937 as Glengarnock Avenue) by Cubitt & Company.

John Scott Russell (later builder of the Great Eastern) and partners take over the old Fairbairn shipyard at Millwall.

Ten Hours Act shortens factory work day to ten hours for women and children


The London and Blackwall Railway adopts standard-gauge track and replaces cable-haulage with locomotives.

John Thomas Morton goes into business as a provision merchant in Aberdeen.

Start of building on the north side of Strafford St.

Land belonging to the Greenwich Hospital Estate – ‘Scrap Iron Park’, as it became known locally – is set aside as an open space.

First bowler hats go on sale.
Population of London: c2,400,000


Burrell & Company, oil refiners and manufacturers of paints, varnishes and colours, starts life as a marine-stores business established in the Minories.

Joseph Samuda establishes an iron and steel shipbuilding firm in a new yard at Cubitt Town.

Opening of Great Ormond St Hospital


Wildman’s Cottages and the ‘Dock House’ beerhouse are built at Nos 35 and 36 Cuba Street (demolished).

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Dock House. Photo: Island History Trust

The Napier works are destroyed by fire. Most of the yard is leased to John Scott Russell as the building site of the SS Great Eastern, an iron sailing steam ship designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel to be the largest ship ever built at the time, with the capacity to carry 4,000 passengers around the world without refuelling. Due to its size, a sideways launch was planned. A railway line is constructed between the Russell and Napier yards for moving materials.

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Plan Drawing of SS Great Eastern

The Newcastle Arms (later renamed the Waterman’s Arms) is built in 1853, apparently by Cubitt & Company.


Newcastle Arms (renamed to Watermans Arms in the 1960s)

Opening of the Tooke Arms at 165 West Ferry Rd (corner of Janet St).

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Tooke Arms

Vaccination against smallpox made compulsory in Britain


Opening of Christ Church, Manchester Road, built by William Cubitt.

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Christ Church (c1960). Image: Portrait of Queenie

Construction of the Great Eastern:

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The Blackwall Iron Works is established by John Stewart for the manufacture of marine engines.

Demolition of the West India Dock Tavern in Coldharbour.

Cigarettes introduced into Britain
Britain declares war on Russia (Crimean War)
Battle of Balaklava in Crimea (charge of the Light Brigade)


The Poplar District Board of Works is created, as a consequence of the Metropolis Local Management Act.

The Ironmongers’ Company, commence with house-building on their Barnfield Estate, including three public houses within a very short distance of each other on the West Ferry Rd: Magnet & Dewdrop, Ironmongers’ Arms and The Vulcan.


Image: British History Online

The opening of the Royal Victoria Dock (which would in later years win business from the West India Docks).

The Great Eastern public house is built at 395 West Ferry Road.

Construction of the Queen public house by Henry Smallman.


The Queen (c1960). Photo: Island History Trust

Two houses on the West Ferry Rd are converted into The Ship public house.


The Ship in 1970

The Lord Nelson public house is built by Henry Johnson.


Lord Nelson (c1900)

First London pillar boxes
Daily Telegraph founded
London sewers modernised after fourth major outbreak of cholera
Florence Nightingale introduces hygiene into military hospitals in Crimea


The cost of construction of the Great Eastern is far higher than expected, and Brunel advises the Eastern Company that they should take possession of the ship to avoid it being seized by Scott Russell’s creditors. This causes Scott Russell’s bankers to refuse to honour his cheques and foreclose on his assets. On 4 February Scott Russell suspends all payments to his creditors and dismisses all his workmen a week later. The Eastern Company takes over the (financial) responsibility of completing the ship.

The Torrington Arms is built at 34 West Ferry Rd by the Spratley family from Stepney (who later moved to the Folly House).


Torrington Arms



Brunel reports in that once the screw, screw shaft and sternpost have been installed the Great Eastern would be ready for launching. However, the launch ways and cradles would not be ready in time since the contract for their construction had only been placed in January 1857. Under pressure from all sides, the lease of the shipyard costing £1,000 a month, and against his better judgement, Brunel agrees to launch the ship on 3 November 1857 to catch the high tide. In the presence of 3000 paying spectators, the launch failed. The steam winches and manual capstans used to haul the ship towards the water were not up to the job.

The area between Lowe’s and Winkley’s Wharves and West Ferry Road is laid out with three dead-end streets: Claude, Crews and Gaverick.

Consecration of the Church of Christ and St John (formerly Christ Church), Manchester Road.

Cumberland Oil Mills, adjoining the Greenwich Hospital Estate, is established for the production of linseed oil and oilcake

William Cubitt erects a timber pier roughly three-quarters of a mile along the shore from Potter’s Ferry (at the end of Pier St, which previously went as far as the river) and hires a steamboat to ferry passengers to Greenwich and other places on the opposite shore.

Robert Baillie and Joseph Westwood, in partnership with James Campbell, set up business in a new yard at Cubitt Town. The name London Yard is derived from London Street gives access to the yard.

CJ Mare & Co is taken over by Charles Mare’s father-in-law Peter Rolt and continues business as the Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Co.

Sheffield FC founded – claim to be the world’s first football team
London postal districts introduced



Great Eastern Launch Attempt in 1858

After another two failed attempts to launch the Great Eastern, the ship was finally launched at 1:42pm on 31 January.

The former Poplar Gas Light Company’s purifying plant site is leased to Samuel Cutler, a gas engineer of West Hackney, and redeveloped as Providence Iron Works.

Charles Davis builds the Manchester Arms at 308 Manchester Road.

Cubitt builds a two-storey brick parsonage on land adjoining the new Christ Church.

The Millwall Iron and Shipbuilding Co. is founded by Charles J Mare (founder of the by now defunct CJ Mare & Co).

Law passed allowing Jews to serve in parliament.
East India Company dissolved


John Scott Russell, the Scottish builder of the Great Eastern (himself the son of a Presbyterian minister), lays the foundation stone of St Paul’s Presbyterian Church. The church was built by T E Knightly for the Scottish workers who moved to Millwall to work in the ship yards. The Italian Romanesque front is of polychrome brickwork and is based on the west front of Pisa Cathedral. The church was opened the following year.


St Paul’s Presbyterian Church

The Great Eastern makes its maiden voyage in September, destined for Weymouth. The ship has just passed Hastings when there is a huge explosion, the forward deck blowing apart with enough force to throw the No. 1 funnel into the air, followed by a rush of escaping steam. Five stokers die from being scalded by superheated steam, while four or five others are badly injured. Another leaps overboard and is lost.


Great Eastern

Brunel, a heavy smoker, suffers a stroke not long afterwards, just before the Great Eastern makes her first voyage to New York. He dies ten days later at the age of 53 and is buried in the family grave at Kensal Green Cemetery.

Providence Place is renamed to Hutching’s Street, after A. J. Hutching & Company, wire-rope makers, of Hutching’s Wharf.


Hutching’s Wharf

There are 204 houses in Cubitt Town.

Construction of the Prince of Wales, on the river side of the Folly Wall, off the east side of Stewart Street.

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Prince of Wales

Big Ben strikes for the first time.
Charles Darwin publishes The Origin of Species
Work starts on building the Suez canal (opens in 1869)


Opening of St Paul’s Presbyterian church on West Ferry Rd

Seaward &; Company and the Canal Works are taken over by William Jackson and Richard Watkins; the partnership later became Richard Watkins and Edward Rutter, Marine Engine Manufacturers.

Construction in Samuda, Davis and Stewart Streets.

Charles Davis builds the London Tavern at 393 Manchester Road.


London Tavern. Image: britainfromabove.org.uk

Linoleum patented by Frederick Walton


The ‘Asphalte de Seyssel Company of Thames Embankment’ develops Pyrimont Wharf on Wharf Rd (later Saunders Ness Rd).

The closure of the Mast House, when the owner became insolvent

One of the floors of Cumberland Oil Mills collapses and four men are killed. The cause is probably gross overloading of the floor with sacks of seed, causing failure of the supporting iron corbels.

An 1861 map of the Island reveals the main areas of development along the river, with Cubitt Town largely unbuilt. The City Canal has been renamed the South Dock – a few years later it will be expanded and merged to form a much enlarged West India South Dock. The railway line terminates north of Blackwall Basin.

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1861 Map

First trams start operation
American Civil War begins
Populations: Russia 76M, USA 32M, Italy 25M , Britain 23M


Construction of the Primitive Methodist Church on Manchester Road, close to the junction with Glengall Rd. The foundation stone is laid by Joseph Westwood of the neighbouring firm of Westwood, Baillie & Company. The chapel was rebuilt in 1904.


Primitive Methodist Chapel Before Rebuild (photo c1900)

Opening of the Princess of Wales (aka Macs) public house at 84 Manchester Rd.


Princess of Wales (c1925)

Opening of Westminster Bridge


Opening of a beerhouse (which would later become the North Pole public house). It occupies four house plots fronting Dolphin Lane, which were originally sold by Robert Batson in 1808–9 but which remained unbuilt upon.

The firm of Binks Brothers moves to Strafford Street.

Charles Davis builds the Pier Tavern at 283 Manchester Road.

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Pier Tavern c1980

John and William Dudgeon, engineers and boiler makers, take a lease of the riverside site immediately south of Cubitt Town Pier. The firm lasts a little over a decade, but leaves the name Dudgeon’s Wharf as a legacy.

Opening of the London Underground, first section between Paddington and Farringdon St.
Football Association founded
Opening of state institution for criminally insane at Broadmoor, England


Start of construction of the Millwall Docks (opened in 1867)

The East and West India Dock Company’s rivals amalgamate as the London and St Katharine Dock Company.

John Lenanton takes over Batson’s Wharf, and Regent Wharf ten years later.

Henry Smallman builds the Cubitt Arms at 262 Manchester Road.


Cubitt Arms (1930s)

The Dorset Arms is opened in 377 Manchester Road, occupying one of the four houses in Dorset Terrace. It was later extended into the neighbouring house.

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Dorset Arms

The Builder’s Arms, 99 Stebondale Street, is built at the junction with an intended extension of Billson Street.

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Builder’s Arms

The Great Sheffield Flood – over 250 die when a new dam breaks while it is being filled for the first time.


The London, Blackwall and Millwall Extension Railway Bill is passed on 19 June. The bill authorizes the creation and maintenance of an extension to ‘…the quay or wharf or river wall on the northern shore of the River Thames at or near a point about 22 yards to the eastward of the draw dock or landing place at the southern end of Johnson-street’. It further authorizes compulsory purchase of land and ‘the construction of stations, sidings, junctions, roads, approaches, bridges, cuts, drains, tramways and other works and conveniences’.

Regent Wharf is much enlarged, as far as the site would allow, so that two ships can be berthed together.

A temporary iron church-cum-school, St Luke’s, is erected on spare ground south of the entrance to the flour mills.

The wharf on the north of Lollar Wharf is named Lion Wharf.

The George Hotel is built at 114 Glengall Grove by George Read.


The George Hotel. Photo: Island History Trust

Isle of Dogs Police Station is built at 126 Manchester Road. The station provides accommodation for a married sergeant (or inspector) and married constable, their families and six single constables, with up to three prisoners.


Isle of Dogs Police Station, Manchester Rd (c1870)

 William Booth (1829-1912) founds Salvation Army
Elizabeth Garrett Anderson (1836-1917) becomes first woman doctor in England
Rockefeller forms Standard Oil (ESSO) in Ohio


London wholesale discount bank Overend, Gurney & Company collapses owing about 11 million pounds (equivalent to £1 billion at 2013 prices). The financial crisis following the collapse sees the bank rate rise to 10 per cent for three months. More than 200 companies, including other banks, fail as a result. The impact on building and industry on the Island is disastrous.

The Union pub and the house next door are knocked into one.

The Christ Church National Schools are erected at the northern end of the church lands (south side of Billson St). They serve as a Sunday School and as parish rooms for games, society meetings and concerts.

Yarrow establishes a small engineering firm on New Union Wharf in partnership with Robert Hedley. Following the dissolution of the partnership in 1875, the firm becomes Yarrow & Company.


The Shipbuilding and Graving Dock Co. launches the screw steamship Mataura at the Millwall Ironworks.

Marquis of Queensbury rules accepted for boxing


Water is let into the Millwall docks on schedule on 29th August. The Millwall Dock entrance lock is the largest lock in London at the time.


Millwall Dock Lock Gates. Photo: Museum of London

USA buys Alaska from Russia
Alfred Nobel patents dynamite


Of the approximately 1850 dwellings on the Island, almost half are empty.

The Millwall Docks are opened on 14th March.

Opening of the Millwall Dock Graving (Dry) Dock.

The first Glengall Road Bridge is mounted; a solid wrought-iron plate-and girder bridge with timber decking and cantilevered footpaths. This bridge proves unreliable and requiring much maintenance in subsequent years.


Glengall Rd Bridge (c1930)

A permanent St Luke’s church is built in Strafford Street in 1868. The iron church remains in use for Sunday services and weekday classes.

Miss Emily Bradshaw, 16, sets up a school on the south side of Strafford St.

Land east of East Ferry Rd is let for grazing by the Millwall Docks Company. The company plans to use the land as an eastern arm of the Millwall Docks in future, when demand warrants it. The last public hanging takes place.

Last convicts landed in Australia


The West India South Dock east entrance bridge is replaced by wrought-iron hydraulic swing-bridge. This bridge became known as the Manchester Road bridge.

Opening of the Millwall Docks Hotel at 233 West Ferry Rd.

St John’s National School is built on a patch of waste ground to the west of Manchester Road, facing Roserton St. It is used also as a mission.

The 1869 Wine and Beerhouse Act re-introduces stricter controls.
Imprisonment for debt abolished in Britain
Cutty Sark launched in Dumbarton
Suez Canal opens


Opening of St Luke’s Church in Alpha Rd.

Enlargement and reconstruction of the City Canal, in order for it become the south West India Dock.

St Luke’s Church on Strafford St is consecrated, built on ground given by Lady Margaret Charteris and Lord Strafford.

An 1870 map reveals the newly-opened Millwall Docks, but also a huge amount of development in the preceding years; compare this to the map made in 1861, less than a decade earlier.
The Island would not significantly change in appearance from this year until WWII. An 1870 resident would recognize the Island in 1939.

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1870 Map

Dr Thomas Barnardo opens his first home for destitute children, in Stepney
Britain possesses 43% of world’s merchant steam tonnage


Opening of the Millwall Extension Railway, extending the railway south from Millwall Junction to the Millwall Docks Station, and to the terminus at North Greenwich the following year.


Millwall Docks Station, East Ferry Rd.

Rugby Football Union formed.
Opening of Royal Albert Hall
Trades Unions legalised in Britain, but picketing made illegal


Five sons of Alexander McDougall – named Alexander, Isaac Shimwell, James Thomas, John and Arthur – lease 1½ acres to the west of Hooper’s Telegraph Works in Millwall Docks. The brothers build a fertilizer factory across the northern part of the plot.

John Thomas Morton opens a factory on West Ferry Rd in Millwall.

Construction starts on St John’s Church in Roserton St, close to the St John’s school and mission built in 1869.

St. John's Church

St. John’s Church

First FA Cup Final. Wanderers FC beat Royal Engineers AFC 1-0 at the Oval.
Licensing hours introduced


Opening of St John’s Church in Roserton St.

St Luke’s iron church is replaced by a permanent school

St Luke’s Church vicarage is erected.

Providence Iron Works are set up by Samuel Cutler & Sons in 1873 at the former marine-block and gun-carriage factory of Ferguson & Todd, now named Cutler’s Wharf.

The Millwall Dock Club is set up under the aegis of the Millwall Dock Company for its permanent labour force, which at the time numbered about 800 men.

St Edmund’s Roman Catholic Church school and clergy-house have been completed, and work starts on the church, which is opened the following year.

Millwall British St School is closed on the opening of new premises on the opposite side of the road.

Harbinger School is built by the School Board for London, to replace the former Millwall British St School.


British St School Sign Mounted on Harbinger School Wall in Marsh St


Opening of St Edmund’s Church in West Ferry Road. The church replaced an earlier chapel located close to Moiety St.

Houses in Manchester Road and Johnson Street are acquired by the London and Blackwall Railway Company for the Millwall Extension Railway.


Notice of intent to submit bill for creation of Greenwich Foot Tunnel

London Gazette Factory Act introduces 56-hour week
Birkenhead Park opened, said to be the first civic public park in the world


Ord Street, running between Bridge Road and West Ferry Road, is absorbed into West Ferry Road.

West India Dock Pier is constructed to facilitate access for merchants to the East and West India Dock Company’s new wool warehouses at the South Dock of the West India Docks.



Robert Street and Alfred Street are renamed Cuba Street and Manilla Street respectively.

Pier Head Cottages are built.

Cubitt Town Wesleyan Chapel is erected on the west side of Stebondale Street.

Dock company land east of East Ferry Rd, which had been let for grazing a few years before, is re-appropriated as a site to deposit the mud dredged from the docks and transmitted by cast iron pipe under East Ferry Rd.

Folly House Tavern is closed. The land and buildings are acquired by Yarrow & Company, who use Folly House as offices. The yard becomes known as Folly Shipyard.


Folly Shipyard

London’s main sewage system completed


Existing steamboat firms on the Thames merged to form the London Steamboat Company Limited



A double-swing footbridge is mounted across the Millwall Dock entrance lock to allow pedestrians to cross the lock while the road-bridge is open.

Marsh Street is merged with George Street and renamed Tobago St.

Construction of St John’s Vicarage, Castalia Street.

Glengall School opens.


Glengall School

Plimsoll Line established for loading of ships
Battle of Little Big Horn – Custer’s last stand; last major North American Indian victory


Opening of the first Millwall Fire Station at the junction of West Ferry Rd and East Ferry Rd.

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First Fire Station

First Wimbledon tennis tournament


Opening of the West India Dock Graving Dock.

First weekly weather forecast published by the Meteorological Office


The Poplar District Board of Works objects to the ‘Mudfield’ (later Mudchute) deposits as bad for the health of the district, following analysis of ‘dirty green’ effluvia from the mud.

Blackpool illuminations switched on for first time
Tay Bridge Disaster – bridge collapsed in storm taking train with it
Start of Anglo-Zulu war


Cubitt Town suffers particularly severe flooding after storms in June.

A mission hall is erected in Glengall Road.

Creation of All Saints South Ward


London Gazette

Education Act: schooling compulsory for 5-10 year olds
Greenwich Mean Time adopted throughout UK
Britain possesses half world’s merchant steam tonnage


A mission hall is erected in Stebondale St.

The Globe Rope Works is established in 1881 by the newly created firm of Hawkins & Tipson.

Folly House is demolished.

Flogging abolished in Army and Royal Navy
First Boer War – Transvaal independence recognised


A mission hall is built on to the south side of St Luke’s Church.

On the closure of the Canal Boiler Works, the site is redeveloped as an iron-and-steel wire-rope factory by William Munton Bullivant.

A fire destroys the Globe Rope Works hemp store.

James W. Cook & Company, wharfingers, lightermen and shipping agents, of the Minories occupy part of the present Millwall Wharf site, taking over the whole wharf a few years later.

Joseph Westwood & Co is founded at Napier Yard.

First electric trams beginning running
Parcel post starts in Britain
Brooklyn Bridge, New York opens
Eruption of Krakatoa near Java – 30,000 killed by tidal wave


The Millwall Docks company builds three smaller granaries in the north-west corner of the dock estate, known as the Western Granaries.

The Dock House property and beer house lease is sold. For some years the Dock House was owned by the licensee of the City Arms, West Ferry Road, but is later taken over by West’s Brewery Ltd.

The windmill at the end of Claude St, built in 1701, burns down, along with the Windmill beer house and other wooden structures built around the windmill.


Painting: L.G. Ford, 1884.

World adopts Greenwich Mean Time
The Third Reform Bill – vote given to agricultural workers


Opening of the Anglican mission church of St Alban’s.

The formation of Millwall [Rovers] Football Club by workers at Mortons. The team’s headquarters was The Islanders public house at 3-5 Tooke St, more usually named by locals as Sexton’s, after the landlord Maurice John Sexton. It retained the nickname long after he had gone.

The Metropolitan Board of Works obtains powers to buy out the Ferry Roads Company. Abolition of tolls levied on traffic, and removal of toll gates.

Land around St Luke’s School, including river frontage, is acquired by iron merchants Skinner & Richardson, and renamed London Wharf.

Joseph Samuda dies. His company honours existing contracts before closing the yard.

First UK cremation in modern times takes place at Woking
First electric tramcar used at Blackpool (some dispute this and claim that the first ran in March 1882 in East London)


London Wharf is used by wharfingers for storing goods including fish manure, rice, grain and ship’s fittings.

J. Hutching & Company close down.

Disused for years, the Great Eastern is briefly opened as a public attraction in Liverpool, before being broken up. One of the masts is later used as a flag pole at Liverpool FC’s Anfield ground.


Great Eastern as Public Attraction. Image: Museum of Ireland

The former Millwall British St School premises are bought by the School Board and subsequently used for cookery classes.

The trustees of the Bishop of London’s Fund build a mission hall on the north side of Roserton Street.

Matthew T Shaw & Co set up their London Constructional Iron and Bridge Works in Millwall.

Pharmacist John Styth Pemberton invents a carbonated beverage later named “Coca-Cola”


40 per cent of the population of Poplar is classified as living ‘below the poverty line’

The City Arms is sold by the docks company to the brewers Mann, Crossman & Paulin.

A Wesleyan Chapel is built on Alpha Rd.

Cubitt Town suffers particularly severe flooding after storms in July.

Construction of the Stewart St Storm Water Pumping Station.

Introduction of the Greenwich Vehicular Ferry, sailing from the former Potter’s Ferry slipway. It closed in 1902, the year of opening of Greenwich Foot Tunnel.

McDougall’s premises are redeveloped for flour milling.

The northern half of Brown & Lenox’s works is occupied as Victoria Wharf by Crosse & Blackwell (this occupation would last until 1921).

Burrell & Company build succession of stores, warehouses, workshops and minor ancillary buildings on the Isle of Dogs.

Pontifex & Wood Ltd is wound up and the business is acquired by the newly incorporated Millwall Lead Company Ltd. The works are taken over by Locke, Lancaster & W. W. Johnson & Sons Ltd a few years later.


The Metropolitan Board of Works is replaced by the London County Council (LCC).

Opening of Woolwich Ferry
London Dock Strike – docker’s win their “Docker’s Tanner”, 6 old pennies


Charles Chevall Tooke dies leaving the bulk of his estate of £33,200 to his daughter Jane Eleanor, wife of Henry Padwick. The property is subsequently known as the Padwick Estate.

A small plot of the ‘Mudfield’ (later Mudchute), close to the junction of East Ferry Rd and Glengall Rd is leased to William Clark, landlord of the George Hotel, and sponsor of the Millwall Athletic Football Club. The land is developed as a pitch for football, cricket and tennis, with running and cycling tracks. A 600 seat stand is built on the west side.


A row of 20 houses are built on the northernmost part of Manchester Rd, called Glen Terrace after the Glen Shipping Line (McGregor, Gow & Company) which temporarily had occupied the site in the early 1880s


Closure of the South Dock west entrance lock. The “City Arms” bridge was nevertheless replaced 3 years later, by a swing-bridge which was never swung.



The Millwall Seamen’s Rest is built by the British and Foreign Sailors’ Society.

Church Street is renamed to Newcastle St.

The Builder’s Arms is rebuilt.

Cubitt Town School is built on Saunders Ness Rd (then, Wharf Rd) with 800 places.

17 acres north of the Mudchute are leased to to the McDougall Brothers and laid out as allotments for their workers.

Stewarts acquires Pitcher’s former yard, north of the Folly Wall.

Primary education made free and compulsory


Millwall Docks company handles ever-greater quantities of grain with the introduction of Duckham’s novel pneumatic elevating machinery.


Grain Elevating Machinery

London Wharf is occupied by the Foreign Bottle Manufacturing Company, whose works, in Oldenberg, Germany, produce 30 million bottles a year, mostly for liquor, mineral water, soft drinks and medicines.

The Millwall Dock Club closes.

Cubitt Town Pier is demolished.

Election of first Asian MP in Britain.


Mark Winkley, an oil wharfinger of Ferguson’s Wharf, takes a 21-year lease of Weston’s and Glover’s Wharves, calling the whole site Winkley’s Wharf.

The firm of Baillie, Westwood and Campbell is wound up. Westwood continues business in the engineering industry at Napier Yard, where he had set up Westwood & Co a few years earlier.

The Fishing Smack at 9 Cold Harbour is rebuilt.

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Fishing Smack before rebuild

Keir Hardie founds Independent Labour Party
Gandhi’s first act of civil disobedience (in South Africa)


Limehouse entrance lock closed.



Replacement Blackwall entrance lock is sited to the east of its predecessor, to allow the straightening of Preston’s Road.

Erection of a temporary Millwall Glengall School (later named Isle of Dogs School, located next to Island Baths), housed in two iron buildings.

45 Glengall Rd, an unusually grand (by Island standards) 8-room house is occupied by two young men who had trained as doctors. They establish ‘The Priory’, where they live according to Benedictine rules as ‘the Monks of Cubitt Town’. Benedict Court would later be built on the spot.

The Priory (Left)

The Priory (Centre)

‘Scrap Iron Park’ is finally laid out as a garden and formally opened to the public by Will Crooks. It is named Island Gardens.


Northumberland Works at 288 West Ferry Road and some surrounding houses are occupied by the Maconochie Brothers, and renamed Maconochie’s Wharf

First pedestrian killed by a car.


Opening of the Anglican mission church of St Cuthbert’s.

The Manchester Road bridge (over the West India South Dock east entrance lock) is replaced by the LCC with a wider hydraulic swing-bridge. The work was carried out by the Thames Iron Works company.

On John Thomas Morton’s death, control of the business is passed his sons. C. &; E. Morton Ltd, as the firm becomes, is among the largest local employers.

Erection of a permanent Millwall Glengall School (see 1894).

Philanthropist Miss Price moves into 333 West Ferry Road and opens it as The Wellcome Institute. Staffed by well-to-do women volunteers, the Wellcome Institute provides hot meals at affordable prices to factory girls, evening classes in dressmaking and needlework, Bible classes for boys and club-rooms for local football teams.

St Cuthbert’s Church is built on the corner of Cahir St and West Ferry Rd.

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St. Cuthbert’s Church

Bram Stoker publishes Dracula.
World’s first drunk driver is caught.
RAC is established.
Workmen’s Compensation Act: employers liable for insurance of workforce


A fire in 1898 destroys the McDougall’s mill. 25 engines from all over London we involved in the vain attempt to put the fire out.

The dock company is advised of a relationship between the Mudchute deposits and diphtheria on the Island.

London Yard is taken over by Yarrow & Company.

Zeppelin builds first airship
Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company founded
The Curies discover Radium


The south-western corner of land acquired from the Glengall Estate by the Millwall Dock Company in 1880 is developed as ‘Broadway Works’ by Dove Brothers who build a refinery and ancillary buildings for invert sugars, priming sugars and caramels.

Work commences on the Island end of the Greenwich foot tunnel.

Board of Education established in Britain
Start of Second Boer War


1.3 million passengers cross the river on ferries between North Greenwich Station and Greenwich Pier.

The foot tunnel shaft in the Island Gardens is fully sunk and tunnelling operations commence.

A new McDougall & Company flour mill is opened. Named ‘Wheatsheaf Mills’. This building became the centre of McDougall & Company business.

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Wheatsheaf Mills

A Cuba St site is acquired by the Millwall Working Men’s Club and Institute.

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Millwall Working Men’s Club & Institute

Most of Lenantons’ buildings — timber-built sheds of various dates — are destroyed by fire.

The wooden pulpit in St Luke’s Church is replaced with a stone one.

Opening of Island Baths on Glengall Rd.

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Original Island Baths. Photo: Island History Trust

There is an outbreak of typhoid fever in Elizabeth Cottages on West Ferry Rd, caused in large part by standing water saturating the front walls of the cottages. The council paves the road 5 years later.

Keir Hardie becomes the first Labour MP.
School leaving age in Britain raised to 14 years.
Population of London: c6,500,000


Opening of a timber transporter which enables the dock company’s land east of East Ferry Road to be used for timber storage. The transporter is fixed to run to this land from the south-east corner of the Inner Dock.


Timber Transporter (near Glengall Bridge – the people are waiting for the swing bridge to close)

The dock company re-appropriates its land that was in use by the Millwall Athletic Club. The football team moves to a field south and east of the Globe Rope Works, on the Millwall Recreation Ground.

The Globe Rope Works site is enlarged by the addition of two adjoining plots extending southwards between the railway arches and the Millwall Football Club’s ground.


Globe Rope Works (c1920)

The foot tunnel shield is progressing at an average of 10ft per working day, reaching the south shaft on 26 May.

Death of Queen Victoria.
Opening of Britain’s first cinema.
Britain’s first submarine launched
Denunciation of use of concentration camps by British in Boer War


The opening of the Greenwich Foot Tunnel by the LCC, providing pedestrians with a free crossing between the Isle of Dogs and Greenwich. Mahogany-panelled lifts are completed and installed, but the lack of a sufficient electrical supply prevents them from becoming operational until 1904.

Royal Commission on the Administration of the Port of London recommends the incorporation of a port authority to purchase and manage all London’s docks.

Poplar Borough Council insists on the removal of the mud-pipe leading from Millwall Docks to the Mudchute. The dock company refuses and the council takes it upon itself to remove it, a decision reversed by a judge later.

Balfour’s Education Act provides for secondary education
Treaty of Vereeniging ends Second Boer War


Opening in Millwall Docks of a huge granary (the ‘Central Granary’), to store grain and to minimize handling.


Central Granary

Opening of the rebuilt Primitive Methodist chapel in Manchester Road, close to the junction with Glengall Rd. The original chapel was built in 1862.


Rebuilt Primitive Methodist Chapel

The beer house at 25 West Ferry Rd is rebuilt as the Blacksmith’s Arms public house.

The fire station is rebuilt, replacing an earlier one of 1877 on the same site. The station is opened for duty on 19 June 1877, with an initial strength of six firemen, a coachman, three horses, a steam fire-engine, a manual engine, a curricle and a fire-escape.

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Isle of Dogs Fire Station in 1905. Later renamed Millwall Fire Station.

First London car number plate.
Workers’ Education Association (WEA) formed in Britain
Women’s Social and Political Union formed in Britain by Emmeline Pankhurst


Opening of a public library on Strattondale Street, built with the aid of Carnegie funds. It supersedes the evening library at Osborne House, Island Gardens.

The Welcome Institute builds spacious new premises in East Ferry Road (later to become the Dockland Settlement).


Wellcome Institute (later Dockland Settlement)

9,000 people are using the foot tunnel weekly.

Part of the roof of Charing Cross station collapses, killing 5 people
Einstein publishes Special Theory of Relativity
Irish nationalist Arthur Griffith founds Sinn Féin


Poplar Borough Council combined rates are 11s 8d in the pound, the highest in London, and twice as high as in Kensington.

The premises of the Millwall Iron Works are pulled down to make room for the Venesta factory.

The southernmost portion of Napier Yard is acquired by Venesta Ltd, manufacturers of wood and metal cases, boxes and barrels.

During a period of heavy rain, the Mudchute becomes unstable and begins to move on to Hawkins & Tipson’s land, pushing down buildings close to the boundary. The dock company pays the cost of replacing the buildings destroyed.

The Prince Alfred beer house at 22 Tobago St is rebuilt as a pub for Truman, Hanbury, Buxton & Company.

Morton's Outing, Tobago St. Prince Alfred pub is behind centre of rightmost charabanc. 15327267517

Mortons beano departing from the Prince Alfred (1920s)

Free school meals for poor children
Launching of HMS Dreadnought, first turbine-driven battleship
Rolls-Royce Ltd registered
Launching of Cunard’s RMS Mauretania on the Tyne


The Port of London Bill is introduced. The government buys the docks, and the new Port of London Authority (PLA) assumes control.

The special school officially known as Janet Street (Mentally Defective) Council School is erected.

Cook & Company annexes two areas of land formerly belonging to Yarrow & Company to the north of Millwall Wharf.

School medical system begins
First airship flies over London


Closure of the Millwall Independent Chapel, after which it became a girls’ institute and later a printing works.

Coal Mines Regulation Act in Britain limits men to an eight hour day
Separate courts for juveniles established in Britain
Lord Baden-Powell starts the Boy Scout movement


The Torrington Arms is described as fit only for demolition, and is delicensed.

Opening of Stuart’s Granolithic Company Ltd on Glengall Rd.

St Edmund’s Roman Catholic School is replaced by a new building.

The newly-formed Port of London Authority (PLA) takes over the Millwall and West India docks, along with the other enclosed docks from St Katharines to Tilbury.

Old Age Pensions Act comes into force
Ernest Shackleton’s expedition finds the magnetic South Pole
Beveridge Report prompts creation of labour Exchanges


Millwall Football Club moves south of the river.

Joad & Curling’s Ropeworks at 40 Cuba Street are sold to C. & E. Morton Ltd and rebuilt as part of the Dockside Preserving Factory.

The PLA discontinue the mud pumping into the Mudchute. They still hope to build an eastern arm of the Millwall Docks across the land.

The southern part of the Blackwall Iron Works site is occupied by the Ovex Fuel Company. The company remains only 3 years on the site, but long enough to cause a rename of the wharf.

First UK air display.
Railway strike and coal strikes in Britain


Strikes by seamen, dock and transport workers (until 1912)

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Mass meeting of striking West India Dock workers. Photo: Docklands Museum

Creation of Glengall Wharf with the filling-in of Glengall Dry Dock.

Parliament Act in Britain reduces the power of the House of Lords
British MPs receive a salary
Census: Pop. E&W 36M, Scot 4.6M, NI 1.25M
Population of London: c7,200,000


45 Glengall Road (formerly the ‘The Priory’) is converted, and reopened as the Millwall and Cubitt Town Unionist Club

Stewarts goes into liquidation, and their premises are bought by the PLA. A new company, John Stewart & Sons continues to operate as tenants on the site


Old Bailey Proceedings

Woolwich Tunnel opens
Irish Home Rule crisis grows in Britain
Royal Flying Corps (later the RAF) founded in Britain
Britain nationalises the telephone system
The Titanic sinks on maiden voyage – loss of 1,513 lives


Opening of Millwall Cinema at 221 West Ferry Rd, converted from an engineering workshop by Frank E. Harris. It has more than 1,000 seats and standing room for at least 100.
Millwall Cinema is altered. The auditorium is shortened, which cuts the seating by a third (while nearly doubling the standing room), the pianist’s stand is replaced with an orchestra platform, the foyer is enlarged, and the ticket kiosk is brought inside. The cinema closes later in the year.

Nos. 377–379 Manchester Rd are demolished and a new, larger Dorset Arms is built on the site.


Dorset Arms (1980s)

Reconstruction of the North Pole facade.


Reconstructed North Pole

Appointment of first female magistrate
Suffragette demonstrations in London – Mrs Pankhurst imprisoned
Trade Union Act in Britain establishes the right to use Union funds for political purposes
Invention of stainless steel by Harry Brearley of Sheffield


Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ship SS Endurance is refitted and supplied in Regent’s Graving Dock (by the Thames at the end of Byng St). The ill-fated expedition departs in August from Millwall Docks, bound for the Antarctic.


c1914. SS Endurance in Regent’s Graving Dock

Closure of the mast-works at Regent Wharf.

The Union, by now in a state of disrepair, is rebuilt for Truman Hanbury & Company.

Construction of a new church hall between the Christ Church parsonage and the old school buildings

The Wellcome Institute premises are enlarged by the addition of a small two-storey wing comprising a chapel over a first-aid room.

Oil and chemical manufacturers Alexander Duckham and Co set up works at Phoenix Wharf.


Dock Volunteer Army Unit. Museum of London

Start of First World War
First policewoman goes on duty in Britain


Regent Wharf is occupied by Glengall Iron Works Ltd (who also occupy the former mast-works and Oak Wharf to the south).

Compulsory military service introduced in Britain
Battle of Verdun – appalling losses on both sides, stalemate continues
Easter Rising in Ireland – after the leaders are executed, public opinion backs independence


The freehold on London Yard is purchased by C. & E. Morton. Yarrow’s large warehouse unit is converted into a case-making plant, and the other buildings are used mainly for storage.

‘February’ revolution in Russia; Tsar Nicholas abdicates
British forces capture Jerusalem


Poplar Borough Council compulsorily takes tenancy of 16 acres of the Mudchute for allotments. Pigsties are also erected.

Royal Air Force replaces The Royal Flying Corps
Armistice signed
Vote for women over 30, men over 21 (except peers, lunatics and felons)
Start of world-wide ‘flu pandemic
War of Independence in Ireland


Completion of construction of the Chapel House Street Estate.

A parcel of land at the rear of properties on the west side of Stebondale Street, close to the extension of Billson Street, is acquired by the LCC and set out as a playground and public open space, designated Millwall Recreation Ground (usually called ‘New Park’ by locals).


Millwall Recreation Ground Paddling Pool

Britain adopts a 48-hour working week
First woman to sit in House of Commons (Viscountess Astor)
Treaty of Versailles signed


George Lansbury, Mayor of Poplar, ceremonially cuts the first turf of the Chapel House Estate. The estate is completed at the end of 1921.

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First roadside petrol filling station in UK – opened by the Automobile Association at Aldermaston on the Bath Road
Prohibition starts in USA (lasts until Dec 1933)


Poplar Borough Councillors refuse to charge inhabitants what they consider to be unfair and excessive rates. 30 councillors, including George Lansbury, are imprisoned for contempt of court.

Census: Pop. E&W 37.9M, Scot 4.9M, NI 1.25M
Population of London: c7,400,000
Anglo-Irish Treaty signed in London, leading to the formation of the Irish Free State and Northern Ireland


18% of Poplar’s inhabitants are drawing poor-relief.

Departure from the Britannia Works by the company Messrs Lane & Neeve.

BBC formed


The Wellcome Institute building on East Ferry Rd is closed and the building is handed over to the youth-club organization founded by the former playwright (Sir) Reginald Kennedy-Cox, becoming the second of the Dockland Settlements.

First FA Cup Final in Wembley
Mussolini becomes dictator of Italy
Massive inflation in Germany leads to collapse of the currency


Completion of construction of the Kingfield Street housing scheme, finally filling the empty plots in Kingfield St, Billson St, Parsonage St and Stebondale St.

John Stewart & Sons close their works. The works’ contents are auctioned and the buildings demolished two years later.

The first ever Labour Government comes to power in January.
First Labour government in Britain, headed by Ramsay MacDonald
Hourly Greenwich Time Signals from the Royal Greenwich Observatory (the ‘pips’) are first broadcast by the BBC


The Glengall Arms is bought by the London Diocesan Fund for use as a priest’s lodging and clubhouse in connection with St Cuthbert’s Church.

The adoption of motorized appliances renders the fire station stables obsolete. They are converted into a mess room and offices.

An open-air pool is built in 1924–5 in the north-eastern corner of Millwall Recreation Ground.


Millwall Recreation Ground Open-Air Pool. Photo: Sale Family (Frank Herbert Sale standing on board)

Adolf Hitler publishes Mein Kampf


Universe Rope Works in Glengall Road (now named Tiller Road) was taken over for housing purposes in 1926

Closure of the London and Blackwall and Millwall Extension Railways.

Mann, Crossman & Paulin acquire the vacant sites of Nos 5–9 West Ferry Road, enabling them to rebuild the City Arms on a larger scale (opened in 1937).

A hall is added to the Wesleyan Chapel on Alpha Rd.

The Manchester Grove Estate is built for Poplar Borough Council, based on similar designs to the Chapel House Estate.


Manchester Grove (c1970)

John Logie Baird gives demonstration of television
General Strike begins on May 6, lasting until May 12 (mine workers for 6 months more)
Adoption of children is legalised in Britain


Limehouse Entrance Lock Bridge loses its purpose when Limehouse Basin is filled in (but the bridge was not removed until 1947–9).


Filling in of Limehouse Entrance Basin

The former Sapon soapworks are acquired by Luralda Ltd, manufacturers of tea chests, and renamed Luralda Wharf.

First transatlantic telephone call – New York City to London
Lindbergh makes solo flight across the Atlantic, in 33½ hours
Release of the first ‘talkie’ film (The Jazz Singer)



Broadway Works is extended with the lease of the south half of No. 3 Western Granary, and is altered for cooperage, printing, packing and storage.

Closure of Millwall Glengall Road School on opening of the Millwall Central School. It is renamed Millwall Isle of Dogs Council School but is effectively obsolete and is not replaced after it is later damaged during WWII.

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Millwall Glengall Rd School, aka Isle of Dogs School. 1921

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Millwall Central School

The river overflows at Johnson’s drawdock on 7th January.

Closure of North Greenwich Railway Station. Wharfingers J. Calder & Company occupy the station site and rename it Calder’s Wharf.

Women over 21 get vote in Britain – same qualification for both sexes
Sir Alexander Fleming accidentally discovers penicillin (results published 1929)
First chip shop opened in Guiseley by Harry Ramsden – Britain’s longest established restaurant chain


Completion of a new South Dock east entrance and passages linking the Import, Export and South Docks.

Construction of an impounding station just north of the City Arms.

The Manchester Road bridge is replaced by a double-rolling bascule bridge, of a type invented by William Scherzer in Chicago in the 1890s. It was 156ft long overall (spanning 80ft) and 46ft 4in. wide, taking a maximum load of 52 tons.

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Manchester Road Double-Rolling Bascule Bridge

Poplar Council and local businessmen condemn Millwall’s roads as ‘a disastrous burden upon industry, a serious hindrance to passenger traffic, and a grave drawback to the transport of goods to and from the Docks’.

British Street is renamed to Harbinger Rd.

BBC begins TV transmissions
Abolition of Poor Law system in Britain
Minimum age for a marriage in Britain (which had been 14 for a boy and 12 for a girl) now 16 for both sexes, with parental consent (or a licence) needed for anyone under 21
Wall Street crash on ‘Black Thursday’, followed on Oct 29 by ‘Black Tuesday, regarded as the start of the Great Depression’


The formation of the Isle of Dogs Housing Society Ltd.

The Hesperus Crescent Estate, designed by Harley Heckford, the Borough Engineer and Surveyor, is built. The crescent is named after the Hesperus, a clipper ship on the Australian run.

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Hesperus Crescent Construction

A filtration plant is installed in the Millwall Recreation Ground open-air pool. Charges for bathers are introduced.

R101 airship disaster – British abandons airship construction
Youth Hostel Association (YHA) founded in Britain
First Nazis elected to the German Reichstag


George Lansbury becomes leader of the Parliamentary Labour Party (until 1935).

‘Water-bus’ or ‘river-bus’ services are introduced by a private company.

The special school officially known as Janet Street (Mentally Defective) Council School is closed due to the roll having fallen to just 14 pupils. The children are transferred to a school in Pigott Street, Limehouse and the building is later used as the Infants’ Department of Glengall Road School.

Highway Code first issued
Apr 26 Census: Pop. E&W 40M, Scot 4.8M, NI 1.24M (but details destroyed by fire during WW2)
Population of London: c8,100,000


Opening of Dunbar House in Glengall (now Tiller) Road.

Regent Wharf is filled in (with obsolete lorries and bags of set cement from a flooded warehouse in Cubitt Town) by Lenantons, who erected timber-sheds on the site.

The Glengall Arms is acquired by the LCC and demolished

The former Millwall British St School is reconditioned for ordinary teaching use.

The George Hotel is demolished and replaced by the present structure.

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Dockers Waiting for the Call-On Outside of The George

Moseley founds British Union of Fascists
Iraq gains independence from Britain


Opening of Roffey and Cubitt Houses in Roffey St.

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Roffey and Cubitt House (c1980)

Regent Wharf is laid out as Torrington Causeway, to provide access for lightermen to the riverside, replacing Regent Dock Road, the old public way on the north side of Regent Dock.

Conway and Triton Houses (named, like all the blocks on the Cahir St estate, after training ships of the Merchant Navy) are erected.

London Transport comes into being
Hitler becomes chancellor of Germany
Roosevelt launches his ‘New Deal’
Prohibition ends in USA


Isle House and Nelson House in Coldharbour are leased to the Port of London Authority for 21 years, and converted into flats.

Opening of housing on Jubilee Crescent, built by R. & H. Green & Silley Weir Ltd for retired shipbuilding workers or their families.

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George Lansbury playing bowls at the official opening of Jubilee Crescent.

The London County Council replaces the “City Arms” bridge with a fixed bridge.

Demolition of the Millwall Seamen’s Rest

St Hubert’s House is built by the Isle of Dogs Housing Society on the south side of Janet Street. The first part of the building is officially opened on 20 November by the Duchess of York (later Queen Elizabeth).

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St Hubert’s House Construction

The former Venesta factory is acquired by a firm of wharfingers (in which Mr Calder, of Calder’s Wharf, had an interest), renamed Eastern Wharf, and thoroughly refurbished.

Akbar, Brassey, Exmouth, Rodney, and Warspite Houses are built

Land speed record of 301.13 mph by Malcolm Campbell on Bonneville Salt Flats
Italy invades Abyssinia


Totnes Cottages are demolished.

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The rear of Totnes Cottages (right). Brittania Wharf in Background. C1930

Arethusa House is built

The Battle of Cable St
Crystal Palace destroyed by fire
First flight of a Spitfire
Jet engine first tested
Jarrow march to London
Spanish Civil War starts


Opening of Montrose House and Montcalm House on the Millwall Estate at Kingsbridge, built on the former Phoenix Wharf site. Construction was complicated by the need to rebuild river walls and remove oil-polluted soil.

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Millwall Estate Excavations

A new transit warehouse is built on the south quay of the Import Dock, for Fruit Lines Limited’s Canary Islands trade. The site is named Canary Wharf.

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Canary Wharf Transit Warehouse

Bridge Road, running between West Ferry Rd and West India Dock Rd, is absorbed into West Ferry Rd.

The Dock House (by now property of the PLA) is demolished

The Vulcan public house is rebuilt.

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Vulcan beano. Photo: Island History Trust

Eastern Wharf is renamed to Whittock Wharf. After the Second World War the premises would be amalgamated with Burrell’s Wharf.

Newcastle St is renamed to Glengarnock Ave.

The Britannia Works site (south and south-west of Glen Terrace) is acquired by the PLA and cleared of buildings, making room for a substantial eastern dock entrance.

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Britannia Works from Stewart St.

Coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth
‘999’ emergency telephone call facility starts in London
Billy Butlin opens his first holiday camp
German planes bomb Guernica in Spain
Golden Gate Bridge opens in San Francisco
Zeppelin Hindenburg destroyed by fire in USA after lightning struck it at the landing tower
Japanese forces invade China


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Hammond House, 1938

London Wharf is amalgamated with Torrington Wharf, and is occupied by wharfingers, partly for storing lime juice for L. Rose & Company of Oak Wharf.

The Millwall Docks Hotel is renamed to Millwall Docks Tavern & Hotel.

1933, Millwall Docks Tavern 15065633675

A new, rebuilt Cubitt Town School is opened.

The War Department makes use of an area in the Mudchute behind Stebondale Street as a heavy anti-aircraft battery. It was armed with four 4.5-inch guns with GL Mark II radar, and was manned by 154 Battery of the 52nd Royal Artillery Regiment in 1940, by 381 Battery of the 120th Royal Artillery Regiment in 1942, and by 369 Battery of the 17th Royal Artillery egiment in 1943. It was retained as a Nucleus Force Headquarters Battery after the war. Octagonal ‘gun-house’ pillboxes were built on the raised ground, with accommodation huts on the flat ground near the road.

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Mudchute Anti-Aircraft Installation

Behind Glengall Grove, huts are put up for an RAF Embarkation Centre.

Manganese Bronze and Brass Co opens a propellor works at St David’s Wharf.

Chamberlain visits Hitler in Munich and proclaims ‘Peace in our time’
Principle of paid holidays established in Britain
HMS Rodney first ship to be equipped with radar
Germany invades and annexes Austria
First practical ball-point pen produced by Hungarian journalist, Lajos Biro


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Poplar Borough Council Air Raid Precautions

Millwall Dock entrance lock is badly damaged by bombing in September, with damage to machinery and the walls.

Alpha Rd is renamed to Alpha Grove.

The Magnet and Dewdrop public house is rebuilt.

Outbreak of World War II.
First air-raids on Britain
Start of evacuation of women and children from London
Germany annexes Czechoslovakia
Germany invades Poland
Britain and France declare war on Germany
British Expeditionary Force (BEF) sent to France
Population of London: c8,600,000


Luftwaffe raids in September destroy many buildings at the West India and Millwall Docks

Closure of Blackwall Entrance Lock to ships (it reopened only for barge traffic).

Removal of the footbridge over the Millwall Dock entrance lock.

Glengall Road is renamed to Glengall Grove.

The former Millwall British St School is badly damaged by bombing. After the war the site becomes a scrapyard

St Cuthbert’s is virtually destroyed by a bomb in September.

Bomb damage renders the Millwall Recreation Ground open-air pool unusable. The site is later cleared and incorporated into the adjacent playground.

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Billson St Bomb Damage. Photo: Bill Regan

Enemy bombing renders Ovex wharf ‘unfit for the purposes’. The remaining buildings are hit by a V1 flying bomb later in the war.

National Government formed under Churchill
Sep 7: Germany launches bombing blitz on Britain, the first of 57 consecutive nights of bombing.
Battle of Britain: massive waves of German air attacks decisively repulsed by the RAF – Hitler postpones invasion of Britain
Germany invades France
Evacuation of British Army at Dunkirk
Fall of France
Trotsky assassinated in Mexico on Stalin’s orders


Most of No. 2 Western Granary is destroyed by bombing.

During the air-raid on the night of 19–20 March, one or two direct hits destroy a two-storey building at Bullivant’s Wharf, the ground floor of which was used as a public air-raid shelter. Two side walls are blown out and the upper floor, heavily constructed to support machinery, collapses. About 120 people are inside, more than 40 of whom are killed and 60 injured.

The Millwall Docks Hotel & Tavern is destroyed by bombing.

Island Baths are used as a first-aid post, and blast walls are built along the road frontage, replacing the old 6ft-high railings. Severe bomb damage is sustained, wrecking the swimming pool.

Island Baths. Photo: Bill Regan

Island Baths. Photo: Bill Regan

Nos 1–13 (odd) Hesperus Crescent are destroyed by bombing.

The Millwall and Cubitt Town Unionist Club at 45 Glengall Rd is closed by bomb damage.

St John’s is abandoned after bomb damage.

The Glengall Road mission hall is destroyed by bombing.

Cubitt Town Wesleyan Chapel on Stebondale Street is badly damaged by bombing.

Samuda’s Wharf is badly damaged by enemy action in August, and all but a handful of the buildings were demolished.

Lawn House, a large detached house with extensive pleasure grounds behind Glen Terrace, is demolished after suffering bomb damage.

Last execution in the tower.
No census – total British population estimated at 48.2M
Britain introduces severe rationing
Germany invades Russia (Operation Barbarossa)
Japan attacks US fleet at Pearl Harbour. USA enters the War
Hong Kong falls to the Japanese


The whole of the East India Import Dock is used as a ‘dry dock’ for the construction of ‘Phoenix’ prefabricated-concrete floating ‘Mulberry’ harbour units for the Normandy invasion. They are completed afloat in the West India Docks.

Bethnal Green tube disaster


Assembly of three different types of prefabricated huts/homes in Glengall Grove for demonstration purposes. Minister of Health informs the Borough Council that Poplar was to receive a preliminary allocation of 1,000 temporary prefabricated, or emergency factory made (E.F.M.) bungalows, popularly known as prefabs.


Daily Express

First V1 rocket hits London (June)
First V2 rocket hits London (September)
Butler Education Act: Britain to provide secondary education for all children
D-Day invasion of Normandy


The Glengall Road Bridge is replaced with a concrete-filled barge, moored between the knuckles as a pontoon for pedestrians.

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Glengall Rd Barge Bridge

Closure of the Infants’ Department of Glengall Road School in Janet St.

Berlin surrounded by Russian troops
Hitler commits suicide
Atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Japanese surrender was signed aboard USS Missouri
End of World War II.

Publication of Animal Farm by George Orwell.
Labour win UK General Election – Churchill out of office
United Nations Organisation comes into existence


Fork-lift trucks and palletized cargoes are introduced in the Port of London

No. 3 Western Granary is taken into the premises of G. Clark & Son (part of the granary had already been taken over by the firm 20 years earlier).

Bullivant’s Wharf, which had been occupied by Poplar Borough Council Works Department for storage, is acquired by Freight Express Ltd, wharfingers, who rename it Express Wharf.

Opening of the first pair of Orlit houses in Billson Street. A month before the opening, the houses are visited by Mrs Eleanor Roosevelt, who is in London to attend a United Nations Organization Conference.

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Still from 1946 film about the construction of the Orlit houses on Billson St. Film: Imperial War Museum

All 23 of the Orlit houses on Glengall Grove site are completed.

Rye Arc Welding Company, a ship-repairing and engineering firm, moves onto Ovex Wharf.

First civil flight from Heathrow Airport
Bank of England nationalised


Completion of repair of bomb-damaged properties (those that were repairable).


London County Council Post-WWII Bomb Damage Map


Detail of Bomb Damage Along Glengall Grove

Removal of Limehouse Entrance Lock Bridge (which had been redundant for 20 years, since the filling in of Limehouse Basin).

Brown & Lenox occupy new buildings in West Ferry Road adjoining St Paul’s Presbyterian Church.

Most severe winter in Britain for 53 years at start of the year – heavy snow and much flooding later
Coal Mines nationalised
School leaving age raised to 15
First British nuclear reactor developed
India gains independence: sub-continent partitioned to form India and Pakistan


All flats in Rawalpindi House have been handed over for letting. The block is named after the Armed Merchant Ship Rawalpindi, sunk by German warships on 23 November 1939.

Six houses are built on the site of seven houses in Hesperus Crescent that were destroyed by bombing during WWII.

Closure of the mission hall in Stebondale Street.

The foot tunnel dome glass is replaced in 1948, having receiving bomb damage during the Second World War.

The Fishing Smack public house in Cold Harbour is demolished.

British Railways nationalised
National Health Service (NHS) begins in Britain
London Olympics begin
First Morris Minor produced
UN sanctions the creation of the State of Israel – first Israel/Arab war
Gandhi assassinated in Delhi
Berlin airlift starts


Seed-crushing gives way to linseed-oil refining at Cumberland Oil Mills.

Clothes rationing ends in Britain
De Haviland produces the Comet – first jet airliner
Russians explode their first atomic bomb
Berlin airlift ends


Construction of Clara Grant and Gilbertson Houses, Mellish Street.


Clara Grant House

The grounds of the City Arms are enlarged with the acquisition of the sites of Nos 11–15 West Ferry Road.

West India Dock Pier is rebuilt, incorporating the pontoon from the redundant Brunswick Pier at Blackwall.

Petrol and soap rationing ends in Britain
China invades Tibet


West India Dock Pier is reopened in time to serve trippers visiting the Festival of Britain Live Architecture Exhibition at Lansbury Estate in Poplar.

The Cutty Sark is sailed into Millwall Graving (Dry) Dock for renovation and refitting.


Cutty Sark in Millwall Dry Dock

Demolition of the Millwall Independent Chapel.

Completion of Cressall House

Census: Pop. E&W 43.7M, Scot 5M. NI 1.37M
Population of London: c8,200,000
Zebra crossings introduced into law in Britain


Demolition of the first of the Borough’s prefabs.

The three parishes of the Isle of Dogs are united under the title of the Parish of Christ Church with St John and St Luke, with Christ Church as the parish church.

Completion of rebuilding of much of Cubitt Town School after WWII bombing damage.

A 1952 map is not very different to the 1870 map reproduced above. Actually, the fabric of the Island has not changed much in the intervening years (of course, this 1952 map does not reveal the extent of the wartime bombing damage). From this year on, much would change on the Island, starting with the clearing of old streets and housing to be replaced with housing estates and high-rise buildings.

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1952 Map

Start of the Great Smog
Identity Cards abolished in Britain
Last tram runs in London (Woolwich to New Cross)
End of tea rationing in Britain


G. W. Mansell’s lease on his Harbinger Road yard expires. The site reverts to Poplar Borough Council, who demolish the buildings.

Stewart St pumping station engine house becomes obsolete with the introduction electric machinery.

Completion of Rugless House. Coronation of Elizabeth II

Sweet and sugar rationing ends in Britain
Death of Stalin
Jonas Salk announces his polio vaccine
Everest conquered by Hillary and Tensing


Closure of Glengall Wharf (the site is now part of the Sir John McDougall Gardens).

Demolition of the London Tavern.

Food rationing officially ends in Britain
First comprehensive school opens in London (Kidbrooke School in the London Borough of Greenwich)
Routemaster bus starts operating in London
Bill Haley and the Comets release Rock Around the Clock


A food and soft drinks distribution depot is built by Beechams on the corner of West Ferry Road and Cuba Street.

Pierhead Cottages Nos 3–10 are demolished

St John’s Church is demolished.

St John’s Vicarage, Castalia Street, having been destroyed during WWII, is replaced by a new clergy-house in Castalia Square, adjoining the mission hall. A new mission hall is built in Glengall Rd, replacing the one destroyed during WWII.

The site of the former Samuda’s Wharf is purchased by the LCC for new housing.

Completion of Llandovery House.

Launching of ITV
Christopher Cockerell patents the hovercraft


Plans to reconstruct Millwall Dock entrance lock can no longer be justified. Concerns regarding the strength of the inner gates, and the effect of the unused lock on impounding and dredging costs, leads to damming of the lock inside the Outer Dock. The road bridge remains in place, but will never open again.

Brown & Polson Limited acquire George Clark & Son.

Completion of Skeggs, Thorne, Ash, Elm, Cedar and Oak Houses.

Completion of Nos 1–17 Castalia Square.

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Castalia Square in 1966. Photo: Island History Trust

Premium Bonds first launched
3rd class travel abolished on British Railways
Hungarians protest against Soviet occupation (protest crushed on 4 Nov)
Britain and France invade Suez


Completion of Maple House and Nos 1–5 (odd), Chipka Street.


Maple House. Image: LBTH

Lewisham train crash kills 50
Suez canal reopened by the Egyptians
Sputnik I launched by Soviet Union – first artificial satellite


Lenanton’s acquires London and Oak Wharves.

Stuart’s Granolithic’s head office is transferred to Harrow.

CND’s inaugural public meeting
Munich air disaster – Manchester United team members killed
Britain’s first parking meters installed, Mayfair, London
Race riots in Britain, at Notting Hill and in Nottingham


Poplar Borough Council purchases the strip of land between the Hesperus Crescent and Chapel House Street Estates, where the railway siding had been. The footbridge over the siding is demolished two years later.

BMC Mini car launched
First section of M1 motorway opened
Charles de Gaulle becomes French President


St Luke’s Church (badly damaged during the Second World War) is demolished.


St Luke’s Church. Photo: John Salmon

WWII bombing wrecked much of the area of Claude, Crews and Gaverick Streets. Poplar Borough Council clears the whole area starting this year, with the exception of the rebuilt Kingsbridge Arms.

Michigan House is built, almost 25 years after the first two blocks on the estate (Montcalm and Montrose).

First traffic wardens in London.
New £1 notes issued by Bank of England
MoT tests on motor vehicles introduced
First vertical flight of a Harrier jump-jet, at Dunsfold
National Service ended
Sharpeville Massacre in South Africa
Population of London: c7,900,000


Opening of Betty May Gray House, built by the Isle of Dogs Housing Society.

Stuart’s Granolithic closes its works on Glengall Grove.

Writer and broadcaster Dan Farson becomes the landlord of the Newcastle Arms, renaming it the Waterman’s Arms.

Completion of John MacDonald House.


John MacDonald House

Construction of the Manchester Estate between Pier St, Manchester Rd and Seyssel St.


Salford House, c1965. Image: http://collage.cityoflondon.gov.uk/

Introduction of panda pedestrian crossings
Britain and France agree to construct Concorde
Consecration of new Coventry Cathedral
John Glenn first American in orbit (3 circuits in Friendship 7)
Marilyn Monroe found dead
Nelson Mandela jailed
Cuba missile crisis – brink of nuclear war


Introduction of the London Government Act which stipulates that by 1 April 1970 the GLC must submit to the Minister of Housing and Local Government a programme for the transfer of part of its estates to the local authorities in whose area the properties were situated, or to a housing association. The act also combines the Metropolitan Boroughs of Poplar, Stepney and Bethnal Green into the London Borough of Tower Hamlets

John Mowlem & Company build the ‘Glass Bridge’.


Construction of the Glass Bridge

The western part of Glengall Grove is renamed to Tiller Road.

Closure of Providence Iron Works.

Completion of the first part of the Schooner Estate, consisting of Galleon House, Capstan House and Nos 19–41 (odd) Glengarnock Avenue/Nos 139–149 (odd) Manchester Road.


Galleon House Construction. Image: Queenie Film Stills

Beeching Report on British Railways (the ‘Beeching Axe’)
Secretary of State for War John Profumo resigns in a sex scandal
Minimum prison age raised to 17
‘Great Train Robbery’ on Glasgow to London mail train
Dartford Tunnel opens
First episode of Dr Who on BBC TV
France vetoes Britain’s entry into EEC
President Kennedy assassinated in Dallas, Texas


Brown & Polson Limited sell the former George Clark & son premises to Tate & Lyle.

The Greater London Council (GLC) issues an order for compulsory purchase of Binks Brothers wire-rope works.

The former Cumberland Oil Mills premises close.

Cook & Company’s Millwall Wharf leases are re-assigned to Cory Associated Wharves Ltd.

Completion of Normandy, Valiant, Tamar and Watkins Houses.

First ‘Top of the Pops’ on BBC TV
First Greater London Council (GLC) election
BBC2 TV starts


Departure of the timber merchants occupying Lion Wharf, after which the site is incorporated into the Sir John McDougall Gardens.

Opening of the ‘Glass Bridge’.

The LCC approves proposals for the development of the Barkantine Estate site.


Architectural model of the Barkantine Estate. Image: http://collage.cityoflondon.gov.uk/

Cyclops Wharf is occupied by an asphalting and haulage concern.

The congregations of St John’s and Christ Church are combined and Christ Church is rededicated as the Church of Christ and St John.

The site of the Builder’s Arms is acquired by the LCC, and incorporated into Millwall Park.

Completion of the last part of the Schooner Estate, consisting of Carvel, Clipper and Frigate Houses.


Clipper House

Winston Churchill dies
Ronnie Biggs escapes from prison
TV ban on cigarette advertising in Britain
Oil strike by BP in North Sea
Post Office Tower operational in London
70mph speed limit introduced on British roads
First US raids against North Vietnam
Mont Blanc road tunnel opens


Opening of the rebuilt Island Baths.

Demolition of the Christ Church church hall and Billson Street buildings, which were damaged during WWII.

Completion of Alastor, Argyle, Finwhale, Killoran, Kimberley, Kingdon, Lingard and Montfort Houses.


Lingard House

Completion of St John’s Recreation Ground.

Anti-Vietnam protest at US Embassy in London
Lennon meets Yoko
World Cup won by England at Wembley (4-2 in extra time v West Germany)
First Severn road bridge opens
Aberfan disaster – slag heap slip kills 144, incl. 116 children
First Christmas stamps issued in Britain


Stories of the damp, rat-infested prefabs in Stebondale Street appear in the local press in 1967.

Opening of the 25-storey Kelson House on the Samuda Estate.


Kelson House

The Millwall Dock entrance lock is permanently closed, and its east end filled in.

General Constructional & Engineering Company Ltd at Hutchings Wharf ceases operations.

Completion of Scoulding House

Completion of Kedge House and Winch House, and Nos 1–20 Starboard Way

Barclays opens Britain’s first cashpoint
Radio 1 goes on air
Torrey Canyon oil tanker runs aground off Lands End
First colour TV in Britain
Che Guevara killed in Bolivia
First human heart transplant (in South Africa by Christiaan Barnard)


Final year of use of the Blackwall Entrance Lock.

Closure and flooding of the Millwall Dock Graving (Dry) Dock.

Opening of Seven Mills School.


Seven Mills Opening Ceremony. Image: http://collage.cityoflondon.gov.uk/

London Bridge sold (and eventually moved to Arizona)
Enoch Powell ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech on immigration
Issue of 5p and 10p decimal coins in Britain
Two-tier postal rate starts in Britain
Tet Offensive begins in Vietnam
Student riots in Paris
Robert F Kennedy shot – dies next day
Beginning of disturbances in N Ireland
Martin Luther King assassinated


Opening of Alice Shepherd House in Manchester Road, constructed with John Laing Construction’s SECTRA system.


Alice Shepherd House

The ‘Blue Bridge’ opens on 1 June 1969, having cost £274,500. It is the sixth bridge at this location.


Construction of the Blue Bridge. Photo: Marie Foote

Opening of the footbridge over West Ferry Rd to link Sir John McDougall Gardens and the Barkantine Estate.


Footbridge Over West Ferry Rd. Image: http://collage.cityoflondon.gov.uk/

The GLC approves the development of the disused site of St Luke’s Church at the east end of Strafford Street.

A boathouse for the Poplar, Blackwall & District Rowing Club is built on Calder’s Wharf. The club had been using a former North Greenwich station shed as premises.

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Rowing Club Construction

Closure of old Stewart St pumping station.

July. Five firemen and a demolition worker are killed, and five more firemen seriously injured, after an explosion in oil storage tanks at Dudgeon’s Wharf. The tanks were being demolished when a fire broke out. The fire was extinguished and the firemen were checking the site when the explosion occurred.


Dudgeon’s Wharf

Kray twins found guilty of murder
The Beatles’ last public performance, on the roof of Apple Records in London
Investiture of Prince Charles as Prince of Wales at Caernarfon Castle
Voting age lowered from 21 to 18
Death penalty for murder abolished in Britain
Woodstock Music Festival in NY State attracts 300,000 fans
Maiden flight of Concorde, at Toulouse


Protesters declare UDI


Ted Johns Letter to Harold Wilson


Satirical Island Entry Permit. Image courtesy Tony Westfallen


Evening Standard. 10th March 1970. Image courtesy of Tony Westfallen

Opening of four 21-storey point blocks (Bowsprit, Knighthead, Midship, and Topmast Points) on the Barkantine Estate. A new Tooke Arms is opened approximately 40 yards north of its original location at the corner of Janet St.

tooke-1 14878972297

Tooke Arms

The Central Granary closes and is demolished, having become redundant due to the opening of the Tilbury Grain Terminal the year before.

Closure of the Millwall Dock Internal Railways.

Binks Brothers Ltd is taken over by British Ropes Ltd, who move the business to Charlton.

St John’s church and hall are demolished following fire damage.

Jimi Hendrix dies in London
Damages awarded to Thalidomide victims
Sep 19: First Glastonbury Festival held
Boeing 747 (Jumbo jet) goes into service


The Government and the GLC jointly commission outside consultants to prepare a Docklands feasibility study, which was published in 1973.

Closure of berths at the Import Dock north quay and the Wood Wharves, due to lack of business.

Lenanton’s acquires St Luke’s School premises. The school moves to the former premises of Cubitt Town School in Saunders Ness Road.

The Globe Rope Works is closed and the buildings are demolished.

Decimalisation of coinage in UK and Republic of Ireland
Parliament votes to join Common Market (joined 1973)
Rolls-Royce declared bankrupt
Population of London: c7,500,000


St Paul’s is replaced by a new church at Island House, Castalia Square. It is subsequently used for industrial storage, one of the side windows being removed to form a doorway.

St John’s mission hall and club house on Roserton St are demolished, to make way for the new Island House community centre. Island House also replaces St Paul’s Presbyterian Church in West Ferry Rd.

Castalia Square(xvwl) 14876467267

Island House

Land to the east of the Christ Church, on Saunders Ness Rd, is sold for private housing.

saunders ness 04 15064704625

Rear of Saunders Ness Road flats

Cubitt Town School moves to the former Glengall Rd school premises. The former Cubitt Town school premises are occupied by St Luke’s Primary school, which transfers from West Ferry Rd.

The main warehouse of the former Cumberland Oil Mills is demolished following a fire.

Plans for a new mixed secondary school for 900 pupils, replacing the old George Green’s School in East India Dock Road, are approved by the Inner London Education Authority.

602239_10200748565386087_1182829912_n 14876874539

George Green’s School Architectural Model. Photo: collage.cityoflondon.gov.uk

Start of construction of St John’s House, a sheltered-housing block on the north-eastern side of Pier Street. Construction was hindered by difficulties – most notably additional piling work, problems over maintaining enough workmen on site and damage caused by vandals. The building was not handed over until February 1974.

‘Bloody Sunday’ in (London)Derry, Northern Ireland
Power workers crisis
John Betjeman becomes Poet Laureate
Ceylon changes its name to Sri Lanka


PLA commits itself to a gradual transfer of operations from theWest India and Millwall Docks to the Royal Docks.

Freight Express merges with the shipping and freight-forwarding agency Seacon to form Freight Express-Seacon Ltd. Express Wharf is redeveloped as the London Steel Terminal to handle steel cargoes from the EEC (as it was known as then).

scan0042 15070824545


The Isle of Dogs Police Station at 126 Manchester Rd is demolished.

Rye Arc Welding Company stop operations at Ovex Wharf. Marriage of Princess Anne and Mark Phillips
VAT introduced in Britain
Miners strike and oil crisis precipitate ‘three-day week’ (till 9 Mar 1974) to conserve power
Yom Kippur War precipitates world oil crisis
Sydney Opera House opens


Opening of St John’s House, Pier Street. Erected by the Isle of Dogs Housing Society and providing 30 old people’s flats in a two-storey block, together with a warden’s flat and common-room.

No. 3 Western Granary, by now belonging to the firm G. Clark & Son is destroyed by fire.

First McDonalds opens in London
Flixborough disaster: explosion at chemical plant kills 28 people
Birmingham pub bombings by the IRA
President Nixon resigns over Watergate scandal


The Joint Committee issues the London Docklands Strategic Plan, the basic aim of which is ‘to use the opportunity provided by large areas of London’s Dockland becoming available for development to redress the housing, social, environmental, employment/economic and communications deficiencies of the Docklands area and partner boroughs and thereby to provide the freedom for similar improvements throughout East and Inner London.’

In January, the PLA announces proposals for transferring all their existing general cargo handling activities in the West India and Millwall Docks to the Royal Docks. They propose to retain only their bulk wine facilities and services they provide for tenants within the Isle of Dogs.

The Millwall Dock entrance lock bridge is removed, and a tarmac road is built over the filled-in lock.

Severe damage by vandals to the glass and the lifts in cause the Glass Bridge to be closed.

gb-1 14876795288

Glass Bridge

Demolition of Dunbar House

demolition, Tiller Road, Isle of Dogs from the book 'No Remuneration to Placekeepers, social landscapes of Britain in the 1970s' by Tony Bock (2012) Tony Bock 3 Ivy Avenue Toronto, Ontario Canada M4L2H6 tonyjbock@gmail.com phone: +1-647-969-8593

Demolition, Dunbar House. Photo: Tony Bock

A gas explosion destroys No. 13 Parsonage Street and badly damages No. 15. Nobody is hurt.

1976 Photo scan courtesy of Marie Swarray 14877918200

East London Advertiser

Harold Wilson resigns
Drought Act 1976 comes into force
Death of Mao Tse-tung
Apple Computer formed by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak


Demolition of the last of the Borough Council’s prefabs.

Mudchute land is leased to the Mudchute Association through Tower Hamlets Borough Council and a farm and garden are established.

mudchute farm (14) 15049182336

Mudchute Farm 1978. Photo: Mick Lemmerman

George Green’s School and Centre are officially opened.

The PLA sells the freehold of Millwall Wharf to Cory Associated Wharves’ parent company, Ocean Transport & Trading Ltd, which still owns the wharf as Ocean plc.

Marc Bolan dies in car crash
Red Rum wins a third Grand National
Queen’s Silver Jubilee celebrations in London
Elvis Presley dies
Eradication of smallpox world-wide declared by WHO


Opening of John Tucker House in Mellish Street.


John Tucker House

Alpha Hall (former Wesleyan Chapel) is used as a community centre.

The GLC converts the Alpha Grove Methodist Church into a community centre for the Alpha Grove Community Trust.

The Primitive Methodist Church on Manchester Road is demolished.

The ‘umbrella murder’
World’s first ‘test tube’ baby, Louise Browne born in Oldham


No. 1 Western Granary, by now renamed Western Warehouse, is demolished.

Airey Neave killed by a car bomb at Westminster
Margaret Thatcher becomes first woman UK Prime Minister
ILEA votes to abolish corporal punishment in its schools
Lord Mountbatten and 3 others killed in bomb blast off coast of Sligo, Ireland


In January the PLA announces that, unless working-practice improvement targets could be met, operations would be transferred out of theWest India and Millwall Docks to the Royal Docks from July.

A strike shuts down the docks in February and closure is brought forward to March.


West India South Dock. c1980

The north-west section of the Mudchute is leased to Associated Dairies in 1980 for the Asda superstore.

Plans to extend the Jubilee underground line to the Island are shelved by the government.

Dangerous Structures Notice served on Alice Shepherd House in order for emergency repairs to be carried out.

A refreshment-house, with a giant teapot and steaming cuppa picked out in dark brick, is built in Island Gardens by the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.

Introduction of a Housing Act which gives all council tenants of more than three years’ residence a statutory right to buy their dwelling and which permits councils to give discounts of up to 50 per cent on the assessed value of the property.
Iranian Embassy siege
Death of President Tito of Yugoslavia
John Lennon assassinated in New York
‘Solidarity’ formed by unions in Poland
‘Stealth’ bomber developed by USA


The Conservative Government seeks to accelerate redevelopment by creation of the London Docklands Development Corporation (LDDC) with extensive powers. According to the Local Government and Planning Act of 1980. According to the Act, the object of the Corporation would be ‘to secure … regeneration … by bringing land and buildings into effective use, encouraging the development of existing and new industry and commerce, creating an attractive environment and ensuring that housing and social facilities are available to encourage people to live and work in the area.’

Most of the PLA’sWest India and Millwall Dock estate is transferred to the corporation. It is made directly responsible to, and appointed by the Secretary of State for the Environment. Each member is personally appointed by the Secretary of State for a period of three years or so, normally from the private sector but with at least three places retained for borough nominations.

Powers provided by the Government to the Corporation:

1. Financial resources – initially an amount between £60-70 million per annum.
2. Powers as a single development control Planning Authority (in place of the three boroughs).
3. Land acquisition powers, with the ability to acquire land quickly from public sector authorities.
4. Powers as an Enterprise Zone Authority responsible for the Isle of Dogs Enterprise Zone (designated in 1982 with a 10 year life).
5. Powers for marketing and promoting the Docklands area.

The first LDDC board members are:

Nigel Broackes, Chairman, Tragalgar House PLC
Robert Mellish, MP for Southwark-Bermondsey
Paul Beasley, Leader, London Borough of Tower Hamlets
Sir John Garlick, Former Permanent Secretary, Dept of Environment
Jack Hart, Leader, London Borough of Newham
Lewis Moss, Senior Partner, Moss & Partners
John O’Grady, Leader, London Borough of Southwark
Dennis Stevenson, Chairman, SRU Group of Businesses
Wyndham Thomas, General Manager, Peterborough Development Corporation
Hugh Wilson, Partner, Hugh Wilson and Lewis Womersley
Reg Ward, Chief Executive

Burrell & Company Ltd is wound up. However, Blythe Burrell Colours Ltd, a subsidiary of Johnson Matthey plc, continues to make colours at Burrell’s Wharf.

Completion of St John’s Community Centre, Glengall Grove. Deptford fire kills 13

First London marathon
Brixton riots
Marriage of Charles and Diana
First use of computer mouse (by Xerox PARC system)
First cases of AIDS recognised in California
IBM launches its PC

Population of London: c6,800,000


1982 14906342390

1982 Map

The government designates much of the old docks area on the Isle of Dogs as an Enterprise Zone.

The Glass Bridge is demolished.

demolition-of-the-glassbridge 15040381446

Demolition of the Glass Bridge

Rank Hovis McDougall Branded Foods closes the Wheatsheaf Mills, which is demolished.

35_258_40_med_hr 15067730581

McDougall’s Demolition. Photo: Mike Seaborne

Closure of Glengall Causeway.

Completion of new housing on River Barge, Ovex and New Union Closes by the East of London (now The East London) Housing Association.

Vatican banker Robert Calvi found dead
Unemployment reached 3 million in Britain (1 in 8 of working population)
Falklands War


1983-the-last-ship 14884175868

The Last Ship, Millwall Docks.

Marsh Wall opens, providing a new route across the Island.

A health clinic is built between The Quarterdeck and West Ferry Road.

Brinks Mat robbery
IRA bomb Harrods
Seat belt law comes into force
£1 coin into circulation in Britain
Plans to abolish GLC announced


LDDC-funded improvements are carried out on the Alpha Grove Community Centre.

Clearance and filling is carried out by the LDDC for the Masthouse Terrace (Housing) Scheme.

Minister for Sport, Neil Macfarlane, announces the development of the London Docklands Arena.

The Docklands Clipper bus comes into service.

1149394_10201113492214130_523708878_o 15043233996

Docklands Clipper

Opening of Thames Barrier
Oxford Circus tube fire
Miners strike
Apple Macintosh computer introduced in USA
Bhopal disaster in India


To date, 30,926 dwellings have been handed over by the GLC to Tower Hamlets Borough Council, which, with its own stock of 19,044 dwellings, thereby becomes landlord of eight out of every ten homes in the borough.

Winkley’s Wharf is cleared.

Closure of the Millwall works of Brown & Lenox, now part of the F. H. Lloyd Group.

Clearance of Providence Iron Works site.

Demolition of old Stewart St pumping station engine house.

Brixton riots
Broadwater Farm riots
Miners agree to call off strike
Al Fayed buys Harrods
Heysel Stadium disaster in Brussels


The remaining Pier Head Cottages, having become derelict, are pulled down by the LDDC.

pier head cottages (2) 15064579335

Derelict Pier Head Cottages

The closure of the works at Burrell’s Wharf. Production of Burrell’s range of classic pigments is continued elsewhere by Ciba-Geigy.

Construction by the LDDC of a community centre on the Samuda Estate as part of an effort to develop the local community.

The London County Council is replaced by the Greater London Council and the Inner London Education Authority.
‘Big Bang’ (deregulation) of the London Stock Market
M25 ring round London completed with the section between J22 and J23 (London Colney and South Mimms)


The Docklands Light Railway (DLR) is opened to Tower Hill

Heron Quays DLR 15079132659

Docklands Light Railway (DLR) Shortly After Opening

The Blackwall and Millwall electoral wards are combined into the neighbourhood of the Isle of Dogs.

The LDDC removes the middle gates from Blackwall Entrance Lock, and permanently dams the lock under a bridge, as part of improvements to Preston’s Road.

The name ‘Isle of Dogs’ has official status for the first time with the creation of Isle of Dogs Neighbourhood, a district of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.

The City Arms is remodelled and a full-height extension, in similar style, is built over the site of Montague Place. The name is changed to the City Pride.

194773_322316157780998_1013101578_o-1- 15062754911

City Pride

The asphalting and haulage firm at Cyclops Wharf moves to Rainham, Essex.

The former Associated Lead premises are pulled down.

1149050_652107421468535_139838043_n 14884179757

Cleared Associated Lead Site. Photo: Mike Seaborne

17-Jul. Agreement to build an office development at Canary Wharf signed by Canadian property developers Olympia & York.

Kings Cross fire – 31 people die
Excavation begins on the Channel Tunnel
Hungerford Massacre – Michael Ryan kills sixteen people with a rifle
A ‘Hurricane’ sweeps southern England
‘Black Monday’ in the City of London – Stock Market crash
Terry Waite kidnapped in Beirut (released 17 Nov 1991)
Car ferry Herald of Free Enterprise capsizes off Zeebrugge – 188 die


A permanent bridge is erected across the West India Graving Dock.

Dismantling of Blackwall entrance lock bridge.

The area around the former Millwall Dock Graving (Dry) Dock is redeveloped as the Clippers Quay housing estate.

Maconochie’s Wharf is redeveloped by the Great Eastern Self-Build Housing Association.

camerazoom-20131023161920984 14878323558

Great Eastern Self Build Workers

The remaining buildings of the former Cumberland Oils Mills – chiefly a range of brick sheds and a chimney shaft – are cleared away for the Cumberland Mills residential development.

Demolition of Cubitt and Roffey Houses.

Demolition of Maple House.

Clapham Junction rail crash kills 35 and injures hundreds after two collisions of three commuter trains
Piper Alpha disaster – North Sea oil platform destroyed by explosion and fire killing 167 men
Lockerbie disaster – Pan Am flight 103 explodes over Scotland


The St Paul’s Arts Trust is formed by local residents to take over the church for use as an arts centre. Work on the conversion begins in 1993.

The sites of Cutlers’ works and the Barnfield Works are developed by Wimpey Homes as ‘Quay West’.

St John’s Recreation Ground, completed in 1966, is reopened as St John’s Park.

Docklands Sailing and Watersports Centre is built at the former Kingsbridge site, at the west end of the Millwall Outer Dock. It was set up by the London Docklands Development Corporation and the Sports Council at a cost of £1.2 million.


Docklands Sailing and Watersports Centre Wall Sign

Marchioness disaster
Kegworth air disaster – a British Midland flight crashes into the M1 motorway
Fatwa issued against Salman Rushdie for The Satanic Verses
The first of 24 satellites of the Global Positioning System is placed into orbit
Tanks stopped in Tiananmen Square by unknown protester
Berlin Wall torn down


The LDDC fills the Millwall Dock entrance lock as far as the outer gate recesses, leaving a slipway.

Opening of a double drawbridge of a so-called ‘Dutch type’ as part of the Glengall Bridge development.

1276704_688200367876273_1945128645_o 14876831787

Glengall Bridge

Refurbishment work is carried out on Rawalpindi House, including the installation of entry phones, the construction of new heavy wooden front porches and the creation of enclosed front areas.

Significant refurbishment of the Manchester Estate.

Poll tax riots
Resignation of Margaret Thatcher
Nelson Mandela released in South Africa
Hubble space telescope launched
Iraq invades Kuwait
German reunification



London Arena Bankruptcy. London Gazette

The Duke of Edinburgh officially opens One Canada Square on 26th August.

The Docklands Light Railway (DLR) is extended to Bank station in the City.

Stained-glass windows from the demolished St Mildred’s House in West Ferry Road are installed in the Lady Chapel of Christ Church. During WWII they were removed from St Mildred’s House and stored for safekeeping in McDougall’s flour mill. They were moved to Christ Church but completely forgotten about until they were rediscovered during organ renovations.


Photo: John Salmon

Construction of the Isle of Dogs Neighbourhood Centre, Jack Dash House, Marsh Wall. In the 1980’s Tower Hamlets architect’s department devised a scheme for neighbourhood offices but instead a limited competition set by the London Docklands Development Corporation was held. The building winning design includes a circular brick tower that houses the council chamber and an exhibition room on the ground floor.


Jack Dash House

Poll Tax replaced (by Council Tax)
Robert Maxwell drowns at sea
Internet begins
Collapse of the Soviet Union
Leningrad renamed St Petersburg
Population of London: c6,800,000


Paul Reichmann is forced to resign as president of Canary Wharf developers, Olympia & York. The company files for bankruptcy, owing over 20 billion dollars to various banks and investors. (The remainder of the company has since grown into a multi-billion dollar firm, and still own a large stake in Canary Wharf.)

Redevelopment of the former Providence Iron Works site as part of the Masthouse Terrace housing scheme.


Masthouse Terrace

The Millwall Park Centre and One O’Clock Club building is erected. It is officially opened by ex-footballer Trevor Brooking.


One O’Clock Club

Castalia Square is refurbished.


Newsletter, London Docklands Development Corporation

Opening of Canary Wharf DLR station.

Football Premier League kicks off in England
‘Black Wednesday’ as Pound leaves the ERM
European Union formed by The Maastricht Treaty


The DLR is extended to Beckton in the east.

Channel Tunnel open to traffic
National Lottery starts



London Gazette


IRA bombs Canary Wharf


Photo: Steve White

Dunblane massacre
IRA bomb explodes in Manchester
Scientists in Scotland clone a sheep (Dolly)
Charles, Prince of Wales and Diana, Princess of Wales are divorced
BSE beef scare in UK



Photo: Con Maloney

Erection of London Eye and Millennium Dome
Soho pub bombing
European Monetary Union begins – UK opts out


Quite a lot has changed since this:

image182 - Copy

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13 Responses to (Almost) 1000 Years of the Isle of Dogs

  1. Tim Hanley says:

    Stunning work Mick

  2. Marion Butcher says:

    Extremely informative and interesting reading, very much enjoyed and appreciated.

  3. dianamary says:

    EXCELLENT, reading. I personally have question about an area in London.  How long ago was a public house known in the early 1900s as Stave Porters. 1 Jacob Street. Doekhead. London. SE1 Are you able to assist me in my quest, with any written information, on the area round London from the past, with photographs, maps? As I am sure you can help me in my quest after the 1838s. Yours most sincerely Diana Mary Irwin-Francis. 

  4. malcolm garrett says:

    Brilliant. Thanks Micky.

    This dispels the idea I had that the opening sequence of the TV series ‘Till Death US Do Part’ was filmed from the top of one of the four towers on the Barkantine Estate. As this says they weren’t completed until 1970 and the show was first broadcast in 1965 it seems unlikely.

    Any other thoughts of where such a view of London would be available from at that time? It certainly looks like it was shot from high up on the Isle of Dogs.

    • Micky Lemons says:

      Thanks Malcolm. I’m not sure where you might find 1960s views of London from the air, but do you know where I can see the opening sequence of ‘Till Death Us Do Part’?
      p.s. Part of the opening sequence of ‘Prospects’ was filmed from the top of McDougalls in Millwall Docks. That was built c1930.

      • Hi Micky,

        I’m 99% certain that the opening pan from Prospects was shot from the top of either Bowsprit or Knightshead Point – you can actually see the McDougall’s silo as one of the first recognisable buildings.

        For reference, the opening titles for Prospects (and for that matter the entire series) are up on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oz51aMwcB9c and it’s well worth watching for massive lashings of nostalgia.

        To answer Malcolm’s question – the Til Death Us Do Part opening titles (this is the oldest one I could find: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PMamLbD8iAc) seem to be shot from a plane and look a lot like they’re the area around Wapping Lane/St. Peters in Wapping, but it’s pretty low quality so it’s hard to be certain. Johnny Speight was from that area of course, and Alf was named for Garnet Street in Wapping.

        While I’m in a nitpicky mood you of all people should know the IRA bombed South Quay, not Canary Wharf (although they made an attempt at Canary Wharf 4 years earlier).

        Anyway thanks for this, it was a fantastic read and obviously you’ve put in a lot of work, which was well worth it.

      • Micky Lemons says:

        I do like a good bit of righteous nitpicking. 🙂

  5. Diane says:

    What a totally fascinating read. How long did it take you to write that! I’m making a cuppa and the re reading it. Nice to see a reference to the Sheffield flood which was one of the worst disasters in England and very few people know of it.

  6. Pingback: Origen de Canary Wharf Parte-1 | angelocanepa

  7. JOAN TAYLOR says:

    What marvelous reminiscing. So many places and events I’d forgotten. You’ve done a great job. Lived in Bowsprit Point, West Ferry Road from 1975 to 2002. Happy memories. Feel proud of The Island’s achievements.

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