If the Millwall Docks had been Completed

This 1968 Port of London Authority map shows the extent of Isle of Dogs land that belonged to the Millwall Docks.


Most people will recognize the area east of East Ferry Road as being the Mudchute, but what about that small parcel of land between Manchester Road and the river near No. 11 Gate?

The freehold for this land was acquired by the Millwall Dock Company in 1868 (the year that the docks opened) in connection with their original plans for the docks, involving an eastern arm that would extend to Blackwall Reach.

1863. Projected plan for the Millwall Docks. Image: Survey of London.

It was the dock company’s intention to build the eastern arm when there was enough business to justify it. The idea was regularly revisited over the years and the proposed eastern arm even appeared on some maps, but a business case for the extension never materialised.


But, what if it had been built? What would the Island have looked like in the 20th century? And what would the Island look like now?

The 1908 map would have looked quite different.

  • A bridge in East Ferry Road crossing the cutting between the Millwall Inner Dock and the eastern arm;
  • The Mudchute would have been occupied by the eastern arm of the dock, with sheds on either side. Millwall Athletic’s ground would have been demolished (which happened anyway in 1910);
  • Jubilee Crescent would not have been built;
  • Cubitt Arms and surrounding buildings would have been demolished to make room for a new entrance lock;
  • And this new entrance lock would have been crossed by a bridge in Manchester Road.

1908 (imagined)

And later, when the docks closed in 1980, the area covered by the Enterprise Zone (later developed by the LDDC)  would have been much larger, resulting in an even more densely built Isle of Dogs.

2022 (imagined)

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6 Responses to If the Millwall Docks had been Completed

  1. Richard Speller says:

    Very interesting article. Particularly like the reimagined 1908 map. Thanks

  2. Chris Rogers says:

    Fascinating…and in turn, my own piece on the sudden spurt of technology in dockland’s lost final decade – the years between run down and actual closure – would have been different, I guess: https://www.chrismrogers.net/copy-of-blank-page

  3. Rich says:

    Hi Mick
    As usual a very interesting article.

    I was wondering why they never built the arm was it because they were running out of room for the amount of ships using the dock or did the docks suddenly have a downturn in the amount of shipping using it

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