Exhibition to open on how the Thames turned Britain into a global power

Cunard's 'Tuscania' liner run ties up in the Port of London.

Cunard's 'Tuscania' liner ties up in the Port of London. - Credit: Museum of London

The story of the sheer scale of the Port of London and how it turned Britain into a global trading giant is set to be told in an exhibition at the old West India Docks. 

It aims to show how people and places on the Thames changed over the centuries and the impact they still have on London life today. 

Arriving on a banana boat... London Docks were famous for their fruit imports

Arriving on a banana boat... London Docks were famous for their fruit imports - Credit: Museum of London

The display at the Museum of London Docklands in October includes live shipping trackers, showing the scale of Thames traffic with 50million tonnes of goods and 12,000 cargo vessels a year destined for or arriving from places around the world.

“The impact of the Port of London plays a vital role in our daily lives,” exhibition curator Claire Dobbin explained. “Our cultural landscape has been shaped by centuries of global exchange by people, products and ideas passing through which has influenced our language in the London we know today.” 

Anything and everything came through the Port of London... like a consignment of train carriages for Kenya and Uganda railway

Anything and everything came through the Port of London... like a consignment of train carriages for Kenya and Uganda railways - Credit: Museum of London

The six-month free exhibition, bookable online, opens on October 22.


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The museum is in a disused quayside warehouse of the former West India Docks that traded from 1802 and closed in 1980 to make way for the Canary Wharf development.  

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