The Garden Guide

Book: London and Its Environs, 1927
Chapter: 34 The East End and the Docks

St Katherine's Docks

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St. Katherine's Docks, immediately below the Tower Bridge, were constructed by Telford in 1825-28 on the site of St. Katherine's Hospital and cover an area of 23+ acres. They admit vessels of 20 feet draught. The shell warehouse here is especially interesting (mother-of-pearl and foreign marine shells; also tortoise-shell), but many other valuable articles are shown: indigo, perfumes, tea, marble, etc. Many passenger-steamers to and from the Continent berth at the adjacent Irongate and St. Katherine's Wharves. London Docks, to the east, opened in 1805 and enlarged in 1868, have an area of 100 + acres and an available depth of 24 to 26 feet. A great variety of valuable wares is shown in the warehouses, the most interesting points being perhaps the ivory floor (fine display of tusks), the stores for spices, gums, quicksilver, and indiarubber, and the extensive wine-vaults, containing port, sherry, and madeira. The gangways in these vaults are said to measure over 28 miles in aggregate length. The curious fungi on the roof should be noticed. In No. 2 Warehouse is the Docks Museum, a quaint little collection of samples of the wares entering the docks and of curiosities and antiquities connected with the docks. To the south of London Docks is the riverside district of WAPPING, where Judge Jeffreys was arrested in 1088 in the disguise of a sailor. The ' Wapping Old Stairs ' of the ballad still exist (now seldom used) near the entrance to Wapping Basin; and beside the Tunnel Pier is the site of Execution Dock, where Captain Kidd (died 1701) and other notorious pirates were hanged. From Wapping Station the Thames Tunnel passes under the river to Rotherhithe, on the south bank. This tunnel, 1300 feet long, was constructed for foot-passengers by Sir Isambard Brunei in 1825-43, but since 1865, when it was purchased by the East London Railway Company, it has been used as a railway tunnel.