St Katharine Docks

St Katharine Docks were one of the commercial docks serving London, and are situated on the north side of the river Thames just east (downstream) of the Tower of London and Tower Bridge. They comprised part of the Port of London, in the area now known as the Docklands, and are now a popular housing and leisure complex.

St Katharine Docks took their name from the former hospital of St Catherine by the Tower, built in the 12th century, which stood on the site.

By the early 19th century, over 11,000 people were crammed into insanitary slums in the area. The entire site was earmarked for redevelopment by an Act of Parliament in 1825, with construction commencing in May 1827. The scheme was designed by engineer Thomas Telford (his only major project in London).

To create as much quayside as possible, the docks were designed in the form of two linked basins (East and West), both accessed via an entrance lock from the Thames. Steam engines (designed by James Watt and Matthew Boulton) kept the water level in the basins about four feet above that of the tidal river.

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