The West India Docks
The buildings: warehouses

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English Heritage

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Author

Hermione Hobhouse (General Editor)

Year published

1994

Supporting documents

Pages

284-300

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'The West India Docks: The buildings: warehouses', Survey of London: volumes 43 and 44: Poplar, Blackwall and Isle of Dogs (1994), pp. 284-300. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=46497 Date accessed: 29 August 2014.


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Warehouses

Nos 2–4 and 6–8 Warehouses, North Quay, Import Dock.

In 1799 Ralph Walker projected ten large warehouses on each of the four main West India Dock quays (fig. 90b). Initial planning centred on the north quay of the Import Dock, and further development was to be 'as occasion may require'. The north quay was to house 80,000 hogsheads of sugar and 25,000 casks of rum in warehouses 215ft by 82ft 6in., separated by passages 25ft wide, to allow two West Indiamen to berth in front of each. A road to the north would permit discharge without disrupting work on the quay. The warehouses were to be five storeys over basements, with twelve-bay fronts breaking forward twice for loopholes. Walker anticipated brick structures with Portland stone dressings, timber internal construction with 'Cast Iron studds or supports to Girders between story posts', cast-iron doors and castiron shutters to timber sash windows. He estimated that each warehouse would cost £ 17,000. Walker had no architectural experience and may have taken his warehouse designs from George Dance's preliminary work (see page 251). (ref. 401)

The dock company was not content to leave warehouse design in Walker's hands. On 1 November 1799 it announced a competition for plans for warehouses 'calculated for security, economy and dispatch', with or without fireproofing. (Sir) John Soane adjudicated and found the entries generally inadequate, but, with reservations, chose E. Gifford's design for the first prize of 50 guineas. It proposed five-storey buildings, 310ft by 138ft, estimated to cost £34,600 each. The second and third prizes went to W. Mason and Joseph Solway respectively. (ref. 402) Edward Ogle, a leading wharfinger, condemned Gifford's design as unsuitable, partly because the floor heights were too great for sugar hogsheads, which were too heavy to be stacked higher than 8ft. Gifford's plan was abandoned in February 1800, and a brief was drawn up, to be carried forward by a retained architect. Amongst those who offered their services were Soane, Dance, John Nash, Thomas Leverton, James Wyatt the younger, and Samuel Wyatt, but a less eminent man, George Gwilt (1746–1807), County Surveyor for Surrey, was appointed as Surveyor, with his eldest son, George (1777–1856), as Clerk of Works. The Gwilts were prevailed upon, as others might not have been, to reside at the docks and devote their full attention to dock affairs. (ref. 403)

The Gwilts were required to design and have built within four years ten warehouses on the north quay, each to be 224ft by 114ft and 40ft apart, with five 8ft-tall storeys for sugar, basement vaults for rum, and attics for lighter goods. (ref. 404) They diverged from their brief, designing nine warehouses, each with a capacity of 8,000 hogsheads, with 73ft-wide intervals. Each warehouse was approximately 223ft long, in three divisions. The central blocks were approximately 125ft across, and the outer ones approximately 116ft across, with a 5:7:5 bay rhythm and central loophole bays, the central blocks having staircases in the outer bays (fig. 98). In April 1800 the building of the first six warehouses was sanctioned. (ref. 405) They were, from the west, Nos 2–4 and 6–8 (fig. 90c). No. 2 is the sole survivor of these, the only 'high warehouses' built.

William Adam and Alexander and Daniel Robertson contracted to build the six warehouses in two years from May 1800, and the laying of the bricks supplied by the Trimmers began on 12 July 1800. Nos 2, 4 and 8 Warehouses were started first; Nos 3, 6 and 7 Warehouses were not begun until February 1801. The builders immediately encountered difficulties through the presence of the dock excavators on the same site, and the two sets of works had to be separated by means of temporary bridges. (ref. 406) The excavators used spoil to raise the quays after the lower parts of the warehouses had been built, making the lower level a basement to the quay, although it remained above ground to the north. There is a clear change in brick colour between the first and second storeys of No. 2 Warehouse which is most distinct on the north and east fronts, reflecting problems with brick supply in the summer of 1801 (see page 255). The upper storeys, built in late 1801, revert to the plum brick, presumably supplied by the Trimmers, of the lower storeys. The south or dock elevation, originally the most prominent front, is of consistently higher-quality yellow stock brick. (ref. 407) (fn. h) Work on Nos 2, 4 and 8 Warehouses was not suspended over the winter of 1801–2 as it should have been to avoid frost damage to brickwork through unhardened mortar. As a result sections of walling had to be taken down and rebuilt. From May 1802 the rush to get the three buildings finished in time for the arrival of the year's shipping became desperate. They were ready for the official opening of the docks on 27 August 1802 and the other three were completed by January 1803. (ref. 409)

It is the scale, efficiency and speed of this building project that lends it distinction. When the north quay warehouses and their link blocks were complete they formed a continuous building half a mile long (about twice the length of the Palace of Versailles) that had been erected within four years (Plates 46a, b, 47a, 49b; fig. 91). They were rather less impressive in architectural terms. The regular breaks in the enormously long elevations, the projecting attics of the loophole bays, and variation in the window-openings gave some relief, but there was insufficient movement or articulation to mitigate an impression of dullness (fig. 98). In the Gwilts' hands, austere neo-Classicism, fashionable as well as suited to conveying strength and impregnability, lapsed into bulky monotony. Most earlier London warehouses had been constrained by their irregular and confined sites. (ref. 410) The response to the unprecedented opportunity presented by the open space at the Isle of Dogs was a simple repetition of basic units. Indeed, a division or block of the north quay warehouses would not have looked out of place in the City of London. The East India Company's warehouses around Cutler Street were the most respectable model available, particularly the 1790s blocks designed by Richard Jupp and Henry Holland. Comparable in height, there are no great differences of form between those buildings and the north quay warehouses, overall scale aside. Six storeys may have been a point above which raising goods for stowage became inconvenient and floorloading problematic. Possible models outside London seem to have made little impact. Liverpool's 12-storey Goree Warehouses had certain points of similarity, outerbay staircases with oculus windows for example, but there is no direct evidence of a Liverpudlian influence on the design of the West India Dock warehouses. (ref. 411)

The foundations of No. 2 Warehouse are deep, to ensure stability in a marshland area (fig. 99b). Below the main walls, and longitudinally (east-west) below the internal columns, there are brick foundation walls with inverted relieving arches distributing weight on to rows of timber planks, sleepers and 1ft-square piles, of which No. 2 Warehouse needed an exceptional number. (ref. 412) Window-openings were made proportionally wide for better lighting. The warehouses were initially free-standing, so the return elevations had eight bays of blind windows (Plate 47c). Cast-iron window frames were used throughout, the earliest known use of iron windows in a warehouse (fig. 100). They were for security and, set into timber outer frames, were not fireproof. The spiked frames on the lower storeys are effectively as secure as if the spikes were extended to be bars. The shallow pitch of the upper roof-slopes made slating impracticable, and so copper was used, although slates were laid on the lower slopes. Because it was thought to be more resistant to the acidity of sugar than was lead, copper was also used for the water-pipes. (ref. 413) The 'shining copper' roofs of Nos 2, 3 and 4 Warehouses were replaced with zinc in 1928–9. (ref. 414)


Figure 98: No. 1 and No. 2 Warehouses, North Quay, West India Import Dock. George Gwilt & Son, architects, 1800–3. Elevations in 1827, after No. 1Warehouse and the Link Block had been heightened, and ground-floor plan in 1987. The vertical and horizontal broken lines indicate the original height of the warehouses and link blocks: the sloping broken line on the south elevation of No. 1 Warehouse indicates the levels above which the interior was gutted in the 1001 fire


Figure 99: No. 1 and No. 2 Warehouses, North Quay, West India Import Dock George Gwilt & Son, architects, 1800–3a Section looking north through east division of No. 1 in 1987 b Section looking north through east division of No. 2 in 1987

The original internal structures were timber, similar to that surviving in No. 1 Warehouse and following conventional late-eighteenth-century use, with crossheads over posts, specified as 13in. square, at roughly 10ft centres (Plate 48a; fig. 99a). (ref. 415) The timber beams (13–14in. square) are vertically scarf-jointed with bolts and plates above some of the uprights, the positions of the joints staggered across the building. In the basements, stone plinths serve as damp-proofing (Plate 48c). Fireproof construction was rejected as costly and unnecessary because fire could be controlled through a ban on open lights and, through the Building Acts, by solid brick partition walls with cast-iron doors (Plate 47b). In terms of fire risk, dock warehouses were significantly safer than the textile mills where fireproof construction had been introduced. Mills housed oiled and spark-generating machinery, and needed good light, requiring the presence of candles and lamps. (ref. 416)

The attic of each division was made a large clear floor, for the sorting and stacking of coffee, under shallow kingpost trusses 58ft 4in. wide, amongst the broadest of their time (Plate 48b; fig. 99b). The original roof construction proved unsatisfactory, and in 1815 John Rennie suggested repair with cast-iron framing, but a trial was evidently unsuccessful. In 1819 Henry Jeffrey was paid £122 for 'reframing trusses of the roofs' in Nos 2 and 3 Warehouses. (ref. 417) The surviving trusses show signs of that rearrangement, with empty mortices on the joggles of the king-posts and in the principals, though insufficient to indicate the earlier form. The roof carpentry exhibits some features of a 'vernacular' nature, including timber pegging and flared jowls with bracing at the arcade posts. There are also, however, bolted iron stirrup straps.

The original staircases in No. 2 Warehouse are in semicylindrical brick shells occupying minimal floor space on the dock side of the building (fig. 98). They were enclosed to keep the areas for different bonded goods distinct. The east staircase leads from the quay directly to the fifth floor and attic, where coffee was stored. Access to the lower sugar floors was by the west staircase. Again form was dictated by security concerns more than fire containment. The steps are stone and the handrails iron, but there are timber doors from the stairs on to the floors.


Figure 100: No. 2 Warehouse, North Quay, West India ImportDock, details of cast-iron window grille, 1801–2

The density of sugar dictated low floor heights, and the clearances in No. 2 Warehouse are about 7ft. Initially, each 'high warehouse' housed approximately 8,000 hogsheads of sugar, 2,000 hogsheads of coffee in the attics, and 2,000 casks of rum in the cellars, suggesting loads of about 110lb per sq.ft on an entirely timber internal structure. In their early years the buildings were often full, even overloaded, and structural problems began to occur. (ref. 418) In 1811 John Rennie reported that 'attention should be paid to the State of the Warehouses the floors of which are much sunk and require to be raised and supported in a better manner'. (ref. 419) At this period Rennie was promoting the use of cast iron, stronger than timber in compression; cast-iron columns could usefully replace failing timber posts.

In 1812 the West India Dock Company ordered 'Cast Iron posts, caps and shoes' from the Horseley Iron Company of Tipton. Staffordshire. (ref. 420) The cruciformsection columns were specially cast to predetermined sizes to fit the north quay warehouses, the castings varying from storey to storey and, perhaps, from warehouse to warehouse (Plate 48c; fig. 101). The iron for one warehouse cost £6,148 10s, or £36,891 for all six 'high warehouses', excluding fixing, which pushed the costs up to about £9,000 per warehouse. (ref. 421) The prospering dock company could afford such an outlay, and all six warehouses were refitted between 1813 and 1818, with No. 2 dealt with in 1814, perhaps by Edward Boreham, smith. (ref. 422) The columns in No. 2 Warehouse are massive, their diameters decreasing from bottom to top from 10½in. to 7½in. There are numbers cast into the heads, from one to five for the ground floor up, the basement columns unnumbered. There are 1½ in.-thick T-shaped base-plates tenoned through the timber beams to make the iron structure vertically continuous. (ref. 423) In association with the insertion of the columns, the Bramley Fall stone plinths in the basements were replaced with granite. (ref. 424) The reconstruction increased the floor load capacity to about 150lb per sq.ft; (ref. 425) loads of as much as 240lb per sq.ft were stored in the buildings. (ref. 426)

Replacement of joists and floorboards in the north quay warehouses was almost continuous, as wear by trucks, decay from saturation by sugar drainings, dry rot, and damage caused in shifting the upper tier of hogsheads took a heavy toll of the timber. In the 1820s the basement floors were paved with York stone, cambered to create drainage channels, with wrought-iron gangway skids. The stone steps of the west, more heavily used, staircases had worn so much by 1842 that they were cased in wood. (ref. 427) Some of the cast-iron doors in the firewalls of the north quay warehouses were replaced with wrought-iron doors in 1862, following an instruction from the newly formed Wharf and Warehouse Committee of the London Fire Offices. The work was apparently done by George Munday, to the specification of G. A. Young, Surveyor to the Fire Offices. The firewall openings in Nos 2 and 3 Warehouses were further altered in 1879, blocked to the north, and enlarged to the south with 'exceedingly massive' wrought-iron doors. (ref. 428) The surviving single doors in No. 2 Warehouse are 2ft 9in. wide and are probably datable to 1862, although their tooled granite jambs and, in some cases, iron lintels seem to be original. The wider double doors enclosing safety chambers may date to 1879.

There were originally 12 timber-jib wall cranes to each warehouse, fixed at attic level next to the loopholes. Half of these were replaced in 1824 with one-ton iron cranes with arched spandrel pieces. (A prototype iron warehouse crane had been introduced in 1815.) (ref. 429) The replacements survived well into the twentieth century on the north sides, where some of the internal joinery for the cranes is extant. In 1863–4 half the south side cranes were replaced with hydraulic cranes supplied by Armstrong & Company, in outward form scarcely distinguishable from their predecessors, (ref. 430) and they in turn were replaced in 1926–32 with 30-cwt luffing hydraulic cranes made by the East Ferry Road Engineering Works Company and Carrick & Wardale of Gateshead. (ref. 431) Although dismantled by 1970, parts of those cranes, including attic-level operators' cabs and internal hydraulic jiggers, survive at Nos 1 and 2 Warehouses.

For many years sugar and coffee were the only goods stored in the 'high warehouses', rum being accommodated elsewhere from 1804. In the late 1830s some space was given to grain, and by the 1850s cotton, jute, rice and palm oil had come in, although sugar remained predominant. All goods other than sugar were cleared from the north quay warehouses in 1874, (ref. 432) but by the 1880s there was again a wide variety of goods in the warehouses, including 'canes, horns, camphor, tea, pepper, pimento, rice, tin, copper, ginger, sugar, molasses, coir, coffee, plumbago, oils, etc'. (ref. 433) Sugar remained the principal commodity even after improvements in and around the Import Dock in the 1890s brought the north quay warehouses into much greater demand. Some ground floors were let out for export cargo, and parts of the warehouses were, rather improbably, given over to storing wood (Plate 49b). (ref. 434) No. 8 Warehouse was converted into a granary in 1907. (ref. 435)


Figure 101: No. 2 Warehouse, North Quay, West India ImportDock, details of cast-iron columns at second-floor level, insertedin 1814

Grilled basement areas south of the warehouses, segmental on plan to span two bays, were covered in 1912– 15. To replace the lost light, new windows were formed below the ground-floor window sills, with internal timber bulkheads directing light down to the basement. (ref. 436) Openings 8ft by 10ft were inserted into the south fronts of the central divisions of the warehouses to receive bridges from the upper storeys of new two-storey transit sheds. (ref. 437)

Delivery chutes for sugar handling had come into use at the north quay by about 1900. Sugar was no longer imported in hogsheads, but in gunny bags, for the outward movement of which timber-built chutes were useful. In 1941 hoppers for bagging sugar were installed at No. 2 Warehouse. Bulk handling of sugar became general only after 1945. (ref. 438) The east division of No. 2 Warehouse was converted for the storage of rum in 1922, when openings to the central division were blocked and a staircase from the basement to the third floor was inserted. (ref. 439)

All the north quay warehouses, except Nos 1 and 2, were destroyed by bombing in September 1940; (ref. 440) liquefaction of sugar made fire-fighting enormously difficult. The remains of Nos 3–9 Warehouses were pulled down and cleared by John Mowlem & Company in 1940–1; the basements were not filled in until 1954 (Plate 54b). (ref. 441) A fire in No. 2 Warehouse in 1953 destroyed the roof of the central division. It was replaced by Walker Brothers, with a steel frame covered by skylit asbestos sheeting. John Mowlem & Company rebuilt the heads of the central loopholes and raised parapets on the firewalls between the divisions. (ref. 442)

Redevelopment of the north quay had been considered before the Blitz. In 1901 the warehouses were said to be obsolete, suitable for replacement with two-storey transit sheds, although in 1911 Frederick Palmer reported that they were 'perfectly serviceable'. (ref. 443) In 1936 D. J. Owen proposed the redevelopment of the north quay because the warehouses were 'expensive to maintain, with weak floors'. The costs were estimated at over £1 million, however, and the work was not considered a priority. (ref. 444) The first post-war proposals for the huge bomb-site, prepared in 1946–9, were schemes for three- to six-storey replacement warehouses, but it was apparent that trade and handling patterns did not warrant such buildings, and so the plans were abandoned. (ref. 445) Redevelopment of the north quay with single-storey sheds, similar to those built on the east quay of the Millwall Inner Dock (see page 360), was suggested in the 1960s, but the money for such projects was not available. The north quay berths closed in 1971, and by then Nos 1 and 2 Warehouses were no longer in use. (ref. 446)

In the late 1970s the PLA considered converting Nos 1 and 2 Warehouses as part of an industrial estate, and in the early 1980s there were schemes to use them as film and television studios, or as shops and offices, with a museum. Ownership of the buildings was transferred to the LDDC in 1983, and urgent repair works were carried out in 1984–5 through the architects Feilden & Mawson. (ref. 447) With the first proposals for the Canary Wharf development in 1985, the possibility of a 'leisure shopping' development based on North American port-related models was raised, with Nos 1 and 2 Warehouses as its core. The north quay buildings were acquired in 1988 by Port East Developments, a consortium set up by Trafalgar House, but subsequently controlled by Olympia & York. Preliminary work towards a radical conversion of the warehouses began in 1989, but the Port East scheme has not been implemented. (ref. 448)

Nos 1, 5 and 9 Warehouses, North Quay, Import Dock.

No. 1 Warehouse appears to be very similar to No. 2, but it has grown to seem so. Its building history is relatively complicated. In late 1802 the West India Dock Company's capital was limited, and the immediate need for sugar storage seemed to be well provided for. The dock company decided not to go ahead with the last three north quay 'high warehouses', preferring to make Nos 1, 5 and 9 Warehouses, at the centre and ends of the quay, Mow warehouses', on such foundations and walls that they could be heightened at a later date. Previous adherence to purely multi-storey warehousing was, perhaps, in part simple habit, for confined sites in London had always necessitated tall warehouses. However, these were inconvenient, even where goods were stored for long periods, and, where space allowed, low warehouses were preferable.

The Gwilts designed the 'low warehouses' to include a clock-turret on the south side of the central division of No. 5 Warehouse. Time keeping was an important aspect of labour discipline. Fentiman, Loat & Fentiman, Greenwich lime merchants, were given the building contract (John Fentiman was already making bricks for the dock company). Work had begun by the end of 1802, using Trimmers' bricks. The north walls were already being built as part of the 30ft-tall perimeter wall (see page 310). The three warehouses were completed by August 1803, and the turret clock was erected by Dubois & Wheeler later that year. Under the clock and overlooking the quay was inscribed the dedicatory legend devised by George Hibbert for the laying of the foundation stone (Plate 52a). (ref. 449)

The 'low warehouses' closely followed the 'high warehouses' in everything except height (figs 98, 99). The two-storey central divisions had slightly higher ceilings; the outer divisions were single-storeyed, all over a basement. On the south, or quay, side the ground-floor openings of the outer divisions were round-headed in relieving arches, an architectural treatment absent from the 'high warehouses', fairly standard for the period, but perhaps an echo of the East India Company's use of blind arcading at Free Trade Wharf and elsewhere. The cast-iron windows on the south-side ground floor of No. 1 Warehouse are set in timber frames. Elsewhere the windows are set straight into the brickwork, suggesting that they were available on site when the walls were building. Internally the 'low warehouses' were all timber. The increasing scarcity of long timber meant that double scarfing was used, with slightly smaller scantlings than in the 'high warehouses'. (ref. 450) The original scarf bolts, some of which survive in the basement of No. 1 Warehouse, were paired through long plates. The foundations are shallower and simpler than those of the 'high warehouses'. With the Import Dock open, deep foundations would have required extensive pumping. The stone plinths in the basement extend below floor level as broad spreader pads which rest on timber planks and sleepers, and longitudinal rows of piles (fig. 99a). (ref. 451) The original roofs of the 'low warehouses' were conventionally hipped, with skylights and copper-sheet covering. (ref. 452) The timber clockturret had a Doric peristyle stepped forward at the angles (Plate 52a). The Gwilts probably took this design from the nearest building of architectural consequence, Greenwich Hospital.

The 'low warehouses' were initially used for coffee. (ref. 453) In February 1827, in anticipation of the expiry of the East India Dock Company's monopoly, which would bring the opportunity to warehouse East India goods, the West India Dock Company decided to raise Nos 1 and 9 Warehouses. (ref. 454) (Sir) John Rennie prepared plans with help from Thomas Shadrake. T. & J. Johnson carried out the building work, John Mills supplied 1,500,000 bricks, and the Horseley Iron Company provided the cast-iron windows and rainwater gear. The raising was completed by August 1827 at a cost of £42,085. (ref. 455)

The central divisions were raised by two storeys and the outer divisions by three, to form uniformly fivestoreyed warehouses, as tall as the six-storey 'high warehouses', with greater floor heights (fig. 98). All but the lower parts of the ground-floor walls and the basement internal structure was dismantled, except in the central divisions, where the lower parts of the first-floor walls and the ground-floor internal structure survived. Blank windows at first-floor level on the north side, part of the perimeter wall built in anticipation of more 'high warehouses', were misaligned and had to be bricked up and new openings formed. The upper-storey return elevations of the outer divisions were given segmentalheaded windows, but they were blocked in 1848 to meet insurance conditions. (ref. 456) Rennie had designed the buildings on the understanding that the warehouses were to be used only for light goods, not sugar. This made greater floor heights possible, and saved the use of expensive iron columns. Conventional timber post-andbeam construction was used, with oak cross-heads to the posts (fig. 99a). Ceiling heights diminished from 12ft on the ground floor to 10ft 3in. on the second floor, and the posts diminished from 12in. square on the ground floor to 8in. square on the third floor. The scarf joints closely resemble the earlier work, although the iron bolts and plates are somewhat smaller. Each firewall had two doorways on each level, with single wrought-iron doors in stone surrounds. Stone cornices were re-used, including shallow hoods with shaped brackets over the loophole bays. The cast-iron windows, some re-used but many new, were set straight into the brickwork. The new roofs had queen-post trusses of 32ft and 38ft spans, with castiron brackets to the jointed tie-beams, slate covering and re-used iron skylights. (ref. 457) Although this description relates very closely to No. 1 Warehouse as it stands, little of Rennie's interior survives. Internally, only the west link block is datable to 1827. Elsewhere a rebuilding of 1902 was extraordinarily faithful to the specification of 75 years earlier.

No. 1 Warehouse was entirely given over to tea storage in 1833. Later in the century it was also used for coffee, jute, coir, oil, molasses, spirits, shell, horns, cork, indigo and spices. (ref. 458) Parts of Nos 1 and 2 Warehouses and an adjoining berth were let to Simpson, Spence & Young's Philadelphia Trans-Atlantic Line from 1899 to 1904. New firewall doorways were cut and a railway siding was provided to the north. (ref. 459)

On 12 July 1901 all three divisions of No. 1 Warehouse and the link block on its east side were badly damaged by fire (Plate 54a; fig 98). Sugar, coffee, spices and timber fuelled the flames and much of the building was gutted. The walls remained standing, but the roof of the west division was destroyed, the central division lost its roof and three upper floors, and the east division and link block lost their roofs and two upper floors. (ref. 460)

Charles E. Vernon prepared plans for rebuilding No. 1 Warehouse as it stood before the fire. However, the Philadelphia Trans-Atlantic Line urged the dock company to erect a two-storey building extending up to the quay, as multi-storey warehouses were not well suited to most of its operations. To keep expenditure within the £12,100 received from the insurers, the Dock Committee opted for reinstatement, omitting the floor between the top two storeys, for an estimated £10,700. (ref. 461) The Works Committee raised the possibility of rebuilding in Hennebique's reinforced-concrete, but when this was costed at £17,750 the Dock Committee kept to the cheaper option. A fireproof floor over the ground floor of two divisions was proposed, but it too was omitted from the final plans because of the cost. (ref. 462) Changes to the plans imposed by Edwin Crockett, Surveyor to the London Wharf and Warehouse Committee, had increased the estimated cost. He insisted that the spacing between firewall doors be increased, necessitating larger brick housings, and that timber beams running through the firewalls be interrupted by brickwork. Additionally, the dock company decided to remove the surviving inconvenience of a ground floor 2ft above quay level by lowering it to that level. To meet further insurance stipulations, the firewall openings on the ground floor and on the north side on other floors had to be blocked up. (ref. 463)

The plans for the reconstruction of No. 1 Warehouse and the east link block were settled in December 1901. Dove Brothers, of Islington, carried out the work for £12,955, completing it in September 1902. (ref. 464) Little external brickwork, but much of the stonework, required restoration. The walls were stained with copperas to give them an even appearance. (ref. 465) Many windows were replaced, and eight new wrought-iron doors were fitted to the staircases. The firewall doors were also replaced. Internally, much brickwork and very large amounts of timber were renewed, including the roof trusses, re-using cast-iron brackets. The 1827 and 1902 internal structures are indistinguishable. The internal structure of the central and east division and the east link block may have been entirely rebuilt above ground level, re-using timber where possible. On the ground floors, there are blocks at the bases of what may be re-used posts, corresponding to, and presumably inserted for, the lowering of the floors. The posts and beams for the top floor were reinstated, but joists and floorboards were omitted. (ref. 466) In 1914 the Royal Commission on Sugar Supply, set up following the outbreak of war, asked the PLA to warehouse particularly large quantities of sugar. To help to meet this request, in 1915 the missing flooring was inserted between the upper storeys of No. 1 Warehouse. (ref. 467)

No. 5 Warehouse had developed separately. In 1895 it was adapted for the storage of frozen meat. (ref. 468) The rebuilt Blackwall entrance and the Import Dock's 'false' quay had made the north quay warehouses accessible to large ships, many of which carried frozen meat, a trade which had rapidly become one of the Port's most valuable businesses. H. F. Donaldson prepared plans for converting No. 5 Warehouse to a cold store for 90,000 sheep carcases, for an estimated £23,700. (ref. 469) Dove Brothers carried out the building work, with refrigerating machinery supplied by the Haslam Foundry & Engineering Company of Derby. (ref. 470) (fn. i) The outer divisions and flanking link blocks were raised, and the whole first floor was refrigerated. A two-storey annexe and chimney-stack were added to the north, for engines, boilers and dynamos, below a sixth cold-store chamber. There were electric lights and conveyers, and hydraulic meat lifts. Work continued into 1896 with William Whitford & Company, of Westferry Road, erecting an iron canopy over a delivery platform to a railway siding north of the warehouse. The cost of the conversion was £39,209. (ref. 472)

The Cold Store closed in 1925 and its annexe was demolished in 1928. (ref. 473) The upper storey and the 1803 clock-tower were demolished in 1935. (ref. 474) The remainder of the central division was cleared in 1937 to improve road access to the quay sheds. (ref. 475) No. 9 Warehouse and the rest of No. 5 Warehouse were destroyed in the Blitz.

Link Blocks, North Quay, Import Dock.

As the six 'high warehouses' were being completed in late 1802, the Gwilts set about building one-storey and basement sheds in the spaces between Nos 2, 3, 4, 6, 7 and 8 Warehouses. The perimeter wall linking the warehouses sealed off circulation, and so there was little point in leaving those spaces empty. Additional 'link blocks' flanking Nos 1, 5 and 9 Warehouses were built as part of the contract for the 'low warehouses'. These blocks were all completed by August 1803. (ref. 476) Each link block was five bays wide, with central loopholes and round-headed windows to the quay (Plate 49c; fig. 98). The north walls were formed by inserting loopholes and cellar windows into the existing perimeter wall. (ref. 477) The round cellar openings in the west link block probably were inserted in 1825. The link blocks were fitted with offices and privies in 1803–4, on their south sides adjoining the warehouses. The warehouse officers had requested this accommodation as an alternative to their makeshift cabins on the ground floors of the 'high warehouses', complaining that 'the Molasses is running through the different Warehouses upon our desks and Books'. (ref. 478)

The west link block was used for 'baggage and presents'. (ref. 479) Its position near the main entrance gate made it suitable for public access. The survival of broad steps up to a side-lighted entrance in the west bay of the south front reflects that function. The cellar of the Baggage Warehouse, as it had come to be known, was made a spirits store in 1824. (ref. 480)

When Nos 1 and 9 Warehouses were raised in 1827, their flanking link blocks were also raised, by the addition of two storeys. The work was carried out as in the warehouses, though the central roofs were somewhat narrower and therefore king-post rather than queen-post trussed. The western end wall was less well buttressed by adjoining structures than any other part of the newly raised buildings. The ends of beams therefore were supported on extra oak posts with granite bases on 18in.square foundation piers. The windows in the west flank wall were blocked in 1847–8. (ref. 481) The west block remained the Baggage Warehouse, with the ground and first floors set aside for 'East India Presents', that is, items of value and curios shipped by Britons in India. A broad timber staircase was inserted as part of the 1827 work, leading from the south-west entrance to the first floor. Designed for visitors to the docks, it is far more 'polite' than the other warehouse staircases, with an elegantly moulded and ramped mahogany handrail and turned newel-posts. It was extended to the second floor in 1834. (ref. 482) Baggage was removed to No. 11 Warehouse in 1835 and the No. 1 Warehouse link blocks came to be used for tea and coffee storage. However, public access to at least part of the west link block seems to have continued so long as the warehouses remained in use. A check office at the foot of the broad staircase survived until 1989. (ref. 483)

The 1803–4 offices in the link blocks were replaced with larger offices in 1872, to plans by George Richardson. (ref. 484) In the south-west corner of the block between Nos 1 and 2 Warehouses was a Customs and Free Goods Office, with small sash windows inserted flanking a door from the quay. This block was linked to No. 1 Warehouse in 1877 by the insertion of new doorways with double iron doors. (ref. 485)

The block between Nos 1 and 2 Warehouses was gutted in the fire of 1901, and was rebuilt internally in 1902. The rebuilding included a timber staircase up to the second floor, in the south-east corner. (ref. 486) The west link block survived the fire unscathed. It therefore retains a ground floor above quay level and a taller basement than No. 1 Warehouse. Where the levels change at the firewall, the beam ends have iron brackets.

Most of the link blocks were destroyed with the warehouses in 1940, although the block that linked Nos 2 and 3 Warehouses survived until the end of 1941. (ref. 487) The ghost of this block remains visible in the east end wall of No. 2 Warehouse, with holes for its rafter ends and a small part of the north perimeter wall surviving to its full height.

No. 11 Warehouse, West Quay, Import Dock.

Warehouses on the east and west quays of the Import Dock were part of the West India Dock Company's plans from 1799 (fig. 90). The 1802 perimeter wall was shaped for buildings identical to those on the north quay. However, in 1804 the Gwilts prepared plans for a west quay warehouse, larger and no higher than three storeys, indicating that low and long was perceived to be more convenient than tall. (ref. 488) These plans were revived in 1806 and completed by Thomas Morris as a proposal for No. 11 Warehouse, to house 10,000 sugar hogsheads. He suggested a fourth storey, but the dock company insisted on keeping the building low. (ref. 489) The warehouse was built in 1807 for £45,643, with John Howkins, Robert Watson and William Barker responsible for the foundations and carpentry, Richardson, Want & Company for brickwork and Dudley Clark, founder, for cast-iron windows and gangway rails. (ref. 490)

No. 11 Warehouse had a very large floor area, and an irregular plan dictated by the line of the perimeter wall (fig. 102a). Its maximum dimensions were 400ft by 122ft 3in. There were no firewalls, although the upper floor was partitioned into three divisions. The south end of the west elevation comprised two concave sections of perimeter wall, with loopholes and oculi inserted. Otherwise the long elevations were architecturally banal. The north elevation faced the Dock Office and reflected it with ground-floor round-headed windows in relieving arches. (ref. 491) Internally, it was built using circular-section columns between timber posts, at intervals of one-inthree laterally and one-in-four longitudinally. The positioning of the columns, in line with the roof valleys through the height of the building, suggests hollow columns used as internal downpipes. They are unlikely to have been other than cast iron. (ref. 492)

No. 11 Warehouse was divided into three with brick firewalls in 1862–3 to meet insurance conditions. (ref. 493) A fire in 1873 caused severe damage, and rebuilding in 1874 included an additional storey over the northern half of the building. There was a small museum for the display of goods housed at the docks. (ref. 494) All but the north division was destroyed by bombing in 1940–1. (ref. 495) The remainder was demolished in 1963, despite having been designated a listed building. (ref. 496) The site was occupied by Marston and other prefabricated steel huts from 1944–5 until it was redeveloped as Hertsmere House in 1987–8 (see page 718). (ref. 497)


Figure 102: No. 10 and No. 11 Warehouses, West India Import Dock. Demolisheda No. 11 (West Quay), ground-floor plan (windows and staircases not shown). George Gwilt & Sonsand Thomas Morris, architects, 1807 b No. 10 (East Quay), ground-floor plan. Thomas Morris, architect, 1809–10

No. 10 Warehouse, East Quay, Import Dock.

A 'Prize Shed' was hurriedly erected on the east quay of the Import Dock in 1803 by government decree, so that Dutch ships detained around the country on the resumption of war could be moved to the West India Docks and the goods seized from them stored there. The shed was about 260ft long and was timber-built, with twin 60ftspan elaborately strutted king-post trussed roofs. (ref. 498) The shed was removed and a sugar warehouse, designated No. 10 Warehouse, was built on the site in 1809–10 to the designs of Thomas Morris at a cost of £66,414. Howkins & Company carried out the excavation, piling and carpentry, Richardson & Want the brickwork, and Neale & Company supplied the cast iron. (ref. 499)

It was a very plain building, two storeys with a basement in three enormous divisions, having an irregular plan on its 45-bay east side (fig. 102b). Internally, there were timber posts and hollow-cylindrical columns with separate cross-heads, presumably of cast iron and apparently positioned to serve as downpipes. (ref. 500) In 1811 Morris prepared plans, perhaps with advice from John Rennie, to extend No. 10 Warehouse to the north. The unexecuted proposal included cruciform-section cast-iron columns with separate bases and heads, the first intention to use such columns at the West India Docks. (ref. 501)

The building was raised in 1822–3 by the addition of a storey. The work was done to (Sir) John Rennie's plans by Thomas Johnson & Son and Henry Jeffrey, with the Horseley Iron Company supplying iron columns. (ref. 502)

The north addition to No. 10 Warehouse previously proposed was built in 1825–6, by John Locke to plans by Rennie. The block was square, displacing part of the perimeter wall and forming a link to No. 9. Warehouse. The plans show some hollow-cylindrical cast-iron columns, labelled 'water columns', and cruciform-section cast-iron columns throughout the rest of the ground floor only; upper-storey supports were timber with cast-iron cross-heads and timber spreaders at the bases. The Horseley Company again supplied the iron. (ref. 503)

To satisfy the insurers, in 1862–3 the divisions in No. 10 Warehouse were separated by brick firewalls. The building was given over to coffee in 1875, using hydraulic bulking-machines patented by Brice Tydeman. (ref. 504) From 1897 to 1920 the Admiralty leased No. 10 Warehouse as a Naval Stores Depot, replacing premises at Deptford. (ref. 505) The warehouse subsequently was used for tobacco storage. It was destroyed in September 1940. (ref. 506)

Rum Warehouses and No. 12 Warehouse, South Quay, Import Dock.

Plans to develop the south quay of the Import Dock with low warehouses remained alive until 1804, when two single-storey eight-division warehouses were built on sites flanking the centre of the quay (figs 90, 91). They were designed by Thomas Morris and erected by James and William Broomfield, bricklayers, and Thomas Johnson & Son, carpenters, of the Borough, at a cost of £30,262. The warehouses had been intended for sugar, but were in fact used for rum, freeing the north quay warehouse basements. (ref. 507) Each Rum Warehouse was about 400ft by 160ft, with fronts of 32 bays, and cast-iron doors to the quay. The rear walls were formed by an existing perimeter wall (Plate 45a). There were round-headed cast-iron windows and skylights in slate roofs. The internal construction was timber. There were no basements, although William Jessop had suggested building vaults. (ref. 508)


Figure 103: No. 1 and No. 2 Rum Warehouses, South Quay, West India Import Dock, sections of single bays.John Rennie, architect, 1817–18. Demolished

The Rum Warehouses soon proved insufficient for the trade. Rum had to be stored in fields flanking the warehouses, and considerable losses occurred. (ref. 509) The dock company may have been prompted to improve its rum accommodation when the City of London, which had lost substantial revenue from the shift of the rum trade to the West India Docks, petitioned the government in 1810 to be allowed to carry out the gauging of rum at the docks, arguing that it was not being done properly. (ref. 510) In 1813 vaults were built under shed extensions on the fields flanking the warehouses, with a separate quay shed to provide cover for gauging work (see page 303). The company's huge profits facilitated this building campaign, and no doubt helped John Rennie to obtain its agreement for the use of constructional iron on a site where fireproofing was of paramount importance.

Rennie submitted the plans for the Rum Field Sheds, with an estimate of £15,078 for each shed. Alexander Lowe erected the stone piers of the vaults and patent wrought-iron roofs were supplied by Thomas Pearsall of Willsbridge Mill, near Bristol, and John Winwood, also of Bristol. (ref. 511) Each shed was 157ft by 125ft, with 4½ 35 ftspan roofs, running east-west in seven bays. The brick cross-vaults were seven-by-nine grids on granite piers at 17ft 6in. centres. They were similar in appearance to those that survive under the Tobacco Warehouse at London Dock, of 1811–14. Pearsall's unconventionally trussed roofs rested on 6in.-diameter hollow-cylindrical cast-iron columns. His use of structural wrought iron was adventurous, particularly for trusses of 35ft, and apparently without precedent in Britain. (ref. 512) The roof over the east shed collapsed within a month. (ref. 513) A replacement timber roof was erected and the west shed roof was repaired. (ref. 514) However, another failure in 1815 led to reroofing in timber to bring 'this unpleasant Business' to a conclusion. (ref. 515) A bold experiment in the use of structural wrought iron had ended as an unmitigated failure. The final cost of the Rum Field Sheds was £46,183. (ref. 516)

The 1804–5 Rum Warehouses were largely rebuilt in 1817–18, along the lines of the Rum Field Sheds. Rennie's proposals of 1816 for No. 2 Rum Warehouse, to the west, included an iron superstructure. Understandably, the company did not concur, agreeing only to the insertion of vaults on the model of the existing ones, and cast-iron columns under re-used timber trusses. (ref. 517) Jolliffe and Banks carried out the excavation, James and William Broomfield the brickwork, and John Kitson the masonry. Cast-iron columns and beams were supplied by the Butterley Company and granite piers by Alexander Lowe. (ref. 518) No. 2 Rum Warehouse was remade in 1817 for £48,980, and No. 1 in 1818 for £47,082. (ref. 519)

The Rum Warehouse vaults were similar to those in the sheds, but were more extensive, with 184 piers in each warehouse supporting 24-by-9 grids of cross-vaults (fig. 103). Above, running east-west, there were four rows of 22 hollow-cylindrical columns (also serving as downpipes), with arched girders to timber plates, and iron brackets to the re-used queen-post roof trusses (Plate 49a). The 35ft-span roofs had continuous lantern skylights, comparable to those at the Tobacco Warehouse at London Dock. The danger from lamps was greater in the rum vaults than anywhere else in the docks, and so Rennie devised an ingenious lighting system. At the centre of each vault there was a cylindrical opening in which iron plates with five lenses were placed to borrow light from the skylights. Additionally, there were tin reflector plates in the quayside area openings and on portable stands. Workers carried hand reflectors to further manipulate the refracted light. Portable electric lamps were introduced into the rum vaults in 1889. (ref. 520) Cranes were used to lower rum casks into the vaults. Casks were also transferred on small geared trucks with large rear wheels, running on inclined railways within elliptical openings between quay and vault. This machinery was devised by Rennie and William Stratton. (ref. 521) A pioneering hydraulic machine based on Bramah's press and designed by Stratton was introduced on the Rum Quay in 1819 as an alternative to the cranes and trucks. It had a platform on a vertical piston connected to a water tank on top of a warehouse. It was more expensive to operate than the other methods, and so only a prototype was used. (ref. 522)

At the centre of the Rum Quay, linking the Rum Warehouses, was No. 12 Warehouse, built in 1808 on foundations laid in 1805. It was designed by Thomas Morris and cost £47,067. Broomfield & Company laid the brickwork, John Howkins, Robert Watson and William Barker did the carpentry, and Dudley Clark supplied cast-iron windows and internal railway lines. (ref. 523) It was a three-storey building, 17 bays long with four loophole bays. Internally it had an entirely timber structure (Plate 51b). (ref. 524)

Rum and sugar, then coffee, were stored in No. 12 Warehouse. In 1823 the building was adopted for cotton and wine storage, and part of the first floor was made into a bottling plant. (ref. 525) The top floor was later given over to grain, and in 1874 a corrugated-iron and timber gangway on tall cast-iron columns was built over the Rum Quay Shed to facilitate handling from the dock and to keep grain away from the bottling. The upper floors were later used for tinned salmon and lobster. (ref. 526)

In 1933 a mighty and spectacular fire destroyed No. 2 Rum Warehouse and the west Rum Field Shed. It was attended by 60 motor pumps, three fireboats, four tugs, other appliances, and by 378 men, and burned for 63 hours, fuelled by 6,500 casks of rum worth millions of pounds. (ref. 527) It was reported that 'blazing rum ran in all directions and poured into the water hissing fiercely'. (ref. 528) Much of the country's rum came through the West India Docks, but rum imports had been declining since about 1900 and so the warehouse was not rebuilt. No. 1 Rum Warehouse, the east Rum Field Shed and No. 12 Warehouse were destroyed in the air raids in September 1940. The rum business subsequently moved to the London Docks. (ref. 529)

Canary Wharf Warehouse and Nos 10 and 11 Shed Warehouses, South Quay, Import Dock.

Redevelopment of the Rum Quay and the site to its west, the West Wood Wharf (see page 303), was considered after the fire in 1933. (ref. 530) Early proposals came to nothing, but a scheme for the West Wood Wharf was settled in 1936. A two-storey warehouse was built in 1937 to serve a berth with a new 'false' quay, all let to Fruit Lines Limited, a subsidiary of Fred Dessen & Company (whose principals were Fred Olsen & Company, of Oslo), for their Canary Islands and Mediterranean fruit trade. The warehouse was designed by Asa Binns and built by John Mowlem & Company. The whole project cost £86,694. Following a request from Fred Dessen & Company, the site was named Canary Wharf. (ref. 531)

The Canary Wharf warehouse followed a recent warehouse (No. 1) at the Royal Victoria Dock in form and appearance (Plate 55a; fig. 104a). It was 432ft by 150ft, the length determined by that of a 10,000-ton vessel. Its frame, floors and slab roof were of reinforced-concrete, with red-brick wall panels and firewalls. Ceiling clearances were 12ft. It had a ruberoid roof covering, sliding doors and external stairs to a first-floor quayside balcony. The ground floor was used for transit goods, the first floor for warehousing. (ref. 532)

The Canary Wharf warehouse survived the Blitz with only minor damage, as did other reinforced-concrete buildings in the docks. (ref. 533) Fruit Lines Limited moved to a new Fred Olsen Lines facility at the Millwall Docks in 1970 (see page 360). The warehouse was thereafter operated as No. 32 berth, with its old name boldly inscribed on its west wall to greet visitors. (ref. 534) The warehouse was demolished in 1986–7 as one of the first stages of the project that is grandly perpetuating the name of a modest fruit berth (see page 707).


Figure 104: Warehouses, South Quay, West India Import Dock. Demolished a Canary Wharf Warehouse, section looking west as proposed in 1936. Asa Binns, architectb No. 10 and No. 11 (later No. 30 and No. 31) Shed-Warehouses, north-south section looking west (showing false quay). W. P. Sheppard-Barron, architect, 1950–4

A phased redevelopment of the rest of the Import Dock south quay was discussed and settled in 1936–8, but war interrupted the plans. (ref. 535) Bombing raids in 1940–1 resulted in a huge empty site, requisitioned in 1943 by the Ministry of Supply and the War Department, with an adjoining building (B Shed) and others at the South Dock (G. H and K Sheds and F and G Warehouses), for use by Wates Limited for the construction of concrete barges for the Normandy landings. (ref. 536)

In the immediate post-war period there was little money for large-scale redevelopment, and the Import Dock south quay was left as open storage. In 1949 this large clear area was chosen as the best site for the Port's first post-war warehouses, very much needed after wartime losses. W. P. Sheppard-Barron prepared a scheme for two two-storey warehouses of the Canary Wharf type, with an extension of the 'false' quay, all for £400,000, of which £233,000 covered the warehouses and wall cranes, and from which £191,000 was the War Damage Claim for the Rum Quay buildings. The PLA's General Purposes Committee considered that single-storey transit sheds would be more useful, but the need for warehousing was pressed, and it was accepted that two three-storey shedwarehouses should be built for £440,000. (ref. 537) A proposal to build the warehouses with pre-stressed concrete was rejected, and in late 1950 John Mowlem & Company took the contract to build Nos 10 and 11 Warehouses; the designations perhaps reflecting an intention to rebuild Nos 3–9 Warehouses. (ref. 538) The buildings opened in 1954, for use by the green-fruit trade, having cost £768,844. (ref. 539)

Sheppard-Barron's designs for Nos 10 and 11 Ware-houses remained faithful to the Canary Wharf warehouse houses remained faithful to the Canary Wharf warehouse type (fig. 104b). In constructional terms the buildings were conservative, with reinforced-concrete frames, floors and slab roofs and brick wall panels. However, they set out to facilitate the use of new mechanical appliances and thus differed in important particulars. A taller ground floor (20ft clearance), fewer internal columns (40ft and 48ft centres laterally and 24ft centres longitudinally), and larger doorways (22ft by 20ft) allowed easy movement of fork-lift trucks and mobile cranes. Fork-lift trucks could stack high, and so floor load capacity was increased to as much as 400lb per sq.ft. Each storey stepped back from the quay, creating broad balconies for sorting goods deposited by quay cranes. The ground and first floors were devoted to transit handling and so had no firewalls. (ref. 540) To serve staggered loopholes on the south sides there were specially designed 30-cwt electric travelling roof cranes, supplied by Stothert & Pitt and the Clarke Ellard Engineering Company. Raised platforms allowed easy loading into lorries. (ref. 541)

Nos 10 and 11 Warehouses (renamed Nos 30 and 31 Sheds in 1970) were 'mothballed' in 1976. (ref. 542) No. 11 Warehouse (31 Shed) was bisected by the Docklands Light Railway, then demolished in 1986–7 to make way for the Canary Wharf development. In 1982–3 No. 10 Warehouse (30 Shed) was converted as the country's largest independent television production studios, for Limehouse Productions, a firm set up to coincide with the launch of Channel 4, and in anticipation of growth in video, cable and satellite television. The warehouse was acquired through the LDDC, to which it had passed in 1981, and the conversion of its eastern half as Limehouse Studios was by Laing Management Contracting, to designs by the Terry Farrell Partnership, for £3,680,460. The removal of floors and columns permitted the formation of two large and elaborately equipped studios. The north side of the building was adapted to form a reception area, control rooms, offices and dressingrooms. (ref. 543) The austerity and scale of the warehouse exterior was broken down by the superimposition of a Post-Modern facade, of 'little buildings climbing over a massive building like Lilliputians climbing over Gulliver', (ref. 544) made of blue and black enamelled-steel cladding panels on a ceramic plinth. Six abstract bird shapes symbolized 'the waterside location and the spirit of communication'. (ref. 545) The establishment of Limehouse Studios in the early days of the Enterprise Zone was considered an important step in the regeneration of Docklands, and indeed for a short time this was a shining example of the profitable conversion of a dockside building. However, from 1985 Limehouse Studios was overshadowed by the Canary Wharf scheme. The premises were sold to Olympia & York for £25 million in 1988, and the building was demolished in 1989. (ref. 546)

Saltpetre Warehouse, Blackwall Basin.

Saltpetre, an import from India, first came to the West India Docks with other East India goods in 1827. It needed secure and isolated storage, and so in 1828 a Saltpetre Warehouse was built on the south side of the Blackwall Basin, far from other warehousing. It was designed by (Sir) John Rennie and built by Jolliffe and Banks to hold 21,600 bags. The warehouse was of brick with stone dressings and had four divisions, each with an arched opening to the basin. It had a timber internal structure and was served by a jetty, as there was no quay. (ref. 547)

The east end of the Saltpetre Warehouse was demolished when the West India Dock Graving Dock was built in 1876–8. In 1918 the bomb-damaged remainder was let to the London Graving Dock Company and used as a platers' shop. It was again bombed in 1940–1 and wholly rebuilt thereafter (see page 275). (ref. 548)

South Quay Warehouses, South Dock.

For 40 years after 1828 no warehouses were built at the West India Docks. After the monopoly boom, the existing buildings provided more storage space than was needed. The bulk of new trade was in timber and guano, kept in the open or in single-storey sheds. However, steadily increasing imports meant that the warehouses were again in fairly heavy use around the middle of the century. By the mid1860s pressure for warehouse space had increased so much that it was clear that new buildings were needed.

The rebuilding of the South Dock was taken as an opportunity to provide new warehousing. The south quay was to be devoted to imports, particularly from India, and Sir John Hawkshaw's plans of 1866 included five south quay jute warehouses. (ref. 549) The foundations of these were built in 1866–7, as part of George Wythes's main South Dock contract. (ref. 550) In 1868 Hawkshaw prepared plans for three multi-storey warehouses for general goods, and two single-storey warehouses for jute. (ref. 551) However, money was scarce, and so only the 'jute' warehouses and one 'high' warehouse were approved. Low transit accommodation was a better investment than the oldfashioned multi-storey warehousing, but, as was often the case, the dock proprietors were slow to perceive developments in trade and shipping. Hawkshaw specified cast-iron columns, wrought-iron girders and wroughtiron roof trusses, but E. J. Leonard advised the dock company that this would be expensive, and so Hawkshaw was obliged to substitute timber for the structural wrought iron, saving £18,400. (ref. 552) The value of iron construction as truly fireproof had come to be doubted and, in a decision parallel to that taken at the formation of the West India Docks 68 years earlier, 'fireproof' construction was rejected. The company further reduced the cost of the warehouses, only reluctantly accepting that the new dock would fail if it had no warehousing. (ref. 553) No. 3 (later C) Warehouse, the 'high' warehouse, and Nos 4 and 5 (later A and B) Warehouses, the 'jute' warehouses, were built by Wythes in 1869 for £62,700. (ref. 554)

No. 3 Warehouse, at the centre of the intended group, had four storeys and four divisions (247ft by 145ft) (fig. 105). Its elevations, in stock brick, followed the north quay warehouses in using spiked cast-iron windows and round staircase windows. There were cruciform-section cast-iron columns, of 7½ in. to 12in. diameter, and timber floors, with high clearances that were criticized because floor heights much beyond a man's reach were uneconomical. The 55ft- and 65ft-span timber roof trusses had an unusual form, with wrought-iron rods linking the tie-beams to upper king-posts. The single-storey warehouses to the east had similar 60ft trusses. (ref. 555) These warehouses were used to house cotton, seed, rice, wool, piassava, preserved meat, oil cake, greaves (the by-product of tallow rendering), tea, shellac, jute, flax, rapeseed, coconut, linseed and cutch. (ref. 556) They were made a continuous range in 1873–4, when the 60ft-wide gaps separating them were roofed to shelter transit goods. The 'jute' warehouses were given a second storey in 1875 by the insertion of a floor. (ref. 557)


Figure 105: No. 3 (later C) Warehouse, South Quay, South Dock, West India Docks, north elevation and section of an inner division looking south. (Sir) John Hawkshaw, architect, 1869.Demolished

The initial success of the South Dock and rapid expansion in demand for warehousing brought pressure for more buildings. In 1872, with the new warehouses full, the dock company realized that further buildings needed to be adaptable to either transit or warehouse business. Multi-storey warehouses were increasingly unsuitable at docks where ever-larger steamships required rapid discharge and where many goods were handled only in transit. There was no imperative to build high for want of quay space. Furthermore, insurers demanded more firewalls in tall warehouses, resulting in less convenient working and a loss of floor space. A scheme for a single-storey shed-warehouse on the unused south quay foundations was promulgated and, in the absence of an employee with architectural skills, Edwin Crockett, Surveyor to the Wharf and Warehouse Committee, was employed to prepare estimates. (ref. 558) This scheme was superseded in 1873 by a cheaper plan prepared by Augustus Manning, newly appointed dock company Engineer. By early 1874 two two-storey shed-warehouses had been built over two-thirds of the unused foundations, by Merritt & Ashby for £18,150. (ref. 559)

The second-phase South Dock warehouses were as long as the earlier buildings, but a third narrower. They were a continuous range of nine divisions, separated by high firewalls with twin north-lit roofs. Internally, there were hollow-cylindrical cast-iron columns, 10ft clearances between timber floors, and timber roof trusses. (ref. 560)

Wool brokers had asked the East and West India Dock Company for purpose-built warehousing for Australian wool imports in 1870, but the dock company then felt that it could house wool in existing buildings. (ref. 561) By 1873 the Millwall Dock Company had erected large purposebuilt wool warehouses and was offering cheap rates for wool (see page 358). Encouraged by the Tasmanian merchant Frederick Augustus Du Croz, of Dalgety, Du Croz & Company, the East and West India Dock Company responded by allocating the second-phase South Dock warehouses and No. 3 (C) Warehouse to wool at the same rates. The buildings were designated the Wool Warehouses, and were opened and aggressively promoted in 1874. (ref. 562) Confusingly, the earlier warehouses had been renamed Nos 1, 2, and 3, with the later warehouses Nos 4 and 5, reversing the original numbering system. Later the warehouses were named by letters, A to G from east to west, with numbers for each of 23 divisions.

The wool business was a great success, and the piecemeal development of South Dock warehousing continued as demand outstripped capacity. (ref. 563) In 1874–5 Nos 4 and 5 (D, E and F) Warehouses were extended to the south, by Merritt & Ashby for £10,081, to utilize all the 1866–7 foundations. (ref. 564) Manning then designed a western extension (G Warehouse), built by J. Perry & Company, of Bow, for £7,148 in 1875–6. (ref. 565) Irregular on its south-west side because of the proximity of a railway, it had three storeys, with a basement for storing oils, and there were chutes linking the floors. In other respects it was similar to Nos 4 and 5 Warehouses. (ref. 566) Goods were transferred from ships to the first floors of all the South Dock south quay warehouses across 21 iron gangways, supplied in 1874–6 by William Whitford & Company for £2,297. (ref. 567) The wool business left the West India Docks in 1887 when Dalgety, Du Croz & Company withdrew. (ref. 568)

Refrigerated meat was first imported into England in 1876, and in 1881 refrigerated storage was introduced to the Port of London with the opening of a cold store for frozen meat at the Victoria Dock. From 1880 the East and West India Dock Company Secretary, Colonel Du Plat Taylor, and F. A. Du Croz, now a Director, were keen to enter this new branch of warehousing. Articles in the Engineer helped to make Augustus Manning another advocate of refrigerated storage. The question was discussed during 1881, and in 1882 a hulk, the Sea Witch, was fitted with four cold-storage chambers and a dry-air freezing machine supplied by the Haslam Foundry & Engineering Company. The business proved so profitable that a second hulk, the Robert Morrison, was similarly fitted. (ref. 569)

The easternmost division of the South Dock south quay warehouses (No. 1 in A Warehouse) was refitted as a cold store in 1884, intended for, although not used by, the first line of Shaw, Savill & Albion Company steamships from New Zealand to carry frozen meat. It held 46,800 carcases in six timber-lined compartments. John Rider Hunt, of Bow Common, carried out the building work and Haslam supplied two dry-air machines. Electric lighting was fitted by the Electrical Power Storage Company of Millwall, after Manning had inspected their installation at the Bank of England. (ref. 570)

The three western divisions of C Warehouse were destroyed by fire in 1895. The lower two storeys were reconstructed in 1896–7 as one space under a steel-frame roof. (ref. 571) Reinforced-concrete columns and floors were inserted into the rebuilt divisions in 1914 to make two storeys. (ref. 572) In 1926, A Warehouse was demolished to make way for the Millwall Passage, and the blocks between B, C, D and F Warehouses were cleared in 1929 30. (ref. 573) C and D Warehouses were demolished after bomb damage, the latter not until 1951, and four Marston sheds were erected on the site of C Warehouse. B Warehouse and the Marston sheds were demolished in 1964 to make way for M Shed-Warehouse. F and G Warehouses survived until 1976–7, when they were cleared to make space for containers. (ref. 574)

M Shed-Warehouse, South Quay, South Dock.

The nineteenth-century warehouses on the South Dock south quay were ill suited to post-1945 operations. Redevelopment of the area was considered during the 1950s and approved in principle in 1961 as part of a large modernization programme. The PLA needed new warehousing to serve growing Far East traffic, particularly in bulky 'Hong Kong' cargo, and so three-storey warehouses (K and M) were sanctioned in 1963. Harris & Sutherland were employed as consulting engineers to finalize the PLA engineers' plans for M Shed-Warehouse. (ref. 575) The building was constructed in 1965–7 for £1,043,650. Holloway Brothers (London) built the superstructure, with roof steelwork subcontracted to Stewarts & Lloyds (Tubewrights). (ref. 576)

It followed Nos 10 and 11 Shed-Warehouses in form, with two floors for transit cargo and an upper warehouse storey (Plates 51c, 55b). It was approximately 530ft by 150ft, with a reinforced-concrete frame, and was designed for fully mechanized working. On the quayside there were upper-floor balconies with external stairs, and, to the south, the novel introduction of an elevated roadway serving the first floor and providing cover for groundlevel loading. The upper transit floor could thereby be worked identically to and independently of the ground floor, allowing the berth to be used by two ships in quick succession. Both transit floors had 20ft ceiling clearances and aluminium doors 20ft by 18ft 6in. The floors were flat waffle-slabs of two-way pre-stressed concrete, thinner than conventional beam-and-slab construction. There were two rows of concrete columns on the lower floors, at 50ft-by-37ft 6in. centres. The upper warehouse floor was open, made into three divisions by firewalls. Fixed portal underslung travelling cranes delivered goods from the warehouse to the roads. The roof had seven segmental vaults with 30ft cantilevers. Prefabricated 75ft-span trusses of latticed rectangular-and square-section tubular steel were covered with aluminium sheeting. PLA engineers devised the layout and specified the wide column grid and column-free roof. Harris & Sutherland arranged the contracts and designed the building in detail, including the waffle-slab floors and roofing.

M Shed was inaugurated with pride and confidence in the Port's future. It was even said that 'M Shed may well be as much admired a century hence as Telford's warehouses in St. Katharine Docks are to-day'. (ref. 577) However, the expensive facility had a working life of only 13 years. It closed in 1980 and was demolished in 1986.

Footnotes

h In 1801 contracts were given to: Thomas Winder and William Jewhurst, of Lambeth, for cast-iron window frames; George Hawkes for glazing; Holmer, Bunnett, Pix & Company, of the Borough, for ironwork; Adam and the Robertsons for cast-iron doors; John Kepp, of Chandos Street, for copper roofing; Joseph Sandbach, of St George's Fields, for slating; Josiah Allen for painting; and Alexander Doull, of Blackfriars, for plumbing. (ref. 408)
i Sir Alfred Seale Haslam, of Derby, was an innovator in compressor refrigeration. His patented dry-air refrigerator was widely adopted by shipowners and meat companies in the early 1880s. (ref. 471)

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515. WIDC 330, p.488; 333, pp.118, 339, 496; 334, pp.329, 339, 342, 357, 519.
516. PP 1823 (411), iv.489, Report. . .Maintaining and Improving the Foreign Trade of the Country, 3 June 1823, p. 100.
517. WIDC 335, pp.163, 310, 336: ICE, Rennie MSS, Reports 1/8, p.355.
518. WIDC 335, pp.374, 390; 336, pp.239, 267, 407: ICE, Rennie MSS, Reports 1/9, pp.55, 66, 210.
519. WIDC 336, p.447; 337, pp.229, 456; 338, pp.85, 178, 335; 340A, p. 117: ICE, Rennie MSS, Reports 1/10, p.293.
520. LIDJC 238, p.26.
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524. MiDD 6622333: MiD, PLA Lantern Slides No.72: ICE, Rennie MSS, Reports 1/11, pp.321–5: Dupin, 1825 op.cit, p.54.
525. WIDC 321, p.163; 323, p.163; 334, p.279; 350, p.492; 351, p.166.
526. WIDC 368, p.460: EWIDC 453, p.324; 455, p.316: MiDD 6570154: MiD, EWIDC, Description of the. . .Docks, Warehouses etc., p.14.
527. GLRO, LCC/FB/GEN/2/92: PLA Mins, xxv, pp.37, 110, 114, 174, 187, 353.
528. Daily Telegraph, 22 April 1933, p.11.
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530. MiDD 6622313, 6622318.
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545. Academy Editions, Terry Farrell, p.85.
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550. MiDS(LD) 11/5/6, 14.
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552. MiDS(LD) 11/5/63–5.
553. EWIDC 472, pp.87–8: MiDS(LD) 11/5/76, 79.
554. EWIDC 450, pp.128, 389: MiDS(LD) 11/5/117, 132, 136: Vernon-Harcourt, 1885 op.cit., pp.480–1.
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556. GL, MS 14,943/iii, p.18.
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558. EWIDC 451, p.426; 452, pp. 53–6, 255–6, 294, 322.
559. EWIDC 452, pp.492, 540; 453, pp.70, 128, 456.
560. EWIDC 453, pp.148, 237, 500: MiDD 6620818, 6621059, 6800157: GL, MS 14,942/iii, p. 193.
561. EWIDC 451, pp. 145–6.
562. EWIDC 453, pp.211–16, 441: MiD, EWIDC Secretary's Report, 1878, pp.55–61, 82.
563. Timber Trades Journal, 27 Oct 1877, p.211.
564. EWIDC 454, pp.102, 178, 322: MiDD 6620708.
565. EWIDC 452, pp.255–6; 455, pp.68, 88: MiD, EWIDC Secretary's Report, 1878, p.82: POD.
566. MiDD 6620718, 6620813–6, 6620821.
567. EWIDC 452, pp.97, 120.
568. EWIDC 464, pp.217–27, 232.
569. MiDS, 'Refrigeration at the West India Docks': EWIDC 459, pp. 383, 392–3, 421–6; 460, pp. 5–7, 55, 211: LIDJC 240, p.100.
570. MiDS 232: EWIDC 461, pp. 170–2, 187, 246, 282–3, 333, 372–3, 401: LIDJC 237, pp.202, 230; 237A, p.87: MiD, EWIDC Deeds, xix.
571. LIDJC 233, pp.45, 127, 147; 240, pp.272, 295, 331, 342: MiDD 6620709, 6620713, 6620719: MiD, Misc. Contracts.
572. MiDD 6620794.
573. PLA Mins, xx, pp.114, 316.
574. PLA Mins, xxxix, pp.102, 188; xlii, p.356; xliii, p.214; lxviii, b/w pp.68–9, 87–8, 110–11: MiDS 1660.
575. PLA Mins, lv, p.141; lvi, pp.50, 556, 104: MiDD 6622768, 6623291, 6623329, 6623332–3, 6623372.
576. PLA Mins, Ivii, pp.11, 75, 100; Iviii, p.46; lix, p.7: P.L.A. Monthly, Aug 1966, pp.284–5: F.G.Peake and R.A.Shewring, 'A multistorey transit shed and warehouse for the P.L.A.', Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers, vol.42, 1969, pp.21–37; vol.45, 1970, pp.143–53: R.A.Shewring, 'Roof Structure of the New PLA M-Shed', Tubular Structures, vol.x, 1968, pp.3–8.
577. The Port, 15 Sept 1967, p.4: P.L.A. Monthly, Nov 1967, pp.466–9.