Survey of London: Volumes 43 and 44, Poplar, Blackwall and Isle of Dogs. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1994.
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North Quay Sheds, Import Dock.
Early plans for the West India Docks omitted quay sheds because Customs and Excise considered them a security risk. However, as the opening of the docks approached in 1802, the dock company turned its attention to the practicalities of receiving goods. As the absence of cover between ship and warehouse for unloading and sorting was seen to be unsatisfactory, the Gwilts were asked to report on quay sheds, and Ralph Walker submitted a model for a 'weighing shed'. (fn. 2) William Jessop intervened and gained approval for his design for an open shed to run the full length of the north quay. William Adam and Daniel and Alexander Robertson built this timber structure in early 1803, although the roof was not slated until 1804. The north quay shed was 2,640ft long, 20ft wide and 12ft high to its eaves, with gabled crane-shelters projecting on to the quay at regular intervals. (fn. 3) Similar sheds were erected on the Import Dock west quay in 1805 and on the east quay in 1811. (fn. 4)
The north quay shed's timber posts decayed rapidly, and John Rennie urged their entire replacement. In 1817 he put up a short section of cast-iron-columned shedding 'to shew the effect' and proposed two alternatives for a replacement shed: he suggested either a shed 60ft wide across the whole quay, or one 34ft wide. In the event a 26ft-wide shed was built in 1818 by Thomas Johnson & Son, with the Butterley Company supplying cast-iron columns and caps. The cost was approximately £18,000. (fn. 5) The east and west quay sheds were similarly rebuilt in 1819–21. (fn. 6)
These sheds had hollow-cylindrical columns with diameters of 7in. at the base and 5½ in. at the top (Plates 49b, 50c; fig. 106). The columns were 10ft tall and placed at 12ft centres with four-way arched braces to the timber plates and tie-beams. The queen-post roof trusses were anchored over the columns, though the roof extended well beyond them. There were open sides, with flaps for protection against the weather, and adjustable screens near the roof to keep direct sunlight off the goods. (fn. 7)
The conversion of No. 5 Warehouse in 1895 was accompanied by a rebuilding of a section of the quay shed 338ft long. An open double-floor staging was built by William Whitford & Company, of the Royal Iron Works, Westferry Road, to plans by H. F. Donaldson (Plate 51a). This structure was 27ft wide and 25ft high, with an iron frame of girders and large-diameter hollow cylindrical columns at 12ft centres, a timber floor and a galvanized-iron flat roof. It was equipped with electric conveyors and, to further reduce handling, cranes deposited frozen meat on to the top floor for chute delivery into the cold store. (fn. 8) Both this and the remainder of the 1818 shed were demolished in 1912–15, but the 1819–21 east and west quay sheds survived until the Blitz. (fn. 9)
As dock business shifted from warehousing to transit handling in the late nineteenth century, two-storey sheds came to be seen as the best sort of quay accommodation. Such sheds provided cover for rapidly discharged merchandise at ground level, with space for sorting above. At the turn of the century shipowners complained that there were too few such sheds in London. (fn. 10) The PLA's programme of improvements of 1911 included transit sheds of this type for the north quay of the Import Dock, to stand on a widened quay. Initially, Frederick Palmer proposed five sheds, each of which was to be 440ft by 50ft, but that was revised to three sheds, each 800ft by 65ft, with an estimated cost of £87,400. A. Jackaman & Son, of Slough, began building them in 1912 (Plate 49c). (fn. 11) C and D Sheds, along the west and centre sections of the north quay, were ready for use in early 1915, but completion of E Shed to the east was delayed by wartime legislation and the withdrawal of labour. In 1916 the Admiralty certified that completion of E Shed was 'necessary for the successful prosecution of the war', and it was ready in January 1917. (fn. 12) (fn. 1)
These double-storey transit sheds were examples of a building type that had been in use elsewhere for several decades and were not in themselves innovative. However, they were part of the first concerted large-scale application of reinforced-concrete to building in London's docks. The new material gave strength and reliable fireproofing. The Hennebique system was used, the contractors paying Mouchel & Partners 4 per cent for use of the patent. Mild steel was used for reinforcement and all arrises in exposed positions were chamfered. Each shed was 65ft wide, while C and E Sheds were 720ft long and D Shed was 826ft long; each was divided into three by firewalls (fig. 107). Clearances were 13ft on the ground floor and 10ft on the first floor. The upper storeys had clear floors, served by continuous quayside balconies. In contrast to the functional and 'honestly' articulated long elevations, with brick panels in exposed concrete framing, the end elevations were treated as architectural, if stylistically unsettled, red-brick 'screen' facades (Plate 54c). The internal spiral staircases were in free-standing shuttered concrete cylinders; they were accessible at ground level only from outside the shed, for security and fireproofing. The roofs had continuous north lights on steel framing. There were 20-cwt electric wall cranes, supplied by the Chatteris Engineering Works Company, west of each staircase on the north side, and first-floor steel bridges to the north quay warehouses, one to each division. In 1914 C. R. S. Kirkpatrick altered the plans to include straight staircases from the quay, chambers between the firewall doors, and 'Kinnear' continuous roller-shutter doors for D Shed's ground-floor openings, later replaced with horizontal sliding doors. (fn. 14)
Bomb damage to the north quay sheds was repaired in 1948 by Higgs & Hill, particularly at the east end of D Shed and the west end of E Shed. (fn. 15) Redesignated Sheds 34, 35 and 36 in 1970, they were closed in 1971. (fn. 16)
Shed 36 (E Shed) was converted as Billingsgate Market in 1980–2. In 1976 the London Fishmerchants' Association selected the Import Dock north quay as a possible site for the relocation of Billingsgate Fish Market, its desire to move being prompted by changing distribution patterns and the inconveniences of the market in the City. The PLA agreed to lease Shed 36 for the market, and preliminary plans were prepared in 1977. (fn. 17) Funding was then lacking, however. The City Corporation accepted the need for the move, but sought an interest in the new market. In 1979 the Docklands Joint Committee arranged that the Department of the Environment, through Urban Aid Grant, would fund £3.6 million or 50 per cent of the project, with Tower Hamlets Borough Council and the City Corporation providing £1.2 million and £2.4 million respectively. The Borough Council took a 999-year lease of a 13½-acre site from the PLA for a premium of £663,375, and sub-let it to the City for a nominal rent. (fn. 18) The City built the market, despite escalating costs and other financing difficulties. Work began in June 1980, to the plans of Newman Levinson & Partners. The contractors were Fairclough Building, and the structural engineers Peter H. Hill & Partners. The new Billingsgate Market opened on 19 January 1982. The project cost £11 million. (fn. 19)
The fish merchants were keen to recive the atmosphere of the old market. The waterside site was important in this respect, as was the decision to convert rather than replace the existing shed. The frame, floors and end walls of Shed 36 were retained (fig. 108). The north extension is structurally separate under a tubular-steel space-frame roof suspended from 19m-tall masts, clad in yellow and cantilevered over handling areas. The roof allows large clear floors for the market hall, traders' shops and cold stores. Red-brick facing unifies the elevations, with round-headed openings towards the dock. Dolphin ornaments and weathervanes, together with a replica clock and the bell from the old market, are incorporated as tokens of the market's function and history. Billingsgate Market was one of the first successes in the regeneration of the Isle of Dogs. Within a decade, however, it had come to seem an awkward consort for the surrounding developments.
Shed 35 was also re-used; its ground floor was converted as the 'Quayside Industrial Estate' in 1978–9. This was a PLA project, developed with Tower Hamlets Borough Council, which provided £320,000 through government grants for Docklands development. The small industrial units that were created were partly an attempt to alleviate local unemployment. (fn. 20) Shed 35 survived as a reminder of this early attempt at Docklands regeneration until it was demolished in 1989. Plans for redeveloping Shed 34 as part of a complex with Nos 1 and 2 Warehouses were considered from 1979 (see page 289). It was acquired by Port East Developments in 1988 and demolished in 1989.
Rum Quay Shed.
The Rum Quay Shed was erected in 1813 on the south side of the Import Dock as part of a campaign of improvements to the arrangements for handling rum. Designed to allow gauging to be done under cover, it was an open-sided structure and a tour de force of early cast-iron construction. Baron Charles Dupin, who found much to admire at the West India Docks, singled out the Rum Quay Shed, the design of which he attributed to John Rennie, as 'le plus remarquable de tous par sa structure'. (fn. 21) The iron, and perhaps also the designs, for the shed were supplied by the Butterley Company, through William Jessop, junior. William Pillgrem supervised the erection of the shed, which cost approximately £13,000. (fn. 22)
The Rum Quay Shed was 1,330ft long and 30ft wide between columns placed at 15ft centres (Plate 48d; fig. 109). The columns were of hollow-circular section, with diameters of 7½in. at the base and 5¾ in. at the head. Each half roof truss was a single casting, bolted at the 'king post'. There were four-way arched braces and wrought-iron tie rods just below the tie-beams. The ridgeplates and purlins were bellied to strengthen support for the slate roof. The longitudinal members had a deliberately loose fit, anticipating the expansion and contraction of the iron. (fn. 23)
A similarly constructed lean-to roof was added in 1814 to cover the gap between the Rum Quay Shed and the Rum Warehouses, but the main roof was showing signs of failure. (fn. 24) There must have been some unease and mistrust of the new materials after the collapse of the Rum Field Shed roof in 1813 (see page 294). Rennie altered the purlins and ridge-plates, introducing timber spacers to permit greater movement, and tried patent zinc roofing in place of the heavy Duchess slates, evidently without success. (fn. 25) Despite these early problems, the Rum Quay Shed stood.
The eastern part of the building was dismantled in 1936–7 in anticipation of the redevelopment of the site. The remainder was taken down in 1939–40, just before the Blitz. (fn. 26)
In the first years of the docks, West Indian mahogany was stacked on open ground at both ends of the south quay of the Import Dock, areas that became known as the East and West Wood Wharves. Covered accommodation for wood was less a priority than shelter for sugar and rum, and so it was 1806–7 before a mahogany shed was built, on the east part of the East Wood Wharf. It was designed by Thomas Morris and was erected by Howkins & Company for £3,509. The shed was a twin-span timber building, just under 300ft long, with part-boarded sides. (fn. 27) To meet demand for further mahogany shedding the east quay 'Prize Shed' was divided and re-erected at the inner ends of both wood wharves, to the east in 1810, and to the west in 1811 (see page 293). The work included brick walls to separate the wood wharves from the Rum Quay. (fn. 28) In 1818 cast-iron columns supplied by the Horseley Company replaced timber posts under the valleys of these sheds. (fn. 29)
A mahogany shed of a new and highly considered design was erected on the East Wood Wharf in 1817-18. John Rennie devised 'machine sheds' with rails in the roof for hand-operated rack-and-pinion motion trucks with crabs, perhaps the first use of overhead travelling cranes. These lifted mahogany logs, which weighed as much as five tons each, from the wharf to stacks within the shed. The estimated cost of the building was £9,000, or £2,000 more than a shed with conventional tackle, but its actual cost was £12,468. The contractors included J. & W. Broomfield (brickwork), Thomas Johnson & Son (carpentry), the Horseley Company (cast-iron columns), and Bryan Donkin & Company, who were paid £1,450 for the six-ton truck-cranes, the costs of which were covered by the reduced labour costs within six months. (fn. 30)
The shed was conceived as a frame for machinery, with a simple though highly functional design (fig. 110). There were brick walls with large arched openings on to the quay and wharf; the south side was the perimeter wall. The roof was 174ft 6in. long and had twin 54ft spans. The construction of the trusses was robust, to take the great weight of suspended mahogany logs. The roof at the valley was supported by large hollow-circularsection cast-iron columns at 9ft 3in. centres, 20ft 6in. tall with diameters narrowing from 1ft 9in. to 1ft 3in. from base to head. Long 'dormers' housed the cogged iron rails and mechanical trucks, with gangways for their operation. (fn. 31)
The West Wood Wharf was developed in the 1820s. A similar 'machine shed', with 60ft–span roofs, was built next to the former 'Prize Shed' in 1821–2. (fn. 32) A zincroofed quay shed was added in 1826-7, and another mahogany shed was formed in 1827 by the re-use of copper-covered queen-post trussed roofs from Nos 1 and 9 Warehouses on the north quay. This shed did not have travelling cranes. (fn. 33)
All this shedding was insufficient to keep up with the growth of the timber trade. The East Wood Wharf accommodation was extended further in 1828–9 with the erection of another 'machine shed' for mahogany, so that the eastern former 'Prize Shed', which lacked overhead cranes, could be used for softwood. The new shed was built by John Locke for £ 9,800, with cast-iron columns, again supplied by the Horseley Company. It had roof spans of 60ft and Donkin-type cranage. (fn. 34) Thus, all but the far west end of the south quay of the Import Dock had been covered.
Further increases in hardwood imports led to the erection of another East Wood Wharf mahogany shed in 1845–6. This was on the site of part of the 1806–7 shed, demolished c1840, and was built by John Knight & Son, to plans by J. S. Adams and H. Martin, for an estimated £ 2,680. It followed the earlier sheds in form, but was entirely timber-built. There were 60ft-span queen-post trusses and unsuccessful variants of the Donkin cranes. (fn. 35)
London's burgeoning demand for mahogany kept the wood sheds and piling grounds at the West India Docks busy. The dock company could not sell by sample at its City office, and so buyers frequented the wood wharves to inspect the timber. The trade was therefore closely interested in improvements at the wharves. Timber merchants and dock officers repeatedly urged the building of more shedding. By the early 1870s the problem was acute, with wood piled indiscriminately on the wharves. In 1873–4 a shed was erected at the east end of the East Wood Wharf by George Munday, to plans by Augustus Manning, at an estimated cost of £ 5,000. (fn. 36) This was another entirely timber twin-roofed shed, but with a significant departure from Rennie's prototype. The tiebeams were raised to a height of 30ft, to allow gantry cranes to run below them on rails attached to the posts. These longitudinal travelling cranes had crabs that could move laterally and were thus much more flexible than the earlier transverse cranes, the convenience of which diminished with every eastwards extension of the sheds. The 60ft-span trusses had wrought-iron king-bolts. The upper parts of the sides of the building were boarded; the lower parts were open. (fn. 37) With this addition, there were five twin-roofed mahogany sheds stretching almost 600ft across the East Wood Wharf. They were numbered from west to east as Nos 1-10 Sheds, each roof constituting a shed (plan B).
More changes were made in 1874–5 in an extensive remodelling that was intended to maintain the dock company's monopoly of the storage of mahogany imports and to reduce its dependence on manual labour. They included the conversion of the deal piling ground at the east end of the Export Dock to covered accommodation for mahogany by the building of Nos 14 and 15 Sheds, comparable in form to Nos 9 and 10 Sheds. Teak was transferred from the east to the west side of the Junction Dock, to be handled by six timber-framed open gantries with travelling cranes. Merritt & Ashby, builders for this work, also extended Nos 5-10 Sheds to the south, and the East Wood Wharf was re-equipped with steam quay cranes, trucks, hydraulic capstans, railways, turntables and weighbridges. The older sheds were refitted with 6-ton travelling steam cranes, some of which were supplied by Appleby Brothers of East Greenwich. (fn. 38)
Still more mahogany sheds were needed: 8,200 mahogany logs were imported through the West India Docks in 1876, compared with only 700 in 1869. (fn. 39) In 1876 £ 10,000 was spent on an additional shed on the East Wood Wharf (No. 11) and two more sheds on the east quay of the Export Dock (Nos 12 and 13). These too were built by Merritt & Ashby and were similar in form to the others of the 1870s. (fn. 40) The final stage of the redevelopment, in 1877, was the roofing over for mahogany of three of the teak gantries to make Nos 16, 17 and 18 Sheds. The work was carried out by Merritt & Ashby for an estimated £7,160. (fn. 41) The teak business moved back to the east side of the Junction Dock. The 1870s East Wood Wharf improvements were applauded by the timber trade, and the West India Docks were credited with having the most efficiently managed wood business in the Port. (fn. 42)
To retain the monopoly on the warehousing of London's furniture hardwood, the shedding had to be improved again in 1891. Nos 1–4 Sheds were extended to the south, and the three remaining open gantries on the west side of the Junction Dock were roofed over to form Nos 19–21 Sheds, all for £8,000, including travelling cranes. A Mr Maddison built these sheds to the 1870s type. (fn. 43) No. 22 Shed was added at the south-west corner of the Junction Dock in 1893–4 for £1,500. It was timberbuilt, with a 70ft-span Belfast-truss roof covered with galvanized corrugated iron. (fn. 44)
In 1916 a fire destroyed Nos 3–6 Sheds, the first 'machine shed' of 1817–18 and its neighbour of 1828–9. They were not rebuilt, because the PLA intended to carry out a general redevelopment of the East Wood Wharf. (fn. 45) Nos 1 and 2 Sheds (the former 'Prize Shed') were demolished and No. 6 Shed was reinstated, with a steel frame and corrugated-iron roof, by Charles Brand & Son in 1926–8 as part of the contract which included the formation of the Bellmouth Passage through the East Wood Wharf. (fn. 46) The losses were made up in 1929–30 with four new hardwood sheds north and south of those at the east end of the Export Dock, built by A. Jackaman & Son to plans prepared by Frederick Palmer. These sheds, designated Nos 12A, 15A, 15B and 16A Sheds, were steelframed and iron-clad with 60ft-span roofs. Associated improvements included electric gantry and quay cranes, hydraulic capstans and railway turntables. (fn. 47) The West Wood Wharf sheds were demolished in 1936. A steelframed shed (previously at No. 35 Berth, Royal Albert Dock) was re-erected in 1937 near the north-east corner of the South Dock as No. 15c Shed. (fn. 48)
Bombing in the Second World War damaged many of the mahogany sheds. The more recent steel and iron sheds (Nos 6, 12A, 15A-C, 16A) survived. The other sheds were cleared in 1948–50, excepting Nos 12 and 16 Sheds, which were repaired, only to be demolished in 1961. (fn. 49) Various redevelopment proposals were considered from 1954 until 1966, when the East Wood Wharf closed and the West India Dock timber trade moved to the Surrey Docks. (fn. 50) No significant redevelopment was carried out, except around Nos 15A-C Sheds (see page 308). Nos 6, 12A and 16A Sheds were cleared in the early 1980s.
Much of the timber imported to the West India Docks was stored in the open throughout the nineteenth century. From the late 1820s, softwood was floated, particularly in the South Dock Timber Pond, and piling grounds were formed around the South Dock and Junction Dock, with a Dye Wood Yard west of the Export Dock.
There was no large-scale cover for softwood until 1857, when a single open-sided cut-wood shed was built. Henry Martin prepared the plans, with an estimate of £1,457, and it was built by Hack & Son at the east end of the north bank of the South Dock. It was 150ft long, with two 45ft-span timber queen-post roofs on 19ft-tall castiron columns. (fn. 51) It was displaced by teak sheds and in 1902 divided so that most of it could be re-erected as a single-span structure, 260ft long, on the north side of the Blackwall Basin, a piling ground since 1853. (fn. 52) There designated No. 10A Shed, it was clad with corrugated iron in 1919–20 to provide storage for wool. It was demolished in 1949, following wartime bomb damage. (fn. 53)
The softwood trade virtually disappeared from the West India Docks when the South Dock was rebuilt in 1866–70, but it was sufficiently re-established by 1890 to produce complaints from wood brokers regarding the inadequate cover for cut wood. (fn. 54) These led to the erection of felt-roofed timber shedding (later N and O Sheds) in the Dye Wood Yard as an extension of a small shed of 1845. These buildings were cleared in 1928. (fn. 55)
In 1901–2 two large two-storey cut-wood sheds (R and S Sheds) were built in the Dye Wood Yard, with the intention of ending the unsatisfactory practice of storing cut wood in the North Quay Warehouses. (fn. 56) The sheds were built to plans prepared under C. E. Vernon and cost £6,389. They were placed close to the south quay of the Limehouse Basin, available as wharfage following the closure of the Limehouse entrance lock in 1894. Steel-framing was preferred to timber, despite its cost, because it allowed fewer columns. Peirson & Company supplied I-section girders and columns manufactured in Germany. The sheds, erected by direct labour, were open-sided, with twin 40ft-span timber Belfast-truss roofs supplied by D. Anderson & Son of Belfast and Bow (Plate 50a). (fn. 57) R and S Sheds were destroyed by fire in 1903. They had 'exactly suited' the requirements of the trade, and so they were rebuilt in 1904 to the same design, but with corrugated-iron, rather than felt, roofing. (fn. 58) R Shed was originally 324ft long, but was shortened in 1928, and both sheds were damaged by bombing in 1941. The smaller S Shed was cleared in 1951. (fn. 59) R Shed was repaired, clad and converted by John Mowlem & Company in 1954, at a cost of £29,385, to be the PLA's Divisional Engineers' Store, housing spare parts for a nearby vehicle repair depot, with electricians', joiners' and riggers' workshops. (fn. 60) The building was demolished in the early 1980s.
Until the 1890s, teak was stored in the open on a piling ground east of the Junction Dock. Increasing demand, in part due to the government's shipbuilding requirements, caused the stacks to grow large and difficult to manage. The timber trade's persistent demands for cover and improved cranage for teak were heeded in 1892, when a programme for development of the teak field was agreed. (fn. 61) This was carried out gradually, under H. F. Donaldson, by the erection of large timber-framed open-sided sheds with corrugated-ironclad Belfast-truss roofs and electric overhead travelling cranes on separately framed internal gantries (Plate 50b). The first phase was carried out in 1893 at a cost of £9,913 and comprised railways, turntables and three cranes with a shed over the north gantry, sited south of the Saltpetre Warehouse and west of the West India Dock Graving Dock. (fn. 62) The choice of electric cranes, the first use of electric motive power for dock machinery in London, followed discussions at the Victor Engineering Works at Holloway. (fn. 63) Electricity was experimentally applied to existing cranes at the East Wood Wharf before Donaldson ordered three 60ft-wide steel-framed 6-ton electric travelling cranes from John Grice Statter, of Westminster, and Stothert & Pitt, of Bath, for £1,228. (fn. 64) Nos 2 and 3 Sheds, slightly taller and wider, were built in 1894–5 for £5,350, incorporating the 1893 gantries. (fn. 65) The pressure for more shedding was maintained as teak imports boomed, increasing from 7,445 loads in 1892 to 24,751 loads in 1896. (fn. 66) The teak field development proceeded from north to south, and each shed was longer than its predecessor, to make the most of the irregular site. No. 4 Shed was built for £3,784 in 1896, and was equipped with two wooden-framed 6-ton electric travelling cranes supplied by Wimshurst, Hollick & Company, of Regent's Canal Dock. (fn. 67) The steel-framed cranes had proved too noisy. No. 5 Shed, built in 1897–8 at a cost of £4,669, was the longest of the sheds, extending right up to Preston's Road. (fn. 68) All the teak sheds were extended westwards up to the Junction Dock in 1898–9. (fn. 69) Further representations from the timber trade led to the building of No. 6 Shed in 1901–2 for £6,217. It too was equipped with a crane from Wimshurst, Hollick & Company. (fn. 70)
The teak sheds were simple and inexpensive structures, but were distinctive for having amongst the widest (100ft) and longest (up to 700ft) examples then extant of Belfasttruss roofs. This type of roof was pioneered in the late 1860s and 1870s by two Belfast felt manufacturers, McTear & Company and D. Anderson & Son, for store sheds, manufacturing workshops and shipyards. Used in England by the 1880s, the roof is a strong but light and inexpensive means of spanning large spaces. The roofs were made up with timber trusses constructed on the bowstring principle, with latticed laths sandwiched between doubled tie-beams and segmentally arched top chords. The trusses could be assembled off-site, and the curved roofs were generally covered with tarred felting on light curved boards. The use of corrugated iron at the West India Docks suggests a concern about fire. (fn. 71)
No. 7 Teak Shed was built by Charles Brand & Son in 1926. It was timber-framed, 350ft long, with a 68ftspan Belfast-truss roof and an electric travelling crane supplied by Carrick & Ritchie. The lattices were not parallel, as in the earlier teak sheds, but radiating, as in R and S Sheds. (fn. 72) The teak sheds were badly damaged by bombing, and were all cleared in the 1940s. (fn. 73)
Hardboard and Bulk Wine Sheds.
Clearance of the teak sheds left a large area with quay space at the Junction Dock open to redevelopment. Increasing tonnages of hardboard and linerboard were arriving in the Port with nowhere but open ground for storage, and so in 1956 the PLA sanctioned the erection of a hardboard and linerboard shed on part of the former teak field. PLA engineers designed a conventionally steel-framed 'umbrella'-roofed shed, but the plans were altered following the receipt of tenders. Tubewrights Limited, of Kirkby, Liverpool, proposed building the frame in tubular steel with a 'tied-arch' roof, considerably reducing, costs, particularly in the foundations. Their design was adopted and amended by the PLA, and the building, designated No. 5 Shed, was erected in 1957–8 for £58,818 (fig. 95). (fn. 74)
No. 5 Shed is 300ft by 125ft and was built with an entirely open floor for the free movement of mobile cranes, the jib height of which dictated its clearance of 31ft 6in. (Plate 55d). It was clad in aluminium alloy sheeting, with asbestos-cement roof sheeting. Alphamin Limited supplied aluminium doors, 22ft 3in. by 10ft, to slide between the frame and the sheeting, to minimize damage. The north wall is of brick with reinforced-concrete columns and was built to be a firewall to a second shed. (fn. 75) No. 5 Shed was soon full, and in 1961 No. 4 Shed was built on its north side along similar lines. (fn. 76)
No. 5 Shed was a significant step in the development of shed construction in the Port of London. Tubularsteel stagings for storing plywood had come into use in the Port in 1938, and in 1944 the PLA erected an 'experimental tubular scaffolding framed' hut. (fn. 77) After the Second World War, wide-span, clear-floor, highclearance sheds were needed for mechanized handling. These tended to be more expensive than less convenient accommodation. At first tubular steel was more costly than conventional steel, but improved welding and fabrication techniques allowed Tubewrights Limited to supply the lightweight wide-span frame of No. 5 Shed at a competitive price. Between 1956 and 1969 a number of latticed tubular-steel space-frame sheds were built in the Port, particularly at the Millwall Docks. (fn. 78)
From 1975 until 1991 Nos 4 and 5 Sheds were part of a bulk wine facility. The PLA had established a successful bulk wine berth at the London Dock in 1958–9, the first such public facility in Britain, but this closed to water-borne traffic in 1967. (fn. 79) The demand for bulk storage for cheaper wines was increasing because of rapid growth in wines consumption, and so a bulk wine installation was formed on what had become a part of the former East Wood Wharf, at the south-east corner of the Export Dock. Despite general retrenchment in the Port, the first part of the scheme was carried out in 1968–9 for £112,000. A former mahogany shed (No. 15B) was strengthened and clad, and Whessoe Limited, of Crook, County Durham, supplied 34 fibreglass storage tanks to hold 380, 600 gallons, some 20ft high and 13ft in diameter, others 10ft high and 10ft in diameter. Previously, such tanks had generally been glass-lined concrete of German manufacture. The second stage, in 1969–70, involved the demolition of No. 15c Shed and the construction of two sheds south-west of the first to house another 615,000 gallons at a cost of £305,000. Fairmile-Lilleshall Limited, of Oakengates in Shropshire, built the sheds, which were 106ft by 81 ft 6in. and 37ft 4in. high at the eaves, with steel I-beam portal frames clad in corrugated-asbestos sheeting with 25ft-high doors. Prodorite (formerly Whessoe) Limited, of Wednesbury, Staffordshire, supplied 96 tanks. These sheds gave the West India Docks the largest fibreglass-tank wine storage installation in the country. (fn. 80)
The success of the Bulk Wine Installation, and booming wine imports, led to further expansion in 1974–5, when No. 5 Shed was converted to house one million gallons of wine at a cost of £455,000 (Plate 55c). Peter Fraenkel & Partners were design consultants, and the building contract was awarded to John Mowlem & Company. Concrete plinths were built for the wine tanks, and underground supply pipes were laid from a concrete box terminal on the north quay of the South Dock. Prodorite Limited supplied 80 large and 50 small fibreglass tanks. (fn. 81)
Despite the possible closure of the docks, the PLA remained committed to continuing operations at the Bulk Wine Installation. In 1979 Teltscher Brothers, importers of Yugoslavian and other wines, agreed to lease No. 4 Shed to set up a bottling and distribution centre for the wine in No. 5 Shed. This became part of a larger plan to move all the firm's operations to the West India Docks. The PLA granted the company a long-lease option on the site of the Junction Dock, so that once the bottling centre was established they could build offices and warehousing. The first of two bottling lines and some stainlesssteel tanks were operational in No. 4 Shed by the end of 1980. (fn. 82) The Junction Dock was filled in by the PLA and, in 1982–3, Teltscher Brothers built offices and a warehouse on what had become an Enterprise Zone site. The architects were Building Design Systems, with Construction Management as consultants. R. M. Douglas (Construction) were the main building contractors. The cost of the development was about £3,500,000. Lutomer House, the two-storey office building, has red-brick facing and first-floor semi-circular windows, and looks out over the Blackwall Basin. The architecture was devised as a suitable 'dock' style after negotiations with the LDDC. It is comparable to that of the quayside elevation of the slightly earlier Billingsgate Market. The warehouse was the last bonded warehouse in London's up-river docks. (fn. 83)
The PLA closed its operations at the Bulk Wine Installation in 1983, and the sheds erected in 1968–70 were demolished in 1984. Commercial ship access to the docks ceased, but Teltscher Brothers continued to use Nos 4 and 5 Sheds, through road deliveries and short leases of the latter building, until the site was vacated in 1991. (fn. 84)
Export Dock Sheds.
The quays of the Export Dock were first developed with simple 200ft-long open timber sheds for ships' stores, two of which were enclosed for more valuable goods. In 1806 four sheds designed by Thomas Morris were built on the north quay by Howkins & Company, and three more were built there in 1809, with another erected on the south quay (Plate 51b). (fn. 85) A brick shed was built on the south quay in 1817, and another shed was erected there in 1821–2. (fn. 86) A long shed for the inspection of herrings was built inside the western half of the Export Dock south quay boundary wall in 1822–3 to John Rennie's designs. The contractor was Thomas Johnson & Son. The Herring Shed had a lean-to roof on cast-iron columns of the type that survives at Cannon Workshops (see page 321). (fn. 87) From about 1835 the dock company, through financial exigence, rented out the Export Dock sheds as private stores for shipping and other firms, a practice that became general. (fn. 88) Another export shed was built on the south quay in 1860, and four more brick export sheds, and timber extensions to others, were built in 1874–6, so that the western two-thirds of the south quay had continuous cover. (fn. 89)
By 1900 the ramshackle and miscellaneous collection of single-storey sheds around the Export Dock had become an obvious target for redevelopment. New Export Dock sheds were part of Frederick Palmer's improvement programme of 1911. The north quay was redeveloped in 1912–14 with two sheds built by A. Jackaman & Son for an estimated £23,650. Designated A and B Sheds, these were simple buildings, 744ft by 45ft, with steel frames clad in galvanized corrugated-iron sheeting, the cheapest appropriate material available, and external sliding doors (Plates 45a, 54d). (fn. 90) The south quay sheds were replaced in 1915 by buildings also serving the north quay of the South Dock (see below).
In 1934 A Shed was adapted to receive bananas from Jamaica. The work involved an internal railway line and conveying machinery. (fn. 91) Additional accommodation for the Jamaica fruit trade was provided in 1938–9 by the extension of B Shed 300ft to the east. Both programmes were carried out by John Mowlem & Company. (fn. 92)
B Shed received a direct hit in an air raid in 1940. The damaged central section was cleared in 1948, and the building became two sheds, 456ft and 468ft long. The banana trade, suspended from 1940 to 1946, left A Shed in 1949. (fn. 93) A and B Sheds were again used for export traffic and, in 1965–6, were adapted, with larger door-openings and a canopy linking the sections of B Shed, to facilitate mechanized handling. (fn. 94) They were demolished in the early 1980s.
South Dock Sheds.
When the West India Dock Company acquired the City Canal in 1829, an assortment of sheds and other buildings on its banks were pulled down (see page 277). The north bank of the South Dock was made a timber piling ground, with a few small sheds retained to give cover for deals and bonded goods. (fn. 95) As the dock company's finances worsened in the 1830s, it re-let premises on the banks of the South Dock. The largest such area was a deep plot on the north bank, with a frontage of 150ft and a jetty, that was leased to the Anti Dry-Rot Company in 1836. (fn. 96) The company erected tanks in which timber was treated by the patent Kyan process, one of several rival methods of preserving timber for building and shipping. (fn. 97) The company left the premises in 1843, and the dock company reinstated the site as a timber piling ground. (fn. 98)
The introduction of the guano trade to the docks in 1849 caused substantial development of the open banks of the South Dock. In 1850 two timber sheds for guano, each about 500ft by 100ft, were built by G. J. Watts on the western stretch of the south bank for £2,485. (fn. 99) In the following year Watts built a brick guano shed, about 350ft by 150ft, to the designs of J. S. Adams and H. Martin, for £3,744. This was on the north bank and extended to the Export Dock south quay. By 1852 two more timber guano sheds, each 500ft by 100ft, had been erected behind those of 1850. These were built by Hack & Son for £4,637. (fn. 100) All the guano sheds had multiple gables, giving long sawtooth elevations to the docks. (fn. 101) The guano trade was subsequently transferred to the Royal Victoria Dock, and in 1860 the 1852 sheds were moved to the East India Docks. The brick shed was used for timber and jute, and in 1861 one of the remaining south bank sheds was converted for use as a drill ground for the Royal Naval Reserve. (fn. 102)
When the South Dock was redeveloped in 1866–70 the sheds on its banks were swept away, except for the brick shed built in 1851. Brick and timber export sheds were built piecemeal along the north, east and west quays in 1869–74 to provide virtually continuous shedding around the new dock. Many of them were let to the shippers holding the related berths, and some were fitted with hydraulic machinery and offices. (fn. 103) A timber drill shed was built at the north end of the east quay when, in 1873, the hulk of the frigate HMS President was moored there as a training ship for the Royal Naval Reserve. A Navy hulk remained there until about 1908. In 1913 the Motor Packing Company took over the drill shed. (fn. 104)
The south quay of the remodelled South Dock was devoted to warehoused imports and in 1871 was provided with a quay shed to protect goods unloading to the warehouses. The shed was designed by Sir John Hawkshaw and built by George Wythes for £12,585. Hawkshaw intended that iron columns should be used, but in fact timber uprights were employed, for the sake of economy. The building was 1,600ft by 60ft, roofed in two 30ftspans, with 12ft clearance to timber and wrought-iron roof trusses at 15ft centres. The south side was closed; the north or quay side was open until 1873. The last 600ft to be built utilized iron underslung purlin-trusses to allow 20ft bay lengths. (fn. 105) In 1875–6 the South Dock south quay shed was given an upper storey, which was designed by Augustus Manning and built by J. Perry & Company for £25,052. This was accomplished by raising the whole building on to 8ft-high timber stanchions and a timber floor. The Wharf and Warehouse Committee imposed full-height brick firewalls, end and south walls, and enclosed staircases. The upper floor was used to warehouse tea, wool, seeds and jute, rather than for transit handling. (fn. 106) Fire destroyed two of the six divisions in 1895, and the site was redeveloped in 1898-9. with a 420ft-long I-section steel-framed and corrugated-ironclad two-storey fibre shed. (fn. 107) The rest of the South Dock south quay shed was replaced in 1929.
The south quay of the South Dock Basin was built up with four timber-built sheds in the early 1870s, largely for Donald Currie & Company's India steamships. The berth was used for the Chinese trade of McGregor, Gow & Company's Glen Line from 1879 until 1904. Improvements to the sheds included a 35ft-wide barrelvaulted wrought-iron trussed canopy. (fn. 108) The Glen Line's premises extended to the boundary wall, on the other side of which was built Glen Terrace (see page 604). The Line also gave its name to the Glen Field, vacant land south of the South Dock Basin sheds. (fn. 109) The sheds later were used for teak and were demolished in 1929. (fn. 110)
Frederick Palmer proposed a rationalization of the assorted sheds around the South Dock in 1911, but the work was deferred. (fn. 111) Wartime pressure to provide warehouse space for sugar forced the PLA to proceed with the construction of two sheds on the north quay of the South Dock, in advance of the main South Dock redevelopment. These were built by direct labour in 1915, to Palmer's plans of 1911, for £28,214. (fn. 112) In 1919– 20 a third, eastern, shed was added, for wool imports, for £30,305. (fn. 113) These were F, G and H Sheds, each 504ft by 120ft, with galvanized corrugated-iron sheeting on double-span steel frames with internal railway lines. (fn. 114) They became export sheds in 1929. (fn. 115) G and H Sheds were heavily damaged by bombing and in 1947–9 were completely rebuilt by Dawnays Limited for £116,645. The north sides of the sheds were reduced in width from 60ft to 46ft, and 20ft-tall doorways for mobile cranes were introduced. (fn. 116) F, G and H Sheds survived into the early 1980s; their site was redeveloped as Heron Quays (see page 718).
Redevelopment of the south quay of the South Dock was part of the last phase of the improvements at the docks carried out in 1926–30. In 1926–30 five quay sheds were built by A. Jackaman & Son to Palmer's plans. Two single-storey transit sheds were erected on the newly formed quay east of the Millwall Passage for £84,000. Designated N and O Sheds, these were similar to F, G and H Sheds, being 'standard' corrugated-iron-clad double-span steel-framed buildings, each 500ft by 120ft, with 10ft-wide canopied loading platforms away from the quay. To the west were L and M Sheds, 560ft- and 627ftlengths of double-storey transit shed fixed to the fronts of the nineteenth-century warehouses. These were 'oldfashioned' buildings, brick-built with hipped slate roofs. Their dockside elevations were embellished with Portland stone dressings and blind oculi. Further west was K Shed, a small single-storey steel-frame building clad in iron. (fn. 117)
By the 1950s L and M Sheds were already 'totally inadequate' because such double-storeyed buildings were unsuited to mechanized working. A scheme to redevelop the whole south quay west of the Millwall Passage was prepared in 1958–9. The first stage was a new L Shed, on the site of D Warehouse and the eastern half of the old L Shed, built in 1960–1 to plans by PLA engineers. This single-storey transit shed, which cost £111,139, was 310ft by 150ft, with no intermediate supports, and was amongst the first of the Port's 'mechanized' and structurally innovative single-storey tubular-steel space-frame sheds. (fn. 118) It had bowstring trusses on cantilevered stanchions with diagonal ties to strengthen the frame. The aluminium sliding doors were 31ft 6in. high by 20ft wide, yet could be opened by hand, and the cladding was aluminium trough sheeting (Plate 56b). (fn. 119)
M Shed was demolished in 1964–5, K Shed in 1976–7, and L, N and O Sheds in 1983–5. (fn. 120)