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A Timeline History of Rotherhithe  
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A timeline history of Rotherhithe & Surrey Quays with prints, photographs and maps. Click on images to enlarge.


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Surrey Docks History

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Rotherhithe may have meant 'landing place for cattle'. Also known in past as Redriff.

Mediaeval Rotherhithe

1014 King Canute attacked Danes in London by digging a canal to bypass the defended London Bridge.

Manor house for Edward III built.

English Fleet fitted out for war with France under Black Prince and John of Gaunt.

Henry IV (1367-1413) stayed in Rotherhithe as a recluse due to leprosy.

Tudor Rotherhithe

1550 Shippe inn built in Rotherhithe High Street (later Spread Eagle, Crown and Mayflower in 1956).

Stuart Rotherhithe

1612 Rotherhithe shipwrights awarded a Royal charter.

Peters Hill School founded.

Captain Christopher Jones of Mayflower buried in St Mary's churchyard.

Samuel Pepys visited Cherry Garden in Rotherhithe.

Early mention of Angel inn.

Howlands Dock constructed as first London docks (later Greenland Dock).

1710 St Mary's Church damaged due to flooding.

Georgian Rotherhithe

1715 New St Mary's built. Architect: John James (c. 1673-1746).

1725 Howlands Great Dock leased to South Sea Company.

Rocque’s Map of London with streets of Rotherhithe

Stone spire added to St Mary's.

Howlands Dock sold & renamed Greenland Dock (used by whaling ships)..

Some of the earliest steamships built at Rotherhithe.

Peters Hill School moved to present position in St Marychurch Street.

Grand Surrey Docks & Canal Company formed. Plan was to link Rotherhithe with Portsmouth (via Epsom).

Work began on Grand Surrey Canal (Ralph Dodds).

William Richie bought deeds to Greenland Dock - renamed Commercial Dock

1807 William Richie founded Commercial Dock Company
Rival East Country (later South) Dock built.
Grand Surrey Basin dock opened.

Rival Baltic Dock opened (later acquired by Commercial Dock Company).

Grand Surrey Canal stopped at Camberwell Road.

CDC opened 4 new docks: Baltic & Norway Docks plus Acorn & Lavender Ponds
+ Russia Dock?

Extension of Grand Surrey Canal to Peckham.

Early Victorian Rotherhithe

1837 Cary's New Plan Of London (map) with streets of Rotherhithe.

1838 Temeraire, veteran 3 deck ship of Battle of Trafalgar, broken up at Beatson's Yard.

1842 Brunel Engine House built.

Thames Tunnel built by Brunel (started in 1825) as a pedestrian tunnel to Wapping.

East Country Dock bought by Commercial Dock Co - enlarged & renamed South Dock

Grand Surrey Dock Company and Commercial Dock Company amalgamated.

Mid Victorian Rotherhithe

1860 Albion docks completed.

1862 Stanford’s Map of London and its Suburbs showing Rotherhithe in detail.

1863 Lavender Lock (?) built.

Commercial Dock Company amalgamated with the Surrey Commercial Dock Co. as the Surrey Commercial Dock Company. Links were opened between the two sets of docks and ponds. 80% of UK timber imports passed through Surrey Commercial Docks.

Thames Tunnel acquired for railway.

Southwark Park opened (previously islands and market gardens).

Rotherhithe Station opened on East London Line.
Deptford Station opened on East London Line (later Surrey Docks & now Surrey Quays).

1876 Canada Dock opened.
The Grand Surrey Canal Dock and Canal Company had earlier built a number of four timber ponds to their system. This included Timber Pond No 4 (later named Canada Pond). It became the basis of Canada Dock. After construction of Canada Dock the remains, named Canada Pond, lay parallel and to the west of the Dock. This later pond was connected to both Canada Dock and Quebec Pond.

Late Victorian Rotherhithe

1884 Rotherhithe Underground Station opened to Wapping.

Surrey Docks offices opened.

Dockers Strike in Surrey Docks.

Greenland Dock expandsion begun by Sir John Wolfe-Barry.
It was doubled in length & depth & cut across old Grand Surrey Canal connecting with Canada Dock. Large lock added.

Terris Theatre opened on Lower Road. Designed by LR Sprague (1907 renamed Rotherhithe Hippodrome but destroyed in WW2).


Edwardian Rotherhithe

1900 Parish of St Mary became part of Borough of Bermondsey in London.

Greenland Dock expanded.

Docks came under control of Port of London Authority.

1908 Bartholomew's Handy Reference Atlas Of London & Suburbs (map) showing Rotherhithe in detail.
Rotherhithe Tunnel opened by London County Council. Linked Rotherhithe with Limehouse. Engineer: Edward H. Tabor.

Inter-War Rotherhithe

Quebec Dock opened
Arial photo of Surry Commercial Docks

1927 St Olave's Church built as a seaman's mission for Norwegian sailors.

1933 Rotherhithe station now part of London Underground.

Rotherhithe in WW2

1940 7 Sept: Blitz on Surrey Docks by German bombers. 350,000 tons of timber destroyed.

1944 Phoenix breakwaters (for D-Day Mulberry harbours named after Mulberry Quiay) built at Quebec & Russia Yard.
South Dock drained to build concrete breakwaters?.

Post War Rotherhithe

1952 Opening Of New Surrey Lock Bridge (film).

Deal porters jobs lost after mechanisation.

1959 Finnish Seamen's Mission on Albion Street rebuilt as Finnish Church. Designed by by Yorke Rosenberg & Marshall.

1965 Borough of Bermondsey became part of Borough of Southwark.

New docks at Tilbury received packaged goods.

Russia Dock filled in

Surrey Commercial Docks closed.

Grand Surrey Canal filled in.

Surrey Docks Farm opened by Hilary Peters. 2.2 acres by the Thames with chickens, ducks, goats, sheep, cows & pigs

Surrey Commercial Docks sold to Southwark Council.
Infilled 423 of 460 acres of dock water. Built feeder roads (Salter etc) .
Riverside warehouses demolished.
Southwark Council’s development Film (19 minute).

New housing built on Docks.

Russia Docks Woodland planted (34.5 acres).

LDDC took over docks development from Southwark Council.

Lavender Pond Nature Park opened.
Lavender Pump House became Rotherhithe Heritage Museum.

Stave Dock filled in,

Stave Hill built. 30ft high out of waste material & rubble.

Surrey Docks Farm moved to new buildings.

Stave Hill Ecological Park managed by Trust For Urban Ecology.
1988 Surrey Quays Shopping Centre opened on site of Canada Dock.
Tube renamed Surrey Quays.

Associated Newspapers opened a printing plant.

Redriff School opened.
Surrey Docks watersports Centre opened.

Scandic Crown Hotel opened at Nelson Dock (leter Holiday Inn & Hilton).
Columbia Wharf.

South Dock a marina with 200 berths.

1999 Canada Water Underground station opened on the site of the old Albion Dock. Part of the Jubilee Line. 

2010 Rotherhithe, Canada Water and Surrey Quays station linked to London Overground as part of the East London Line extension from Dalston to New Cross.

Book list
London Docks - John Pudney (1975 Thames & Hudson)
Short History of the Surrey Commercial Docks - Stuart Rankin (1999 Dockside Studio)
Bermondsey and Rotherhithe Remembered - Stephen Humphrey (2004 History Press)
Bermondsey and Rotherhithe Through Time - Debra Gosling (2012 Amberley Press)
London's Docklands: An Illustrated Guide - Geoff Marshall (2018)

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