Vic Keegan’s Lost London 37: Queenhithe Dock

by Victor Keegan

Queenhithe Dock is not much to look at, surrounded as it is on three sides by office blocks, and the wonder is that it is there at all. On a bad day it could be mistaken for a refuge for flotsam from the river.

The reason no-one has built on it is because they can’t. It is a scheduled ancient monument – quite likely the last Anglo-Saxon dock in the world and the last surviving inlet on the Thames in Central London. It was once a busy port, set up in 899 – the final year of King Alfred’s reign – and dealt with trade from places upstream of the Thames while Billingsgate (downstream) dealt with international trade. 

The dock is one of the few secular memories of medieval London that is still much as it was in olden days. It is situated on the north bank of the Thames, east of the Millennium Bridge opposite Tate Modern and the Globe Theatre. Archaeologists have uncovered revetments (retaining walls) dating back to 1146 in Bull Wharf next door, which Queenhithe once extended into.  

The “queen” in Queenhithe was Matilda of Scotland who, amazingly, was given the revenues from taxes at Queenhithe by her husband Henry I. It was originally called Etheredshithe. A handsome timeline of the dock’s history runs alongside.

Read more of Vic Keegan’s Lost London columns here and buy his book of London poems here.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*