Decline and Regeneration

From seascape to skycrapers

During the 19th century London’s port was one of the busiest in the world but, by the end of the 1950s, many of the docks were not used at all.

When ships started to carry containers in the 1960s the docks and surrounding areas were too small to handle the larger vessels and trade moved 20 miles up the Thames to Tilbury and Felixstowe. Large cranes were used to lift containers off ships so labourers at the docks lost their jobs.

By 1980 every single one of the docks had closed and London was left with a brilliant site for redevelopment. In 1996 The Pool of London Partnership was set up to promote urban renewal in the area with an investment of £100m. The More London Estate and City Hall, designed by Foster + Partners, opened in 2002 with City Hall becoming the headquarters of the Greater London Authority. The area began to change – old warehouses were converted into flats, restaurants and bars sprang up and people who worked in the city chose to move there because it was a pleasant place to live.