Docks to Docklands

Docks to Docklands

The redevelopment of Docklands was Europe's largest regeneration project of the late 20th century. It transformed eight and a half square miles of inner London that had been left derelict when the large docks complexes on both sides of the Thames closed.

The first docks to close were the East India Docks in 1965. Changes in trade, coupled with the containerisation of cargoes, caused London's port activity to move downriver to the new container port at Tilbury. By 1970, St Katharine's docks at Wapping, the East India Docks, the Surrey Docks, Limehouse Basin and Poplar Docks had all closed. By 1980, the remaining docks on the Isle of Dogs were all shut or awaiting closure. The last to close were the Royal Docks at Beckton, which closed in 1981. Thousands of jobs were lost.

In the early 1970s, St Katharine's docks had been redeveloped for tourism and leisure using private money. The scale of the dereliction across the other sites led the government of the day to establish an 'urban development corporation' to lever private and public money into the task of regeneration. The London Docklands Development Corporation (L.D.D.C) was established in 1981 and given planning control over the whole of what was by now wasteland. The Isle of Dogs, at the heart of the former docks, was designated an 'enterprise zone'.

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