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July, 1800, and opened for the reception of shipping on September 1, 1802.
George Hibbert, Esq., was the first Chairman, and Robert Milligan, Esq., Deputy Chairman, and were the great promoters of these Docks; and upon the death of the latter in May, 1809, the proprietors, much to his honour, were pleased, for his active services, to erect a statue to his memory with the following inscription:
To perpetuate on this spot
the Memory of ROBERT MILLIGAN, Esq.,
a Merchant of London, To whose genius, perseverance, and guardian care, the surrounding great work principally owes its design, accomplishment, and regulations, THE DIRECTORS AND PROPRIETORS,
Deprived by his death,
On the 21st May, 1809,
by their unanimous vote
The statue was erected by Mr. Westmacott in 1813. The above inscription is on a bronze tablet at the back of the pedestal of the statue; the plate was originally placed in the front.
My friend George Hibbert, Esq. who was one of the principal West-India Merchants of London, chairman of that body, and for many years the able and zealous agent for the island of Jamaica, and for a short time in parliament, died on the 31st October, 1837, respected and re
gretted by all who knew him. In public, he was an able and judicious advocate, and in private, a warm and kind friend. He was a liberal patron of the arts and sciences, and for many years President of the London Institution.
The Act for the formation of a canal across the Isle of Dogs, to avoid the circumnavigation of the river by Greenwich, passed in 1800, and was under the management of the City of London. This canal was afterwards purchased by the West-India Dock Company, and, with additions, now forms a part of their docks.
The Act for the Merchants’ Docks at Wapping, originally intended for general purposes, without exclusion or monopoly, did not pass till the beginning of the next sessions in 1800, without the cut from Blackwall as at first proposed. It was begun in June, 1802, and was opened for the reception of shipping in January, 1805. Under the Warehousing Act, passed afterwards, tobacco, brandy, and rice were allowed to be bonded there.
The Act for the East-India Docks and for bonding teas, &c. (for the trade of India) passed in 1803, and the Docks opened in 1806, and my friend, John Woolmore, Esq., the first promoter, was elected chairman.
The East-India Company, since the alteration in their charter, have sold some of their valuable warehouses in the city, which has caused great alterations as to the system of management of the other docks.
The WestIndia Dock Company have purchased the East-India warehouse in Fenchurch-street, and the St. Katharine Dock Company those in Cutler-street. The East and West India Dock Companies have lately united their interests,
I was on board the ships that first entered all these
docks and the City Canal, as well as the St. Katharine's at a later period.
The Act for the Commercial Dock, on the Surrey side of the river, for timber, oil, corn, &c. passed in the year 1810, and the docks were opened in 1813.
St. Katharine's.- In the year 1825 an Act passed for making docks at this place for the convenience of the Baltic and other trades. These docks owed their origin more to the combination and competition of particular interests than to the increase of trade and commerce of the Port of London. They extend over a plot of ground which had been surveyed by the London Dock Company, but was never further pursued on account of its possessing so small an area for water compared with the great number of houses upon it, and part of them upon a rising ground. These docks were commenced on the 3d of May, 1827, and opened on the 25th October, 1828. Thomas Tooke, Esq. was the first chairman. The dock is divided into two parts, with only one entrance and basin.
In August, 1800, Mr. Vaughan directed the height of the tides to be taken at the gates of the London-Dock, and to be regularly registered under the superintendence of Mr. Pearce, an intelligent foreman, who had been in the employ of Mr. Alexander at the pier-head, and to be kept as at Liverpool. The Directors of the London Dock Company were pleased to permit John W. Lubbock, Esq. F.R.S. who was making some valuable observations on tides generally, to make use of these tables, which were
afterwards printed in his interesting and important Observations on Tides, published in the Philosophical Transactions, from the years 1831 to 1837. There are other valuable communications in these Transactions made by Professor Whewell, of Cambridge, from the year 1834 to 1838, which contained many interesting observations made at 500 stations of the Coast Guard in Great Britain and Ireland, and 100 stations in America, Spain, Portugal, France, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, and Norway, under the direction of the Lords of the Admiralty.
I cannot more happily state the merits and services of these two scientific gentlemen on the subject of tides, than by referring to an extract from His Royal Highness the Duke of Sussex's Address, (which will be found in the Miscellaneous Part, No. 7,) and I hope that their researches in developing the great laws of nature will promote the cause of science and benefit commerce.
Mr. Vaughan frequently attended Captain Shields while he was making the survey of the river and the position of the mooring-chains, and making observations on the tides. Mr. Vaughan himself ascertaining the number of ships that could moor, at high water, between London-bridge and Bugsby's Hole, calculated on the average of various surveys made by him. In the year 1796, a table was also made of the regular rising of the tide from low water to high water mark on the south side of the river, Captain Shield marking the staff every three inches, while Mr. Vaughan kept the time for every ten or fifteen minutes on a calm and quiet day; these observations were not however repeated, but it was observed, that by drawing a line from the point of time to the point of the height of the tide it always produced a curved line.
With respect to the tide of the Thames, it may be stated that there are occasional fluctuations, owing to the state of the winds when the sea of the German Ocean is driven into the mouth of the Thames, instead of through the Straits of Dover; which I conceive will account, together with freshes from up the country, for some of the very high tides in the upper part of the river and at the dockgates, and which occasioned the tides to flow about twenty feet and upwards. I requested Mr. Pearce to state the periods when they were at and above twenty feet. The water overflowed the banks at the stairs off Wapping, and at one of these periods I went down there and found in the street that I walked through the water half-leg deep, and the people were bailing the water out of their cellars,* and I am not incorrect in stating, that many years ago the tide flowed into Old Palace-yard and into Westminsterhall. It may
here be remarked, that the Thames, in regard to its tides as well as the draft of water at London, is by
* The site of St. John's, Wapping, and parts adjacent were anciently within the influx of the river, and was supposed to have been first embanked in 1544,—“ By frequent inundations of the river Thames its “ banks in these parts became sufferers; for about the year 1565 divers “ breaches were made therein, which were no sooner repaired, than “ another happened in 1571, which the Commissioners of Sewers, after “ viewing the same, were of opinion that the most effectual way to secure “ the bank of the river in these parts, would be to erect houses thereon, “ to which end ground was taken, and the first foundation of the house “ laid, where Wapping at present is situate.”— Maitland's History of “ London, book viii. p. 768.
See Plan of the London-Dock in the Appendix, p. 2, printed in 1794.