Colin Grainger

Mauretania…a different view of a piece of history in Newham’s docks.

A different view of the magical moment from Newham’s history…as the famous Mauretania becomes the biggest ship in history to enter the Royal Docks in North Woolwich in 1939.

In the same way that London City Airport gives certain sounds and smells to the community of Silvertown and North Woolwich, this vessel was unique.

Thousands of amazing ships that dominated our landscape and our lives.

I unearthed this picture from my auntie’s loft this week.

King George V Dock was one of three docks and was built to enhance and extend the trade that was passing though the Royal Victoria and Albert Docks. As the newest of the docks, King George V was well equipped with electric cranes and mechanical devices to aid the dockers.

There were also extensive refrigeration facilities on site. As a result the main goods traded through the docks where fruit and vegetables, frozen meat and later bulk grain.

KGV as it was known by dockers and lockers was designed with modern shipping in mind.

The depth and size of the entrance locks were suitable for the large steam ships, container ships and passenger liners that frequented London in the mid-twentieth century.

The Gallions Reach entrance of King George V Dock was just about large enough to accommodate the 35,655 ton liner Mauretania in 1939.

But it was a close run thing. The thousands present told how you could almost reach out and touch the beauty.

The Gallions Hotel, featured in a Rudyard Kipling poem with the line “tis Gallions and the docks” still stands today as a listed building. The area was…and still is…that famous.


Picture: Newham Archives

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This article was written on 08 Jun 2013, and is filed under Communities, community, East London, History, London City Airport, Newham, North Woolwich, Reflections of the past, Royal Docks.

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