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London's Docklands: A History of the Lost Quarter [Paperback]

Fiona Rule
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
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Book Description

2 Aug 2012
This mass-market paperback edition of Fiona Rule's successful London's Docklands follows in the footsteps of the author's previous bestseller, The Worst Street in London. This fascinating insight into London's docklands is the result of extensive research into an part of London that has intrigued the author for many years. In its heyday, the area was dominated by the Port of London; a sprawling network of quays, ancient wharves, deep canals and high-walled basins that stretched along the river Thames from the City to Tilbury. Two or three generations ago, London Docks provided employment for over 100,000 men, but the demise of London's docklands in the late 20th century ended a tradition of waterside industry that had existed in London since Roman times. Yet the Docks themselves still stand defiantly; too expensive (and expansive) to be attractive to property developers despite the fact that most are sited in prime real estate areas. For the foreseeable future, the Docks will remain part of London, a visual reminder that for a time, Britannia did indeed rule the waves. This splendid book chronicles the rise and fall of this most under-explored part of historical London by plundering the wealth of evidence left behind by the people who worked, lived and visited the area. From archaeological finds through to diaries, newspaper articles, census returns and personal interviews, the lost docks of London are rediscovered through fascinating tales of Medieval mercers, river pirates, shipbuilders, merchant adventurers, mud larks, Dockers, socialist agitators, brothel keepers and opium eaters to name but a few. London's docklands and its people were hugely influential not only in shaping the commercial destiny of the capital but also the development and social structure of the entire eastern side of the city. At this uncertain and precarious point in their history, it is important that their story is told before all remnants of their illustrious past are erased forever.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Ian Allan; Reprint edition (2 Aug 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0711037167
  • ISBN-13: 978-0711037168
  • Product Dimensions: 2.8 x 13.3 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 98,317 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the past restored 20 Jun 2010
I received a phone call from a shipping acquaintance to ask if I would offer a few anecdotes to the author of a forthcoming book on the London Docks. I worked in the docks in the early 1960's so was happy to oblige.As it was written by a woman I was sceptical about the book before I had read it. Not because I am sexist but because the docks were manned by men for the greatest part. As I was reading the book I quickly realised that here was someone who had a passion for the Thames and its docklands
history of two thousand years. I thought I was passionate about them but my passion was contemporary and I wished I had this book to read back then.
It is researched by someone who has highlighted the important events from the mundane which must have been some task considering the timespan covered.
It is also written with great compassion for those whose lives which were drastically changed during the great upheavals that occurred. It is the human perspective that gripped me as well as the genesis of the names of various well known landmarks. Many of which were unknown to me.She brought them to life.
The reader is transported to these events by Fiona's lively but accurate imagination. Although nearly half a century has passed since I knew that lost world
my memories have been greatly enriched by having read this book.
My contribution is a drop in the ocean to the rest of the story. I feel as though I should declare it though as Fiona's integrity shines throughout and I would not wish to compromise it.
In conclusion; for someone who worked and knew that world I would not hesitate to urge those interested to read this volume for a brilliant overall portrayal from Roman times to the recent developements ,of the lost landmarks, lost communities and lost language of our capital city's greatest asset . The docks and wharves which established its fame and history.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars very interesting! 1 Dec 2010
By gail
As a Londoner I found this book fascinating. Being born in Palmers Green and living in Teddington for 20 years and losing a godmother in the blitz of 1940 it was amazing to learn how life in the Docks and the east side of London affected the whole of the life of the City. So many historical nuggets - Hays Wharf so old and still working: Isle of Dogs - possible reason for name: so interesting if you like history and want to know more about your city.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Not really 22 April 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Sorry I wanted to like this book but the quality of the writing and research did not do justice to the subject. There were long sections e.g. on Roman London that had very little to do with the docks and were more general history. When she gets to the development of the docks from the early 19th century - an astonishing bit of industrial building - there is very little detail.
No maps - this is ridiculous - I am a Londoner but struggled with her description of the locations. One map of Surrey Quays showing the docks would have said more than most of this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic book 7 Mar 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A fantastic read-could not put thos book down. It covers the whole history of London in detail but is very easy to read and understand- it is gripping!!
I gained a whole new understanding of London-how it developed and why it is so successful today. The photographs are great-woudl have liked a few more!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Born and Bred in E16 14 Jan 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Excellent read for any ex Custom House Boy.

I could always see the ships from my bedroom window. And New Year the sound of Ships Hooters and Sirens, New Year has never been the same.

My father who was also a dockie took me down the docks one day and on board the Chusan P.O. Liner. A boy hood experience never forgotten I could also name all the shipping lines by their funnels. When I was 19 I joined the West Ham Fire Brigade based at Silvertown Fire Station in the early sixties and as a raw recruit had to name all the dock gates and where they were and when they were open. What memories this book has invoked in me again now I am 71 years old.

Thanks for taking me down memory Lane
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5.0 out of 5 stars Huge historical interest 3 Jan 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Every page of interest.
Would recommend to anyone interested in history including pre Norman.
Not just for London dwellers. A read for all.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Well Written Easy Read 26 Dec 2012
By Dr. R. Brandon TOP 1000 REVIEWER
This is a well written interesting book aimed at the general reader. It contains no new research and relies entirely on secondary sources but is none the worse for that. The author, Fiona Rule, takes us on a comprehensive history tour of the docklands from the time to the Romans right up to the formation of the London Docklands Development Corporation (LDDC) and the re-development of Canary Wharf. Much space is taken with the growth of the City and Westminster and the role of the Thames in facilitating trade. After the leaving of the Romans, and the long hiatus that followed, the pace of change quickens with the approach of the 17th century. It is at this stage that we encounter the familiar stories of the Great Plague and the subsequent Fire of London in 1666. The author describes the effects of these twin catastrophes on the docks very well. As the 18th and 19th centuries approach Rule relates the inevitable march east, as regards dockland development, as great efforts are made to take shipping off the Thames and into enclosed docks in order to relieve congestion on the river and speed turnaround times. At this point we encounter the Match Girls Strike and then the great Docker's Tanner dispute. Naturally as ships increase in size with the advent of steam propulsion the enclosed berths also increase with the ultimate result being the creation of the Royal Docks and Tilbury before the final move to containerisation. This is a lively and interesting book with anecdotes to please all, from stories of Viking raids, the role of the great Naval dockyards, to little references to Dan Farson and the Waterman's Arms on the Isle of Dogs. The book might, with advantage, have included a few more illustrations. Nevertheless, a well written easy read that will appeal to all who wish to avoid an academic approach.
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