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on 15 January 2012
My family hail from the East End of London, and for generations worked in the London Docks during their heyday as the centre of commerce for the British Empire. Sadly these relatives have now passed from living memory and with them their memories of these times. The Docks themselves have also become mostly derelict, or have been recycled unrecognisably in London City airport, apartment blocks, and now the London 2012 Olympic Park - it is very difficult to find out much that paints a picture of the sprawling and highly important London Docks, as they once lived and breathed.

I was delighted therefore to find this book, which is a treasure trove of one Docker's experiences - and my namesake! I do not generally enjoy academic history 'textbooks', so this book makes a refreshing, nourishingly subjective change. The intimacy of this work is as much biographical of A. E. Smith's life and the period, as it is a scholarly account of the workings, politics and attitudes of the London Docks during his working life.

Docks At Work will make a fascinating general read to anyone who picks it up, but will be especially interesting to scholars, those with a local interest such as myself, those tracing family histories, visitors to the area, or those interested in merchant maritime history. Highly recommended!
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on 29 November 2012
I enjoyed this book immensely. Whilst it might not be of interest to anyone who has never been near a working dock it should delight those of us who have. It describes the life of the "docker" in excellent detail and made me realise just how much of a contribution they made to our economy. Lorry drivers used to regard the dockers as lazy individuals, only too ready to slope off for a break or go out on strike, but this unbiased account of work and life in the Royal Docks has enabled me to see them in a totally different light.

I had occasion to visit Docklands a couple of years ago and whilst I have to admit that the post-reconstruction architecture is magnificent, I would have rather seen ships moored against the quayside. Containerisation is obviously more efficient than the old system of transporting goods in holds of cargo vessels but at the same time a whole way of life disappeared within a matter of ten years or so.

Thank you to the author for a wonderful book.
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on 4 September 2015
exactly what i expected, a few mistakes particularly about the lighterage industry.
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on 16 March 2016
Bought for a friend who is a retired lighterman and he loves it.
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on 8 January 2014
This must be one of the most boring books I have ever read , unless your interest is the loading and unloading of ships . I thought I was buying a book on the history of London docks not about unloading sugar.
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on 9 April 2016
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