A THOUSAND YEARS OF DRAMATIC HISTORY

The Docks are built on a site with over 1000 years of dramatic history. The roots of the buildings on today's site can be traced back to the 10th Century when King Edgar gave 13 acres of land to 13 Knights, with the right to use the land for trade. There is evidence of there having been a dock at St Katharine's since 1125 and throughout the ages it has housed a Hospital and Monastery.

The first use of the name St Katharine Docks has been traced back to Elizabethan times, when the area around the hospital was thriving with busy wharves. By the end of the 18th Century, St. Katharine's was a prosperous settlement with its own court, school and alms houses along with the hospital the area housed around 3000 people.

However, the Industrial Revolution came to London, and the River Thames became a super-highway for the rapidly growing city. London's existing docks could not handle the amount of trade and Parliament authorised the construction of new, purpose built docks.

THE WORLD OF DARK ENTRY AND CATS HOLE

When The St Katharine Docks Bill, was passed in 1825 which allocated the staggering sum of £1,352,752 towards the creation of the docks, the area contained 1250 slum houses in colourfully named roads such as Dark Entry, Cat's Hole and Pillory Lane. Along with the church and St. Katharine's Hospital, these were cleared to make way for the ambitious centre for London's industry and commerce. The Times reported enthusiastically about the dramatic improvements made to the area.

Famous civil engineer Thomas Telford was tasked with designing and building London's new port for commerce and together he worked with architect Philip Hardwick to design six storey warehouses, with cast iron window frames and extensive vaults to store thousands of casks of valuable wine and other luxury goods that began to pour into the docks on a daily basis

St Katharine Docks gained a reputation for handling valuable cargoes from Europe, the West Indies, Africa and the Far East such as sugar, rum, tea, spices, perfumes, ivory, shells, marble, indigo, wine and brandy and the docks thrived with bustle and commerce.

As late as the 1930s, St Katharine Docks enjoyed a roaring trade of these goods, and was described as a focal point for the World's greatest concentration of portable wealth.

ST KATHARINE DOCKS TODAY

Between the two world wars, the World's trade ships grew too large for St Katharine Docks and it was instead employed in war work. Although the site was a victim of The Blitz, Telford and Hardwick's visions can still be seen today, as the modern office blocks such as International House and Commodity Quay, which house internationally renowned businesses, sympathetically mirror the architecture of the imposing warehouses that stood on the site before them.
Ivory House, built in 1852, still stands with its distinctive clock tower and today it houses luxury warehouse apartments, smart restaurants and shops.

A HAVEN OF TRANQUILITY

184 years on from its opening as a busy industrial site, at first glance St Katharine Docks is a haven of tranquility, nestled in the heart of the City of London. The Marina houses up to 160 luxury yachts and historic barges, much of the international trade that the Docks was always famed for, now goes on inside the commercial buildings on site.

You don't necessarily need to be a boat owner to enjoy the picturesque setting of St Katharine Docks. Situated next to The Tower of London, and immediately next to the beautiful Tower Bridge, visitors are welcome to enjoy the stunning views of the River Thames, saunter along the docks and enjoy the fantastic waterside restaurants, shops and cafes. Even watching the boats lock in on a daily basis is an experience, and regularly attracts a small crowd.

St Katharine Docks can be reached easily by rail, tube, road and most magically of all by river from our very own pier. Click to see a map of the local area and discover How to Find Us.