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Shipping on the Thames and the Port of London During the 1940s – 1980s (Hardback)

A Pictorial History

Transport London Photographic Books Colour Books 20th Century

By Malcolm Batten
Imprint: Pen & Sword Transport
Pages: 232
Illustrations: 15 colour & 342 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781399018401
Published: 31st January 2022

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During the 1970s and 1980s the Port of London, and shipping on the River Thames was in a state of transition. New methods of cargo handling, in particular the introduction of containers and Roll-on, Roll-off vehicle ferries called for new investment and a rethink on the way dock traffic was traditionally managed. As a result, The Port of London Authority decided to run down and close the various London docks and concentrate all new investment downriver at their Tilbury docks.

These photographs, along with some from earlier decades, and mostly previously unpublished, are a fascinating insight into this period, when traditional ships and cargo handling methods worked alongside the new technology. Ships designed for carrying cargo in their holds were sometimes adapted to carry containers as deck cargo. There were also shipping types now lost to history, including colliers and sludge boats.

Not forgotten are the passenger ships – cruise liners to ferries. The various vessels that serviced the port from tugs to salvage craft and floating cranes. Finally, the heritage craft from traditional Thames Sailing barges to former paddle steamers now adapted as floating pub/restaurants.

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About Malcolm Batten

Reg Batten was born in 1914 and lived in East London’s Dockland, where his father was a boilermaker working in the Royal Docks. With a lifetime interest in shipping, after retirement he spent much of 1976 to 1983 recording the scene around the Royal Docks and Tilbury as cargo handling methods changed and the docks adapted, until the final closure of the ‘Royals’.


His son, Malcolm Batten has inherited an interest in shipping and has had two books published about modern Thames shipping in the 21st Century.

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