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

A Pictorial History

Colour Books P&S History > By Century > 20th Century Photographic Books Transport World History > UK & Ireland > England > London

By Malcolm Batten
Imprint: Pen & Sword Transport
Pages: 232
Illustrations: 342 mono illustrations
ISBN: 9781399018401
Published: 16th February 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These photographs, along with some from earlier decades, and mostly previously unpublished, are a fascinating insight into this period, when traditional ships and cargo handling methods worked alongside the new technology.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.

"This is a beautifully produced book and one which gives the reader a window in time into a working river, before economic impetus shifted the locus of shipping to the Thames Estuary. Highly recommended."

The Mariner's Mirror - The International Quarterly Journal of the Society For Nautical Research - Volume 109:2, May 2023

Libraries dedicated to economics and marine subjects should acquire it. Students of materials handling, transportation and large-scale energy systems will gain an historical perspective.

The Northern Mariner/Le marin du nord

Many railway modellers also share an interest in ships and ports, as the two modes of transport have always been inter-related. This hardback book presents a useful history of London’s docks and shipping between the 1940s and 1980s. It’s inevitably a tale of decline, but the excellent black and white images contain a wealth of visual information for dock-themed layout builders. Dock infrastructure and a vast range of shipping - from Thames barges to oil tankers - are illustrated.

Model Rail Magazine

BOOK OF THE MONTH! February 2023

Overall, this is a valuable piece of work, well presented with sharp black-and-white pictures on glossy paper, which brings to light many previously unpublished photographs.

Recommended.

The Nautilus Telegraph - Jan/Feb 2023

The book shows a wide variety of vessels, cargo handling and dock buildings, also illustrated with maps. Ships pictured range from tugs to tankers, container ships to sludge carriers, the unusual Lyke Lines barge carriers, cable ships and PLA maintenance vessels.

An enjoyable nostalgic browse.

The Journal for The Society of Model & Experimental Engineers - Volume 30 - Number 5 - October 2022

"This remains a valuable record of shipping on the London River over five decades, years which saw much change, probably more than those seen on the Thames with the transition from sail to steam a century earlier."

International Harbour Masters Association

Photographs published within this fine work are a fascinating insight into this period, when traditional ships and cargo handling methods worked alongside new technology.

This book delivers a valuable record of shipping on the London River over five decades, years which saw much change, probably more than those seen on the Thames with the transition from sail to steam a century earlier.

Paul Ridgway, Africa Ports & Ships

As featured in

Ships Monthly

"This book contains some excellent photographs."

Shipping - Today and Yesterday - July 2022

"The only thing missing from this excellent book is the smell of the Thames."

Vintage Spirit - May 2022

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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