The Marina - past and present

South Dock Marina boat

South Dock Marina is London's largest marina. lt's conveniently located in South Dock and Greenland Docks on the south bank of the Thames. The marina is 2.5 miles downstream from Tower Bridge and 1.5 miles upstream from Greenwich Village.

Greenland Dock (originally the Howland Great Wet Dock) was built on rural land in 1695 as a repair base for the East India Company ships and didn't have walls or lock gates. From 1720 until the end of the 19th century, the dock was used extensively by whaling ships involved in the Greenland whaling operations, which eventually gave its name to the dock. Greenland Dock was extensively enlarged at the start of the 20th century to the size it is today.

South Dock was built between 1807-1811 and was originally known as the East County Dock. In 1865, a number of docks companies in Rotherhithe merged to form the Surrey Commercial Docks Company and the name was changed to South Dock.

Both docks suffered extensive bomb damage during the Second World War, and although this was repaired after the war, commercial use of the docks slowly declined. By the early 1970’s with container shipping taking over the bulk of cargo movements, the docks ceased to operate as the larger ships couldn’t come upriver and the Tilbury docks took over the trade. In the early 1970’s the docks finally closed as a commercial operation after 270 years of service.

Southwark Council took over the docks and during the 1980’s and 90’s the docks were extensively redeveloped by the London Docks Development Company to create a mix of housing, light industrial and commercial use. In this process many of the old docks were filled in and reclaimed for building purposes.

However, South Dock and Greenland dock were retained as docks and turned into South Dock Marina, a modern and secure boating facility. Some of the legacy of the original Howland Great Dock lives on now in the marina boat yard where regular repairs, maintenance and refits take place. In its early days, the docks provided a safe haven for vessels plying their trade worldwide, and today the marina provides a safe haven for both its resident boats and boats that have sailed the world. The marina has been home to both resident and visiting boats that have circumnavigated the world in recent years.

Although centrally located in London, the marina is also a haven of tranquillity and supports a wide variety of wildlife including a number of swans, coots and other water fowl.

Being located in central London, the marina provides an ideal base for living in, and exploring the city and its attractions.

Page last updated: 24 August 2017


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