A brief history of Tilbury Docks
Tilbury docks were opened in 1886 to alleviate congestion in the main London docks in the East End. Tilbury was convenient because of the availability of land and the presence of the railway which had been built in 1854 to connect with Tilbury ferry. The railway station was originally known as Tilbury Fort but soon became simply Tilbury. Seven of those involved in the construction of the docks were freemasons who founded a new lodge. But while the docks were being built, they became involved in a dispute which eventually brought the mighty East & West India Docks Company to its knees. This is described in Richard Burrell’s book – Victorian Freemasonry and the Building of Tilbury Docks.
Working in the docks was hard work and poorly paid. In 1889, the Tilbury dockers joined the great docks strike for “the dockers tanner” – a pay rate of 6d (2 1/2p) per hour. Strikes occurred on other occasions, including 1912 and 1926.
Tilbury was a constituent of the Port of London Authority when it was established in 1909.
Along the Thames to all the peoples of the World
Tilbury became an important port for both goods and passengers – P&O began using Tilbury in 1903. A new passenger terminal (now the cruise terminal) was opened by Ramsay Macdonald in 1930. With the growth of airlines, passenger traffic declined, but it remained an embarkation point for pleasure cruises. In 1936, the railway station was renamed Tilbury Riverside.
The growth of container traffic in the 70s and 80s dramatically changed the nature of employment, but Tilbury remains a major port – the third largest container port in the UK.
In 1992, Tilbury Riverside railway station closed.