Port of Tilbury
Review and History

The Port of Tilbury lies on the north banks of the River Thames about 42 kilometers from London. Considered the container port for the Port of London, the Port of London Authority has modernized and enlarged the Port of Tilbury’s 19th Century docks with modern roll-on/roll-off facilities and extensive quays that can accommodate the largest ocean-going vessels, including cruise liners. In 2001, more than 11 thousand people called the Port of Tilbury home.

Port History

Although the Port of Tilbury is a relatively new community, it has many historic connections. Archaeological evidence suggests that Romans may have occupied the site of today’s Tilbury Docks.

In the 7th Century, there was one of the first Christian monasteries in East Tilbury where the modern St. Catherine’s Church sits today. King Henry VIII had riverside blockhouses built at East and West Tilbury that later became the Coalhouse and Tilbury Forts. In 1588, Queen Elizabeth I made a famous speech here to the troops who were facing the Spanish Armada.

The Tilbury-Gravesend Ferry was operating at least as early as 1571, when there were jetties two jetties on either side of the river. Evidence suggests that the ferries were used to transport people, animals, and wool across the river.

Until the 12th Century, the area was a complex mix of marshy shoals. Improvements created new lands and freed the river’s flow, but the area was still unhealthy, threatening malaria to those who tried to live or work there.

The Tilbury-Gravesend Ferry was operating at least as early as 1571, when there were jetties two jetties on either side of the river. Evidence suggests that the ferries were used to transport people, animals, and wool across the river.

In 1852, England’s Parliament authorized the construction of the London Tilbury and Southend Railway with a link to the Thames ferry, and a pier and steamboat station was opened there in 1854. While a few workers lived there during railway construction, the settlement did not really appear until the Tilbury Docks were built and the port was opened in 1886. However, the housing was little more than tenements that remained there until the government stepped in to improve conditions in 1918.

Forth Ports PLC purchased the Port of Tilbury in 1995, making significant investments in improving the expanding port facilities, particularly for containers, forest products, and bulk grains. Today, the Port of Tilbury an important gateway to London and southeast England. It has direct links to the UK’s road and rail networks and a highly-skilled workforce supporting diverse cargo-handling operations.

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