London’s Royal Docks boasts a proud 145 year history of incredible stories and change but to keep the docks operating and in good shape for the future is a major task.
This responsibility falls on RoDMA and its maintenance team who carry out daily tasks to keep the assets across its vast estate in good working order. These assets include five bridges (three of which have opening sections for vessel movements), four sets of lock gates and associated systems, an impounding station with four giant pumps that pump water into the docks from the river to keep the level of the dock constant, as well as many other systems and areas, many of which date back to when the commerical operation of the docks.
As a not-for-profit organisation, RoDMA must rely on the service charges paid by those who occupy the area to fund its works. However, in 2011 it was identified that the scale of investment in the docks needed to be stepped up considerably to maintain the integrity of the estate. As a consequence RoDMA has had a major focus on generating commercial income by using the docks more intensively for events, activities and encouraging
As a consequence RoDMA has had a major focus on generating commercial income by using the docks more intensively for events, activities and encouraging use of its wharf areas for projects. Over the past five years, around £900k has been invested to repair and replace old infrastructure, as a consequence of the commercial income received.
2017, however will be a landmark year for the docks as RoDMA starts to benefit from the new regeneration development activity that seeks to bring back more life to the area.
Projects such as the development of London City Airport and the start of work by Asian Business Port will mean RoDMA can step up its investment activity and it is programmed to spend around £1.3m in 2017.
The largest of these will be the removal and refurbishment of the outer gates at King George V Lock, for around £600,000. The gates weigh 250 tonnes and have not been refurbished since they were installed in 1990.
Other projects including the desilting of Albert Basin, works to the RVD Footbridge and the final part of the investment in Bascule Bridge which will mean this historic structure will have been completely restored after three years of work.
As the third of the ‘Royal’ docks, King George V opened in 1921 at a cost of £4.5million. It was well equipped with electric cranes and large freezer facilities. The main goods traded through the docks were fruit and vegetables, frozen meat and bulk grain. There were 5 railway lines available to the 14 warehouses.
The depth and size of the entrance locks were suitable for the large steamships, container ships and passenger liners that frequented London in the mid-twentieth century. The Gallions Reach entrance of King George V Dock was large enough to accommodate the famous 35,000-ton liner Mauretania in 1939.