Historic dry dock is uncovered at Canada Water

A hidden dry dock, dating back to 1876 and likely functioning as a working dock up until 1970, has recently been unearthed.

The dock emerged during enabling work carried out in preparation for part of the regeneration scheme at Canada Water; a development by Sellar in partnership with Notting Hill Housing.

The Victorian Albion dock had been buried for more than 20 years since the construction of Canada Water tube station but has been uncovered as part of the regeneration of the area. The eight acre, mixed-use development is set at the water’s edge of Canada Water. It will comprise more than 1,000 new homes and neighbourhood retail to create a vibrant new destination next to the borough’s super library which was built in 2011.

Sellar and Notting Hill Housing’s regeneration scheme lies at the heart of Southwark Council’s wider regeneration plans which will bring thousands of new homes, jobs, a new town centre and brand new council leisure centre.

The site and exposed dry dock, can be seen from a publicly-accessible platform, enabling interested parties to take a look before the dock is covered over in the coming weeks. As part of the scheme, the dry dock will be retained and preserved, protecting the site’s history for future generations.

Sophie Jackson, Director at the Museum of London Architecture (MOLA), said, “It has been wonderful to have the opportunity to examine details of the dry dock’s remains. Archaeological monitoring during the enabling works has revealed previously unrecorded evidence of the evolving form of the Surrey Docks during the 19th and 20th centuries, in response to changes in shipping and trade.

"The main business of Surrey Docks at the end of the 19th century was in timber and our dry dock would have been used by smaller boats or lighters, unloading timber from larger sea-going vessels. “

Councillor Mark Williams, cabinet member for regeneration at Southwark Council, said: “The regeneration of this area is vital in providing new homes, leisure facilities and jobs but it’s important that we don’t forget the past.

"I want to see this area continue to be a buzzing destination for people to live, work and enjoy life – I hope the job opportunities it will create will rival those available when this area was a busy, working dock.”