Category Archives: Books

New Book: London’s Waterfront 1100-1666

For anyone interested, the most recent Archaeopress newsletter announced the forthcoming title:  “London’s Waterfront 1100–1666: excavations in Thames Street, London, 1974–84” by John Schofield, Lyn Blackmore and Jacqui Pearce, with Tony Dyson. Hardback; xxiv+514 pages; illustrated throughout in colour and black & white (132 colour plates). English text with summaries in French and German. 422 2018. ISBN 9781784918378.

The book presents and celebrates the mile-long Thames Street in the City of London and the land south of it to the River Thames as an archaeological asset. The argument is based on the reporting of four excavations of 1974–84 by the Museum of London near the north end of London Bridge: Swan Lane, Seal House, New Fresh Wharf and Billingsgate Lorry Park. Here the findings of the period 1100–1666 are presented.

Buildings and property development on sixteen properties south of Thames Street, on land reclaimed in many stages since the opening of the 12th century, include part of the parish church of St Botolph Billingsgate. The many units of land reclamation are dated by dendrochronology, coins and documents. They have produced thousands of artefacts and several hundred kilos of native and foreign pottery. Much of this artefactual material has been published, but in catalogue form (shoes, knives, horse fittings, dress accessories, textiles, household equipment). Now the context of these finds, their deposition in groups, is laid out for the first time. Highlights of the publication include the first academic analysis and assessment of a 13th- or 14th-century trumpet from Billingsgate, the earliest surviving straight trumpet in Europe; many pilgrim souvenirs; analysis of two drains of the 17th century from which suggestions can be made about use of rooms and spaces within documented buildings; and the proposal that one of the skeletons excavated from St Botolph’s church is John Reynewell, mayor of London in 1426–7 and a notable figure in London’s medieval history.

The whole publication encourages students and other researchers of all kinds to conduct further research on any aspect of the sites and their very rich artefactual material, which is held at the Museum of London’s Archaeological Archive. This is a significantly large and varied dataset for the archaeology and history of London in the period 1100 to 1666 which can be continuously interrogated for generations to come.{BF617B3E-4CD5-4C5E-B84E-D960F61DDED9}


End of Term Medley

Joseph Conrad Master Certificate

Joseph Conrad’s Master’s Certificate, National Maritime Museum, London. From the PortCities website.

At the end of each term we have a session with talks that last only five or ten minutes, which includes short presentations, readings from books, poems, and on this occasion a London-themed general knowledge quiz put together by the Port of London Study Group’s Secretary, Fran.  The quiz was great fun, with some of us demonstrating rather less knowledge than others!  How many bridges are there, for example, along the Tidal Thames?   Roy gave us a talk about  the typical fates of sailing ships between 1857 and 1955 (most of them never survived to be broken up), Ian gave us a talk about the history and art connected with Wapping Old Stairs, Barry talked about the Greenwich Ferry Company Ltd (1886-1899) and Andie talked about the breaking of the HMS Temeraire, captured in Turner’s “The Fighting Temeraire.”  Fran read the vibrant “Cargoes” by John Masefield, Tony read a section of “The Wasteland” by T.S. Elliot, Edna read excerpts from “I Never Knew That About The River Thames” by Christopher Winn, whilst Sheila introduced us to Joseph Conrad and some of his lesser known works about the London docks (definitely something to look up).   It was an excellent note on which to end the term before we reconvene for educational and entertaining day trips in the summer term.

John Masefield

Quinquireme of Nineveh from distant Ophir,
Rowing home to haven in sunny Palestine,
With a cargo of ivory,
And apes and peacocks,
Sandalwood, cedarwood, and sweet white wine.

Stately Spanish galleon coming from the Isthmus,
Dipping through the Tropics by the palm-green shores,
With a cargo of diamonds,
Emeralds, amythysts,
Topazes, and cinnamon, and gold moidores.

Dirty British coaster with a salt-caked smoke stack,
Butting through the Channel in the mad March days,
With a cargo of Tyne coal,
Road-rails, pig-lead,
Firewood, iron-ware, and cheap tin trays.



A Short History of the Surrey Commercial Docks by Stuart Rankin

RankinCommercialStuart Rankin’s booklet on the history of the Surrey Commercial Docks (Rotherhithe) has been made available free of charge on the Docklands History Group website.  The booklet begins with the Howland Great Wet Dock in 1696 and tracks the history of the docks up until the London Docklands Development Corporation began to redevelop the abandoned dockland landscape for residential use in the 1980s.

The full title is “A Short History of the Surrey Commercial Docks – Rotherhithe Local History Paper No.6”  It can be downloaded here, from where it opens as a PDF.

There are plenty of maps and several photographs throughout the 36 page booklet, which was published in 1999.

The Docklands History Group may make other booklets in Stuart Rankin’s series available at a future date.