Category Archives: News

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}


Our Spring 2018 programme is now available

We have some great talks lined up for the current term, including two excellent guest speakers.  As well as our members talking on diverse topics, our very welcome guest speakers are Richard Albanese (Maritime Heritage Project Manager at Trinity Buoy Wharf) who will be talking about Maritime Heritage at Trinity Buoy Wharf; and Stephanie Ostrich (Coastal and Intertidal Zone Archaeological Network [CITiZAN] Project Officer) who is talking about the work of CITiZAN on the lower Thames.

See full details of our Spring 2018 programme at:

Thames Ironworks.  Source:  Wikipedia.  Photo credited to Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Company – Britain at Work – A Pictorial History of Our National Industries. Cassell and Company, 1902. Two warships being constructed at the Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Company, in 1902 or slightly before.

Layers of London: A New Heritage Project


There’s an article on the Birkbeck website about the launch of a new heritage project.  The idea is to link different maps and other together to enable you to see how London has changed over time.  It is an ambitious project, and they are looking for volunteers.

A major new project, Layers of London: mapping the city’s heritage, will bring together digitised heritage assets provided by key partners across London. These assets will be linked in an innovative new website which will allow people to interact with many different ‘layers’ of London’s history from the Romans to the present day, including historic maps, images of buildings, films as well as information about individual Londoners and families over the centuries. These layers will be added to by the public, who will be able to upload historical information of different kinds.

This project has been awarded funding of £929,800 by the Heritage Lottery Fund, made possible by National Lottery players. An additional £600,000 is coming from matched funding and other contributions.

Layers of London, which began with a pilot project in 2016, explores how London has changed over its history, and how Londoners have adapted and responded to those changes.

See more on the above websites.


Port of London Study Group – Autumn Programme

Our new Autumn Term programme of talks by both group members and visiting speakers is now available.  See our Programmes page.  It lists all the presentations and visiting lecturers lined up for January to March. It is looking like a really great term ahead.  Short summaries of all our presentations will be forthcoming after they have been delivered, but if you would like to join us for each two hour session on a Monday morning between 11am and 1pm, please see our Join Us page – we would love to welcome you.

The Thames Barrier. By Aleem Yousaf, Wikimedia CC-BY-SA-2_0


The Port of London Study Group moves to a new venue

Canada Water library, built in 2011 and overlooking the remains of Canada Dock. Source: Wikipedia CC-BY-2.0

From September 2017 the Port of London Study Group will hold its Monday morning meetings* at the Canada Water library, which is immediately above the Canada Water tube station on the Jubilee Line.

Once at the heart of the Surrey Commercial Docks in Rotherhithe, Canada Water and the surrounding area have a rich maritime history.  It is the surviving northern section of the much larger Canada Dock, built in 1876 to serve the Canadian grain and timber trade. A short walk away is the Greenland Dock, the oldest riverside wet dock on the Thames.  Originally called the Great Howland Wet Dock, it was built in 1699 as a shelter for refitting ships rather than as a dock for cargo.  Its name was changed in the 18th century when it became the home of whaling ships bringing in their cargoes from Greenland.  It later became the main hub of London’s timber trade for more than a century until the docks closed in the 1970s.  Now retained as an integral part of the community, it is a fitting reminder of an era when the Rotherhithe peninsula was a thriving centre of overseas trade.

*Autumn Term dates: Monday mornings from 1100-1300 from 9th October to 11th December inclusive. Details of the programme will be published on the Programmes page when finalised.

The Surrey Commercial Docks in 1894

The Surrey Commercial Docks in 1894

Walks along the Thames with Footprints of London guide Rob Smith

footprints-of-london-jpgFor those who enjoy educational walks, Footprints of London guide Rob Smith’s “Walks Along The Thames” seem like a great idea. The first walk is in March.  You can see the other walks by clicking here, and you can book the walks on the Eventbrite website from that page.  Here’s the introduction:

“During 2017 Footprints of London guide Rob Smith will be leading a series of twelve guided walks along the Thames, looking at aspects of the river’s history along the way. Starting in the streets of East London, the walks will go out into the marshland and big skies of Essex and Kent before reaching the sea at Shoeburyness. The walks take in relatively unexplored places that offer some peaceful walking, yet are less than an hours train ride from central London. On the way Rob will talk about themes like industrial and military history, housing, film and archaeology. The story of London really is tied in with this part of the Thames.”

Thames River Crossings Conference, 13th May 2017


The Docklands History Group hosts a conference each year at the Museum of London Docklands in the West India Docks, where The Port of London Study Group is also based.  Chaired by Chris Ellmers, the conference for 2017 will be:  Thames River Crossings and will take place on 13th May.   as well as looking at the bridges and tunnels, the subjects to be covered will include frost fairs, the watermen and ferries,  and also the effect of river crossings on the development of London.

Booking has now opened for this event.    Click here to go to the Docklands History Group’s Conference page where more information is available, including the programme (available to download as a PDF), ticket and booking information and details of how to find the Museum of London Docklands.