Home » Exhibitions » Gallery Review : No.1 Warehouse at the Museum of London Docklands

Gallery Review : No.1 Warehouse at the Museum of London Docklands

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Museum of London Docklands is located the old West India Docks area of London near to the skyscrapers of Canary Wharf, the Museum is based within a 200-year-old warehouse and reveals the long history of the capital as a port through stories of trade, migration and commerce.

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The Museum of London Docklands opens a major new gallery on 25th March 2016, the new permanent gallery is entitled No.1 Warehouse and explores the Grade 1 Listed Museum of London Docklands building itself. The building was known as No 1 Warehouse and formed part of the massive West India Docks complex. When the West India Docks were opened  in 1802 they provided one of the first large secure environment in which cargoes could be loaded, unloaded and stored.

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The new gallery looks at the working life of the thousands that worked in the London’s docks and warehouses.  The array of historic equipment and machinery illustrates that human labour was crucial in the docks.. The films show the dock and warehouse in their heyday with large number of dockers loading and unloading the many cargo ships that visited the dock.

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There are a number  of screens that show how the warehouses were designed and built. Each storey of the building was originally a different height – dictated by the nature of the cargo to be stored. The ground floors were designed to store two tiers of goods. The upper floors stored a single tier of goods, while the top floors held the lighter cargoes such as coffee, cocoa and cotton.

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The West India Docks was one of the largest and busiest docks in the world which could accommodate over 600 vessels at a time. At its height of activity, No.1 Warehouse was filled with valuable cargoes from around the world including sugar, rum, tobacco, spices, coffee, timber and wine. These cargoes helped to established London as  one of the major trading ports in the world.

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Warehouse No 1 was one part of a huge complex of warehouses that were placed behind a huge wall, security was one of the reasons the warehouses were built and the warehouse had their own security windows and spiked cast iron frames.

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A number of warehouses in the dock were destroyed in the Second World War, therefore the Grade I building , designed by George Gwilt and his son is a remarkable survivor of the origins of the West India Docks.

This new gallery really offers an exciting opportunity to see Warehouse No 1 in its true historical context and understand the scale of operations in one of the largest docks in the world.

No.1 Warehouse Museum of London Docklands Opens on Friday 25th March 2016 and the admission is free.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

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