East India Dock Road
Looking east with Canary Wharf in the background.
|Length||1.3 mi (2.1 km)|
East India Dock Road is a major arterial route from Limehouse to Canning Town in London. The road takes its name from the former East India Docks in the Port of London, and partly serves as the high street of Poplar. To the west it becomes Commercial Road and to the east Newham Way. It forms part of the A13, a major road connecting the historic City of London to Tilbury and Southend.
The road begins in the west at Burdett Road and continues to the River Lea bridge in the east at Bow Creek. It was built in order to connect the newly-built Commercial Road at Limehouse with the East India Docks, which opened in 1806, bypassing Poplar High Street. It passed over undeveloped land and was assumed to be cheap to construct, but the costs of buying garden land proved higher than anticipated.
The original plan called for the road to be built as far as the River Lea, and it is shown ending there on Richard Horwood's 1807 map of London. In June 1809, an Act of Parliament was passed to build a crossing over the Lea towards Barking, in order to improve communications between London and Tilbury Fort. An iron bridge was designed by John Rennie, but the final chosen plan was from James Walker and Alfred Burges. It was built in 1810 and was the first road bridge to use cast-iron columns. The bridge was 150 feet (46 m) long and 28 feet (8.5 m) wide. The bridge originally charged a 2d toll, which was abolished in 1871. A new bridge was constructed by the London County Council and the Corporation of West Ham between 1893 and 1896. This in turn was replaced by the current bridge to the north, constructed in 1930-1932 of reinforced concrete.
The road was designed to be 70 feet (21 m) wide, and was constructed as such from Limehouse to the East India Docks. Beyond this, its width was 40 feet (12 m) because of the imposing geography of Bromley Marsh. Gas lighting was partially installed along the road in 1826.
The London and Blackwall Railway sought to compete with the road. By 1827, an hourly coach service was set up between the City of London and the East India Docks, covering the route in 45 minutes. The railway was built as anticipated, but well to the south, allowing the East India Dock Road to compete as a major transport thoroughfare.
Beside the Blackwall Northern Approach is the Blackwall Tunnel Memorial, erected when it was first opened in 1897. In 1959, when the newer western tunnel was dug, the inscription was moved to its present position underneath East India Dock Road itself.
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- An East End Tale - showing East India Dock Road