East and West India Dock Company

The East and West India Dock Company was formed when the West India Dock Company purchased the East India Dock Company in July 1838. This merger was caused by the ending of the two companies’ monopolies on East and West Indian trade and the subsequent lack of trade passing through them. It was therefore seen as beneficial to mitigate the debilitating effects of competition with the added benefit that the West India Dock’s surplus of warehousing neatly matched the East India’s lack. As a result of this the West India company made an offer of £110 for every £100 of East India stock, which was accepted in February 1838 and took affect from July.

Following the merger both docks experience a growth in traffic, made up mostly of bulk cargoes such as timber, grain and guano. This growth continued until the opening of the Victoria Dock, later Royal Victoria Dock, which led to the loss of guano trade but the company was supported by the growth of export traffic, especially from the East India Dock. The docks were also connected to the railway system with the construction of the East and West India Docks and Birmingham Junction Railway in 1851 which connected them to North London. The company’s position was also damaged by the amalgamation of its rivals into the London and St Katharine Docks Company in 1864 and the plane for the creation of a new dock at Millwall. These developments were one of the factors that led to the rebuilding of the rebuilding of the South Dock with an enlarged entrance to enable large ships to dock. In addition to this, and partly as a response to the opening of the Royal Albert Dock, that the company decided to open a new facility at Tilbury rather than further expand their existing ones. This new dock rather than solving issues created more as not only did it not halt the damaging competition it also cost more than twice the original budget and was completed during a slump in trade. These difficulties coupled with the London and St Katharine’s rate reduction had a serious impact on the viability of the East and West India Docks and in 1889 the two entered into an agreement whereby their docks would be operated in unison by the London and India Docks Joint Committee. Although under this agreement the two companies continued to manage their own finances and provide capital for new works it was seen as a move towards amalgamation. Despite this the cumbersome working union would continue until 1st January 1901 when the two were properly merged to form the London and India Docks Company.