Today’s Treasures At St Katharine Docks

We are fortunate today, to have a wealth of historical treasures here at St Katharine’s. I will describe the main ones in this and further blogs. Little remains here from the earlier, historic period (1028 to 1825) because the original land was all removed to make way for the world renowned Telford Docks. Thankfully, many of the relics from the ancient Hospital and Church are now safely preserved at the Royal Foundation of St Katharine’s at Limehouse.

Dock Master’s House

The historic Dock House was built (and originally lived in) by Sir Thomas Telford, while he was building the Docks. With its commanding views across the Central Basin, the entrance Lock and the River Thames, it was ideally placed. In earlier times, it was common for the Dock Master to keep watch over shipping approaching from down river- then to appoach the vessel, hoping to persuade them to use the dock facilities instead of remaining out on the open water.

 Original Tuscan Columns, dating from before 1828

Tuscan columns, dating from before 1828, have been saved from the original Telford Docks; these elegant and striking items are hollow and made of steel. They are featured in several areas around the Docks, including the imposing facade of Tower Walk, in the picture above. Eight of them suport the curious building that was built as ‘the Coronarium,’ which is now Starbucks Coffee Shop. The most striking example are the columns supporting  International House, on the dockside in West Dock; this was to deliberately copy the original warehouse design, where ships could berth next to the warehouse, for cargoes to be loaded or unloaded by crane.

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