St Katharine Docks were once one of London’s commercial ports, situated on the north of the Thames in the modern Borough of Tower Hamlets. From the 12th century onwards a hospital stood here, St Katharine by the Tower – the docks are just along from the Tower of London and Tower Bridge. The area gradually built up into a slum, where dock workers and immigrants lived. In 1827, however, 1,250 of these houses were demolished, as part of a renovation plan designed by Thomas Telford. St Katharine Docks, built on the cleared land and comprising warehouses on the quayside and two basins, were opened in October 1828. Not quite large enough, they were incorporated with the London Docks nearby, but never a great success, and the area built up again with cramped workers’ housing.
In the 1970s redevelopment of the area began. The warehouses were replaced by residential and commercial buildings; the docks became a marina. Now regarded as a prime example of urban regeneration, the luxury housing, offices, hotel, restaurants (including the famous 18th century Dickens Inn), recreational facilities and yachting marina are a popular residential area and leisure destination.
St Katharine's Way is the road which links the two basins and leads into and out of the marina. St Katharine’s Pier nearby is a stopping-point for London River Services boats, on their routes to and from Westminster and Greenwich.
A report on St Katharine Docks from a survey of London in 1878.