The unknown plaque

This little post is a homage of sorts to London Remembers and Open Plaques – who document all of the plaques and memorials in the capital (and across the country in the case of Open Plaques). I’m sure there is an some old adage about it being best to be honest when you don’t know something – which is exactly what this plaque does. I stumbled across it in my own neighbourhood of Surrey Quays – and it has the grace to admit that it does not know what function the small, brick building (dated 1902) to which it is attached had.

However, as the plaque itself notes, the area was formerly part of the large Surrey Docks complex that once covered much of Rotherhithe in an interconnected maze of docks, so it probably had some related function. Given that it also advises that in the year of its construction the nearby Greenland Dock was doubled in length, it was presumably connected to that dock in particular. Described as a ‘yard office’, possibly it was just for storage, or a checkpoint at the junction of the two streets (although of course many of the streets are new). In the same area (but close to the Thames) another building of a similar size has been identified as a gauge house, where the gauge for measuring the Thames’ tide was housed. Feel free to hazard a guess as to this mysterious structure…

If you’d like to visit the plaque in person, you can find it on the corner of Rope Street and Sweden Gate, near the Surrey Docks Watersports Centre (the postcode for which is SE16 7SX).


6 thoughts on “The unknown plaque

  1. It maybe was used by the dockyard foreman or overseer as it had a fireplace it would be
    used for long periods of time as a point of reference to movement of goods in and out
    of the docks.
    Regards Pat.

      • I only recently (and by accident) came across this website.
        Just in case the contact details (and interest in “The unknown Plaque” is still current ….
        During the early 1960’s, I was in the Port of London Police stationed at Surrey Commercial docks. The building like several others of its design was built to enable police to check people and vehicles in and out of the various dock entrances. That particular police hut was not in regular use – only used when there were ships (requiring police attention) berthed in the Swedish Dock.
        Feel free to contact me if you feel that I could help with further info re Surrey Commercial Docks during that time period.
        Charles Collins

    • Many thanks Gilbert. It’s always good to learn more about my own neighbourhood. I’m hoping to find out more about it on one of Paul Talling’s walks of the Grand Surrey Canal later in the year.

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