Incredible, Rare Images Released Of London's Docks During The Blitz

Incredible, Rare Images Released Of London's Docks During The Blitz
The Docklands ablaze during the Blitz on 7 September, 1940.
Photo: © PLA Collection/Museum of London.

Incredible and rare images of London's docks during the second world war have been released online in honour of VE Day.

The images — shared by the Museum of London Docklands from their Docklands At War gallery, and which include some exclusive content that isn't often on display to visitors — show the devastation of the Blitz, but also the dedication and resilience of the local residents and workers involved in the war effort.

During the second world war, east London's docks and riverside factories had a significant strategic role, responsible for supplying vital goods and services to the rest of the country — as well as being a launching point for a number of key undertakings in preparation for battle. For example, thousands of British workers at East India Dock were involved in the construction of sections of two enormous prefabricated ports, each roughly the size of Gibraltar, to be towed across the channel, and set down off the coast of Normandy.

This strategic importance of the docks also made them a target for air raid strikes, with more than 25,000 bombs falling on Docklands during the war.

Bomb damage to London Dock, to the Milk Yard Boundary Wall, from the air raid of 8-9 December, 1940. Photo: © PLA Collection/Museum of London.
Air raid damage to Royal Albert Dock, from the air raid of 7 December, 1940. Photo: © PLA Collection/Museum of London.
Air raid damage to Royal Albert Dock, in December, 1940. Photo: © PLA Collection/Museum of London.
Spot the sandbags. Port of London Authority buildings were reinforced with sandbags so they could be used as air-raid shelters. Photo: © PLA Collection/Museum of London.
River Emergency Services' volunteers carrying bandages and blankets as part of their civil defence duties. Photo: © PLA Collection/Museum of London.
The Prime Minister and Mrs Churchill meet a group of auxiliary fireman during a tour of London's docks. Taken in September, 1940. Photo: © PLA Collection/Museum of London.

Want to see images and exhibits from London's history, ranging from treasure found buried under Cheapside to new views of London's bridges? Check out the Museum of London Docklands' online galleries.

Last Updated 06 May 2020