From the Port of Londinium to the Docklands of Today: A Brief Historical Look at the Docks of London.

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     When I first went to the Museum of the Docklands, I felt so absorbed into the rich history of this region by the River Thames. The first exhibit floor consisted of the stories of how it all began.  Recounting the battle between the native Britons led by Queen Boudicca and the Roman army who would eventually defeat the natives, take the land and build the region’s first port, Londinium was incredibly interesting to read at this part of the exhibit floor.  As the exhibit went on it was then discussing the fall of the Roman Empire, which in turn left the once bustling port to the Germanic-Saxon tribes who drove off the last of anyone who was still living in this area. Then the exhibit talked about the revival of the area which would result in a rebellion led by Alfred the Great, who would help bring about the first steps into unifying the nation of England.  Later on, I saw the story of this revival unfold as a place on the brink of dismantlement turn into one of the world’s most flourishing ports as the Docklands more and more throughout its history grew into the port of a metropolis. However, there were exhibits that were depressing but did portray the time periods and the harsh realities that were depicted in them.

The second floor exhibited artifacts, paintings and information podiums on slavery and the British East India Trading Company which pretty much ruled the world’s economy at the time.  Showing exhibits of as well the slave trade which made me emotionally distraught but to be fair they also tell of the do focus on England’s African population in a great detail of context and the contributions they had made to the docklands after slavery. Another exhibit that really got to me emotionally was seeing the photographs of the Docklands Development and how many people had to suffer so that the Docklands could me the modernized port it is now. When I saw that in the information plaque that over 50,000 residents were forced into homelessness due to the development in the from the Mid-1970’s to the Late 1980’s, I felt just mortified about it. To conclude, the history of the Docklands is rich. Whether that history was paved with the suffering and exploitation of it’s own people and the people of the nations under it’s colonial rule, or paved with the ideas of exploration, modernization and a unified nation, the 2,000 year old history of this area still continues to this day.


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