Underlining a remarkable 100 years of crucial services to the history of British shipping, Jim Fitzpatrick MP, UK Shipping Minister, opened a commemorative exhibition on the history of the Port of London Authority (PLA), emphasising its imperative role in trade movement into and out of London over the past century, reports Amy Kilpin.
He said: “As Britain’s second largest port, it is an important reminder that the Port of London has brought great developments to London as a cargo handling and trade region. The ports industry contributes £7.7bn to the UK economy, yet to the vast majority of the British public, shipping is invisible.”
In a drive to reassert the importance of shipping to the British economy, Richard Everitt, Chief Executive of the PLA, emphasised that London is “one of Europe’s great ports”, and as an “economic powerhouse”, it is of momentous importance to the nation’s economic prosperity. Having suffered a veritable cornucopia of historical disasters, now is the time for valuing the port’s contribution to British shipping and looking ahead to its thriving future.
Today, the port handles over 50m tonnes of cargo, and in its contribution to British shipping, the PLA exhibition at the Museum of London Docklands hopes to paint a positive picture of the peaks and troughs in the historical role of merchant trade. With harrowing insights into its survival through the Great Depression and two world wars, it makes today’s economic crisis look meagre in comparison.
In the testimonial to its long-standing memories, an extensive archive of archaic artefacts and relics of the port’s operations are being showcased since the PLA’s inception in 1909, created through an Act of Parliament overseen by Lloyd George and Winston Churchill.