Ransome’s Dock

Above: Looking south into the dock from the end that meets with the Thames.

This old dock is one of the surprises to be found in the river bank upriver of London Bridge. Between London Bridge and the western boundary of Inner London – at Hammersmith – there have been various creeks that have been used for purposes connected with the Thames. In addition, there have been a few docks cut into the bank of the Thames. Today all of these man-made features have been swept away and it is only Ransome’s Dock, at Battersea, that remains the same size and shape as in Victorian times.

The river bank – just west of today’s Albert Bridge – was nothing more than open land until after the turn of 1800. In the bank was a small creek which was the mouth of a tiny stream related to the Falcon Brook. Several chemical works and other industries had sprung up from about the 1830s. The Battersea Foundry of the Pimlico engineers Robinson & Cottam was erected beside the creek in 1863-64, to designs by John Whichcord.

By the mid-1870s the site had been taken over by Allen Ransome, of the famous Ipswich-based engineering company. They already had works at Chelsea. Ransome invested heavily in extending and rebuilding the adjoining creek to form the dock that now bears his name. Excavated and constructed in 1884 by the local engineering contractors B Cooke & Company, under the guidance of the civil engineer Edward Woods, the dock was designed to take not just lighters and barges, but also coastal steamers. It was wide and deep enough to allow craft to turn, as well as allowing two rows of vessels to pass, and to leave on the lowest of tides.

It is possible that only the straight section of the dock, leading from the Thames, was built because the lower segment is not shown on the map until the Ordnance Survey map for 1896. Ransome’s remained at the premises beside the dock until about 1890. The buildings were then taken over by a steelworks company.

Underground ice wells were built for the Natural Ice Company Ltd which had premises beside the dock to store ice that was shipped direct from Norway. The date when that started is not known. It was later taken over by Slaters Ltd and, by 1902 belonged to the United Carlo Gatti Stevenson Slater Company an amalgamation of block ice trade merchants. During the 1920s, with advances in refrigeration technology, the store was replaced by an ice-making plant above ground and an ice making factory was built in Parkgate Road. The factory remained until some time in the 1970s. Parts of the building became a restaurant in the late 1990s.

Above: Looking north in the dock from the southern end.

A development beside the dock was completed and opened in 1992. Within one of the buildings was a well know restaurant – by the same name – which sadly closed its doors on 11 August 2013 after being in business for 21 years. On the west side of dock are the architectural offices of Foster and Partners

The dock is situated just a short distance west of Albert Bridge. It can be reached by a riverside footpath from either Albert Bridge or Battersea Bridge. Access to the buildings around the dock can be gained from Parkgate Road.

-ENDS-

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