Above: Looking south on the wharf. Greenwich Park is on the horizon.
Victoria Deep Water Terminal was built on land known as Victoria Wharf. The name ‘Victoria Wharf’ is shown on the Ordnance Survey maps for 1944-69. The name ‘Victoria Works Wharf’ is shown on the 1966 Wharf Map – a working map of the Thames used by anyone who worked on or beside the river. Victoria Wharf handled general cargo.
The Deep Water Terminal opened in 1966 as a privately owned container terminal receiving containers and unit loads from Europe by ship. To those who used it – like lorry drivers and watermen on the Thames – it was always known as ‘Vic Deep’. The pedestrian walkway (or river path) passed right through the wharf without any fencing or railings to prevent walkers from straying from the line of the footpath. Clear lines were painted on the large concrete surface with strict instructions to keep within the defined markings. Of course, it was a ‘different world’ back then and Health and Safety regulations were not as strict as they are today.
The site was good from many points of view. The wharf had a total length of 850 feet (259 metres) providing berths for two cargo ships. The depth of water at the berths was 42 feet (12.73 metres) MHWS (5.6 metres at Chart Datum). On the wharf, the open storage area for cargo was 17.3 acres (7 hectares) which was much larger than on many other wharves in Greenwich. There were two enormous container cranes operating on the wharf, unloading the containers from the ships and storing them on the open cargo accommodation area. From there, articulated lorries transported the containers via the A2 which was only a matter of a hundred yards from the wharf itself.
After the container terminal closed down (probably in the 1990s), the wharf was used by a scrap-iron company. Huge piles of scrap-iron were to be seen piled high on the riverside wharf. The company probably did not realise how heavy the iron was. After a few years of operation, the riverside wall of the wharf collapsed and the contents stacked on it had to be salvaged from the Thames. That put an end to their use of the riverside wharf.
In 1990 the site was taken over by Hanson Aggregates. It can accommodate vessels of up to 8,000 tonnes. Just before the Millennium, the large space was used to deliver aggregates, sand and cement for use in the construction of what was to be the Millennium Dome site and the housing blocks nearby. The Millennium Dome is now known as the O2 Arena.
In 2017 Construction materials supplier Hanson submitted a planning application to invest £12 million on the wharf, to upgrade and improve the site, along with a full environmental impact assessment. The Victoria Deep Water Terminal is an important strategic site in London which is safeguarded as an industrial wharf in the London plan and the Greenwich local plan. New concrete plants will play an important part in the redevelopment of the Greenwich peninsula and also make pre-cast concrete structures for major infrastructure projects in the capital – including the Thames Tideway Tunnel, Silvertown Road Tunnel and Crossrail 2. Its use as a wharf on the Thames is set to continue for many years to come.
For a map showing the location of the wharf –