East India Dock Wall Road followed an early 19th century high stock brick wall leading to the former East India Dock.
East India Dock Wall Road was laid out as a road between 1822 and 1824 and gave access to Brunswick Wharf
(built 1834) and ran parallel to Naval Row
- where the two roads diverged is a connecting flight of steps for pedestrians.
The construction of warehouses along the north side of the Export Dock in 1816 led to the building of a general office at the west end of the quay. The beginnings of East India Dock Wall Road started as no more than a path to serve the building. The warehouse was a plain single-storey brick building, partly top-lit by means of a glazed lantern, with an entrance in the centre of the west front through a porch flanked by paired pilasters. This building survived until after the Second World War.
East India Dock Wall Road’s main purpose by the 1840s was to connect Blackwall station and the Brunswick Hotel
landwards. Blackwall had been a railway station which served as the eastern terminus of the Commercial Railway (later the London and Blackwall Railway). It was located on the south side of the East India Docks, near the shore of the River Thames and opened on 6 July 1840. It was designed by architect William Tite in an ornate Italianate style.
Meanwhile the road developed other uses. In the 1850s, a new generation of engine houses was required at the East India Docks to provide hydraulic power for the new cranes and other hydraulically operated equipment then being introduced. At the East India Docks a hydraulic pumping station was erected in 1858 on the south side of East India Dock Wall Road.
Demolition of the East India Dock wall for road widening in 1912. On the far right is All Saints Church (click to enlarge)
Blackwall station - which is near to but not the same location as Blackwall DLR station - had services connecting with a ferry service to Gravesend, Kent. Before the arrival of a network of railways in England, the main way into London from the Thames estuary area was by schooner. As railways expanded, there was less and less need for a station to serve the shipping. In 1926, the General Strike halted passenger services and they were never resumed. The station was demolished in 1946 to make way for Blackwall Power Station although the branch continued to carry goods traffic until the late 1960s.
With the arrival of the Blackwall Tunnel
, part of East India Dock Wall Road was closed and the area planted as part of Tunnel Gardens in 1902.
The Virginia Quay
development, completed in 2000, transformed the roadscape of the area and East India Dock Wall Road finally disappeared. By 1998 there was so little of East India Dock Wall Road left that it was renumbered into the adjacent Naval Row
. The line of the road became a raised pedestrian route - the newer walkway route turns north alongside the Blackwall Tunnel
The Blackwall station site is now under the modern Jamestown Way
The wall itself with its interval buttresses - built to separate the import and export sections of the East India Docks - still continues along the pedestrian walk above the Blackwall Tunnel
Approach. Behind the wall now is a hi-tech commercial estate, home of the Nicholas Grimshaw-designed Financial Times