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On wet docks, quays, and warehouses, for the Port of London; with hints respecting trade. [And] Plan of the London-Dock, with some observations respecting the river immediately connected with docks in general, and of the improvement of navigation. [And] Plan of the river with the proposed docks.
London, 1793, 1794

To William Vaughan, London merchant, belongs much of the credit for the development of the Port of London dock system, for he conceived the idea of enclosed wet docks with associated warehousing, which was to serve as a model for all future dock construction worldwide. During the second half of the 18th century, shipping on the Thames had increased so greatly that trade was seriously undermined by congestion, delays, and widespread theft.

Vaughan’s first pamphlet, the first of the two here, sparked off the long-overdue movement for reform, leading to the setting up of a parliamentary committee and culminating in the building of the West India and London Docks. In it, he describes his concept, giving reasons why major improvement depended upon the construction of enclosed docks with warehouses, and envisaging such docks at various sites including the Isle of Dogs and Wapping.

His second pamphlet, and the second item here, concerns a dock at the Wapping site, for which John Powsey had carried out a survey in early 1794. Powsey’s scheme, described in detail by Vaughan, was to have a series of linked basins with entrances at Wapping and at Shadwell. It is illustrated with a plan and also present is an extra plan, the third item here, showing later modifications to the original scheme. This project promoted by Vaughan and Powsey formed the basis of what became London Dock, built by John Rennie in 1801-5.

Both items are of the greatest rarity, though 'On wet docks, quays, and warehouses...' was reissued in 1794 with a slightly different title.


8vo. 3 items in 1. (iv) + 27 + (1)pp, interleaved with blank sheets ; (ii) + 12pp, folding engraved plan ; Folding engraved plan, 9 x 12½ ins., some hand-colouring. Slightly browned and with offsetting, small tear at one fold. Quarter calf. Skempton Nos. 1674, 1676.



Catalogue No: 5859