Denis Delay, TUC Economics Staff Member and himself an Ex-Docker at Surrey Docks, was anxious to pay tribute to the workforce and history of London’s docks then in demise. He developed the ‘London’s Docks And Docklands’ Exhibition, that ran from September 15th To October 3rd, 1980 at Congress House, Great Russell Street, London WC1.

The exhibition was designed by Cilla Birt and Tulloch McDaid and recorded how London’s docks were once the warehouse of the world, illustrated by many fascinating and precious artifacts loaned to Denis from the many generous historical agencies and individuals who wished to take part.

Over one hundred photographs were taken for the exhibition of London’s abandoned docklands, recording the devastating impact of the introduction of container ships on both docks and the lives of dock workers.

Martin Jones still has numerous wallets of photos of London Life in the early 1980s. We have been happy to take this selection of Southwark’s wharf and dockside and scan them for the first complete showing here:

Rotherhithe Old Crane 1980

Rotherhithe Boys Group 1980

Shad Thames Streets 1980

Butlers Wharf Tower Bridge 1980

Rotherhithe New Gardens 1980

Shad Thames 1980

Rotherhithe Thames View Wharf 1980

Hays Wharf 1980

Rotherhithe Warehouse View 1980

Rotherhithe Docks Office 1980

Rotherhithe Towers 1980

Rotherhithe Thames 1980 View

Rotherhithe 1980 Docks Swiming Sign

Rotherhithe Estate 1980

Bermondsey 1980 Butlers Wharf

Rotherhithe 1980 Warehouse Sign

Rotherhithe 1980 Curved Rd View


All Photos: Martin Jones

Contact Martin via Southwark Notes – elephantnotes@yahoo.co.uk

Denis Delay


Denis Delay was born in 1927 in Wapping to a family working in the docks and became a stevedore in the Surrey Docks in 1950, joining the National Amalgamated Stevedores and Dockers. In 1954, he went to the Fircroft Adult Education College and from there to Keele University. He returned to dock work, but in 1960 joined the Trades Union Congress where he remained until his retirement in 1990. He became Secretary of the TUC Steel Committee, but retained his interest in the docks industry and its history. He played a major role in staging the Docklands Exhibition in Congress House in 1980 and in the establishment of the Museum of London Docklands. He was writing a history of industrial relations in the docks when he died. His papers and draft book Down by the Riverside are now stored at the TUC Library Archive at the London Metropolitan University