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In Roman and medieval times, ships tended to dock at small quays in the present-day city of London or Southwark, an area known as the Pool of London.
However, this gave no protection against the elements, was vulnerable to thieves and suffered from a lack of space at the quayside.
The Howland Great Dock in Rotherhithe ( built 1696 and later forming the core of the Surrey Commercial Docks ) was designed to address these problems, providing a large, secure and sheltered anchorage with room for 120 large vessels.
It was a major commercial success and provided for two phases of expansion during the Georgian and Victorian eras.

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