Maritime Art

The Pool, discharging lighters (Early 20thC)

By William Lionel Wyllie

This etching is part of a large collection of 123 Wyllie prints, mainly etchings, bought from the daughter of William Lionel Wyllie in 1985, the funds provided fully by the Society for Nautical Research. Wyllie was a Londoner and spent many years recording London maritime life.

This etching shows a vessel discharging goods into lighters in the ‘Upper Pool’ a stretch of the River Thames that runs from London Bridge to Cherry Garden Pier. The ‘Lower Pool’ then ran from Cherry Garden Pier to Limekiln Creek. The wharves in the Pool were originally part of the Port of London where all imported cargoes had to be delivered for inspection by Customs Officers.

At the height of the port’s prosperity some 6000 lighters were engaged in carrying cargoes to and from the docks. This etching, made in the early years of the twentieth century, shows the port in its final flush of life. In the 1960s the introduction of commercial shipping containers and associated deep-water ports led to the rapid demise of wharf areas like the Pool. The area was subsequently developed in the 1980s and 1990s.


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