Opening of West India Docks

West India Docks - Wikipedia

The West India Docks were built between 1800 and 1806, becoming major import and export docks. The Milligan Family was largely responsible for the construction of the docks, they were a Scottish family with an abundance of sugar plantations in Jamaica. Not only were the docks a huge influx of goods to be shipped all across the UK, but it also created an influx of people into the locales surrounding the docks such as Poplar. When a large shipping port is opened many people from all over the world come to work at the port. Poplar, being one of the poorer towns, became a cultural hub due to the opening of the docks and its close proximity to them. Many of the buildings around the docks had Jamaican influence as one of the largest imports was sugar from Jamaican plantations. There became a clear separation between those who worked in the docks and those who worked outside of the docks. The docks were essentially scut work, many ships festering with disease and requiring hard, manual labor. Not only social limitations arose, but blockades of when and where those who worked in the docks could go were very common. When those told to work at the docks didn't want to, they would “lounge” around, the dock hands not wanting this, used military force to drive them out and make sure those told to work, would work. All those working at the docks were required to wear uniforms to ensure the prevention of theft of expensive goods such as sugar, coffee, and ginger. Inherently the docks became very racist and many locales surrounding the docks followed suit with racist ideologies.



Legg, George. “Excavating Racial Capitalism in London's West India Docks.” Wiley Online Library, Antipode, 9 Feb. 2023,

Accessed, April 17, 2023

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