[The width of this map represents 3.7ml / 6km.]

Downstream from the traditional docklands of London, the 19thC saw Silvertown develop into an important industrial area. Originally marshland, and named after a Samuel Winkworth Silver who began his India Rubber, Gutta Percha & Telegraph Cable works there in 1852, it offered easier access for shipping, and eventually, easier access to a labour force which, by necessity, was being housed further and further away from the East End of London. Although the muddy north bank of the Thames did not provide the easiest of building conditions, the area allowed the construction of much larger refineries with their own dock facilities, which soon sealed the fate of the already declining sugar refining trade in Whitechapel and St George's in the East.

In 1864, James Duncan, a Greenock man, built his Clyde Wharf Refinery at Silvertown, which was bought by David Martineau in 1887, but destroyed by fire soon after.

In 1878, Henry Tate of Liverpool, bought a derelict shipyard site and built his Thames Refinery, which he then developed further using the land of the Silvertown Gas Light & Coke Co. in 1908.

In 1881, Abram Lyle bought two adjacent sites, Odam's Wharf and Plaistow Wharf, where he began his Plaistow Wharf Refinery. This was about 1˝mls upstream from Thames Refinery and close to Clyde Wharf.

Neither Tate nor Lyle found business easy for many years, and despite the competition and secrecy between the two, they eventually amalgamated in 1921 as Tate & Lyle Ltd., and have become the multi-national company familiar to us all.


History..... West Silvertown pictures and 1940s onwards commentary in Stan's Gallery.
History..... 'Silvertown' by Melanie McGrath, Fourth Estate, 2002. ISBN 1 84115 142 4. Excellent description of the long history of Silvertown on pp140-8.
History..... 'Sugar and All That' by Antony Hugill, Gentry Books Ltd, 1978. ISBN 0 85614 048 1
History..... 'The Plaistow Story' by Oliver Lyle, Tate & Lyle Ltd, 1960.
Current..... Tate & Lyle website.


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