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    Our History

    The Dock Offices were built in 1892 for the Surrey Commercial Docks. A dock on the Rotherhithe peninsula was originally constructed at the end of the seventeenth century to alleviate pressure on the Royal Dockyard at Deptford, where ships were repaired. Known as Howland Great Dock, it was designed by John Wells, built in 1696 and opened in 1700. Howland Great Dock was the largest of its kind, accommodating 120 ships.

    In the mid eighteenth century it became known as Greenland Dock, due to its connection with the Greenland Whale Fishery. By the beginning of the nineteenth century however, trade had turned to Scandinavian and Baltic timber and to Canadian grain. New docks were constructed from the early to mid nineteenth century, under the management of three separate companies.

    These amalgamated in 1864 to form the Surrey Commercial Dock Company, which further extended the docks' system with the construction of Canada Dock in 1874. In their heyday the docks covered an area of 460 acres and included nine docks, six timber ponds (`mast ponds' used to season the timbers used to make masts) and a canal, dealing principally with the trade and storage of timber. From 1981 the London Docklands Development Corporation (LDDC) redeveloped the in-filled Surrey Docks site with housing and a new road system. The former entrance road to the dock site became Surrey Quays Road, allowing greater access to the former Dock Offices, which were restored by the LDDC in 1985 for their own use. The roof structure and coverings of the Superintendent's Office, clock tower and Janitor's House were replaced.

    Work also included the underpinning of the Janitor's House and the northern gable end of the General Office. A collection of single-storey, rear ancillary buildings, including a two-storey fuel store on the southern elevation of the Janitor's House, were demolished and the garden re-landscaped. The LDDC occupied the former Superintendent's Office block until the 1990s, while the former General Office was partitioned into small units and separately leased.

    Today it is the proud home of Blake Hall College, fully modernised, but retaining the stately character of the original building.






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