Discover when London was the hub of the world’s largest empire.

As British power and trade spread across the globe, so the port of London grew and prospered. Wooden sailing ships gave way to iron steamers, and the docks became the centre of world trade.

The worst maritime disaster in British waters happened on the Thames.The SS Princess Alice sunk in 1878, with the loss of over 650 lives.

London's waterfront bustled with small independent wharves.This diorama shows Ratcliffe Wharf, where coal was unloaded from the river.

The world’s largest ship of the 19th century was built on the Isle of Dogs.The SS Great Eastern was 211 metres long and had a gross tonnage of 18,915.