In 1887, Samuel Williams, a barge builder, purchased 30 acres of land at Dagenham Breach. He built a deep-water dock, which was used in 1911 to fit out the last great ship built on the River Thames, the battleship HMS Thunderer, an Orion class Super Dreadnought.
Part of the lake was filled in with gravel and other material generated by the rebuilding in London. This created new land, which was available for rent. By 1891 the company had constructed a timber dock, with a railway connected to the London, Tilbury and Southend Railway line, and two new jetties to create a tidal quay.
Samuel Williams and Co. joined forces with John Hudson and Co. to form a successful shipping company. Land beside the dock was either used for their shipping and haulage business or sold to organisations such as Union Cable Company and Ford Motor Company.
Visit the River industries gallery at Valence House Museum to find out more.
The Archives and Local Studies Centre collection includes fascinating 1960s archive film of the Samuel Williams site.