National Geographic : 1937 Jan
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE Photograph by B. Anthony Stewart A MODEL OF LONDON PORT FOR DISPLAY AT JOHANNESBURG One tiny vessel is seen about to pass under Tower Bridge. The artist, whose seemingly gigantic hands move the ship, operates a studio that employs archi tects skilled in modelmaking. For education in yellow-fever control in Africa they built a mosquito six feet across! (Page 14.) waiting boats often lay unloaded for weeks; goods were piled in disorder on river banks, and pilfering was enormous. One river bandit stole almost a whole shipload of sugar! To combat this chaos the West India merchants built their own fortlike docks. With more trade came more docks, and more toll-rate wars and other confusion. This ended in 1909 when the Port of Lon don Authority, a Royal Commission, took full control under Act of Parliament. It paid £23,000,000 for privately owned London docks, spent millions more to make the lower Thames the world's long est deep-water channel, and to enlarge and re equip cargo-han dling facilities. It has dredged mud enough out of the Thames to build a Chinese Wall, and has constructed the world's most ex tensive dock sys tem. One of its cranes, the "Lon don Mammoth," lifts 150 tons! Finally, with characteristic British financial genius, it sold its debentures on the Stock Exchange, and now its op erations usually pay all costs and interest and leave a profit which is used for more im provements. "The PLA is not in trade," ex plained Sir David Owen, its general manager. "We are merely cus todians of mer chandise that may range from wild animals for the Zoo to a shipload of molasses from which to distill fuel alcohol. We weigh goods, report on their quality and condi tion; we open bales and boxes for customs inspection, furnish samples for buyers, and look after repacking and loading for those who ship from London to other ports." AN AMAZING VARIETY OF GOODS On the north bank of the Thames, scat tered for miles downstream from the Tower, stand these great PLA docks: London, St. Katharine, East and West India, Millwall, Victoria and Albert, King George V, and the Tilbury (page 8).