welcome to london’s royal docks
London’s Royal Docks
The Royal Docks are London’s unique and historic water space – some four kilometres long, the equivalent of walking from Oxford Circus to Bank. They were once the largest enclosed docks in the world and today the 250 acres of water provide a spectacular setting for the area’s transformation into a vibrant 21st century destination to live, work and play. It’s never been easier to get here – and few areas of London can boast of a more dramatic method of transportation than the Emirates Air Line across the river Thames.
London’s Royal Docks are home to a host of attractions, events and activities, all centred around the water. The heritage and history of the area plays an all-important part in the continuing story of the docks. It’s the combination of old and new that makes this place so special, as communities grow, new restaurants, cafés and bars open and the calendar of activities gets busier with each month. Welcome to London’s Royals Docks. We hope you enjoy your time here.
- The Royal Victoria Dock (RVD) Footbridge is a high-level bridge which bisects RVD and provides a route from Excel (close to the DLR Custom House Station) over to Britannia Village. It had two lifts that were installed at each end of the bridge. These lifts were poorly designed for the situation. The top of the lifts is open to the elements and should have been fully enclosed. This has caused numerous issues over the years. The lifts are now beyond their economic life and have real reliability issues, regardless of the sums of money which are spent on them.
- RoDMA are responsible for the maintenance, refurbishment and replacement of the RVD Footbridge. In 2014 it was announced that the developer for the Silvertown Quays (Millennium Mills) had included in their design a new bridge at dock level to cross RVD from the same location on the Excel side to link up with the new development and provide direct access from the planned Crossrail Station. The intention was to have an opening (swing bridge) mechanism to allow vessels to pass into the western end of RVD. The plan was that the high-level bridge would then be removed. At this point it was decided that no further options would be considered for replacement of the lifts and that their life would be extended until the new bridge was constructed. This was delayed when the investor pulled out of the development but was recommenced by the new developer, Lendlease, in 2018.
- A decision was made by the GLA to retain the high-level bridge and in the agreement that then made Lendlease responsible for the Refurbishment Works required of the existing bridge. Lendlease are now working with RoDMA to replace the lifts, but there is no timeline at present. Meanwhile, RoDMA have commissioned feasibility studies to look at design options to replace the lifts and are also continuing to refurbish the wooden decking and supporting structure as required. The sub-contractor for this work will commence on 8 August.
- Unfortunately, because of the age and uniqueness of the lifts some parts are not readily available, a consequence being that these parts must be made to order, which incurs a heavy cost and long lead times. The lift contractor has attended site many times during recent years with little or no success at maintaining operational capability, to the point that RoDMA now deem them financially unviable.
- Over the past five years RoDMA has awarded circa £0.25m towards lift sustainability, and the realisation now is that funds would be better utilised by a change in direction. To this end RoDMA will no longer attempt to maintain lift operations, but instead direct funds into progressing the design for their replacement.
For health & safety reasons we have closed the public footpath that runs along our outer lock gates at King George V Lock. The outer lock gates are currently open and require urgent repair before they can be closed. We apologise for any inconvenience that this may cause.
Royal Docks Management Authority
The Royal Docks Team are Currently looking for someone to join their team to work with them and help develop water based events and arts within the docks. If this is a role you are interesting in applying for please click here for more detail.
Please see below update regarding the RVD Footbridge Lifts:
- The freehold of bridge is held by the GLA.
- The bridge is maintained by RoDMA under a lease to ensure a safe passage for the public.
- RoDMA is a not-for-profit who operate the Docks and maintain the infrastructure.
- RoDMA’s income is insufficient to maintain, refurbish or replace all assets. Therefore, assets are prioritised based on risk.
- The assets required to retain or maintain the water level and the moving road bridges are a higher priority than the footbridge.
- The bridge is not a public right of way.
- There is an ongoing issue, in both affordability and capability, of the lifts.
- The lifts are not designed for the longevity that they have been put under; they are construction site lifts that should have been taken out of service many years ago.
- The contractor ‘Alimak’ who designed and now maintain the lifts struggle to maintain them. Parts are obsolete and are usually manufactured ad-hoc.
- The contractor attempted to repair the lifts only last week but failed. They were also there three weeks ago and two weeks prior to that.
- If one side of the bridge lift fails, both are switched off. This is to protect vulnerable people if they were to go up the lifts and be stuck on the bridge.
- The timbers are currently going through a rolling replacement programme. They are not tested for safety, they are inspected daily by RoDMA staff. This year we replaced approx. 25% of the timbers. We also have a replacement stock which is used to replace the timbers when they have been damaged, usually through vandalism.
Planned for the future:
- There is a cash inject to replace the lifts which is being provided by the developer of the Silvertown Quays Development. Likely to be completed within 12 months of receiving the money.
- There is a low-level bridge being put in which will not require the use of lifts and will provide the short cut across the docks. Likely to be completed in 2027.
- We will continue our timber replacement programme. If at any time we believe the timbers to not be able to ensure a safe passage, we will close the bridge.
- We will continue to work with Alimak to attempt to keep the lifts working, even though it is unaffordable.