There was never any silver in Silvertown. Smoketown, Sulphurtown, Sugartown - the place could have been called any of these and no one would have blinked.
Silvertown, by Melanie McGrath (2002)

Before 1850, Silvertown was a bleak stretch of uninhabited marsh land which was occasionally used for grazing cattle. Some parts were up to ten feet below sea level, and frequently subject to flooding at high tide. Smuggling and illegal prize-fighting were also common in these lonely Thames-side marshes.

In the nineteenth century, London's eastern boundary was at Bow Creek, where its noxious industries began to congregate. From shipbuilding, to silver, iron, oils, soap, rubber and manure, London’s industry was developing on the fringes of the city.

Follow the growth and hear the stories of the Silvertown community through the generations. Through industrial development, cultural change and the devastation of war, to the new blossoming docklands area being developed for a new generation.

Black and white photo of a protest

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Project Themes

Black and white photo of men and woman dancing and having fun
Photo: Newham Archives and Local Studies Library

Watch: Reminiscence Sessions

Photo: Newham Archives and Local Studies Library
A map of the Thames with lots of map pins in it

Take a Virtual Tour of Silvertown

Search over 200 records with images and descriptions from locals that follows the growth of the area through the generations, from industrial development and cultural change to the devastation of war and redevelopment.

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Photo: Newham Archives and Local Studies Library