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

Watch: Shorts


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

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.

Explore now

Grab Your Very Own Brochure!

Download our latest glossy brochures and help us to secure funding for our future.

Download Now

Watch: In Conversation


Supported by:

More from our heritage programme

A Voyage Through Time

Find out what it was like to live and work in North Woolwich.

Discover this project

Foragers of the Foreshore

Dig deep into the history of mudlarking.

Discover this project

London's Lost Village

The history of Trinity Buoy Wharf and the Leamouth Peninsula.

Discover this project

The Barking Stink

Find out about life in Barking over the generations.

Discover this project

The World's Oldest Boat Race

The history of the Race for Doggett's Coat and Badge

Discover this project

Photo: Newham Archives and Local Studies Library