THE PORT OF LONDON PICTURED
AN ADDRESS WITH MOVING PICTURES BY MR. A.E.
WILDEY, PUBLIC RELATIONS OFFICER, PORT OF LONDON
4th December, 1930
MR. WILLIAM TYRRELL, Vice-President, introduced the speaker, who said: I thank you most heartily for the honour and opportunity of addressing you, on behalf of the Port of London Authority, for whom I speak.
I have been sent here with a twofold object in relation to the commerce of the most important public body in the Old Country; with a message of good-will towards Canada, and a desire to stimulate the interest of Canadians in the great market which is served by the Port of London, which we consider the greatest port in the Empire, or in fact in the world. (Applause.)
I would like to feel that Canada and the other Dominions share our pride in the great imperial port which you and they have helped to build. The City of London owes its progress, and I think one may say its prosperity, to this port.
The Port of London Authority desire to make better known the marketing and distributing facilities which the Port of London offers for produce from Canada, and to ascertain from producers and shippers whether there be any way in which the Authority can help to facilitate trade between the two countries.
The Port of London Authority was constituted in 1908 to take over the docks, which had hitherto been operated by private enterprise, and the tidal portion of the River from Teddington down to the sea, a distance of 69 miles. The Authority consists of twenty-eight members, eighteen of whom are elected by the payers of charges and dues, the other ten being appointed by public bodies and government departments. The Port Authority is self-supporting. Its revenue is derived mainly from dues on ships and charges on goods, and after working expenses and the fixed rates of interest on the port stock have been paid, any surplus is available for the improvement of the port or for the reduction of port charges. The functions of the Authority are many and varied. They own a dock estate of 3,442 acres, of which 723 acres are water, 45 miles of quays, with 1,650 cranes for the handling of loads ranging from a few cwts. to 150 tons, and 10 dry docks. They are the largest warehouse keepers in the world and are able to store over 1,000,000 tons of goods, while accommodation for a further 1,000,000 tons is provided by the public wharfingers in the port. In modernizing and extending the port, over £20,000,000 have been spent since 1909. The works upon which a large proportion of the capital has been expended are, we submit, beneficial to the Dominions.
There is no part of the British Empire that has not at some time or other benefited by selling its products in London. To bring home this point I need only say that Britain is the largest purchasing country in the world, and that the Port of London deals with 40 percent of Britain's import trade. This means that the London market spends approximately £500,000,000 per annum on overseas products. London has been a market for over 2,000 years, and its shipping and trade have progressed to the point where it is the greatest port and largest market in the world. Since the Port of London Authority took control of the port 21 years ago, its trade has gone ahead by leaps and bounds. For instance, in 1909 shipping entering and leaving the Port totalled 38,510,000 net register tons. Last year this had increased to over 58,000,000 net register tons, whilst the value of its overseas trade in 1909 was £322,000,000 against £705,000,000 last year. This shipping figure is 20,000,000 net register tons more than the next most important port in the United Kingdom, and the trade figure represents 34 percent of the total trade of the country.
London's geographical position has facilitated its growth as a national and international market. The River Thames enables vessels of the largest class to enter the docks easily. Owing to its situation, 60 percent of the entrepot trade of the United Kingdom passes through London. The population of Greater London at the last census was nearly 8,000,000. Within a radius of 100 miles of the City there are 16,000,000 people who depend very largely upon the Port of London for their supplies of imported produce.
London is the financial centre of the world, and therefore exerts a tremendous influence on international trade. Bills of Exchange on London are the currency of the world's commerce; and exporters and importers can make the most advantageous financial arrangements. In 1929 out of a total sum of £44,896,677,000 which passed through the Bankers' Clearing House, £41,817,913,000, or 93 percent, was cleared through London. The London market attracts the largest number of buyers, both national and international. All goods that enter it can find buyers; and shippers who send their produce to London for realization are assured that it will be sold, and in the long run at the best prices.
London has unequalled distributing facilities. There are 170 miles of railway lines in the Authority's docks, and merchandise can be loaded into or discharged from trucks alongside ship or warehouses, thus incurring the minimum handling. The wholesale provision market of London in Tooley Street is the greatest dairy-produce market in the country. In 1929 the United Kingdom imported 320,000 tons of butter and 150,000 tons of cheese. Of this total Canada sent only a very small quantity of butter, but over 36,000 tons of cheese, of which London received 20,000 tons, or 55 per cent. At the Surrey Commercial Docks, where large quanties of Canadian cheese are handled, the produce is discharged from vessels alongside the quay, and landed direct into cold stores. There are 7,000,000 cubic feet of cold storage accommodation available at the Surrey Commercial Docks and Tooley Street Warehouses.
In 1929 the United Kingdom imported nearly £35,500,000 of green fruit, apples being the second largest item, with 288,141 tons, valued at £7,000,000. London is the largest consuming and distributing centre, and deals with about 61.5 percent of the country's supplies. Excellent sale facilities for fruit are available at Covent Garden, Spitalfields and elsewhere. These markets supply the needs not only of the local population, but also of a large number of provincial centres.
London is the chief timber port of the United Kingdom, and deals with about 33 percent of the total imported into the country. Last year about 2,139,000 tons of timber of all descriptions were dealt with. The Port Authority themselves have an expert staff for carrying out the requirements of the trade in the way of piling, stacking and marking.
The increase in the export of paper on reels, chiefly newsprint, from Canada and Newfoundland, has been very great during recent years, and this business provides one of the most gratifying illustrations of the growth of Canadian trade with the United Kingdom. In 1914 the imports of newsprint amounted to 173,554 tons, of which 51,713 tons came from Newfoundland. In 1929 the imports of newsprint to the United Kingdom amounted to 386,000 tons, of which 244,862 tons came from Canada and Newfoundland, or nearly 64 percent London imported, in 1929, 605,000 tons of meat, or 70 percent of the total for the country, and 1,100,000 bales of wool.
One of the most potent reasons why Canada should look to London for increased sales is that London is becoming more and more a great centre of industry, bringing with it, as a natural corollary, an increasing population. This means greater opportunities for overseas traders to increase their sales there. It is an undisputed fact that there is a steady and certain gravitation of industry to the south of England, due to cheap land, low rating, proximity to the Thames, the development of electricity, and accessibility to London.
The General Manager of the Port of London Authority, Mr. D. J. Owen, has stated that the story of London is the story of the British Empire. It will be obvious, therefore, that in the short time at my disposal it has been impossible to speak of even all the main commodities coming into the Port from all parts of the world, but I have endeavoured to refer particularly to those received from your Dominion. My obect has been to bring before you the unrivalled facilities and favourable market conditions provided by London.
(The speaker's remarks were illustrated by moving pictures of the port and its many and varied operations. He assured the Club that the pictures were taken during every-day work, and were not the result of special "posing". He expressed his great surprise and delight at what he had seen in Canada, and suggested a slogan which he considered was an improvement on the old one "See Naples and die"-which was, "See Canada and live!")
Hon. Geo. S. Henry, Premier-elect of Ontario, voiced the thanks of the Club for the interesting and valuable address.