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Fact File

The Port of London
The River

The Port of  London:

  • handles over 53 million tonnes of cargo, carried in 12,500 commercial vessels that visit; the port each year
  • comprises over 70 operational wharves and encompasses the entire tidal Thames, from Margate/Clacton-on-Sea to Teddington, some 150 kilometres
  • generates over 35,200 full time equivalent jobs and contributes more than £3.4 billion per annum to the London and South East regional economy


The River:

  • has a tidal range of over 7 metres and flows at speeds of up to 3 knots in either direction
  • attracts approximately 2 million visitors a year, in pleasure boats, cruise ships and private boats
  • carries over two million tonnes of domestic trade a year within Port limits, including   over half a million tonnes of domestic refuse for disposal, keeping 160,000 lorries off London’s roads
  • supports over 30 piers between the Thames Barrier and Richmond for use by passenger vessels and private boats and has 37 launching sites between Canvey Island and Twickenham
  • has 6 marinas between Woolwich and Kew, over 55 river-based rowing, sailing and canoe clubs and 8 watersports centres
  • is a site of importance for nature conservation containing nine Sites of Special Scientific Interest, three of which are designated European Marine Sites


The PLA:

  • regulates navigation through its river byelaws, general directions, other associated byelaws and in accordance with the Port Marine Safety Code
  • operates Vessel Traffic Service Centres at the Port Control Centre, Gravesend and the Thames Barrier Navigation Centre, Woolwich (call signs “VTS London”)
  • provides the pilotage service for the Port
  • owns 90 percent of the riverbed up to mean high water between Teddington and Southend
  • licenses commercial vessels trading within the port, structures and moorings placed in the River, and dredging
  • employs almost 370 staff, of which 90 are marine pilots
  • provides around the clock launch patrols between Southend and Teddington.
  • participates with Government, advisory bodies, regional and local authorities to secure the best interests of the Thames in the planning framework
  • approves and monitors almost 300 events each year, including major sporting occasions, regattas, club and other river events
  • complies with the Guide to Good Governance of Trust Ports and the Port Marine safety code.