London Gateway

DP World London Gateway has completed one of the largest dredging projects ever planned in the UK – to widen, deepen and in places re-route the existing commercial shipping channel in the Thames Estuary. The estuary holds thousands of years of archaeological evidence – from mammoth teeth and environmental remains related to the last Ice Age, to the wrecks of ships, submarines and aircraft, and defensive structures from the two World Wars. For over a decade Wessex Archaeology has been supporting DP World London Gateway to protect these sites – before, during and after work offshore. 

The Development

Deepening the channel is essential to accommodate the very large container vessels that will come into service in the next few years. These vessels are longer, wider and have deeper draughts than those that currently serve the Port of London. New port facilities are also under construction and material that has been dredged from the estuary has been used to reclaim the land on which these will stand. Given the high archaeological potential of the estuary seabed, every phase of this process has been designed to minimise the impact on our submerged heritage.
Where possible the dredged channel was routed around known archaeological sites and most of them remain intact on the seabed. For a few sites, however, this was not possible and the archaeological material was recorded in situ, lifted under supervision, and is being stored until an appropriate museum is found for their long-term care.