London & St Katharine Docks Despatch Box, 1864
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13cm (5in) x 25cm (10in) x 38cm (15in)
Black leather over wood, with swing handle to the hinged lid embossed with ‘DEPUTY CHAIRMAN LONDON AND ST. KATHERINE DOCK CO’. The interior of the hinged lid applied with the label of stamped with the maker’s name of John Pound & Co.
St Katharine Docks, in the now popular residential district of docklands, took their name from the former hospital of St. Katherine by the Tower which stood on the site. In 1825 an Act of Parliament passed to redevelop the intensely built-up 23 acre area, with construction commencing in May 1827. Some 1250 houses were demolished, together with the medieval hospital. The dock scheme was designed by the renowned civil engineer Thomas Telford and constituted his only major project in London. Steam engines designed, to keep the water level in the basins about four feet above that of the tidal river, were produced by two further titans of the industrial age James Watt and Mathew Boulton.
The architect Philip Hardwick designed the quayside warehouses many of which were badly damaged by German aerial bombing during the Second World War. The docks were officially opened on 25 October 1828, and saw constant activity. In 1864 they were amalgamated in with the neighbouring London Docks and were thereafter operated by the London and St Katharine Dock Company until 1909 when the Port of London Authority took over the management of almost all of the London docks.
The maker John Pound & Co. (established 1823) was a manufacturer of high-quality trunks and packing cases originally under the name of Pound & Tasker. After the death of Tasker in 1857, and demise of his business partner Henry Pound in 1861, the firm was rebranded by the latter’s son to become John Pound & Co., John Pound (1829-1915) was afterwards Lord Mayor of London in 1904, and created a Baronet.