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Port of London Authority's 100th Birthday

The PLA's Thames Barrier Control Centre at WoolwichThe organisation that oversees the safety of operations on Britain's busiest inland waterway and second biggest international port is celebrating its 100th birthday this year.

The Port of London Authority (PLA) has managed the movement of vessels on the tidal Thames from Teddington to the mouth of the Thames Estuary since 1909.

During that time shipping has undergone a revolution. Trade patterns have transformed as globalisation took hold, technology for handling cargoes changed and, as a result, activity on the river changed dramatically. Yet, the amount of world cargo that arrives or departs through the Thames has almost tripled since the PLA's early days (from around 18 million tonnes to nearly 53 million tonnes).

The Authority will be marking its centenary throughout the year by:

  • Holding a public exhibition at the Museum in Docklands - March 31
  • Publishing a book about the history of the PLA - March 31
  • Staging a concert (Celebrating London and the Sea) in aid of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution - April 18
  • Launching the first of a series of five newly designed harbour patrol launches - June
  • Parading PLA boats during the Thames Festival - September

Richard Everitt, PLA chief executive, said:

"It has been our proud role to help people make the most of the river Thames safely for the last 100 years from rowing at one end to super tankers at the other. Throughout that time the tidal River has played a key role in the lives of every person living and working in London and the south east. It is an essential link in the chain that brings us all food, fuel, clothes and even MP3 players.

"Today we oversee the safe movement of more than 12,000 large vessels into and out of the Port annually, supporting an industry that contributes £3.4 billion to the economy every year.

"Reaching our centenary is the result of the hard work, dogged determination and resourcefulness from the many thousands of people who have worked for the PLA. Our aim in this centenary year is to showcase the story of the PLA, the important work done by our employees, both in the past and today, and the exciting prospects for the future."