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Shipping Minister opens PLA Centenary Exhibition

Jim Fitzpatrick sounds the bell to open the Exhibition
Jim Fitzpatrick sounds the bell to open the Centenary Exhibition

UK shipping minister, Jim Fitzpatrick MP, today opened a three-week exhibition on the history of the Port of London Authority (PLA) at Museum of London Docklands.  The event was held 100 years to the day since the PLA was formed. 

Jim Fitzpatrick signalled the opening of the exhibition by ceremonially ringing the bell from London Port Health Authority vessel, Londinium at 11:15am.   The exhibition, 'Port of London Authority: A Century of Service' will run from 30 March - 19 April 2009 and is one of the main events being held to mark the organisation's centenary.   It features rarely seen archive images and films of the PLA's operations over the last 100 years.  It also includes a new film showcasing the Authority's work today.

The Authority was created through an Act of Parliament overseen by Lloyd George and Winston Churchill to bring order to the chaos of the busy and congested port of the early 1900s.  Today, London is the UK's second biggest port handling over 50 million tonnes of cargo.

Speaking at the event, Jim Fitzpatrick said:

"This exhibition is not only a celebration of the PLA's achievements, but an important reminder that ports, like the Port of London, bring great benefits to us all.  For the younger generation who may not know much about what came before the regeneration of Docklands, this exhibition will provide a fascinating insight to the PLA's history and the evolution of the Port.  But for many of my constituents it is living history and I hope that as many of them as possible will be able to come and visit the exhibition as well."

PLA chairman, Simon Sherrard, said:

"Today's event is about recording the contribution of the PLA over the last 100 years.  The exhibition gives us a chance to share reflections on the story of the river over the last century and the role the PLA has played in it.  What's really important to me is that the story hasn't finished.  The Authority still plays an essential role today; keeping the river open for navigation, helping people make the most of it in safety, whether it be for trade, commuting, tourism or sport."

The exhibition includes:

  • images that capture the development of the PLA from 1909 to 2009
  • stories from the PLA staff, documenting their time working on the tidal Thames over the last 100 years
  • a dedicated display case of archive material including letters covering the PLA's role in Polar expeditions during the early 1900s

Museum of London Docklands director of programmes, David Spence said:

"We have worked closely with the PLA and benefitted from their support since the Museum was created.  Much of the Authority's archive is held here and was used in creating this exhibition.  The show looks great and provides a fascinating insight into the work of this unusual organisation.  We are looking forward to welcoming many visitors over the next three weeks."

'Port of London Authority: A Century of Service' runs until 19 April 2009 at Museum of London Docklands.  General admission to the Museum costs £5 for adults (£3 for concessions) and allows unlimited readmission for a full year; entry to the PLA exhibition is free. Admission for children is free.