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Page last updated at 14:08 GMT, Friday, 12 June 2009 15:08 UK
Pirates & Execution Dock

The site of Execution Dock in Wapping
The site of Execution Dock in Wapping where Captain Kidd was executed in 1701

Thames tour of Rotherhithe: Stage 8

Walk down Elephant Lane, past the Ship pub, where you can get excellent views across to Wapping.

As you look towards Wapping there is much evidence of the warehouses and docks that once thrived in this area.

Tea, coffee, sugar, rum, spices, silks, furs and tobacco were just some of the cargoes brought into Wapping during the 18th and 19th Centuries.

Pirates and thieves also flourished.

Pirates would ambush ships coming into the area and also steal outgoing cargoes.

Drawing of Scottish-born American privateer and pirate William 'Captain' Kidd standing on the deck of a ship, brandishing a sword, circa 1690
Drawing of pirate William 'Captain' Kidd, circa 1690

If you look across the river you can see the Captain Kidd pub, named after the famous pirate executed at Execution Dock in 1701.

Execution Dock was located by the Thames near to this pub and dealt with convicted pirates for over 400 years.

Pirates who operated on the seas and abroad would also be tried back in London.

The gallows were located by the Thames so that the tide could wash over the body three times.

More notorious pirates, including Kidd, were left to hang in a gibbet, a type of metal cage, to deter other would be criminals.

...as a great terror to all persons from committing ye like crimes
A gibbet notice to deter would be criminals

Older pictures of hangings clearly show St Mary's Church, Rotherhithe in the background.

You will also see the headquarters of The Marine Support Unit (MSU), at Wapping Police Station on the River Thames (cream and white building) founded in 1798.

The notorious Captain William Kidd was Scottish and started his nautical career as a New York businessman
Kidd is most famous for the possibility that he had left buried treasure, prompting treasure hunts all over the world
Execution Dock's last victims were executed for murder and mutiny in 1830
Patrick Colquhoun proposed a river police force to combat theft and pilfery in 1798, 31 years before the Metropolitan Police
The police carried out their duties in rowing boats that were still in use up until 1905

To your left you can see Tower Bridge, the Tower of London and other London landmarks.

Not far from where you stand today are the remains of a 1350s Manor house for Edward III and the historic Angel pub.

The Angel pub dates back to the 15th century and is rich in history.

Captain Cook prepared for his voyage to Australia at the old Angel Inn and is also thought to be where Turner painted his famous painting of the Fighting Temeraire.

In the 1940 and 1950s, The Angel was visited by dignitaries and film stars including Laurel and Hardy.

The walk ends here unless you want to visit the Manor House remains, close to the Thames by King's Stairs Gardens and The Angel Pub.

If you wish to visit this area you can walk through the park and head back to the Thames Path.


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