Tilbury is a port city in Thurrock (Essex, England). Founded in late-19th century, this is major deep-water harbour port that handles bulk cargo ships, car carriers, containerships and also timber traffic. Following Felixstowe and Southampton, Tilbury is currently ranked UK's 3rd largest container port, UK's main paper importing port (including newsprint) and UK's fastest growing seaport. London's other cruise port is Greenwich.
The majority of the city's inhabitants were employed in the docks until the introduction of standardised containers. The resulting loss of jobs was never made up, and today Tilbury has high unemployment and employment and education prospects are widely perceived as poor.
Tilbury port is on Thames River, and is London's principal (deep-water) port. Port facilities include terminals for handling vessels shipping to London bulk cargoes, containers and cars.
Seaport's construction was approved in 1882 when the British Parliament allowed docks at Tilbury to be built. The port's first ship docked in April 1886. Tilbury's main dock was on Gravesend Reach, and connected with three branching docks (East, Central, West). The port also had 2 dry docks.
In 1909, the port became part of the company "Port of London Authority", which made major infrastructure improvements in 1921 and 1929. The improvements included new lock (linking the docks directly to the river) and new (3rd) drydock.
In the period 1963–66 was built a 4th branch dock and tidal basin was closed (eventually filled in). In 1969 a new grain terminal was built. In 1967 was opened a new container cargo port. In 1978, a new riverside berth for large boxships was opened. In 1992, Port Tilbury was privatized and became part of Forth Ports.
"Port of Tilbury Group" reopened the one-time passenger landing stage as "London Cruise Terminal", though it's no longer served by the railway.
In 2017, the London-Tilbury cruise port had scheduled 64 ship calls, of which 55 were from CMV. For 2018, the port had booked 71 calls. As of 2017, the largest cruise liner in Tilbury is the TUI ship Mein Schiff 3 (docked on Sept 12, 2017). The 2014-launched Schiff 3 vessel has LOA length of 960 ft (293 m) and max passenger capacity 2700 (plus 1000 crew).
On February 26, 2018, P&O Ferries announced company's agreement with Forth Ports to use for berthing the new Thames River berth at Port Tilbury (read more in the "Terminal" section).
In April 2022 starts operations (entirely based on homeporting in Tilbury) the new brand "Ambassador Cruise Line" with its first ship Ambience (fka Pacific Dawn). The company offers roundtrips to ports in Northern Europe, Iceland, Greenland, Canada, the Canaries, the Caribbean (including Cuba).
On February 20, 2019, the port owner (Forth Ports) received official development consent to build the new port Tilbury2. The new terminal is adjacent to the current port in Thurrock (land size 930 acres / 1,5 mi2 / 3,8 km2). Port Tilbury2 is sized 152 acres (0,23 mi2 / 0,6 km2) and on the location of the ex Tilbury Power Station.
New port's construction works started in early-March 2019, with scheduled completion in 2020-Q3. The project was privately funded. In late-October 2019 the project joined Lafarge Tarmac - 2013-founded UK company (merger of Lafarge France with Tarmac UK) specializing in building materials, construction, maintenance, and waste services. Lafarge Tarmac was contracted to build onsite aggregate processing and manufacturing facilities and supply all raw and processed construction materials (including asphalt and concrete).
Tilbury2 will be UK’s largest ferry port and also UK’s biggest terminal for construction materials. Port's expansion is mainly due to rising demand from UK’s construction industry, import-export cars and increased Ro-Ro ferry traffic UK-Europe (consumer goods, perishables, steel).
TheE GBP 200 million (EUR 231m / USD 261m) project includes the construction of new rail-road connections, a deepwater berth (jetty and pontoon), dedicated terminal for construction materials (import, distribution, processing-manufacturing), rail terminal (with capacity to handle freight trains with max-length 775 m / 2543 ft), storage areas for goods, parking areas for cars. Tilbury2's RO-RO ferry terminal (partnership with P&O Ferries) will also serve the import-export of TEU-containers and trailers.
Tilbury - Gravesend ferry
In May 2017, the company Jetstream Tours started Thames River crossing ferry operations (between Tilbury and Gravesend) with one high-speed trimaran vessel named "Thames Swift" (formerly "Martin Chuzzlewhit"). Jetstream Tours company operates the new ferry service under a temporary contract (supported financially by Thurrock and Kent County councils) and maintains the old 6-day schedule (Monday-Saturday) the whole year-round.
- During ferry hours operates a bus service (bus line 99) from Tilbury Landing stage to Tilbury Town station. From Gravesend Town Pier, at approx 10 min walking distance is the Gravesend station.
- Ferry fares remained unchanged. Ticket prices are as follows (in brackets - adult / kids fare): Single (GBP 4 / 2), Peak Return (GBP 5 / 2,50), Off-Peak Return (GBP 3 / 2), and Saver 10 (GBP 22 / 11).
- Kids fares apply to children 5-15 yo. Kids under 5 travel free of charge, but must be accompanied by a fare-paying passenger. No more than 4 kids under 5 can travel with one fare-paying passenger.
- Peak fares apply between 5:40 - 9:15 am and between 4:15 - 7:10 pm.
- "Saver 10" ticket allows you to buy in advance a book of 10 river crossings (either peak or off-peak). The ticket has no expiry date.
- The Thames Swift ship (capacity 50 passengers) continues to accept passengers with bicycles, but can't accommodate motorcycles of any size (foot and bicycle only). Pets (including dogs) travel free of charge, but the animal must be at all times in a carry cage or on a lead.
The ferry service is between "Port of Tilbury Landing Stage" and "Gravesend Town Pier". The pier is owned by Gravesham council and uses a pontoon (via partnership with Kent County Council). The river crossing service Tilbury-Gravesend (previously operated by "Lower Thames and Medway Passenger Boat Company") is from 2002.
London-Tilbury cruise terminal
Most (all large) cruise liners to London UK dock at Port Tilbury - on River Thames' north bank. Smaller ships may dock at the London City's "Greenwich Tier" terminal (located near to the "Cutty Sark for Maritime Greenwich" and close to the Greenwich railway station). Greenwich Tier is a pontoon in River Thames. Tender boats are used to ferry passengers between the boat and the pier. The Pier is on-shore, and is where the Thames Clippers (London City's river bus service on Thames) and various other water taxis and riverboats dock.
Currently, London cruise port's two moorings (used by smaller ships) are Tower Bridge Upper and Greenwich Ship Tier (a small floating pontoon that serves vessels with LOA length up to 748 ft / 228 m). The 3rd mooring (used by Fred Olsen and Ambassador Cruise Line) is in Essex (Tilbury Docks), located approx 20 mi / 30 km down the Thames River.
Tilbury London Cruise Terminal
Tilbury is London's principal cruise port. P&O cruise liners ("Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company") were the first using its facilities - starting in 1916. Then were inaugurated the berths specifically built for P&O. In May 1930 was inaugurated the new passenger terminal with direct rail connections to London. This passenger terminal was operated until the 1960s. The passenger terminal was reopened under the name "London Cruise Terminal" in 1995.
In 2017, London International Cruise Terminal in Port Tilbury invested GBP 1,5 million (EUR 1,7 million) in refurbishing its baggage hall (completed in October). The building's roof was also renewed (project cost GBP 1 million). The docking quay (max draft 33 ft / 10 m) was extended to 1148 ft (350 m) - completed in September, project cost GBP 2,5 million. From Tilbury, passengers can travel on MBNA Thames Clippers-operated ships (London river bus service) to Greenwich (travel time 35 min) and to Tower Bridge (travel time 50 min).
The following map of Port Tilbury shows the port's infrastructure as road links, terminals and berths. The port's dedicated cruise ship terminal is in its southern part, and near to the car terminal.
Greenwich Cruise Terminal
Cruise ships in London dock at Greenwich Pier on Thames River. The pier is located in the London Borough of Greenwich (one of the city's 32 boroughs). The Ship Tier berthing facility) is operated by Port of London Authority. Transportation options from Greenwich to central London City include bus, London Underground, light railway and the scenic river boat service to Tower Bridge. Greenwich Pier is used by smaller-sized cruise ships, mega yachrs and riverboats. The next photo shows the Pier, not the Tier.
Greenwich cruise terminal is very close to National Maritime Museum. Other popular among tourists sites located nearby are Greenwich Royal Park, Queen's House,, Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich Market, Royal Observatory.
(new) London City Cruise Terminal at Enderby Wharf
In July 2015 were approved the plans for building a new cruise terminal at Enderby Wharf (in east Greenwich). These plans were hugely controversial due to the concern that larger cruise ships will generate air pollution as they are powered by dirtier fuels (an equivalent of 50 trucks running their engines 24-hour a day. So the plans were upgraded by adding shore-to-ship power capabilities to the cruise facility.
The new terminal will become the UK capital's first new shipping terminal facility since the Royal Docks' closure in 1981. It will allow cruise vessels with LOA length up to 820 ft (250 m) to stop close to London's popular tourist attractions Cutty Sark (British clipper ship built in 1869 / one of the world's fastest) and Old Royal Naval College (Maritime Greenwich, World Heritage Site).
The new plans were submitted in 2015 by Westcourt Real Estate (development company). The terminal building's size was increased to accommodate baggage handling for embarking / disembarking passengers. Construction works started in September 2015, with scheduled completion in 2018.
The Enderby Wharf London port development project also includes building of 1154 residential homes. Statistics show that Greenwich’s Royal Borough receives millions of visits each year, supports around 16000 jobs and contributes GBP 1,1 billion to London's economy. The new cruise ship terminal would bring thousands more visitors, thus boosting the capital city's tourism.
(new) P&O ferry terminal Tilbury2
On February 26, 2018, P&O Ferries announced company's agreement with Forth Ports to use for berthing the new Thames River berth at Port Tilbury.
- The terminal's annual freight capacity is 600,000 units.
- The new (GBP 150 million) ferry terminal will be built by 2020 (subject to planning permission).
- Development consent order was submitted by the newly created Tilbury2 company in October 2017.
- The facility will include a 152 acres (0,6 km2 / 0,2 mi2) site (part of the former Tilbury Power Station) and a deep-water jetty on Thames River. It will be linked directly to A13 (via new road).
- According to P&O Ferries' CEO, the new river berth (deep water jetty) would enable the company to cut crossing time by 1-7 hours, meaning that ferry passengers would be discharged 1 hour earlier (at 5 am), enabling them to bypass the city's morning rush hour on M25.
- In April 2018 was announced that the private company Forth Ports (Ireland) is interested in landside projects and marine works (budgeted around GBP 80 million) for the Tilbury2 port expansion.
- Tilbury2 project is a substantial part of Forth Port's GBP 1 billion investment plans for Port Tilbury.
Port London-Tilbury cruise ship schedule shows timetable calendars of all arrival and departure dates by month. The port's schedule lists all ships (in links) with cruises going to or leaving from London-Tilbury, England. To see the full itineraries (ports of call dates and arrival / departure times) and their lowest rates – just follow the corresponding ship-link.
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