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View of the Great Eastern

Thus informed we travel on, remarking the curious old carving of about the time of James I. which is above the entrance to Wigram's ship-building yard, and some quaint-looking houses with ornaments on them, which were probably in existence at the time when Queen Elizabeth progressed to Tilbury Fort. A sight of these remains of other days suggests many a thought of the changes in our commercial arrangements since that time. Crossing the bridge over the entrance to the West India Docks, and that over the City Canal, many persons will be surprised at the primitive appearance of the toll-gate which is placed at the entrance of the island. From here the embanked wall of the Thames—that wonderful work—is distinctly visible now, built on almost every portion either on or against it, with various shipbuilding yards and manufactories. The spire of the church, and houses of Cubitt Town, and the beginning of the buildings in its neighbourhood, give some idea of what will be the ultimate value of this site. The spot at night-time must be very lonely, in the middle of the marsh—the lights of the steamers, &c., passing along like will-o'-the-wisps in the distance.

SOURCE: The Illustrated London News, May 24, 1856