Rotherhithe is a residential district in southeast London, England, and part of the London Borough of Southwark. It is located on a peninsula on the south bank of the Thames, facing Wapping and the Isle of Dogs on the north bank, and is a part of the Docklands area. It borders Bermondsey to the west and Deptford to the south east. Rotherhithe has a long history as a port, with many shipyards from Elizabethan times until the early 20th century and with working docks until the 1970s.
Rotherhithe, Southwark in "A Topographical Dictionary of England" edited by Samuel Lewis (1848)
ROTHERHITHE (St. Mary), a parish, in the E. division of the hundred of Brixton and of the county of Surrey, 1 mile (S. E.) from London; containing 13,917 inhabitants. This place, corruptly called Redriff, was anciently a village and marsh south-eastward of London, to which it now forms an extensive suburb, on the south side of the river Thames. The trench cut by Canute, in order to besiege the metropolis, reached from Vauxhall to this parish; and the channel through which the river was turned in 1173, for the rebuilding of London bridge, is supposed to have taken a similar course. In the reign of Edward III., a large naval armament was fitted out here preparatory to an invasion of France by Edward the Black Prince and the Duke of Lancaster. During the commotions in the reign of Richard II., respecting the poll-tax, that monarch came hither in his barge, to pacify the malcontents; but his refusal to land so enraged the rioters, that, with their leader John Tyler, alias Jack Straw, and Wat his brother, they broke open the Marshalsea and King's Bench prisons, liberated the inmates, and proceeding to the house of the Duke of Lancaster in the Savoy, destroyed it, and all the valuable furniture and jewels, by fire. In 1785, a dreadful fire broke out, which in a few hours consumed 206 houses, and did other extensive damage.
The situation of Rotherhithe, on the river, has induced numbers of seafaring men, watermen and others, to reside here; and its inhabitants are now almost exclusively engaged in pursuits connected with shipping. In that part of the parish which forms the bank of the Thames are eleven dockyards, for building East India ships and small merchant-vessels; also some boat and lighter builders' wharfs; seven timber-wharfs, three deal-yards, and a mast-yard; besides anchor-wharfs, ship-breakers' wharfs, and numerous warehouses for rigging and victualling the navy. The rest of the parish is occupied by the residences of masters of ships, seafaring people, and the tradesmen whose interests are dependent on navigation. The principal docks are the Commercial docks, the several basins of which are capable of containing upwards of 200 ships of burthen. The Grand Surrey canal terminates here, and is formed into two docks, called the outer and inner. In 1837 an act was passed for making wet-docks and other works, to be called the Grand Collier docks. The business connected with the place in general has been much circumscribed since the opening of the London, the East and West India, and St. Katherine's docks, on the opposite side of the river. The manufactures comprise the works carried on in the ordnance department at the three government wharfs employed in making gun-carriages, &c.; extensive iron-works, chiefly for the construction of bolts out of old iron hoops and other materials; and the king's mills for grinding corn, some years ago occupied by the London Flour Company. The Croydon railway diverges from the London and Greenwich line at Corbett's-lane, in the parish; and a lighthouse has been erected near the spot, with a powerful gas lantern for security against accidents by collision. The Thames Tunnel, one of the termini of which is at Rotherhithe, is noticed under the head of London.
The living is a rectory, valued in the king's books at £18; net income, £772; patrons, the Master and Fellows of Clare Hall, Cambridge. The present parochial church was erected in 1715, and is a neat edifice of brick with stone quoins, having a square tower, upon which is a stone spire supported by Corinthian columns. In the churchyard is the tombstone of Prince Lee Boo, son of Abba Thule, king of one of the Pelew islands; who died of the small-pox in 1784. Three district churches have been built under the auspices of the rector, the Rev. Edward Blick. The church of the Holy Trinity, situated in Trinity-street, and consecrated on the 6th of November, 1838, is a spacious structure of white brick, erected at an expense of £4698. The living is a perpetual curacy, in the gift of the Rector, with a net income of £150. Christ-Church, erected at an expense of £4373, on a site in Paradise-row given by Sir William Gomm, who also presented the communionplate, is a neat structure in the early English style, with a low embattled tower, strengthened by buttresses and crowned with pinnacles; the roof is supported by open frame-work of oak. The living is a perpetual curacy, in the gift of the Trustees of Hyndman's Bounty, with a net income of £167. The church dedicated to All Saints, situated on the lower Deptford road, and for which the site was also given by Sir W. Gomm, was consecrated on the 29th of June, 1840; it is a neat structure of white brick, with a tower surmounted by an octagonal spire. The living is a perpetual curacy; net income, £150; patron, the Rector. An episcopal floating chapel is maintained for the use of seamen; and there are places of worship for Baptists, Independents, and Wesleyans. The parish, under the PoorLaw Amendment act, is separately assessed for the support of its own poor, who are under the care of fifteen guardians.