Captain Kidd, pirates and maritime London – a timeline

1580 – The Golden Hind returns to Plymouth laden with riches as Sir Francis Drake completes his circumnavigation of the world. Merchants realise that there are fortunes to be made from distant voyages.

1600 – The East India Company is formed. Global trade increases dramatically, but is then restricted by various European Wars of Religion.

1650 – The wars end, international trade picks up again the Golden Age of Piracy begins. More and more people from around the world come to crew English ships, while others settle in England.

1689 – William Kidd joins a French-English pirate crew in the Caribbean. Over the next few years, he fights for the English against the French and becomes a privateer in the Caribbean.

1695 – Kidd is asked by the Governor of New York to attack known pirates, as well as French ships.

1696 – Captain Kidd sets sail in his brand-new ship, the Adventure Galley. In the same year, the first of the great London Docks is built.

1698 – Kidd captures his greatest prize, the Quedagh Merchant. By now, the Adventure Galley is in poor shape, so he abandons it and sets sail in the Quedagh Merchant, renaming it the Adventure Prize.

1699 – Kidd is arrested in Boston, Massachusetts for piracy. The following year he is sent back to England to stand trial.

1701 – Kidd goes on trial and is quickly convicted of piracy. On 23rd May he is publicly hung at Execution Dock, Wapping. His body is later displayed on the banks of the Thames at Wapping.  However, his legend, and the stories of his buried treasure, live on.

1702 onwards – Treasure hunters search for Captain Kidd’s riches in places as far afield as Oak Island in Nova Scotia, various islands off Connecticut, the Vietnamese island of Phú Quốc and sites in and around Madagascar and Thailand. None are successful.

1802 onwards – over the next century, more docks are built in London’s Docklands. The Pool of London – the part that’s between London Bridge and Limekiln Creek that’s navigable by tall ships –  becomes the world’s busiest stretch of river, bringing in not just goods, but numerous immigrants.

1820 – the Thames at Limehouse is linked to the newly-built Regent’s Canal. This makes it easier to transport goods from London by boat to many points inland.

1859 – Brunel’s Great Eastern, the most famous ship to be crafted on the Thames, is launched.

1912 – the last major ship to be built on the Thames, HMS Thunderer, is completed.

1940 – Docklands and surrounding areas are bombed for 50 nights running in the Blitz.

1948 – the Empire Windrush docks in London. On board are the first large group of post-war immigrants from the West Indies.

1960s – With the growth of container ships, the London Docklands close down. In the 1980s they are redeveloped as prestigious offices and housing.

2018 – The new Captain Kidd Pirate Ships Experience is launched – and with a following wind, we will create maritime and historical treasures of our own for all to experience.

2020 (planned) – Building starts on our three pirate ships on the banks of the Thames in London. These will be the first major ships to be built on the Thames in over 100 years.

2021 (planned) – the new ships will be complete for all to see – and to sail in.

Find out more

For more on historic piracy and its impact today, go to Piracy’s Relevance Today

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