The Port of London lies along the banks of the River Thames from London, England to the North Sea. Once the largest port in the world, it is currently the United Kingdom's second largest port, after Grimsby & Immingham. The port is governed by the Port of London Authority (PLA), a public trust established in 1908, whose responsibility extends over the Tideway of the River Thames.
The port can handle cruise liners, ro-ro ferries and cargo of all types including containers, timber, paper, vehicles, aggregates, crude oil, petroleum products, liquified petroleum gas, coal, metals, grain and other dry and liquid bulk materials. In 2012 London was the second largest port in the United Kingdom by tonnage handled (43.7 million).
The port is not located in one area - it stretches along the tidal Thames, including central London, with many individual wharfs, docks, terminals and facilities built incrementally over the centuries. As with many similar historic European ports, such as Rotterdam, the bulk of activities has steadily moved downstream towards the open sea, as ships have grown larger and other city uses take up land closer to the city's centre.