As a result of the trading that must have gone on along the waterfront, there must have been customs officials checking goods in as well as merchants checking their consignments and paying their custom dues. Small lead tags, attached to consignments, show a mixture of provincial and customs seals as well as those of individual merchants.
On the north bank, rectangular transit warehouses have been excavated at Pudding Lane and Regis House. These were large stone buildings, subdivided into five equal bays.
On the south bank, a timber warehouse lay on the edge of the main island. It was only accessible from the river at high tide and had a ramp for rolling containers into the building (CO88). It seems to have been deliberately sited to flood at high tide or at least to constantly remain damp and the suggestion has been made that it was used for fish items that needed to be kept fresh. Due to the waterlogged conditions, the floor timbers and some of the wooden planks for the walls had survived burial in remarkable condition.
The warehouses that fronted onto the waterfront were either used to store imported goods before being loaded onto either smaller boats or wagons for their onward journey or for use as workshops. At New Fresh Wharf (NFW74), for example, complete vessels, cracked but otherwise unused samian and colour-coated beakers from Lezoux in Central Gaul and the Rhineland seem to have been crate-loads of imports lost and damaged in transit, while one of the warehouses at Regis House (KWS94) had been used as a glass workshop.
On the waterfront at Pudding Lane (PDN81), offcuts of wooden barrels may indicate refashioning into smaller artefacts in the 1st and early 2nd century and it has been suggested that the staves from barrels were being trimmed down to make wooden writing tablets as the wood used in the barrels, silver fir from the Alpine region, was also used for the majority of writing tablets.
At Regis House, a large proportion of swan bones, all wing elements, suggest waste derived from feather production rather than food debris. Quantities of oyster shells at Regis House and other waterfront sites and wooden tanks (PEN79) also indicate industries associated with food production, the making of fish sauce and the pickling of oysters that would have been needed to be sited near the waterfront.
Other woodworking industries on the waterfront must have included shipbuilding and ship repair. Although no such evidence has been found, a fragmentary writing tablet from London seems to refer to shipbuilding and making a steering oar.
The surviving evidence for two types of boats, however, show how this must have been the case. One was found in 1910 in the Thames mud at County Hall. It was a sea-going ship with a round bottom and projecting keel and its style of manufacture was in the Mediterranean tradition. From coin evidence the boat did not sink before AD293. In 1962, the remains of a different style of boat, found at Blackfriars, indicated a more local building tradition (see Public building programmes in Public life).