The Pool of London (this part of the Thames) was still characterized by wharves, cranes and warehouses. Ships coming in to unload had to pass Tower Bridge which would open for them. The south bank has since been completely redeveloped, with office blocks and recreation areas.
The tug William Ryan on the Thames:
This picture was before any of the redevelopment of the south bank, except for Waterloo Bridge, replacing an earlier bridge, nearly complete by 1940 but not opened until 1945. The Festival Hall (1951) is just outside the picture to the left. A notable London landmark is still standing, the Lambeth Shot Tower, which was demolished soon after to make way for the Queen Elizabeth Hall, opened in 1967 (a concert hall, like the Festival Hall alongside). Googling for the Wiiliam Ryan , I found she was built in 1908, renamed William Ryan after changing owners in 1956, and is currently in the Chatham area for preservation.
The man on the ground was out of his chains in no time after some convincing struggling, moaning and screaming (we had been assured he would sufocate in 30 seconds).