Penarth Dock, South Wales - 150 years - the heritage and legacy  
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Volume One - Into the Victorian Age - The official opening of the docks . . .

The opening of the docks on Saturday 10th June 1865 was reported in the Engineer [015] [016] on the 16th June:

“The opening of Penarth Dock, Cardiff took place on Saturday morning last. The formal ceremony was performed by Mr. James Poole, chairman of the Taff Vale Railway Company, in consequence of a delay i.e. the arrival of the Baroness Windsor, Lady Windsor Clive, and the Hon. Hebert Windsor Olive. The first ship to enter was the screw steamer William Cory; the largest iron collier afloat. After the opening ceremony, a large party breakfasted in a marquee erected near the pier-head.

The new dock was commenced in 1858, the contractors being Messrs. Smith and Knight. In 1861 a dispute occurred between them and the dock company, which resulted in the company proceeding with the work themselves, and to this interruption is attributed the protracted opening of the dock. The dock is 2,100ft. long by 370ft. wide, and has an area of 17 acres; the basin is 400ft. long, by 330ft. wide, and its area is 3 acres; the entrance lock is 270ft. long and 60ft. wide, which latter is also the width of all the gates ; the depth of water at the sea gates is 35ft. at spring, and 25ft. at neap tides.

There are ten coal drops at the dock, two of which are so placed as to be able to work into the same vessel at one time-each being capable of loading 150 tons of coal per hour. The basin also contains a double drop. The railway sidings have been admirably arranged. The roads by which the coal is to approach the drops incline towards the drops, while those towards which the coal wagons are to retire from the drop, fall backwards, so that the wagon will, in each case, be impelled by its own gravitation in the direction which it is to run. Very powerful hydraulic machinery has been provided, with a plunger of 80 tons. The engineers are Messrs. Hawkshaw and Dobson, but the latter gentleman, as the resident engineer, has had the actual supervision of the work, and his labours in this respect, though of an unusually difficult character, have met with the utmost success, and been highly satisfactory to the company.”

I have not been able to establish why the Baroness Windsor, Lady Windsor Clive, and the Hon. Hebert Windsor Olive failed to attend the opening ceremony, however, Mr. James Poole addressed the assembled crowd: “Ladies and gentlemen. The Baroness Windsor was to have been present and assist in the ceremony of opening the dock, but by some unforeseen accident her ladyship has not arrived; and as time and tide wait for no man, I have been requested to open the dock in her name. I do so; and may God bless the undertaking; I now declare the Penarth Dock open.”

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