Penarth Dock, South Wales - 150 years - the heritage and legacy  
Penarth Dock, South Wales - the heritage & legacy . . .

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Volume Three - The Pontoon Era - The new pontoon or floating dock . . .

During 1908 the Directors of the Penarth Ship Building and Ship Repairing Company Limited had identified the need for additional or alternative ship repair facilities to those of the ageing slipway and gridiron situated on a tidal estuary and limited in capacity in many ways. Ships were now much larger and steel had largely superseded iron and wood as the main construction materials. Sail had been superseded by steam and it is now over a decade since Parsons “Turbinia” and his steam turbine engine has shown the merit of rotary steam engines over reciprocating engines and the technological advancements in marine engineering were gathering pace. The Taff Vale Railway Act, 1908 of 1st August 1908 was passed by Parliament in support of the new pontoon.

March 1908 - The Taff Vale Bill - "A select committee of the House of Lords opened the consideration of the Taff Vale Bill, which has for its object the securing at Penarth Dock of modern appliances for ship-repairing shops. Mr Balfour Browne, with Mr H. Lloyd. represented the promoters, and the Cardiff Corporation for the Mount Stuart and other dry dock owners opposed. Opening, Mr Browne explained that under the Act of 1857, the company had power to construct dry docks and floating pontoons. He showed that since 1880 vessels had enormously increased in size, and the Penarth slipway was to some extent obsolete. Because of a bargain with the Slipway Company to take over the same accommodation previously leased to them, they had to come to Parliament for consent. Counsel argued that the Cardiff Corporation had no' locus' to oppose, as Penarth was outside Cardiff, and the Committee upheld their view." Western Daily Press [022] 17th March 1908.

During 1908 they defined a specification for a floating dock or pontoon for use within the Penarth Dock and identified a situation at the tapering western end of the dock. Further they investigated the funding of such a venture and the TVR supported them by way of a mortgage of £50,000. To this end, Mr Bryson MD of the Penarth Company wrote to Messrs Swan, Hunter, & Wigham Richardson at their Wallsend-on-Tyne yard on the 2nd December 1908. By the 7th January 1909 the design consultancy of Clark & Standfield of 11 Victoria Street, London S.W. had been instructed and confirmed the summary of weights and pumping calculations to Swan Hunter with the fundamental requirement to (a) lift a vessel of 4,200 tons in 75 minutes and (b) to lift a vessel of 2,500 tons in 45 minutes. They had also produced a General Arrangement drawing and pumping plan for the Dock.

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