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

about . . .

Volume Three - The Pontoon Era - The decline of the coal trade at Penarth commences . . .

Winston Churchill arrived at Whitehall in 1911 when coal was the main fuel source of H.M. Royal Navy. South Wales coal was the coal preferred by the British Admiralty and many other navies and steamship owners on a worldwide basis since it provided higher thermal output and cleaner burning characteristics than other coals. Great Britain had since the dawn of the steam age at sea set up not only a network of refueling ports throughout its vast Empire but a network of coaling stations on a worldwide basis.

For disputes at sea, coal, it was thought being comparatively inert supplemented armour plating by reducing the risk of explosion and damage from shells exploding in or near coal storage bunkers; although it has to be said that by the time coal bunkers were empty and rattled by a torpedo or mine, the dust became an explosive mixture as it was in the case of the liner the “Lusitania” lost in May 1915 when her bunkers were close to empty at the end of the transatlantic crossing. She was hit by a German torpedo which ignited the explosive coal dust mixture, blew out the starboard side of the ship and she sank within 15 minutes, with 1,195 fatalities, and sadly within sight of the Irish coast.

Fueling ship at sea
Churchill commented:"The ordeal of coaling ship exhausted the whole ship's company. In wartime it robbed them of their brief period of rest; it subjected everyone to extreme discomfort." Also, despite numerous experiments, it was found to be virtually impractical to refuel ships at sea. This potentially meant that up to 25% of the fleet might be forced to put into harbour coaling at any one time. Providing the fleet with coal was the greatest logistical headache of the age.

Oil on the other hand offered numerous benefits. It had approximately double the thermal content of coal so that boilers could be smaller and ships could travel twice as far. Greater speed was possible, and oil burned with less smoke so the fleet would not reveal its presence as quickly.

Image above from War Illustrated of 1916 - loading sacks of coal aboard a warship in heavy seas. [242] - image on previous page - Henry Mayo Bateman. Winston Churchill Smiles at the camera, ca. 1912. [076]


contents . . .

information . . .
Search this site
Recent Updates

150 years of Penarth Dock History and Heritage

© 2014 - 2024 - - all rights reserved - web design by Dai the Rat