What did the Bute dock do?

Bute West Dock - A chronology ] What was Cardiff's trade and industry like before the Bute Dock was built? ] Why was there a need for a new dock in Cardiff? ] What was transport like around Cardiff in the early 1800s? ] The Second Marquess of Bute ] [ What did the Bute dock do? ] Was there opposition to the Bute Dock scheme? ] What were the consequences of building the Bute Dock? ] What was trade and industry like after the dock was built? ] Bute Dock - Vocabulary and Definitions ]

A dock is a very expensive thing to build. The attraction of building a dock is that it can be incredibly useful for a port, as a great deal of time can be saved in loading and unloading ships. More efficient cargo handling meant that costs were reduced and it was safer for both the men and ships. Using a dock also meant that new types of machines could be used for loading and unloading. 
The Bute Dock was an exciting use of relatively new technology in an area for the first  time. Although people were used to the idea of docks in other places, it was the first time that something modern and revolutionary had been used in a South Wales port. There were already docks in small ports such as Llanelly, Pembrey and Port Talbot, but these were small, and not well designed for modern shipping. The Bute Dock was a milestone for both Cardiff and Wales. The opening of the Dock saw street parties and celebrations throughout the town of Cardiff because people recognised that their town was being put on the map for the first time. 
The dock was special for a number of reasons:
  • It was built with ships and trade in mind. It was designed around the needs of traders and sailors. The dock was built on open land instead of fitted into an existing landscape of houses, warehouses and offices as happened at Swansea. The long straight sides of the dock were perfect for loading and unloading ships.
  • The shape enabled good quality transport facilities to be built. Although railways weren't part of the original design, the long, flat open sides of the dock were perfect for railways and tramways to be built to move goods around.
  • The dock provided floating accommodation.
  • The location of the dock enabled lots of new buildings such as warehouses and offices to be built specifically for the dock trade. This created a whole new part of town (eventually known as Bute Town) and increased the size of the town quite considerably.
  • The new dock provided lots of new jobs for people. This enabled Cardiff to grow very quickly. 
  • The large quays and wharves on the sides of the dock enabled coal to be loaded onto ships very quickly, increasing trade and encouraging more ships to come into the port of Cardiff.
  • The dock had a half-tide basin which made id more advanced that the early primitive Welsh docks.

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