Picture Essay: Swansea Harbour Trust Bollards

We all used to love the bollards. They were big, rough, they hurt your knuckles when you tapped them and they were everywhere. They were all marked with SHT and a date which was marvellous to run your hands over. You felt that you could really connect with something as you felt the lumps, bumps, and marks.

The oldest bollards were marked SHT 1842 and they marked the first awakenings of the New Cut long before the docks had been completed. The original design was a version of the original cannonball in the mouth of a cannon. Although unusual in this part of the world, the design was practically traditional in most English ports. The foundry that made them was Yniscedwyn in the Swansea Valley, a factory very well skilled in producing cannon and the bollard design would have meant very little change from their normal manufacturing skills. The amazing thing was the 4-pronged design which enabled the bollards to be pile driven into the quaysides.

For tying up small sailing ships, the original design was perfect, but by the 1850s something bigger was needed and the design changed to the teardrop which became much more common.

The bollards around South Dock (The Marina) did not have SHT on them because the dock was planned as a bold business venture out of the hands of the shambolic Swansea Harbour Trust. So the South Dock Bollards have SD on them which stands for 'Swansea Dock' not South Dock.

The fact that they were so solid and robust practically ensured their survival for generations. Sadly the end of many was the redevelopment of the Marina when they were dug up by the council and developers. I once saw an 1842 being demolished by some local workmen because it was in the way of parking their truck on the south side of the Marina lock entrance.

 

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My favourite bollard was this 1842 in the New Cut. Seen here in Summer 1983 before any rebuilding.

This 1842 is shown here in 1985. This one was up at the top of New Cut and shows the long prongs of the design driven into the glacial gravel of the Tawe valley. Now destroyed by redevelopment.

I found this one in 1986 in the collection of artifacts that were being saved by Maritime Museum. This one has the date defaced by use but SHT is clear. It looks like an 1880s or later one to me.

The North Dock lock entrance (where Sainsburys is now) was a place of incredible industry and traffic for almost all of Swansea's history. The digging of the New Cut meant that it bcame harder to work ships into the Town Reach (eventually North Dock). This little spot (seen here in 1984) was packed with bollards and windlasses used to work ships through into weavers basin and up to the Strand. You can still make some of this out on the spot.

An 1842 with the Yniscedwyn Casting still clearly visible. This one had been repainted as part of a New Cut upgrade in 1982. It should still be there just to the north of the New Cut Bridge on the town side.

Bollards were installed a surprising way up the valley even some way up from the top of the New Cut. I think it reflects the boom years of the port when space for tying up coal trade ships was very short so more of the river between North Dock lock and White Rock was used for general tie ups of small colliers. This 1861 was slowly sinking out of sight in 1985.

 

 

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