25. Thomas Page's report of 1846.

Reading about the Port of Swansea ] Swansea Harbour in 1771 ] Swansea's South Dock (c.1870s) ] Swansea's South Dock (c. 1880s) ] Swansea Docks in 1881 ] Brunel's report for Swansea Docks 1846 ] 2. Charter of William de Newburgh ] 6. A Royal Charter ] 9. Trade In The Early Port ] 10. A port Indenture of 1135 ] 11. Salt A vital commodity ] 12. Swansea's Layer Keeper ] 12a. Early Quays and Docks ] 14. The Uncrowned King Of Swansea ] 15. Swansea in the 1790s ] 16. After Gabriel ] 17. 1790s Swansea;The Time For Change ] More about Swansea in the 1790s ] 17a. Smuggling in Swansea and Gower ] 18. The Harbour Act and the Mumbles Lighthouse ] 19. Port Tennant ] Port Tennant in 1827 ] 20. port Development. A Chronology ] 21. The South Wales ports ] 22. Joseph Rutter's pamphlet of 1843 ] [ 25. Thomas Page's report of 1846. ] 27. John Henry Vivian ] 29. The East Dock ] 30. The Prince of Wales opens the East Dock ] The Helwick Lightvessel ] Jack's World: Swansea North Dock in the 1880s ] James Harris Seascape Painter ] Mr Padley of Swansea ] Plan of the Prince of Wales Dock ] Who put the 'Sweyn' in Swansea? ] Swansea's first tugs ] The Victorian port of Swansea ]

This is the text of Thomas Page's report. Again, this was released to bolster public opinion for the development of the Swansea (later South) Dock. The theme here is to convince the public that the need is for a new dock at the mouth of the River Tawe rather than repairing and rebuilding the Town Reach. Compare with Brunel's Report.



2, Mid. Scotland Yard, London,

21st November, 1846


Having received your directions to survey and report upon the most eligible site for the construction of Docks at Swansea, and to lay down a plan for Docks which should have reference to the present trade of the port and the increase which may reasonably be anticipated, 1 have the honor of submitting to you the following Report, based upon the Survey which I have made and the result of enquiries on the subject.

Of all the Ports in the Bristol Channel there are perhaps none more favorably situated than Swansea; it is stated by the Admiralty surveyors, " as an important fact, that Swansea Harbour is accessible to "any stranger that may arrive in the bay when blowing too strong for " Pilots to get off;" and although the course pursued in the Harbour has been ill calculated to improve its natural capabilities, it may, by judicious management, be made one of the most valuable ports south of Milford Haven.

To secure to it those advantages of which it is capable, will however, require a treatment very different to that which it is now undergoing; an energetic system for increasing the depth of water in the channel— of enlarging its capacity as a Refuge Harbour—and of opening its river for the waters of the tide, must be resorted to, in place of proceedings which are producing results the very opposite of these.

It may be anticipated that, in common with other harbours of the kingdom, the condition of Swansea will be considered by competent Official Authorities, and that the attention of the Commission appointed by Her Majesty for enquiring into the state of Tidal Harbours will soon be directed to it; and it must be satisfactory to all those interested in the place to know, that ports and harbours which have been subjected to various processes, from which some have recovered, and by which others have been ruined, have attracted the notice of the legislature, and that on several of them the Reports of the Royal Commission have been laid before the public.

In arranging a plan for the Docks, I have been guided by a regard to the interests of the Town itself, not only as they relate to the harbour, but to the value of property on the Town side,—by the facility of communication with the Swansea canal and the terminus of the South Wales railway,—and by the extent of inexpensive property available for Dock extension in the direction of the more sheltered part of the bay. These conditions, added to the advantage of a sheltered entrance to the Docks, and the avoidance of any encroachment on Fabian’s Bay, are fulfilled in the site on the West side of the harbour, occupying the Burrows, and a portion of the sea shore.

I may here mention that Mr. Brunel’s Report to the Duke of Beaufort on the best site for works at Swansea has been published since I visited the port, and his views on this subject and on the formation of a portion of the river into a float have been so clearly and forcibly expressed as to leave little to be said in addition.

It is evident that, with regard to the Docks, their formation and extension on the eastern side cannot be consistent with the interests of the town, while they would encroach on what may be made a valuable part of the harbour ;—and with regard to the Float it cannot be made available for the increased trade of the port,—it will be injurious to the trade carried on by the smaller class of vessels,—will tend to shoal the channel by the abstraction of so much of its tidal water,—and although it may not prevent the formation of Docks, it will operate as a bar to the improvement of the harbour. Already the stoppage of the flow of tide through the natural channel has shoaled the water on the town side above the pier—heads and the completion of the work will promote the process of shoaling, depriving the quay walls on the town side (below the float) of their depth of water, and throwing the deep water navigable channel towards the eastern side of the harbour.

I cannot here enter into particulars on the effect of this change on individual interests ;—but these two facts, viz., that by the works in progress the town side is losing its water—and that a cut made at an expense of £43,000, (without the precaution of securing its banks for the benefit of the harbour trust) has converted comparative waste into valuable wharfage—are sufficient to convince an impartial observer that the late proceedings are altogether inconsistent with the interests of the town of Swansea.

On the prosecution or abandonment of the works commenced—on which Mr. Brunel has expressed a strong and valuable opinion, the authorities of the town will doubtless take into their serious consideration the effect of the works—1st, on the harbour generally— 2ndly, on the interests of the proprietors of wharfs situated within the proposed float, —3rdly, on the trade carried on by the smaller class of vessels—4thly, on the dues to be levied to produce an income proportionate to the capital expended on the works—and, 5thly, the result of the project when complete of driving a certain class of vessels to unload at the sides of that New Cut. which has so extensively enhanced the property on the eastern side, at the expense of the funds of the harbour trust

It appears from the returns that the trade of the port has been trebled within the last 20 years, and that whereas the largest ship using the Port in 1825 was 181 tons burthen—the largest ship using the port in 1845 was 419 tons : but notwithstanding that ships up to this tonnage have entered the port, the well-known difficulty of procuring ships for Swansea shews the necessity of establishing Docks, even for the maintenance of the present progress of the town, for, in proportion as railway communication is extended to the shores of the kingdom, so will exertions be made at each port to improve the present capabilities, by deepening the channels—by providing Docks, &c., that it may offer to our merchant shipping the easiest and safest access attainable, and the best means of transferring their cargoes to the railway trains for distribution to the various parts of the interior.

Thus, each port in proportion to the inducements it can offer in safety—in economy of time, dues, and labor—in facility of communication with the producing, manufacturing, and consuming districts—will form a centre of traffic; and as the income from the railways will depend much on the increase of the Ports connected with them, the assistance of their Directories may be expected where exertions are made to promote the desired object, and it will happen in these cases, as in most others, that the laggards in the cause will be the losers.

The plan of the Docks herewith submitted to your notice consists of a Tidal Basin, 1½ acre in area, 330 feet in length, and 210 feet in breadth, a Dock ten acres in area, 1452 feet in length and 300 feet in breadth—provision for a lock between the river and the basin, and for a double lock between the basin and the Dock. The basin, locks, and Dock would extend from the river wall of the west pier 800 yards to the westward, the Dock and sea-wall would occupy a portion of the present shore—but the plan contemplates a second Dock parallel to, and of equal dimensions with, this Dock, and extending over the property situated between the Oystermouth tramroad and the present shore line.

The depth of water in the Dock at a 20 feet tide would be 23 feet, the depth of water in the basin would be 26 feet, and although at present I propose some provision for a supply of water at high tides westward of the Dock, to allow for lockage, &c., I contemplate an arrangement for keeping the Docks constantly supplied with back water from another source.

The proportions of the Dock are such as will provide the greatest length of quay with the least area of water consistently with the width required for moving the ships, and will consequently afford the greatest accommodation at the least expense. The width of the locks corresponds with those of the largest entrance of the London Docks and with those of the Cumberland Basin at Bristol, the dimensions are ample for a British ship of 1200 tons burthen, and in breadth for the largest steam ships that enter the Bristol Docks, and although in providing for extreme (though not unhoped for) cases of steam ships of larger dimensions, a greater- width of lock would be requisite yet the increased expense of construction and working, and the waste of

water, leakage, &c., form considerations too important to be neglected for the sake of this future contingency. When the trade shall have so increased, and circumstances shall have arisen to render greater accommodation desirable, the Dock Company will he in a condition to complete the plan and to provide for a larger entrance probably in a different situation.

The tidal basin may appear small, but it is more than amply sufficient for the working of the Docks for which only it is intended : for notwithstanding the advantages of a large open tidal basin for vessels to run into, I consider that the works to be executed by the Dock Company should not embrace the provision for a Refuge Harbour when the natural harbour itself offers such facilities for improvement in this respect, at a very trifling cost and on a plan with sloping sides &c., far preferable to the perpendicular walls of a tidal basin. If tire ground which has been thrown into Fabian’s Bay as a spoil bank, were removed and the bay deepened, abundant space would be found for working the ships, and if the expense were an objection to this improvement, it would be more desirable for the Dock Company to contribute to the deepening of this bay, than to form a large tidal basin for their works.

It is proposed to put down one pair of lock gates for the basin, but to make provision in the work for two pair for future convenience.

The estimate of the proposed works, exclusive of purchase of property is £85,000, or with the chief Dock proportionately shorter £75,000. In forming this estimate I have had regard to the use of materials of comparatively trifling cost but of a durable nature, and have not allowed for any expensive workmanship not absolutely required. My object is to provide for the wants of the port as far as they relate to Docks with the least expenditure, and I have no doubt that the plan properly carried out will be highly advantageous to the Company, and to the interests of the Town.

It is not here necessary to enter into detail upon the subject of the improvement of the harbour, although that improvement is of such importance to the Docks; but I may state my conviction that with so much inexpensive material in tire neighbourhood, a plan may be progressively acted upon which would considerably increase the depth of water in the channel both within and without the pier heads, arid enable vessels of considerable burthen to enter the port at a much earlier time of tide. For this object, however, there should be a co-operation of all the parties interested in promoting an object so generally important.

I have the honor to be,


Your obedient Servant,




The View for Sunday 4 December 2000

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