19. Port Tennant

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 ]

Mr Tennant’s Shipping Place

By the 1820s, George Tennant (1765-1832) had earned a reputation as a considerable businessman with a great sense of vision. Tennant moved into the area when he acquired the Rhyddings and Cadoxton Lodge estates in 1816. He was blessed with a very active and enquiring mind and luckily many of his thoughts and schemes have survived in a series of journals and notebooks. They give a vivid insight into the mind of a nineteenth century entrepreneur.

Tennant realised that the growing industrial concerns of the Neath valley would be best served by a n outlet at Swansea Harbour rather than struggling with the increasingly inadequate facilities at Neath which were silting up at an alarming rate. His original scheme was for a canal to run from Red Jacket Pill on the River Neath to the East Pier at Fabian’s Bay. Tennant calculated that the coal, culm and iron of the Neath valley would find better prices and bigger markets when moved to the shipping trade in Swansea. He also saw it as a means of improving economic conditions in the Neath area which was clearly missing out on the growing industrial prosperity of the coalfield.

By 1818, barges of 60 tons could move down the River Neath, lock up into the Tennant Canal and move into Swansea Harbour. After some years of indifferent profits Tennant realised that the key to success was to further improve the canal access up the Neath valley. The eventual result was a canal network which opened up almost all of the Neath valley to the potential markets of the port of Swansea.

Once business had been established, Tennant examined the problems of Swansea Harbour. He reasoned that high tolls and indifferent accommodation for ships were beginning to have a detrimental affect on Swansea trade and thus affect the Neath valley and his own profits.

In a 1824 pamphlet which was widely circulated, he put forward his case for more wide ranging changes in Swansea. He was in effect trying to tempt business partners to invest with him in improving facilities. However the pamphlet had the effect of raising awareness of the difficulties the port faced and the lack of vitality from the Swansea Harbour Trustees.

Tennant had already invested a significant amount of money in the wharf in Fabian’s Bay. The increasing amount of Neath valley business that was finding its way to Swansea necessitated the development. He argued that a shipping place on the east side of the bar would be largely free of problems of deposition because the main channel of the Tawe avoided the eastern side of the bay. Furthermore, the excess amounts of water that came down the Tennant canal could be used to flush the eastern channel and scour a deep trench to the harbour entrance. Tennant used the figures of the Bristol and Swansea tide tables to illustrate the potential improvements that could be made.

It was increasingly apparent to many , including Tennant that the larger copper ore ships were more quickly dealt with if there were better wharves and quays to manage their cargo. Tennant also argued that the bigger collier brigs of 100 tons or more that characterised the coal fleet of such towns as Newcastle would be tempted into Swansea if better accommodation were available. The prize was entrance into the very lucrative markets of London and the south-east which were very hungry for coal and suffering from inadequate supply from the north-east of England.

It was of course but a small step from mooting better accommodation to pushing for full floating accommodation, and Tennant suggested as such in his pamphlet. His vision, given shape by his competent engineer William Kirkhouse resulted in the eminently sensible layout of the eastern docks which quickly gained the name of ‘Port Tennant’.

Tides at Bristol and Swansea for 1824

 

 

 

 

Cumberland Gates, Bristol

The ‘New Docks’, Swansea

At Swansea Bar

Feet

Inches

Feet

Inches

Feet

Inches

Monday

Jan. 12

23

2

22

0

12

6

Tuesday

Jan. 13

24

11

22

10

13

4

Wednesday

Jan. 14

27

7

24

9

15

3

Thursday

Jan. 15

30

5

26

6

17

0

Friday

Jan. 16

32

5

28

4

18

10

Saturday

Jan. 17

33

10

29

9

20

3

Sunday

Jan. 18

34

9

30

10

21

4

Monday

Jan. 19

33

11

30

9

21

3

Tuesday

Jan. 20

32

3

30

1

20

7

Wednesday

Jan. 21

29

10

28

9

19

3

Thursday

Jan. 22

26

11

27

4

17

10

Friday

Jan. 23

24

2

25

0

15

6

Saturday

Jan. 24

22

3

23

0

13

6

Sunday

Jan. 25

20

7

21

6

12

0

 

The View for Sunday 4 December 2000

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