The History of Penarth Dock, its site and surrounds Part 2

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On the evening of 23rd February, about 70 people gathered in the Parish Hall to hear the second talk by Alan Thorne.

We learnt of the friction between kinsmen the Butes and the Windsors leading up to the building and opening of the Ely Tidal Harbour and Penarth Dock. The opening of the dock and the huge volume of coal transporting traffic made Penarth, with a population of only about 5,000, the best-known small town in the world.

There were many famous visitors to the dock, including Prince Louis Battenberg, Viscount Churchill and Captains Joseph Conrad and the infamous Edward Tupper. Well-known vessels using the dock included the SS Great Britain and the Cutty Sark.

The area north of Windsor Road leading to the docks became notorious for the number of pubs, licensed and unlicensed drinking clubs and brothels that existed there.  Daggertown, as it became known, was a dangerous place to be at times.  The docks themselves were also dangerous especially at night and if you’d been to one (or more) of the pubs!  Working there was a hazardous occupation with none of the Health and Safety laws we have today.

The dock went into decline and closed in 1936 but was re-opened in 1939 and among other wartime activities was part of the build-up to the D-Day landing.

Despite being used as a ferry port, and there still being some commercial sailing, the dock again declined and was finally closed in 1963.

During these talks, Alan was ably assisted by his ‘Man Thursday’ John Guilfoyle, who showed the slides Alan used to illustrate the talks.

To show our appreciation to Alan, Judith Martin-Jones presented him with a scene of the Pier and the two Holm islands made from glass.

The two talks raised over £500 for the Friends funds.

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