The History of Penarth Dock, its site and surrounds Part 1

Posted in the News Category

On the evening of Thursday, 16th February about 65 people came to the Parish Hall to hear the noted local historian, Alan Thorne, give the first of two illustrated talks on the history of Penarth Docks.  This first talk covered Neolithic times to the 19th Century.

The audience heard about the importance of the geographic position and the topography of Penarth Head and the discovery of Neolithic finds at Erw’r Delyn and lower Penarth.  Bronze Age and Iron Age people also settled here. Penarth stone was used in the Roman fort in Cardiff.  Llandoch Monastery overlooking the area was the home of the anchorite St Dochdwy.

Familiar names then come into the story – Milo de Cogan, Osbert de Penarth, Maurice de Llandoch and Gilbert de Constantin (Cosmeston).  Pennarth Harbour also had some infamous pirates and their associates who included Nicholas and William Herbert and John ap John of Cogan.  Smuggling was rife in the Bristol Channel with the Penarth Head Inn and Flatholm as two of the known smuggling locations.

The Bute and Windsor families were rivals over the location of the first dock at Penarth and each family had advisors including Captain Beaufort (the Beaufort Scale) (1774 – 1857), Captain, later Admiral, Smythe (Dock Master for the Butes and grandfather to Baden Powell) and engineers including Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806 – 1859), Thomas Telford (1757 – 1834) and Robert Stephenson (1803 – 1859).

Alan’s next talk covers the eventual building of the Dock, its importance in international trade, decline during the 1930s and new importance during WW2.  After WW2 the Dock declined again in importance and closed in 1963.

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