Originally a small fishing village called Paterchurch, Pembroke Dock is a small coastal town situated on the shore of the River Cleddau in South West Wales. The arrival of the Royal Navy Dockyard in 1814 saw this small fishing village grow to become Pembroke Dock.
In its short history the Dockyard saw the construction of over 260 ships. It closed in 1926 and four years later it was converted into an RAF base which closed in 1959. The void left behind by the loss of the Royal Navy Dockyard and RAF Base has been filled by cargo vessels, ferries, pleasure craft and a now declining oil and gas industry.
This unique patchwork of old and new has left its mark on the shoreline. A shoreline littered with relics of the towns history. From time worn pieces of concrete and steel to the last remaining oil and gas refinery.
The Port of Milford Haven has been operating for over 60 years and is one of the UKs largest energy ports. Natural gas from as far away as Qatar is delivered by ship to the many LNG terminals that line the shore of the Milford Haven Waterway. As well as natural gas the port also handles cargo at Pembroke Port which is located in the former Royal Navy Dockyard in Pembroke Dock.
The old slipways that saw the launch of over 260 ships have been redeveloped to accommodate modern cargo vessels. These range from small, general cargo vessels to massive heavy lift ships such as the Happy Delta.
The Port of Milford Haven maybe a busy energy port, however it is looking towards a greener future with the approval of Pembroke Dock Marine. The dockyard will undergo yet another transformation and become a hub for the development of renewable energy projects.
Pembroke Refinery, which sits behind Pembroke Power Station, was built in 1963. However, it wasn't the first to be built along the edges of the Milford Haven Waterway. In 1960 Esso opened their own refinery outside of Milford Town. Other companies such as BP, Gulf and Amoco soon followed. Of the four refineries that emerged out of the oil boom along the Pembrokeshire Coast, Pembroke Refinery is the last one standing.
The refinery's close proximity to the Milford Haven Waterway allows it to take advantage of one of the deepest natural harbours in the world. Crude Oil from the deepwater port is pumped through piplines to the Refinery's Storage Tanks and then processed in to fuel products such as gasoline and diesel.
These products are transported by ship, truck and pumped through pipes to the rest of the UK.
The Pembroke River is a short, tidal waterway that winds its way past Pennar in Pembroke Dock.
Walking along the shoreline, heading towards Pembroke Castle, reveals the remains of Jacobs Pill. A small private dockyard founded by Sir Edward Rees in the 1870s. Of all the ships built at the yard, the Hiei stands out. Launched in June 1877 and completed in 1878 the Hiei was an armoured corvete constructed for the Imperial Japanese Navy.
Downstream, where the Pembroke River joins the Milford Haven Waterway is Pennar Point. Manned by the Royal Engineers, the Barracks at Pennar Point were established at the end of the 19th Century as a mine and torpedo store. By the 1960s the Barracks were abandoned and eventually demolished to make way for a housing estate. Despite this, remains of the torpedo stores and other fragments of the sites military past can still be found along this part of the shoreline.
If you would like to learn more about Pembroke Dock, check out my E-Book, At the Waters Edge.