Southampton, Port of

Encyclopaedia of Ships and Shipping (1908)

Southampton, Port of. The Southampton Docks, now owned and managed by
the London and South-Western Railway Co., are situated within a
perfectly sheltered harbour, and have the unusual natural advantage of
double tides, with practically four hours of high water every tide, thus
affording unrivalled accommodation for the largest steamers afloat, or
being built. Coming to the earlier history of the present docks, we find
that the dock company was incorporated in 1836, by Act of Parliament,
the ground appropriated to this object having been the mudland from a
line running seaward, commencing a short distance from the platform to
the mouth of the river Itchen, and extending as far as low water mark,
comprising about 200 acres;[extra semicolon deleted] the portion of
ground at that time excavated, 1847, was formed into two docks---one
tidal and the other a closed dock "for ships to deliver their cargoes
afloat" (not then completed). Even at that early date, steam packets,
besides plying to Torquay, Plymouth, etc., also tailed to Dublin and
other ports in Ireland. visiting the Channel Isles three times a week
and, at various dates, the ports of France, Spain, Portugal, and most of
the ports of the Mediterranean. In the year 1840 the directors of the
docks "were much encouraged in the hope of final success from the
circumstances that the Royal Mail Steam Packet Co., employed by the
Government in the mail service to the West Indies, had selected
Southampton as the port from which their vessels would take their
departure," "ample accommodation being found for what were in those days
splendid vessels, some of which measured 2,000 tons." The first tidal
dock was finished in the summer of 1842, and was opened in August of
that year, when the Liverpool, 500 tons, and the Tagus, 780 tons, two
ships belonging to the Peninsular and Oriental Line, were the first to
discharge their cargoes in the docks. To-day Southampton stands out as a
port more prominently than ever. The White Star Line, of Liverpool, have
transferred their American mail service to this port, the service having
been inaugurated by the Adriatic, a vessel of 25,000 tons, which sailed
on her maiden voyage to New York via Cherbourg, June 5, 1907. Messrs.
Harland and Wolff, the eminent shipbuilding firm of Queen's Island,
Belfast, have decided to open large repairing works on the dock estate,
and the contract for the construction of these works has already been

The London and South-Western Railway Co. have decided to build a deep
water basin for the accommodation of vessels which may ultimately
require a draught so great as 40ft. at low water. The details of the
dock are now being prepared, and will shortly be submitted for tender to

Southampton can boast of having one of the finest systems of docks in
the world; and, taken in conjunction with its six graving docks, two of
which are 871 ft. long and 750 ft long respectively, and with one of the
most complete cold storage plant, there will be no more convenient docks
on the British coast.

The Empress Dock (18 1/2 acres) has an entrance of 165 ft. wide, with a
minimum depth of 26 ft. at l.w., o.s.t., and it is the only dock in
Great Britain where deep water loading and discharging berths can be
reached by vessels at any time of the day or night, irrespective of the
state of the tide. There is also an outer dock of 16 acres, and an inner
dock of 10 acres. The quays at present completed equal 15,000 lineal

The new quay extensions in the Rivers Itchen and Test are now complete.
The Prince of Wales Quay, 2,000 ft, the South Quay, 430 ft., and the
Test Quay, 1,600 ft. long, are all accessible at any time of the day or
night, entirely irrespective of the state of the tide. The new Itchen
(or Prince of Wales) Quay has for some time been extensively used for
the arrivals and departures of the Union Castle, Norddeutscher Lloyd,
and for other liners. and double storage sheds of the most modern design
have been erected. There is a minimum depth of 28 ft. at l.w., o.s.t.,
at the Prince of Wales and South Quays, and 32 ft. l.w., o.s.t., at the
Test Quay. The old extension quay bas been widened, shed accommodation
enlarged, and the water thereat deepened to 28 ft. l.w., o.s.t.

The No. 5 graving dock was opened on August 3, 1895, by His Majesty King
Edward VII, then Prince of Wales, and named by him the "Prince of Wales
Dock." The depth to blocks is 32 1/2 ft. h.w., o.s.t., 750 ft. long, by
87 1/2 ft. wide at sill, and 112 ft. at cope level.

The new graving dock No. 6 is 875 ft. long by 90 ft. wide at entrance,
and width at cope 125 ft., and was opened on October 21, 1905, by the
Marquis of Winchester, Lord Lieutenant of the county, and named the
"Trafalgar Dock." The depth to blocks is 33 ft. h.w., o.s.t.

Two coat jetties with hydraulic power, cranes, and spacious coal-barge
docks have been constructed on the Itchen, for the purpose of storing
coal in lighters for the bunkering of out-going line steamers.

The largest installation of cold storage in the Kingdom is now fitted.
The building is of the most modern type, and consists of five floors,
containing 56 rooms, having a total net storage earning capacity of
2,000,000 cubic feet. The method of cooling employed is ammonia direct
expansion, three of the floors being arranged on the gravity air system,
and one floor on the air circulation method. The engine room is fitted
with four independent refrigerating machines, with a capacity of not
less than 60 tons refrigeration per 24 hours.

Relates to Place:

Southampton, Hampshire, England

Relates to Ship:



Encyclopaedia of Ships and Shipping, edited by
Herbert B. Mason, London: The Shipping Encyclopaedia, Ltd., 1908.


Mark Baber