Newport Docks in WWI

Timetables, traffic, industries served, operational issues

Newport Docks in WWI

Postby Penrhos1920 » Fri Mar 13, 2020 4:40 pm

From British Railways and the Great War, Pratt ... 6/mode/2up

Newport Docks and Railway.
During the first year or two of the war, the West Coast was, practically
speaking, out of the war zone, inasmuch as the activities of the German
submarines did not then extend so far. Consequently great use was made
of certain western ports for traffic which, in pre-war days, had been
received at ports on the East Coast, one of the results thereof being a
great increase in the amount of rail traffic requiring to be handled by the
Great Western Railway Company. A detailed account of all that occurred
in this connection cannot here be given, but some reference should be made
to the experiences which the Alexandra (Newport and South Wales)
Docks and Railway Company and the Great Western Company mainly
shared in common, though the Alexandra Railway Company's Hne to
Pontypridd also connects with the Brecon and Merthyr, Rhymney and
Taff Vale Railways.
Only three weeks before the outbreak of the war, the great sea-lock
entrance to the Newport Docks was opened by Prince Arthur of
Connaught, together with the remaining section of the large new dock.
The entrance lock, which is 1,000 ft. long and 100 ft. wide, and allows of
the largest class of vessel being dealt with, is claimed to be the largest
sea-lock in the world, while the new dock extension of seventy-five
acres of deep water increased the area of the Newport Docks to 136
acres. Once more, therefore, one finds how opportunely important
extensions of transport faciHties by private enterprise came in for use by
the Government on their going to war. Full advantage, in fact, was
taken by the Government of the increased accommodation at Newport,
where the ordinary commercial traffic from South Wales and the Midlands
was soon being more and more ' displaced by what was essentially war
From Newport Docks, for instance, there were shipped, more especially
in the early days of the war, several million tons of South Wales coal for
Admiralty purposes. Some 2,000,000 tons of iron ore were, from 1914
onward, imported into Newport docks for distribution, mainly by the
Great Western, in the first instance, at least, among the great iron works
of the country, on Ministry of Munitions account or otherwise. In
March, 1918, Newport attained the position of holding the record for
the whole of the United Kingdom in the discharge of iron ore.
Another large traffic brought to Newport on Government account for
like distribution was nitrate of soda. Of this commodity there were
dealt with at Newport between March, 1916, and December, 1918, no
fewer than 197,000 tons. Extensive transit sheds were specially erected
to facilitate the. traffic, and high records for dispatch were attained.
In 1916, the Government decided to establish a large factory at the
Alexandra Docks for the purpose of rectifying i8-pdr. and 45 brass
cartridge cases. Nearly forty acres of land belonging to the Docks and
Railway Company and adjacent to the new lock entrance and South
Quay were taken over by the Ministry of Munitions, and a large warehouse
covering thirteen acres was erected. A line of steamers was put
on to bring the salved shell cases and cartridge boxes from the French
and Belgian battlefields to Newport Docks, where the vessels were discharged
and the material transported by conveyers to the Government
factory. There the boxes were repaired and the brass shell cases rectified
by an extensive and specially installed plant, and they were afterwards
sent by rail to filHng factories inland, the G.W.R. being thus once more
concerned in the business. As many as 3,500 women and girls were
employed on the work, and the number of boxes and cases dealt with ran
into many millions.
Apart from the main traffics of coal, pitwood, iron ore, nitrate, etc.,
a large quantity of miscellaneous traffic on war account, amounting in
the aggregate to hundreds of thousands of tons, was also dealt with.
Amongst such traffics were " tanks," " caterpillars," locomotives,
aeroplanes, motor-cars, guns, ammunition, railway wagons, rails, sleepers,
hutments, machinery of all kinds, trench covers, hospital stores and
clothing, barges, motor-boats, etc. Large quantities of cereals, flour,
meat, bacon, butter, tea, coffee, sugar, oranges, lemons and grapes were
also received, including 44,000 barrels of grapes in one consignment.
Practically everything passed, in one direction or the other, on the railway.
The port was further utilised for disembarking American troops,
of whom 1,500 were landed there by the s.s. Miltiades.
Modelling the Alexandra (Newport & South Wales) Docks & Railway, Barry Railway and Rhymney Railway at Penrhos Junctions in SF4.
GWR short (4 & 6) coaches.

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