Retired Section Swansea Docks


Home Page


Harbour Office

Harbour Office in 1912

View of the Harbour Office by moonlight

The first record of Swansea Harbour Trust’s office accommodation comes from W H Jones’ book, ‘The History of the Port of Swansea’, which states that in March 1855 (although this is erroneously stated as 1885) the Trustees hired a house in Mount Street, formerly occupied by Thomas Attwood, Solicitor, and that this building burnt down in October 1858. After the fire, the Harbour Trust commissioned its first purpose-built Harbour Office building, an imposing edifice erected on the corner of Mount Street and Victoria Road, next to the Swansea Sailors’ Home, as seen in the engraving and photograph below:-

The above engraving from 1865 shows the Sailors Home & Shipping Office on the left,
and the Swansea Harbour Trust Office on the right.


 Photograph of the Harbour Office and Sailors’ Home taken in 1960 (Swansea Museum can
be seen in the distance on the left-hand side of the picture)


The original Harbour Office was occupied by the Swansea Harbour Trust until 1903, when its prestigious new office building in Adelaide Street was completed – the building that is now Morgans Hotel. The old Harbour Office was demolished in 1964, and below is a photograph of its demolition taken from the clock tower of the new Harbour Office in Adelaide Street. The building in the foreground is Coleridge House which was located on the corner of Adelaide Street and Prospect Place:-

From Harbour Office to Hotel.

 Located in Adelaide Street, alongside the offices of the Evening Post, is Morgans Hotel, an impressive art-nouveau building that arose from an architectural competition held in the early 1900's to design new office accommodation for the Swansea Harbour Trust. Ninety-seven architects submitted designs from all over the UK, with the sum of 100 guineas as the prize. The commission was won by Edwin Seward, a partner in the Cardiff firm James Seward & Thomas who had built some of Cardiff's most notable public buildings of the late 19th century, including the Free Library in the Hayes and the Coal and Shipping Exchange in Mount Stuart Square.

 The foundation stone for the new building was laid on the 18th February 1902 by the Mayor of Swansea, Griffith Thomas, who was also Chairman of the Swansea Harbour Trust. The stone was laid using an ornamental trowel with an ivory handle and a silver blade which can still be seen today in the collection of the Swansea Museum. The contract for construction was awarded to Messrs. Lloyd Bros. of Swansea, who completed the building towards the latter end of 1903.

     Constructed of red Cattybrook brick and Portland stone, the richly-ornate building has many outstanding features such as a large ornamental clock tower, an impressive dome over the main staircase with leaded lights highlighting the points of the compass, and a fine stained glass window portraying various maritime and industrial themes. On the first floor is a grand teak-panelled boardroom – now Morgans restaurant – with a large mural by Robert Morton Nance depicting Swansea Harbour in the 17th century with Swansea Castle in the background. The original art-nouveau light fittings remain, but the large oval boardroom table around which the Trustees met is now housed in the new Harbour Office building on Kings Dock. A surviving example of the chairs upon which the Trustees sat, made from solid oak and covered in crimson Moroccan leather bearing the Swansea Harbour Trust crest embossed in gold, can also be seen in the Swansea Museum.

 The building was occupied by the Swansea Harbour Trust and its successors, the Great Western Railway, the British Transport Commission, the British Transport Docks Board and Associated British Ports for a period of 88 years until 1991, when a new Harbour Office was built near the lock head at Kings Dock, Swansea. A few years later our group was lucky enough to be shown around the former Harbour Office as its renovation was in progress, and we were very impressed by the quality of the materials and the workmanship involved, and also by the commitment shown by the new owners, Martin and Louisa Morgan, to this historic landmark building.

The Boardroom (now Morgans restaurant)

Main staircase and stained-glass window


Panorama showing far end of Boardroom


 Panorama showing twin entrance doors to Boardroom

Boardroom - general view.

Boardroom - general view 2.

Old chair from the Swansea Harbour Trust Office with the crest carved on the back.

Close-up of stained-glass window

Harbour Office Clock

Harbour Office in the early 70s.

Above, two advertisments for Felix Martin. His premises were opposite the side door of the Harbour Office.

Somerset Place with the Harbour Office at the end of the block.

Same view but with the old buildings demolished ready for development.
The rear of the Harbour Office can be seen on the left.

The Somerset Hotel with the Centre Hotel next door.

Somerset Hotel.

Swansea Dockers Club just around the corner from the Harbour Office.

The new Harbour Office situated adjacent to the locks. In the background to the right is the
Customs House and to the left you can see the Dry Docks Workshop.

Top of Page