Swansea and Port Talbot Docks History

The Construction of Swansea Kings Dock

Cutting the first sod

In the early hours of Wednesday 20th July 1904 the Royal Yacht ‘Victoria and Albert’, accompanied by the Royal Navy cruisers ‘Dido’ and ‘Juno’ and the torpedo boat ‘Leda’, arrived in Swansea Bay. On board were King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra who had made the journey to Swansea where the King was to perform the ceremony of ‘cutting the first sod’ of the new Kings Dock. Later that same morning the Royal Yacht entered the Prince of Wales Dock where the King and Queen disembarked, and where they were formally welcomed on the quayside by Viscount Windsor, Lord Lieutenant of Glamorgan, and Mr. Griffith Thomas, Mayor of Swansea and Chairman of the Swansea Harbour Trust.

After several speeches and formal addresses the King was invited by Griffith Thomas to cut the first sod of the proposed new dock, and to allow it to be called ‘Kings Dock’ in his honour. After the ceremony, during which Griffith Thomas received a knighthood from the King, the Royal couple rode in an open carriage past the cheering crowds that lined the festively-decorated streets of the town. The King and Queen departed from Swansea aboard the ‘Victoria and Albert’ the following morning.

The Royal Yacht ‘Victoria & Albert’ entering Swansea Docks, 20th July 1904

King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra with the Mayor of Swansea, Mr. Griffith Thomas, preparing for the ceremony of cutting the first sod of the new Kings Dock

Photographers recording the event for posterity – note the main contractor’s advertisement on the side of the truck in the background

A view of the Royal Party under the ornate awning provided for the ceremony

King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra walking along the red carpet laid out on the quayside for the occasion

After the ceremony the King and Queen rode in an open-topped carriage through the streets of Swansea

Links to photographs showing the construction of the Kings Dock:

General construction

Excavation of Dock

Kings Dock Lock

Suspended quays

Finally flooding the dock

Crymlyn Quarry, where much of the building material was obtained

All photographs in this section are taken from the Gareth Mills collection