Swansea and Port Talbot Docks History

Building the breakwaters of Port Talbot Harbour

The photos and explanatory notes below were contributed by Barry Mort, who worked on the construction of Port Talbot Harbour breakwaters.

The pictures were found stuck together while he was clearing out the shed, and it took Barry a great deal of time to do some cleaning up of the prints on his computer.

Even though, therefore, these pictures are not perfect quality they give a fascinating insight into the work involved in the construction.

Many thanks Barry!

Picture of Lima 1, taken after an overnight storm which had washed away a large section of the Main Breakwater. I took this picture standing in a 20 foot hole in front of the crane perched on top of a pillar of rock.

Peter Mellors driving a D8 bulldozer during the work to repair the storm damage.

Another lorry load of hardcore to repair the damage

William Davies, shift greaser, standing on the platform outside the cab of Lima 1. Fred Chapman is in driving seat. Will was in his late 60s when this picture was taken. He used to keep us amused with his tales of the 15 years he spent in India in the army.

Another fine body of men, L-R, Emlyn Hughes, breakwater shift fitter, Peter Mellors, D6/D8 driver, Tosh the greaser, and Gorden Innes, one of the Lima drivers.

Lima 1 at the end of the Main breakwater. Lima’s 1 and 2 did most of the rock placing during the construction of the harbour breakwaters. Contrary to popular belief locally at the time, each rock was placed into a precise position, as laid out on a chart worked out by the site engineers.

The start of the Lee breakwater where it comes off the end of the South b/water of of the old PT docks, locally known as the “Stone Pier”. The large building in the background is the Jersey Beach Hotel (Closed 1999, demolished soon after).

A group of men who worked on the site, they are L-R :- Ken Pritchard, D8 driver, Fred Chapman, Lima/NCK1405 driver, Clive ?, Land Rover driver, at the back Conway John, Engineers' chain boy, and “Uncle” Eiann, (Conway’s uncle) D8 driver.

Mr William Pearce, road repairman. Will and his son Alwyn came to work on the harbour after the Union Carbide Works closed. Will was in his mid 60s and upset our new Scottish foreman one day when he said he and he and Alwyn would not be in the next day as it was Will’s fathers birthday, and they were off to see him. The foreman thought they were pulling his leg, but Mr P senior was still alive and in his 90s having spent many years as the rat catcher in Laugharne.

Barry Mort driving the D8 bulldozer.

Barry Mort reversing a lorry under the Lima ready for unloading.

A black & white shot showing Lima 1, with Arthur Murray, the driver, on the platform, with Don Hutton, Lima 1 banksman, down on the lower level. Don was the “Best Man” at my wedding in 1968.

A “Flat Cat”. These flatbed lorries were used to transport some of the larger rocks, 20-30 tons, from Cornelly Quarry to the harbour site. The largest rock I can remember weighed in at around 90 tons. It was to big for the Lima grab to get hold of, so we dumped it on the deck and used the two D8s to shove it over the side. Our new Italian engineer was not amused, and went off in a huff when the Lima driver told him to “Go Away” or something like that anyway.

Lima 1 on the end of the Main breakwater. The ship is the dredger “Ham 235”.

Medium sized rocks, 8-12 tons, being unloaded