Swansea and Port Talbot Docks History

Port Talbot Pilot Vessels


Tugboat Briton (circa1923)

The Briton had a GRT of 65.94 tons and an NRT of 23.93 tons. No further information is available on this vessel to date, other than she was licensed as a Port Talbot pilot boat in 1923, and may well have remained in service until replaced by the ‘Lady Eveline’ in 1928. 

Lady Eveline (1928 - 1934)

Tug Liberator (Later Lady Eveline) in DundalK Thanks: Sean O'Hagan

The Lady Eveline was built in 1906 as the tug ‘Liberator’ by Cox & Co., Falmouth for the Dundalk Harbour Commissioners. Her dimensions were:- length 90.4’, beam 18’, draft 8.2’, and GRT 93 tons. She was acquired by the Alexandra Towing Co. in 1920, and renamed ‘Salthouse’. In 1928 she was purchased by Port Talbot Pilot Cutter Co. and renamed ‘Lady Eveline’.

After six year’s service at Port Talbot, she was sold to Llanelly Pilots in 1934 and renamed Lady Howard Stepney. Bought by the Tees Towing Co. of Middlesbrough in 1942, she was finally sold for breaking in 1948 to the Stockton Shipping & Salvage Co. Ltd. In 1950, the tug’s machinery was removed and she was converted into a clubhouse on the River Tees, but her subsequent fate is unknown.

The tug 'Salthouse' (formerly 'Liberator') pictured in Swansea Bay in 1926.

Marian Byass (1934 - 1959)

Built in 1934 by M. W. Blackmore & Sons of Bideford, Devon, the ‘Marion Byass’ had a length of 65.5’, a beam of 17.1’, a GRT of 56.67 tons and an NRT of 19.63 tons. She was the first purpose-built Port Talbot pilot cutter.

Marian Byass logbook, 1937

Margam Abbey (1959 - 1985)

Also purpose-built for the Port Talbot pilots, the Margam Abbey was constructed by Richards Ironworks Ltd. of Lowestoft in 1959. Her dimensions were:- length 88’, beam 20’, draft 9.3’, and GRT 117.19 tons.

In 1985 the Swansea and Port Talbot pilots merged to become the Swansea & Port Talbot Pilotage Authority, and the ‘Margam Abbey’ was decommissioned. From that point on, the Swansea pilot cutter Seamark was used for both ports until superseded a few years later by the pilot launch Benson.

The Margam Abbey ready to be launched at the Lowestoft yard of Richards Ironworks, Lowestoft 1959.

Details of the Margam Abbey

Margam Abbey in Swansea Dock

Pictured above is a scale model of the ‘Margam Abbey’. Built by Port Talbot steelworker John Scourfield of Sarn Farn, Baglan, the radio-controlled model is 4’0” (122 cm.) in length, and took nine months to build. It was awarded a Blue Riband prize for ‘best in show’ when exhibited by Mr. Scourfield at a national model exhibition in Kensington, London. Thanks: Andrew Moulding

Margam Abbey in Port Talbot Dock

Margam Abbey leaving the locks

Margam Abbey dressed for the opening of the Tidal Harbour

Margam Abbey laid up before being sold

The Margam Abbey in Milford Haven Dock

Above is the Margam Abbey rusting away in Borth, North Wales - a sad sight.

The Margam Abbey was to have had a new lease of life after being rebuilt as a luxury motor yacht. Sadly this was not to be. She was cut up for scrap in September / October of 2007. A sad end to a famous pilot boat.