Swansea and Port Talbot Docks History

Shipping Agents at Swansea

At one time there would have been around twenty shipping agents operating in the Port of Swansea – some of them now almost forgotten, such as Henry Bath, F H Tucker, T R W Mason, Richards Turpin, Simpson Bros., Coast Lines, Ambrose Davies & Matthews and Strick Gorchs. Others remembered from the more recent past include Burgess & Co., T H Couch, Bethell Gwyn (later Escombe/Inchcape), Cory Bros., Stockwood Rees, C Shaw Lovell, Stone & Rolfe, Sir James German and Adolf Nielsen.

The role of the shipping agent was – and still is – very extensive, involving liaison with the port authority, the ship’s Master, the importer or exporter of the cargo, and the owner or charterer of the vessel, on all aspects of the ship’s visit to port. This includes arrangements for locking in and out of the dock, berthing the ship, delivery and shipment of cargo, and attending to such matters as bunkering, watering, stores and provisions, spare parts, repairs and dry docking, etc. The agent is also responsible for paying all the bills associated with the ship’s visit, including locking fees, wharfage, dock dues, towage and pilotage charges.

Some interesting old advertisements for various shipping agents at Swansea over the years are shown below.


The photos below are of Burgess & Co.'s former office building in Cambrian Place, Swansea, and show some of the windows advertising the various shipping lines for which they were agents.