Retired Section Swansea Docks


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The photos shown in this section are from the Gareth Mills collection.

Cutting of the First Sod of the Kings Dock, Swansea

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


Opening of the Kings Dock.

 The Kings Dock was officially opened by Sir Griffith Thomas on the 23rd November 1909 and, as part of the opening ceremony, the Blue Funnel steamer Polyphemus cut a ribbon across the lock entrance to become the first ship to officially enter the new dock. However, the first ship to actually enter the dock was the burned out Cunard liner Lucania which had arrived from Liverpool some three weeks earlier, on the 31st October, for breaking up at T W Ward’s new scrapping berth at the eastern end of Kings Dock.

Sir Griffith Thomas

Newspaper cutting of the Cunard Liner Lucania entering the Kings Dock Lock.

Cunard liner Lucania

Blue Funnel steamer Polyphemus

Site Office of Topham Jones & Railton, main contractor for the building of the King's Dock.

Steam Navvy used in the construction of the Kings Dock.

Steam Navvy loading excavated material into railway wagon.

Bucket excavator loading into rail wagons.

Steam Navvy working on the foreshore.

Temporary railway bridge across the foreshore.

The above five photos show the excavation of the Kings Dock.

The two photos above show the construction of the wooden jetty adjacent to the Kings Dock Lock.

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