Commemorative plaque marks the 50th anniversary of Penarth Dock closing
3:32pm Tuesday 15th October 2013 in Penarth news
PLAQUE: (from left) Penarth Town Mayor Cllr Neil Thomas, Vale of Glamorgan Mayor Cllr Margaret Wilkinson and Chairman ICE Wales Cymru Geoff Ogden unveil the plaque
A COMMEMORATIVE plaque has been unveiled at Penarth’s Pont-y-Werin bridge to mark the 50th anniversary of the closure of Penarth Dock and its later redevelopment.
The commemorative plaque was presented by the chairman of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) Wales Cymru Geoff Ogden to the Mayor of the Vale of Glamorgan Cllr Margaret Wilkinson on Monday, October 14.
Geoff Ogden, Chairman of ICE Wales Cymru, said during the unveiling: “Today, we are marking the fiftieth anniversary of the closure of the docks and celebrating the many famous engineers involved with its history, including several Presidents of the Institution Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Robert Stephenson, Sir John Hawkshaw and Harrison Hayter.”
It is not the first time that the Institution has marked the history associated with Penarth Dock. In 2009 the ICE were at the Barrage end to mark a significant Brunel anniversary and the last voyage of his famous Great Britain.
Mr Ogden added: “The presentation of this plaque is particularly special for me as in 1993-4 I was involved in redevelopment of the docks working on the project to encapsulate the landfill at Penarth Haven in advance of the Cardiff Barrage.”
Cllr Margaret Wilkinson, Mayor of the Vale of Glamorgan, added: “It is my great pleasure to officially unveil the commemorative plaque today. It’s wonderful to see the rich history of Penarth Docks honoured in this way and I’m sure the plaque will serve as a fitting tribute to this area for many years to come.”
Isambard Kingdom Brunel proposed the first dock in Penarth for the Taff Vale Railway in the 1830s, a scheme that was dropped following agreement with Lord Bute to use his dock at Cardiff - Bute’s advisor at the time was none other than Robert Stephenson.
John Hawkshaw, one of the most prolific of Victorian engineers, designed the dock which was opened 1865. One of the most famous ships sailing out of Penarth was Brunel’s ‘Great Britain’ which left here on February 6, 1886, bound for Panama via Cape Horn on what was to be her last commercial voyage.
The year 1913 represented the high water mark for the south Wales coalfields, with export from Penarth, including Ely Harbour, was 4,660,648 tons. As a reminder to the cost of this incredible statistic the plaque was also unveiled on the 100th anniversary of the worst mining disaster in British history, when Wales and the world mourned the loss of 440 workers at the Universal Colliery at Senghenydd on October 14, 1913.
Keith Jones, director of ICE Wales Cymru, added: “The plaque is part of a programme to celebrate civil engineering in Wales. In the past eight years the Institution of Civil Engineers Wales Cymru has placed 33 plaques and information panels throughout Wales marking important historical engineering sites and commemorating famous engineers such as Trevithick, Brunel and Telford.”