top of page

Historic Harbour

A: Whitehaven Harbourisde, Whitehaven, Cumbria

If Whitehaven is well known for anything then it is its harbour. The harbour dates back to 1633 when the first Quay was built which is called 'old quay'. It was built to export salt and coal. The foundation for all of today's quays are set on a foundation of squared oak. Whitehaven was very important to the coal industry as in 1700, 80% of Ireland's coal was imported from Whitehaven! 


By the 18th century Whitehaven was importing things such as tobacco from Virginia and Maryland. They would exchange manufactured goods for the tobacco. Sugar, spirits and slaves were imported from the west indies. The first pier master was hired in 1709. The Bulwark Quay was the second quay to be built but was later demolished and rebuilt in 1711. By 1730 Whitehaven had the deepest coalmines in the world, some running underneath the sea. Over 1,000 ships weighing from 150-3000 tonnes are documented to of been built in the town. In 1832 the West pier lighthouse and outer harbour were built.


By the late 19th century most of the harbour had rail networks. By 1860 over 400 wagons a day were using the sugar tongue load and offload. During 1876 the queens dock was built. The queens dock was a wet dock with one set of dock gates to hold the water in as the tide ebbed. In 1932 the original wooden gates were replaced with steel and can still be seen today.


In 1900 72,000 tonnes of silt was dredged from the outer harbour. In 1998 access was greatly improved to the port by the installation of brand new gates at a cost of 6.7 million pound. The main object of the gates was to prevent the town from flooding, before there installation this was a very regular occurrence, since then they have fulfilled their purpose of protecting the town.

Find Us:
bottom of page