Royal Edward Dock, Avonmouth
Avonmouth, north west of Bristol, Avon, UK
Sir Benjamin Baker
Sir John Wolfe Barry
1902 - 1908, 1941
ICE reference number
Royal Edward Dock is the third-built of the trio of docks still in use for shipping access to Bristol today. It was designed by consulting engineers Benjamin Baker and John Wolfe Barry, who worked together on several dock projects. Bakerís partner, A.C. Hurtzig, and C.A. Brereton also worked on the scheme.
Royal Edward Dock, also known as Avonmouth Dock, is located on the north side of the River Avon, at its confluence with the Severn estuary. It is the northernmost and largest of the three docks. There is another at Avonmouth and the third is on the southern bank, and is now called Royal Portbury Dock. The present Royal Edward Dock has two arms: Oil Basin and Eastern Arm.
Work began on the dock in 1902, when the Prince of Wales cut the first sod. The scheme included the construction of a 267m long graving (dry) dock. The complex was opened by his Edward VII in 1908. By 1911, 27 storage tanks for oil had been added on the north west quay. New grain silos were built in 1928.
The dock was enlarged in 1941. More facilities for unloading oil and petrol were added, including a pipeline to London ó vital for maintaining supplies during wartime. By the 1960s, the bigger container ships could not navigate the Avon to reach Royal Edward Dock and trade declined. By the 1980s, many of the dock's warehouses had been converted into residential developments.
Royal Edward Dock was operated by the Port of Bristol Authority until August 1991, when First Corporate Shipping (now Bristol Port Company) took over a 150-year lease from Bristol City Council.
These days cargoes of metals, dredged aggregates, vegetable oil and domestic coal are once again being exported from the Avonmouth docks. There are container services to Ireland, Mediterranean Europe and Scandinavia, all linked to the rail network.
Obituary, Sir Benjamin Baker
Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers, pp.377-383, London, 1907