Colonel George Landmann
Sir John Hawkshaw
1840 - 1846, 1869 - 1877, 1906 - 1908, 1972
ICE reference number
photo Paul Dunkerley / ICE R&D Fund
Fleetwood Docks consists of two enclosed areas — Wyre Dock and the later Fish Dock — plus riverside wharves. Together, they represent an enlargement of the port facilties set up by the Preston & Wyre Railway.
The Preston & Wyre Railway founded the town of Fleetwood in 1836, naming it after their chairman, Sir Peter Hesketh Fleetwood. The town was the northern terminus of the the rail route from London. It was built on sand dunes to a plan by architect Decimus Burton.
In 1839, Fleetwood officially became a port. Rail passengers would be able to embark by steamer from its river wharves for Barrow-in-Furness, Belfast, the Isle of Man and Ardrossan. To deepen the river channel, a steam dredger was launched in 1840. Fleetwood's three lighthouses also came into service that year. In 1841, when steamer services were in full operation, a 183m long iron wharf was completed. A wooden pier to the north was added in 1845, roofed over shortly afterwards. A 427m stone wharf was built south of the iron wharf in 1846.
To cater for commercial fishing traffic, Parliament passed the Fleetwood Docks Act 1864, which enabled the construction of a dock and embankment. Work commenced in 1869 but was suspended after six months for financial reasons.
A second Act of 1871 gave the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway power to complete the works under their Chief Engineer Sir John Hawkshaw. John Aird & Sons' tender was accepted in 1873, and the four hectare Wyre Dock opened in 1877. It measures 305m by 122m and provided 823m of linear quay space. Its 12m ashlar stone walls sit on foundations 7.6 - 9m deep.
Wyre Dock has a 76m by 15.2m entrance lock from the river, with 61 tonne wrought iron gates. The lock's sill was 2.9m below O.D. and 0.6m above the floor of the dock. The floor of the lock is made of concrete — a 1.5m thick invert with a radius of 15.2m.
A two hectare timber pond was also built. It had a separate entrance from the river. In 1906-8, this pond was partially converted to create the six hectare Fish Dock for the fishing fleet, accessed via Wyre Dock. An new timber pond was made in 1909-11. A repair slipway, fish slades and an ice factory were also built. The total area of the dock complex ran to some 27 hectares, with close to 13 kilometres of rail track.
The fishing industry had started at Fleetwood some time before 1860. The first steam-powered fishing trawler arrived in 1891 and Fleetwood continued to suppport a deep-sea trawler fleet in its enclosed docks until the 1970s.
After that time, most activity moved to the riverside wharves. Part of the original quay was rebuilt in 1972, using steel sheet piles and concrete. In 1975, the Roll-On/Roll-Off berth came into operation. It had been moved to Fleetwood from Preston Dock and at that time was the most intensively operated Roll-On/Roll-Off service in the world.
In recent years, Wyre Dock has been converted to a yacht marina and many of the the original dock buildings have been demolished. The inshore fishing fleet still operates from Fish Dock.
Contractor: John Aird & Sons (Wyre Dock)
Iron gates: Easton & Anderson
"The Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway" by J. Marshall
Volume 1, David & Charles, Newton Abbot, 1969