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Maryport Docks
Maryport, Cumbria
Maryport Docks
associated engineer
Sir John Hawkshaw
Harrison Hayter
date  1749 onwards
era  Georgian  |  category  Docks/Slipway  |  reference  NY030368
ICE reference number  HEW 965
photo  Paul Dunkerley / ICE R&D Fund
The origins of Maryport date from Roman times, in the form of the fort of Alavna, the ruins of which stand in a field at the top of low cliffs overlooking the coastline.
However, it was not until the second half of the 18th century that the town began to develop significantly. Land nearby was owned by the Senhouse family and it was largely under its control that the mining and shipment of coal from the area began.
In 1749, Humphry Senhouse obtained parliamentary approval for the port's improvement, and a new pier — now the North Quay — was built, and the river channel widened. He also released land for building purposes, naming the new town after his wife. Trade expanded with the export of coal, iron and glassware to the American colonies and the West Indies. When Senhouse's ironworks began operating in 1752, at a capacity of 56.6 cubic meters, they were the largest in England.
To increase trade and to compete for steam packet business, and Act of Parliament was secured in 1833 to build a new dock and a pier with a lighthouse. The new dock, which required deepening after only two years, was built on sandbanks south of the River Ellen and completed in 1837. The pier — South Pier — was constructed in timber and completed in 1846. Its attendant 9.75m cast iron lighthouse (now Maryport's old lighthouse) was completed the same year, and is thought to be first of its construction type in England.
In 1857, the 1.4 hectare Elizabeth Dock was built. Boats enter it from the original dock, which was now relegated to a basin. In 1867, coal shipments rose to almost 508,000 tonnes, but then declined as more coal was used by the local ironworking industry and less shipped abroad.
In 1880-4, land to the south of the docks was reclaimed by the construction of an embankment and sea wall. This is the period when the works designed by Hawkshaw and Hayter were constructed. A new basin was formed and the 2.5 hectare Senhouse Dock built. The entrance to the new dock was somewhat restricted, however. The timber pier was also extended at this time.
The cost of the new works was more than double that expected and as a result it was found impossible to make the improvements necessary to allow larger steamships to use the docks. Despite this, trade was successfully carried out until the end of the 19th century, after which coastal trade decline in this area generally. These days the docks are used as marinas. A small modern lighthouse now stands on the end of South Pier.
Contractor: W.J. Doherty (1880-4)
Research: PD and AJD
bibliography
"A History of Maryport, AD79-1900" by N. Jackson and M. Jackson
"Lighthouses" by D. Hague and C. Christie
Gomer Press, Llandysul, 1975
www.trinityhouse.co.uk
reference sources   CEH North
Location

Maryport Docks