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Below are some images of Fleetwood Docks from times past aswell as images of how the docks are today.
Its a shame to see how the dock has declined to what it is today. Only a handful of Trawlers are still working out of the port.
As these images will show the port of Fleetwood was once a major player in the fishing industry. Trawlers would be coming and going on a daily basis landing there catch. Most of the fleetwood population would be employed in the fishing industry in one way or another.
A Brief History of Fleetwood Harbour and Docks
When fishing was at its peak Wyre Dock would be full of trawlers being prepared for sea. From the moment that the vessels docked the maximum effort was put into getting them to sea once more. The thinking was that a trawler in dock earned nothing.
Once tied up in the Fish Dock, an army of “Lumpers” would descend and land the fish. Working in all weathers the lumpers would manually unload the fish from the trawler’s hold and drag it across slippery, narrow planks to the dockside. which would then be sold on the early morning market. Once bought the fish would be filletted and packed into boxes for transport all over the country.
While the trawler was at sea, fish livers would be saved and boiled down for the nutritious oils that they contained. Once in dock a small boat, Sea Maid, would draw the oil off for further processing.
The next stage usually involved replenishing the trawler’s supplies. One of the first things to go aboard was crushed ice to keep the fish fresh while at sea. This was manufactured as large blocks in the ice house and transported, by means of an overhead conveyor system, to crushers which pulverised the ice and sent it down a chute into the waiting hold.
To move vessels in the docks or harbour usually meant employing tugs such as Cleveleys or Bispham. Their services might be required to move trawlers between the two docks or to assist in positioning them ready to be hauled out of the water onto one of the four slipways so that repairs could be effected.
At this point, any number of trades could be employed. Boilermakers and welders, riggers, painters, tinsmiths, engineers, plumbers, shore gangs and tinsmiths all played a vital part in keeping the fleet at sea and operational.
In Wyre Dock, small coastal tankers brought in fuel oil ready for the trawlers to replenish their bunkers. Prior to the widespread use of oil, coal was the main fuel and large dumps of it were stored on the dockside to be picked up by “flyers”, mobile conveyor systems that lifted the coal over the dockside road and into the waiting bunkers.
The shore gangs would then bring fresh stocks of twine, rope, warps, oils and the thousand and one things that would be needed. Once replenishing was complete all that remained was to round up a crew and the cycle would begin again.
Trawling was not the only activity, however. Fleetwood was a well known starting point for travel to the Isle of Man and, prior to that, Belfast. Large steamers like King Orry, Manxman, Mona’s Isle and Mona’s Queen were regular visitors to the port, berthing at the North End terminal to take on passengers from arriving trains.
For years the Wyre, with its fast flowing tides made crossing over to Knott End something of an adventure. Ferries operated a regular service to and from Fleetwood, with vessels such as Caldevale, Lunevale, Viking66, Onward, Wyresdale and Bourne May transporting armies of workmen and day trippers across the river.
Silting was always a problem at Fleetwood, with the Jubilee Quay, the narrow channel into the docks and the North End steamer berths quick to fill up. To combat this a variety of methods were used to keep the port clear. Grab dredging was one method utilised and the dredger Rossall was one of the vessels used to carry out the work, lowering her bucket into the murky water and dropping the glutinous mud into her holds. Once her hull was full the mud was transported to Lune Deeps and dumped. Another dredger was the bucket wheel dredge, Fylde. This dumb barge had an endless belt of buckets that could be lowered to the sea bed to scoop up their cargo. Fylde manouvered herself by winching along her anchor chains and she discharged the silt into hopper vessels moored anongside her. These would then transport the silt to sea for dumping.
Not all materials recovered from the sea bed were discarded, however. Upriver there was a plentiful supply of good quality sand that was recovered by the suction dredge Alladale and then brought back to shore for grading and sale.
To all this traffic must be added the inshore vessels, or prawners, that fished the bay, the pleasure boats that took out the angling trips and transported visitors around the lighthouse, and the private vessels like yachts that used the port. Fleetwood was a very busy place indeed.
Images of Fleetwood Docks past and present. Click any image for a larger view.
Present Day Images
The smaller of the Fleetwood Docks alongside the Fleetwood Freeport was made into a Marina with berths for yachts and other vessels. In November 2008 work was started on adding more berths in the main dock where the remaining fishing fleet use for tying up, loading and unloading. Also the last remaining slipway in Fleetwood was removed in 2008 leaving nowhere for the fishing fleet to do out of water repairs.
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