Pompey Power

Forth Ports PLC own ‘The Port of Tilbury’ which they term in a recent press release to be ‘London’s major port’.

This differentiate it from newer developments such as Thames Gateway and the number of wharves and terminals on the lower Thames and Medway that are handling large traffics of various kinds.

Tilbury, it is suggested, needs to expand to build on the success of recent years. The proposed new port, currently known as Tilbury2, will include valuable underused land and especially a 152 acre site which is part of the former Tilbury Power Station and will include a new pontoon and deep water jetty. Tilbury2 will be a satellite of the main port and will comprise another roll on/ roll off ferry terminal and is likely to include a facility for importing and processing bulk construction materials to support demands from the UK’s building sector which is thriving in the South East.

In the northern part of the site, there is land available for the potential storage of a variety of trade goods including cars. So Tilbury 2 seems to have the answer to fulfil London’s need for more land for port activities and storage as well as wharfage. The scheme is at an early stage of planning consultation, but should have powerful support from business interests.

I recall Tilbury coal fired Power Station was served by a new class of specially built larger colliers, usually from the North East, of two or three times the usual capacity of flat iron upriver and south coast colliers. Of course, they were still very small compared to the economies of scale modern tonnage demands.

In the last Coastal Commentary, I highlighted the saving for likely preservation in Norway of the ex collier Hamen built on the Wear by SP Austin & Sons as the Pompey Power for delivering coal to Portsmouth power station. In those days, municipal authorities could, and often did, take a direct interest in supplying the energy needs of their cities and boroughs, hence she was named Pompey Power with a sister Pompey Light. But soon, power generation would be nationalised as indeed were the coal suppliers and coal mines to form the National Coal Board (the NCB).

Pompey Power would then sport the colours of the British Electricity Authority (BEA) and next Central Electricity Generating Board (CEGB), though she was managed for the most part by Stephenson Clarkes. I think she was a remarkably good looking little vessel for a collier and looked larger than her actual tonnage.

The UK does not preserve any colliers as such, though they were arguably one of the principle generators of the wealth and industry of the UK for over a century.

More on this and other news in Sea Breezes Magazine - April 2017 Issue
Click here to subscribe