Online Press Publication – ‘Preston Docks’
– Reflections of a once busy Lancashire Port
The Official Opening of the dock was carried out on Saturday 25th June 1892 by Prince Albert, Duke of Edinburgh and the second son of Queen Victoria, with appropriate ceremony. The Basin, at 3000 feet long by 600 feet wide was the largest single dock in Europe, a tribute to the Victorian age and enterprise. The first ship, the SS Lady Louise, under charter to the grocers, E.H. Booth & Co. Ltd. discharged its cargo of port later on the same day. At the time of opening the Dock had few facilities, but gradually these were developed to include a variety of warehouses, the Hydraulic Power House and a hospital. The railway link to the main line was soon completed. Early development of trade concentrated on foreign markets with considerable success, 4 vessels only being unloaded in 1892, rising to 170 in 1900. The Dock handled a wide variety of general cargoes – timber, bananas, china clay, wheat, cattle, coal and cotton products being prominent in the returns. The facilities on the quays were developed to match the rising trade, but the difficult maintenance of a clear channel down the Ribble to the sea remained a constraint, limiting the size of vessels and requiring constant dredging. There was also a demand for leisure traffic, with several paddle steamers offering day trips to Blackpool, North Wales and the Isle of Man. Cargoes continued to diversify with the establishment of the oil storage tanks at the west end of the Dock in 1914 –
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