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Finished With Engines: Irish Sea Shipping is now closed to new updates - J.H. Luxton Photography - Transport, Industrial History, Regional Photographs UK & beyond

Pembroke Royal Dockyard

Photographs and notes © John H. Luxton 2013

Pembroke Dockyard is a fascinating place. I first passed through the Dockyard in 2000 returning on my one and only sailing (to date) on the Rosslare - Pembroke route with Irish Ferries. I was aware that Pembroke had been a Royal Navy Dockyard in the past but did not realise just how much of the Dockyard Infrastructure remained in place. However, on that day back in November 2000 I was driving a minibus carrying students on the way home from a school trip and I wasn't able to stop and explore. Though I promised myself I would return.

Each summer I kept thinking that I must return to Pembroke Dock and the Milford Haven area for a good look around - but there were other things to do and somehow I never got round to it. Finally, thirteen years later I decided I would make a point of visiting Pembrokeshire to explore various maritime sites including Pembroke Dock.

The dockyard is still partly a working commercial port, but efforts have been made to preserve its heritage and architecture with many listed structures contained within its walls. In recent years the Sunderland Trust have worked to preserve the memory of the RAF Coastal Command base and retrieve and restore / conserve components from a sunken Sunderland Flying boat which sank at anchor.

I hope you enjoy browsing this selection of photographs and if you have not visited Pembroke Dock you are prompted to do so. You can feel the history in the stone work and it is not difficult to imagine what it would have been like 100 years ago. I certainly feel that I must return sooner rather than later partly due to the fact I didn't allow enough time for a thorough explore having to fit in visits to several other maritime sites in the Milford Haven area. 2014 looks to be a big year for Pembroke Dock as it will mark the Bi-centenary of the founding of the Royal Dockyard. I will make a point of returning to further explore this fascinating area.

The Original Main Entrance to the Dockyard (above and below)
The former RAF Sergeants' Mess - later the Commodore Hotel and now derelict. It sold at auction in August 2013 for £85,000, however, it was severely fire damaged a few years ago and will need a lot of work. The Glass House Café on the east side of the main dockyard entrance.Fleet Surgeon's House
The Fleet Surgeon's House (above and below) - this includes the Glass House Café and part of the Sunderland Trust's "Fleets to Flying Boats" Museum which tells the story of Pembroke Dock as a Naval Dockyard and its subsequent transformation into an RAF Coastal Command base.

The Terrace (above and below) - Next to the Fleet Surgeon's Residence are these two imposing accommodation blocks used to accommodate the Dockyard's Senior Officers. These are now mainly private flats

The Captain Superintendant's House nearest and the Guard House
The Captain Superintendent's HouseThe Guard House
The Customs House (left) and Sunderland House (right)
Sunderland House (left) - The Customs House (right) - Viewed from the forecourt of the Irish Ferries Terminal
Irish Ferries Pembroke Dock Terminal viewed from outside Sunderland House. This area was once the site of the dockyard slipways used by both the Royal Navy and later the RAF to bring the Flying Boats out of the haven. The Ferry Terminal was opened in 1979 to service the then B&I Line service to Cork which later transferred to Rosslare.
As well as Irish Ferries other commercial shipping continues to use the port. Here the bunkering barge WHITHAVEN can be seen at rest.
Sunderland House

One of the Flying Boat Hangars constructed by the RAF. The two hangars are now used for industrial purposes. One of the hangars was used during the Construction of the Millennium Falcon Spacecraft used in the Star Wars movies of the 1970s.

The Sunderland Trust Flying Boat Centre is located in the refurbished Dockyard Railway locomotive shed seen here behind a Sunderland Flying boat wing float
Just visible in this photograph behind the Sunderland propeller can be seen the "Pickling Pond" used during the years of sailing warships to keep timber used for masts and spars moist.A working model of a Short Sunderland Flying Boat. The piston assembly of the Pegasus engines of Sunderland T9044 which sank in a gale in November 1940. One of the piston rods is broken and it was this defect which led the aircraft to be at Pembroke Dock for repairs.Unfortunately the mooring point at the nose of the Flying Boat broke, the aircraft drifted away and sank
A model of the sunken Sunderland showing it's current condition below the surface of Milford HavenEngine components recovered from the sunken Sunderland.Engine throttles levers for the SunderlandAn auxiliary power unit used to start up the aircraft. This is from another Sunderland not T9044.

To find out more about the Sunderland Trust and RAF Pembroke Dock click on the link below.


Part of a recovered Pegasus radial engine.A Pegasus radial engineAnother view of the Sunderland Model. 
The imposing Georgian Dockyard Chapel - the only Georgian style church in Wales, the  church, which later became the Garrison Theatre, was recently refurbished following a National Lottery grant. . In the above two photographs taken through the railings can be seen the new Battle of the Atlantic Memorial to Coastal Command which was put in place this year. At present the church is empty however speaking to one of the Sunderland Trust staff in the Flying Boat Centre your web master was told that the Trust hopes this building will be included as part of a proposed Military History Park within the Dockyard. Just visible in the picture below to the right of the van can be seen the wall of the market which was constructed following a decision by the Lords of The Admiralty to permit local traders to serve both the dockyard and the town.
Dockyard Gate 1 on Commercial Row
The second of the two Flying boat hangars located by Dockyard Gate 1. Six plaques depicting the history of the Dockyard have been mounted on the wall.
At the bottom of Commercial Row where it meets Front Street is located the Front Street Gun Tower. This is a "Cambridge Tower" designed to protect the eastern side of the Dockyard completed in 1851. Though its original armament never fired a shot in anger it did mount Lewis Guns during WWII manned by the RAF Regiment which helped protect Milford Haven and the Dockyard from Luftwaffe Attack. In recent years the fort was reconditioned and opened as a museum, unfortunately the museum is currently closed as the structure requires structural repairs.
On the western side of Pembroke Dockyard is looking out towards the mouth of Milford Haven and designed to protect the western approach to the Dockyard is the smaller South West Gun Tower. This is in private ownership, though some restoration work appeared to be in progress.

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