Part 5: Pembroke Dock
Part 5: Pembroke Dock
As we return across the Irish Sea from County Wexford, we pass the gannetry of Grassholm and the bird havens of Skokholm and Skomer to the North as the Pembrokeshire coast comes into view. We enter the Milford Haven waterway, passing Milford Haven port to the North and the industrial landscape of oil refineries and power plants to the South. As we approach the Cleddau Bridge, the town of Pembroke Dock and our destination unfolds. Download the Port Places app on your Apple or Android phone, open the menu and press 'Find More' to see the list of featured experiences, and read on!
Pembroke Dock (Doc Penfro) and adjacent Milford Haven (Aberdaugleddau) both developed in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries from small village settlements, Paterstown and Hubberstown, on the banks of the Cleddau river. The vast natural harbour of Milford Haven was the point of departure for multiple invasions of Ireland, including those under Henry II and Oliver Cromwell, and the place to which Richard II returned from Ireland to meet his defeat by Henry Bolingbroke in 1399.
A naval dockyard was established at Pemroke Dock in 1800, building ships throughout the Napoleonic wars. In 1814 the Royal Dockyard was transferred across the river to Pembroke Dock (initially known as Paters Dock), and a new town grew up around it. Royal navy ships were commissioned and built there for over 100 years. The base remained a Royal Dockyard until it was transferred to the Milford Haven Port Authority in 2007. Today the town is the site of the ferry port.
The Port Places app captures this rich history with two overlapping experiences.
This experience draws on the creative, film and heritage material of the project to set out a trail of stories stretching from Rosslare Harbour to Pembroke Dock. It covers the ferry crossing between Pembrokeshire and Wexford, including creative work, stories, interviews and poetry. It tells the story of sights and sounds of the Irish and Welsh coasts, social change and natural wonders, images of the Irish Sea captured in documentary films and many of the overlapping accounts and events that have clustered around the crossing over centuries.
The experience can begin at either end of the route, and can be downloaded in advance of your journey. Once downloaded, no data is needed to read the text, look at the images and listen to the audio while you undertake your ferry trip.
On the crossing between Pembrokeshire and Wexford, this includes stories of birdlife, sandbanks, shipwrecks, oil spills, biodiversity, shipping and coastal fortifications. It presents to naval history of Pembroke Dock set in the context of the rich and varied environment of the Milford Haven waterway and its ties to Wexford and Ireland.
The three Ports, Past and Present crossing experiences on Port Places bring the past to life by showing that the Irish Sea and its long frequented crossings are not focused on a single topic, but cover every aspect of human life at sea and on land. They present personal accounts together with large-scale tragedies, traces of ancient histories together with the upheavals of recent decades.
This piece is an app-optimised audio storyscape for the Port Places App created by inviting members of the local community of Pembroke Dock in Wales to bring Kathy D'Arcy for virtual walks around the town. This was achieved during the Covid-19 pandemic travel bans by using video-calling on their smartphones.
Kathy is a poet, scholar and feminist activist based in Cork City. Originally trained as a doctor, she completed a Creative Writing PhD in UCC, where she taught with the Women’s Studies MA programme. She has also taught creative writing undergraduate and adult education courses. Her poetic practice involves walking ancient paths and engaging with the natural and cultural landscapes she encounters.
To learn more about Kathy and the participants, click here.
This experience is based on a published town trail created as part of the Pembroke Dock Townscape Heritage Initiative and funded by Heritage Lottery, Pembrokeshire County Council, the Welsh Development Agency and the Welsh Assembly (now the Senedd). The project assisted in the regeneration of Pembroke Dock and the refurbishment of many of the historic buildings. Edited by Christine Willison and Dave Ainsworth. It contains personal and community stories that show a new dimension of Pembroke Dock, collecting recollections and poetic responses to the buildings, events and tragedies that have shaped the town. It mingles shipbuilding with oil fires, penny farthing bicycle riding with the day that Buffalo Bill came to town.
The locations of the Town Trail were published in print by Pembrokeshire County Council in 2007. Digitised and enhanced by the Ports, Past and Present Project in 2022, funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Ireland Wales Cooperation programme.
The locations on the trail are accompanied by a set of plaques created by Robert Jakes. Robert is also the creator of 'A Sea of Stories', a wall-mounted depiction of the Irish Sea between Wexford and Pembrokeshire. The piece is a rich and informative map of memories, fusing together images and text onto bisque fired ceramic tile as a wall mural that celebrates the stretch of water between Pembroke Dock and Rosslare, and is sited at the Ferry Terminal at Pembroke Dock.
Our tour of the Irish Sea is now complete! We hope that you will find the Port Places app entertaining, educational and useful during your next ferry crossing or visit to Dublin Port, Rosslare Harbour, Holyhead, Fishguard or Pembroke Dock. For more information, browse the list of featured experiences on the app to learn more.