Saturday, 21 December 2019

The Dry Dock and Timber Pond PD (Part 2)

The Timber Pond in Pembroke Dockyard

In the age of wooden ships, naval dockyards (and civilian shipbuilders) used copious amounts of timber. The seasoning of timbers was an important aspect of ship construction if the constructor did not want the vessel to warp and bend unpredictably. Also, there was a need to intentionally bend and shape timbers and it was found that soaking in water made the bending of timbers easier.

By the middle of the nineteenth century it had been found that soaking timbers in salt water before working them allowed suppling or bending to be more easily performed. Also, the salt that impregnated the timber helped in its preservation, particularly if the timber was "in the log".

Originally the timber was stored in a timber pond that was on the foreshore at the the western end of the dockyard, on the beach at the end of what is now Fort Road. Indeed, the stumps of some of the timber piles that penned in the timbers can sometimes be seen during spring tides.

Notice the poles of the old timber pond on the beach at the end of Fort Road c1890
 This end of the dockyard also had a tidal inlet that almost ran, on spring tides, up to the site of the present main entrance of the yard, with Paterchurch on its southern bank. On the northern bank of this inlet the Admiralty dug (or extended) a large limestone quarry for building the eastern end of the yard. This quarry, the source of much of the building stone used in the early years of "The Yard", was later to become an obstacle to extending the works to the west and filling in and levelling the land for further building was to be a major expense. For more information about Paterchurch see my post here.

The diagrams below shows the basic design of the timber pond (Listed Grade II), taken from a the plan of the design held at The National Archives at Kew, London.(TNA Ref: WO 140/486).

Timber Pond with Google Earth Imagery

As above but with some transparency

The Timber Pond

The timber pond at Pembroke Dockyard, (also called the mast pond or pickling pond), is one of the few (perhaps the only?) masonry built example surviving in the British Isles. The quality of the stone work is of its time, crafted in individually cut, carboniferous limestone blocks. Fairly recent inspection reports reveal that the pond is in good condition. It has two large, brick lined, tunnel conduits running into it from the outside world. One of these, in the western wall of the pond, runs to an outfall on the beach at the end of Fort Road. This has a system of sluices and flap seals that can be used to drain and seal the pond as required. The other conduit runs from the north wall of the pond to the southern end of the graving dock, and was (probably?) used to fill the pond with water from the dock.

The diagram below shows this general arrangement of the Western Part of the dockyard. The numbers against some of the older buildings were allocated as part of a separate project to commemorate the Bicentennial of Pembroke Dock in 2014. They were for project identification purposes only.

Some people reading this post may not even be aware of the existing of the Timber Pond, which is hardly surprising, as unless you have access to the western part of the dockyard, it is hidden behind the impressive dockyard wall. Its relative anonymity does not make it any less important in its significance to the heritage of ship building at Pembroke Dock, and indeed Wales and probably the wider UK.

The timber pond c1890
It has been claimed that the timber pond was made redundant in about 1860, with technological advancement in naval architecture that began to introduce the use of iron (and later steel) in the construction of ships. This is not true, as the wood was still an important part of ship construction, not least for the building and fitting of robust masts and rigging for these early iron ships - hence the alternative name for the timber pond - The Mast Pond. ships is picture below.

HMS Penelope. Launched Pembroke Dock 1867

HMS Shannon. Launched Pembroke Dock 1875.

The Milford Haven Port Authority (MHPA) proposes to fill in the pond and cover it with a concrete slab as part of a speculative plan to make Pembroke (Dock) Marine a home for marine energy development. MHPA proposes to the fill the pond in so that damage to the structure is minimal, however, removing the concrete slab and extracting the fill would be a massively expensively task for anyone wishing to uncover the pond in the future. The pond is being effectively destroyed.

View across the drained timber pond from the southern edge looking north-west. 2014

Looking across the pond form the southern edge looking north-east. Not the conduit that leads to the dry dock. This is the block oval near the ramp in the northern wall. 2014

The timber pond in an old photograph, taken for the east. The other buildings visible have been demolished. c1970?

The timber pond appears under the wing tip of this photograph taken from a Pembroke Dock based flying boat in the 1930's.

In my next post I will explain the other dramatic changes that MHPA are planning to make to the western end of the dockyard. I will, in the future, discus the notion of access for the general public to this, and other areas of the historic dockyard and the reasons why this is restricted at present.

Thanks for taking the trouble to read this post.

Have a good Christmas and very best wishes for 2020.

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

The Dry Dock and Timber Pond, PD (Part 1)

The Dry Dock in Pembroke Dock

The Milford Haven Port Authority (MHPA) is unique. [An apology and a correction! There are 50+ trust ports in the UK. Milford Haven Port Authority is one of the bigger ones. It might have been one of the first. Would be glad to hear comment about this.] The Port of Milford Haven is a Trust Port, a statutory entity that was brought into existence by a specific Act of Parliament – The Milford Haven Conservancy Act 1958. It is the only trust port in the United Kingdom] [See note above and link here.]

If you want to read further into the background legislation that governs the operation of the authority, then there is no better place to do this that at their own website here.

One of MHPA's activities that are focused on the south side of Milford Haven is Pembroke Dock Marine. This main base of operations is located within the former Royal Dockyard and, as the information on MHPA's website explains, this "will deliver a world-class marine energy and engineering hub on the deep water Milford Haven Waterway."

The progress of this project is closely tied in with the Swansea Bay Region City Deal project, which you can learn more about by following the link.

Further insight into the wider economic activities carried out by MHPA can be found here. Other downloadable publications are available here.

However, much of the work of MHPA's work is in direct conflict with the preservation of the heritage assets that exist around the waterway. The prime case of this are the authority's plans to develop Pembroke Dockyard. 

Pembroke Dockyard opened in 1814 and was closed in 1926. Prior to 1814, there were just a couple of farms and a derelict mansion that occupied the area. It really was a green field site. The raison d'etre of Pembroke Dock was the dockyard and when it closed the local deprivation was intense.

The Royal Dockyard was the only such facility in Wales and, in an ideal world, perhaps it should have been used to encourage visitors to the county and developed into a heritage based leisure facility. However, the need for jobs, the Second World War and the all powerful financial might of the oil industry were more than minor obstructions to this being possible.

The dockyard, despite the burying and demolition of many of its original buildings, most notably by the Royal Air Force and latterly by the deep water berthing quay at the eastern end of the yard, still has some notable buildings, many of which are listed.

However, two of the surviving structures from the original dockyard, both listed, are now under threat by proposals put forward by the Milford Haven Port Authority. Why bury and destroy these features, unique in their character? It would seem that one possibility is to provide extra parking for lorries. That would seem to be a tragic, banal waste of some unique features of local heritage.

In this post I will give a brief introduction to the first of these features - the old dry dock

The former dry dock (Listed Grade II* - see here), latterly called the Graving Dock as it was used to dismantle ships at some points in its life. This is in part of the dockyard that is rarely seen by the general public, but is easy of access, just beyond the ferry terminal. The image from Google Maps below shows its location.

Location of the Dry Dock

The blue rectangle, in the inset, marks out the dry dock.

The dry dock is of the caisson type. That means that the method of closing the dock before the water was pumped out was to float a steel or iron blocking door into the mouth of the dock and sink it, within tight fitting guiding rails, so that it made a good seal between the interior of the dock and the outside. The water was then pumped out by powerful pumps, until the dock was dry within.

The picture below shows the Ocean Layer, a cable laying ship, in this dry dock in the early 1950s.

Cable Ship(CS) Ocean Layer in Dry Dock

The dry dock today, apart from having tidal silt within and some dumped soil tipped into it in the south east corner, is a testament to the craftsmanship of the engineers who built it in the middle of the nineteenth century. The bollards and capstans, although quite decayed, are still around the edges and the old caisson used to keep the waters of the haven out, altough very rusted and damaged, is lodged at the southern end of the dock.

The dry dock was built in the very early days of the dockyard, c1820. It was lengthened in about 1853 to its present size. It was used for the repair of warships and, later in its career, as a place to dismantle old ships - a graving dock. The photograph above of the CS Ocean Layer shows that it was also used (under lease) by the local company R S Hayes to refit this vessel for the laying of undersea cables. Follow this link for more information about CS Ocean Layer.

If you want to view this remaining feature of the dockyard, it is quite straightforward. If you enter the dockyard through the old main gate on Fort Road, take a left turn at the first mini-roundabout and then follow this road. It will take you right and then left past some large sheds and the old, grey limestone Oakum House. On your right hand side, behind a chain link fence, is the dry dock. Be careful in this area as there can be much works traffic at some of the businesses that have accommodationin this part of the yard. Wearing a reflective waistcoat might be helpful!

This is the drydock from near the entrance. Notice how silted up it is. The caisson can be seen at the far end of the dock. The object in the foreground looks like it might be an old pontoon.

This is the view from the other end of the dock showing a close-up of the old caisson. This would have been floated into position at the open end of the dock and sunk into position, the wooden strake fitting into a slot in the dock wall. Powerful pumps would then have pumped the water out of the dock.

In my next post, I will introduce the second heritage building under threat in the dockyard...the timber pond.

Friday, 3 May 2019

Pembrokeshire County Council - Review of Local Development Plan - Episode 2

In Episode 1 I gave a brief outline of how you can look up the details of proposed Candidate Sites for the Local Development Plan Review (LDP2).

We looked at Site 324 on the Barrack Hill in Pembroke Dock. To read this article again see:

Pembrokeshire County Council - Review of Local Development Plan - Episode 1

Since publishing this post, I looked up the owners of this land at the Land Registry. The owners are Pembrokeshire County Council (PCC), who own the freehold title to this former Ordnance Board land. For the sum of £3 you can download the title of the property, along any restrictive covenants. Another £3 gives you a map of the area covered by the title, but unfortunately none is available for this property, it not having been provided when the title was transferred to PCC many moons ago.

In this post We will look at some other properties around The Barrack Hill.

Initially, I will look at Candidate Site 323.

This site, on the western edge of The Barrack Hill, near the car park and bus stop, is near where there was in WW II a barrage balloon site. I remember some of the old mooring blocks and rings being there in the 1960s. (Sorry - a diversion! - Oops!)

The description of the site goes as follows: (Information taken form the Candidate Site Register)
  • Name of Site: SGPC Site 3 - Adjacent to carpark and Chapel Road
  • Nearest Settlement: Pembroke Dock
  • Proposer Name: John Parsons
  • Proposer Organisation:  South Pembrokeshire Golf Club
  • Current Use: Leisure - Golf Course
  • Proposed Use: Housing
  • Site Area (Ha): 0.25
  • Preferred Strategic Compatibility Category: Green

Up until now, I have not mentioned the red boundary line on the maps of Pembroke Dock. This line demarks the present settlement boundary. Planners like to keep development within the settlement boundary, (as I do!) and I expect that you would be able to find many planning applications that were turned down because they were outside the settlement boundary of a particular....settlement. Search at PCC Planning if motivated enough.

If you are not able to pin down where Candidate Site 323 is, this larger area map might help.

The eagle-eyed reader will have noticed the line of the present public right of way that crosses the proposed site diagonally. This follows one of the original tracks laid out when the barracks were built.

Who owns this site?

This is land that comes under the Land Registry title CYM281495. It is owned by Pembrokeshire County Council.

The difficulty with this is the notion of precedent.  Some of you will have remembered the planning application for a house at the other end of the Barrack Hill. That is:

  • Land Register title: CYM676847, land on the north side of 10 Presely View, Pembroke Dock, SA72 6NP (£40,000, title transferred to present owner of 5 May 2016 from Pembrokeshire County Council).

This piece of land, which from recollection took a while to sell, was part of the former Ordnance Land  described for Candidate Site 242 and Candidate Site 344 that I have mentioned above and in my last post.

This sale set a precedent, a very useful thing in planning matters, that it is reasonable to sell off plots of land that lie outside the settlement boundary of Pembroke Dock (the red line) and are on what was The Barrack Hill.

This is worth bearing in mind when thinking about the motives that may lie behind lands sales and subsequent planning applications. One needs to think long term - what are the consequences of an application being granted?

Another precedent that was set by the above grant of planning consent is that the site was within (and still is within) the Pembroke Dock Conservation Area (PDCA). In fact, the whole of the original Barrack Hill Area is within the PDCA, but outside the settlement boundary. See my effort at mapping below:

The pink area with the green border is the Conservation Area and the red border marks the settlement boundary. The Barrack Hill is within the Conservation Area and outside the settlement boundary.

I must point out here that I have no particular issue with anyone who gets permission to build on The Barrack Hill as long as the correct procedures are followed and the intention is made plain from the outset.  I would, of course, hope that the planning authority would  refuse such an application because of the special nature of the place and its justifiable location within the Conservation Area. It is important that everyone takes notice of the way in which their surroundings can change. If you disagree with a plan, then object as early as you can.

I have made no strong comment so far about any of the proposals so far discussed. Opinions will follow later I would imagine....

Again, please feel free to comment if you wish. I will moderate the comments, but will publish all, but will redact swear words or insulting material. Be polite - it is the best way to be - politely assertive.

To be continued......

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Pembrokeshire County Council - Review of Local Development Plan - Episode 1

This series (?!) of  posts will focus on the Local Development Plan Review (LDP2) for Pembrokeshire County Council.

Throughout the post(s) I will be using information from a variety of sources, but mostly from Pembrokeshire County Council's own website. I believe that my use of this is allowable under the terms of their copyright. If this is not correct, then I would be grateful if someone from the council would get in touch.

I will add in a few photographs that will add interest to what might be a lot of text!!

I cannot possibly cope with looking at the entire county so will focus, initially, on my own town of Pembroke Dock.

OK, let's start! If you want to read about the history of  LDP2, then the best place to go is here. This link is the overview page for LDP2. I would suggest that you have a look at this first as it explains the reasoning for the review...…..

There are lots of links from the above page, but perhaps you might leave exploring those until a little later.

PCC has kindly produced many maps to illustrate the suggestions for LDP2. The map for Pembroke Dock is here. This link will allow you to download maps of the Pembroke Dock area. These maps show the locations of Candidate Sites that have been suggested by a variety of contributors.  These are numbered. The numbering refers to a table of the sites (Sites Table is here). The candidate sites are grouped by Parish/Town Council.

More on Candidate Sites a bit later!

What I suggest you do now is download the maps and the table from the links above and have a quick read! At the start of the Table booklet (110 pages!) there is an explanation of the colours and content of the tables that follow. There is also mention of the "Preferred Strategy" that tries to explain the criteria for the coloured categorisation of sites in the table. Despite being a council tax payer who has a passionate interest in Pembrokeshire, I missed the initial "informal" consultations for LDP2. 

One important rule in these matters is ALWAYS take an active interest in local plans. Also, remember that "informal" means that discussions have taken place that might possibly be binding, but no minutes etc have been taken. It never means "nothing has been decided".

To start with we will look at the Barrack Hill in Pembroke Dock. The Barrack Hill was named after the Defensible Barracks that were built on this dominating high point overlooking the old Royal Dockyard, Pembroke.

This was open land with very few trees or bushes whilst the dockyard was in operation. There could be no hiding places for attacking troops to sneak up on the Barracks - indeed, when the Barracks were built, many of the houses in Cross Park were cleared to provide an open field of fire from the fort.

Anyway, I am digressing wildly... on to business!

If you look at the maps for Pembroke Dock from the PCC web pages mentioned above, pages 6 and 7 cover the area of the Barrack Hill and the former Oil Tanks Depot above Llanreath. Page 7 shows a greyed out area on the lower northern slopes of "The Hill", allocated the number 324.

The description of this site can be found on page 71(of 110) of the Candidate Site Register. See the cutting below.

So let's see what they say about Site 324.

Working from left to right, we see that this is "SPGC site 5 - Between the 10th fairway of the golf" - this entry leaves us hanging. Hopefully it will be finshed off at some point, but the map shows us where it is. Next, the nearest settlement is given as "Pembroke Dock/Doc Penfro". Fair enough.

Then we are given the name of the person who has proposed this site (Site 324) - "John Parsons" - I know not who this is.

No agent or agent organisation is mentioned, but the Current Use is "Leisure - Golf Course and scrubland".

The proposed use is proposed as "Holiday Accommodation" - (Tents? Caravans? Houses? - who knows), has an area of 1.48 acres and is coloured Grey - the colour of fog, I suppose. If you refer back to the top of the Candidate Site Register there is a key to the colours used in the table. In their words...


So that is your starter. Please feel free to comment if you wish. I will moderate the comments, but will publish all, but will redact swear words or insulting material. Be polite - it is the best way to be - politely assertive.

In the next instalment, I will look at some of the other Candidate Sites and mention other sources that can be used to find out a little more about the LDP2.

Sunday, 2 September 2018

Thomas Evans Rees and his lease from the Bush Estate

As I mentioned at the end of the last posting, Thomas Rees Evans was a shipwright, which meant he was very skilled in the use and working of wood, so when he took on the lease of one of the first building plots on the eastern extension of North Street, he had access to the materials, the connections and skills to undertake his own home build.

The lease (number 247 in the estate rental book), was dated 8th August 1864 and was to run from Lady Day 1864, for 60 years, expiring on Lady Day 1924. Lady Day was one of the rental quarter days and was also known as the feast of the Annunciation. It is the 25 March.

The plot that he had leased was one of the first sites let on an extension to North Street. It was on the south side of the road, immediately east of the point where the road kinked slightly towards the north. The plot was 30 feet wide (east to west) and 120 feet long (north to south). The tenant had to build a house on the north end of the plot, facing the road, to a plan provided by the lessor (the Bush Estate). The annual rent was to be £1/10/-, payable quarterly.

The cottage had to be built to a single storey, four room design, with the front door only slightly recessed from the pavement.

There was a gap between No. 30 and the house next west on the south side of the street, No. 28. This was to provide space for a road - to be known as Water Street - that would have linked North Street to Albany Street, to the south. 

In Fig.1, the gap between No. 28 and No. 30 was intended to be this road. This land was later divided between the two properties and, as if giving a nod to the origins of the vacant plots, a public footpath was established on the land between, running down to Albany Terrace.

Thomas Evans Rees built his house according to the Bush Estate's recommended plan. This was four roughly equal, squarish rooms, with a corridor or passage running from the front door, through the single-storey cottage, to the door leading to the long garden with its stone built privy at the bottom. An approximate plan of the house is shown in Fig. 2

House Plan
Fig. 2
During the same year, 1864, Thomas's neighbours were George Cundi, a rigger, who was granted a similar lease for No. 28, to the west of Water Street and to the east of Thomas,  Robert Chittock, a messenger in the dockyard, had a lease for No. 32.

The house at No. 30 benefited from a high standard of workmanship and this is likely to have been the work of Thomas and his work colleagues. Much of the timber within the house came from the dockyard and good use was made of it!

The lease that Thomas had taken on was very specific in what the landlord required of the tenant.

  • The lease was for a term of sixty years and at the end of this period, the tenant would be responsible for leaving the premise in good repair.
  • A house, to a specific design and of good quality had to be built on the plot within six months of the lease being signed. The landlord's agent would check that the building was built to a good standard.
  • If the lessee wished to alter or add to the buildings on the plot, then he first had to seek the approval, in writing, of the agent.
  • Once every three years the lessee had to paint, in oil paint,  and with two coats, all the exterior woodwork and metal work to a good standard and at his own cost.
  • Likewise, every seven years, internal walls etc had to be painted (with two coats of oil paint) or papered, to a good standard.
  • The agent would check on the condition and maintenance of the house by visiting the premises twice each year. The agent could ask for works to be carried out to rectify any deficiencies in maintenance at the lessee's expense.
  • The landlord or his workers had a right of access over the property to make repairs to a neighbouring property.
  • Any soil or gravel dug up at the premises had to be removed to a location of the landlord's choice.
  • The tenant had to make sure that the property was insured against fire each year.
  • The lessee was not allowed to engage in any noisy or disturbing activity on the premises.
  • The lessee could not assign the tenancy within five years of the end of the term of the tenancy. Any assignment that was made prior to this had to be documented to the landlord within three months of the assignment.
Many of the above conditions were standard terms but nowadays some seem rather heavy-handed, particularly those relating to the building of the house on the plot leased.

When a lessee assigned a tenancy to another person this meant that he  passed the property to the ownership of the new person under the same terms as agreed when the tenancy was first taken out. This meant that the tenancy could be "sold" on to another party or left as part of the lessees estate in a will, provided that the terms of the tenancy were met and that the landlord received all documentation showing what had occurred. This information was then written into the landlord's book of leases.

Thomas built his house, and in one of those rare serendipitous occasions a later buyer, peeling flaking paint from just inside the front door noticed a signature beneath what seemed to be old wallpaper paste. It seemed to be Thomas Evans Rees's signature. As was the custom among painters and decorators, he had signed the plastered wall before papering it. A tangible link to the man who first built the house in about 1864/5, over a century and a half ago.

Fig. 3 - Thomas's signature from the lease.

Fig. 4 - Signature on wall inside front door - with and without enhancement

In the next installment, I will reveal what became of Thomas and his family, but right now I must give thank the archivists at Pembrokeshire Archives who care for the wonderful Bush Estate documents and manuscripts. A true gem of a collection that has been little explored by the public.

Friday, 13 July 2018

Thomas Evans Rees and the The Little Place in PD

In the context of the parish of St. Mary’s, Pembroke, in West Wales, 30 North Street, Bufferland, Pembroke Dock is not a particularly old house. Nonetheless it encapsulates part of the story of the new town of Pater, or Pembroke Dock as it soon became known, from the middle of the 19th Century until today.
On 8 August 1864, Thomas Evans Rees, shipwright, of Pembroke Dock took out a 60 year lease on a plot of land on the south side of North Street, Bufferland, a new suburb of the burgeoning town.
Ordnance Survey map for Bufferland, Pembroke Dock laid over an extract from  Bush Estate Map book c1830now in Pembrokeshire Archives.

A closer view of Bufferland, Pembroke Dock, in about 1850
The western end of North Street had been laid out across some of the fields of Hill Farm from about 1840, and from 1864 The Bush Estate leased out further plots of land in what had formally been  a field on the land of  Hill Farm overlooking the Pembroke River.
Who was Thomas Evans Rees? First, let us look at his father.

His father was Daniel Rees, a master watchmaker, born in about 1806 in Narberth. Daniel’s wife was Jane Evans, of Haverfordwest, and it is likely that Thomas gained his middle name of Evans from his mother’s maiden name – a tradition that persisted amongst many families at this time.

In 1841 Daniel Rees and his family lived in a house at the southern end of Pembroke Street, number 22. He appears in the Pigot and Co. directory for 1844 as a watchmaker. In 1851, Daniel is still in Pembroke Street, but by 1861 he seems to have moved his home to the street parallel and next west to Pembroke Street  – Market Street. In the directory he is referred to as David Rees, but the 1861 census for the town shows him occupying premises next to the Farmers Arms in Market Street, living with his wife, daughter and grand-daughter. In 1868 Daniel (aka Daniel M Rees) was still practising his trade as a watchmaker,  but, according to Slater’s directory for that year, he had returned to Pembroke Street. He died in the summer of 1870 and was buried on 20 June. His grave is recorded as that of David Morgan Rees, watchmaker.

Daniel, as a clock and watchmaker,  was involved in the installation of the Clock in the tower of St John’s Church in Pembroke Dock in March 1865. The local press announced the plans in October 1864 saying that the clock “when completed will be a very great boon to the inhabitants of the town.”

St John's Church, Pembroke Dock showing the clock installed in 1865 by Daniel Rees.

The installation of the clock was reported in the Pembrokeshire Herald and General Advertiser for 17 March 1865.

Thomas Evans Rees was Daniel and Jane’s second child. The oldest child was William Humphreys Rees, born in Narberth in 1829, who disappears from the family home after 1841, probably joining the Royal Engineers in 1850. Another brother of Thomas Evans was James Valentine Rees, born in Milford in 1833. The youngest of his siblings was a sister, Arabella Esther Rees, born in Pembroke Dock in about 1836.  Thomas Evans Rees was baptised in Tenby on 23 March 1831.

By 1851, still living in the family home, Thomas Evans was an apprentice shipwright, working in The Royal Dockyard Pembroke. On the 13 March 1858 he married Bridget Day. Bridget had been born in Ireland in about 1833. They were married in St John’s Church, Pembroke Dock. When the census enumerator called,  for the census of 1861, they were visiting their friends, George and Jane Sutton in Laws Street, Pembroke Dock. George, like Thomas Evans, was a shipwright, but much older than both his Irish wife Jane and her friend Bridget. Thomas George Rees - Thomas Evans’ and Bridget’s first child - was 1 year of age and Bridget and Thomas Evans may well have been showing him off to their friends for the first time. 
It seems as though the relationship between these two families developed further as one of Thomas Evans' later children’s mother seems to have had the surname Sutton, not Day.
The dockyard at Pembroke Dock, in the 1860’s, had for a while, an uncertain future. The era of the wooden sailing ship as a vessel of war was ending, and as Pembroke was distant from other centres of production, some in high office wished to see the place closed. However, in the end, it was decided to modernise the dockyard to build the new iron, steam powered ships. 

Consequently, new steam mills and forges had to be built and working techniques adapted to metal. A by-product of this was that large stocks of timber, intended for wooden ships, lay surplus to requirements over most of the area of the yard. There were concerns at government level that all the dockyards were being run inefficiently with much wastage of materials, and indeed in some places the stockpiles of wood were just left to rot in the open.

One way of reducing the stockpile of timber was for the dockyards to sell it off at auction. This happened on a regular basis at Pembroke, starting from about 1870.

However, there must have been “unofficial” sales or disposal of timber before this date, as was witnessed by the quality of timber used in the building of the houses of Pembroke Dock. Local lore has it that timber was dropped surreptitiously into the waters of the haven and then collected later from wherever the tide (or a rowing boat!) might take it. It is highly likely that much use was made of dockyard facilities for the making of wooden (and metal) items for the households of local craftsmen.

What does this have to do with a little end of terrace cottage in North Street, Pembroke Dock? The answer is, of course, plenty! The men who worked in the dockyard included many with highly developed and – in modern parlance – “transferable” skills. These were applied to the building of houses, particularly the flooring and “fitting out” of these houses.
Thomas Rees Evans was a shipwright, which meant he was very skilled in the use and working of wood, so when he took on the lease of one of the first building plots on the eastern extension of North Street, he had access to the materials, the connections and skills to undertake his own home build.

In the next post I will talk about the terms of the lease that Thomas Evans....and many like him ... took on in the summer of 1864.

An abstract of the lease for Thomas Evans Rees' building plot in North Street, Pembroke Dock, from a Bush Estate lease book held by Pembrokeshire Archives.

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

A Little Place in PD...........

There was very little at Pembroke Dock before 1814. In fact, the place did not exist. Admittedly there were a few scattered cottages, a ruinous, but formerly grand, late medieval house and the scant remains of a chapel. It was probably an idyllic spot....level, well drained land at the foot of the Old Red Sandstone mass of St Patricks Hill. There was good access to the deep waters of Milford Haven via some muddy pills and rock strewn beaches.

In 1814 that all changed. Like Dire Strait's song "Telegraph Road", the Admiralty decided to put down its pack on the shore to build fighting ships and in the words of the song.....

The new town grew quickly and its residents were a highly skilled and hard working community. Shipwright, joiners, carpenters, metal workers, stonemasons  - all brought there skills to bear on the building of their own houses and the local land owner made a killing from, initially, selling off plots, to the Admiralty and latterly issuing leases to townspeople for strips of land with a 30 feet street frontage........with conditions attached.

For some streets in the town, in particular those built in the mid-nineteenth century, these plots accommodated single storey cottages, with large, long gardens. I have just bought one such house. Why??

My next series of postings will include an explanation about why I chose to do this and the story behind this "Little Place in PD".

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Creeping Planning Applications - A Masterclass (Part 2)

First Attempt Tuctaway in 2010

Read Part 1 first here.

The first planning application on the site was lodged on 15 July 2010 with Tendring District Council. The documents relating to this application (10/00819/FUL) can be found here. It is worth noting that the trees on the western end of the plot were subject to Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs).

Tuctaway in 2013
 There were 26 formal comments and of these 25 were to object to the plans. Those that were made available online at the time can be viewed here.

One correspondent,  (the elderly resident of Tuctaway, Jaywick Lane, Clacton On Sea, Essex CO15 2DR), wrote in with a NEUTRAL comment, but the basis for this neutral stance is not clear as their comment is marked as being unavailable.

Tuctaway was sold on 23 October 2013 for £143,000. Interestingly, Tuctaway has since become part of the scheme involving Grove Cottage and Willow Park Farm.

To return to the planning application of 2010 (10/00819/FUL).  A sketch plan of the proposed building works is shown below.

This application, for the "demolition of existing dwelling and erection of 12 x 3 Bed detached bungalows and garages thereto",  was refused. The officers decision report is date June 2011, so it took nearly a year for a a decision to be made.

This may partly have been due to the number of comments received from the public. As mentioned above, the application was refused. If would would like to see the reasons in detail for this, please see the documents on the Tendring District Council Planning web pages.The main reasons given for refusal were:

"This proposed design solution is bland and fails to create a sense of place."

"No tree survey or report has been submitted with this application to allow a proper assessment of the immediate impact of the proposal on protected trees or the extent to which obstruction to daylight and sunlight reaching the proposed residential properties has the potential to harm the long-term viability of the trees (taking into account future growth). A drawing entitled 'Root Protection Plan' has been submitted, but this does not mark Root Protection Zones in the correct position."

"....the development also fails to respect the existing character of the area."

The fact that there was no ecological survey of the site did not bode well either.

This was all summarised as:

"...the proposal is unattractively designed, not in keeping with the surrounding area, and threatens trees protected by Tree preservation Order. Consequently the proposal would harm visual amenity....."


"..that "an initial scoping or extended Phase 1 habitat survey should be conducted to assess the site and the results  of this used to inform (the need for) subsequent species specific surveys". No such information has been provided with this application." 

The architects for the scheme were Paul Newbold Planning and Building Design Services of Clacton-on-Sea.

The developers were not to be put off, however, and they returned with a different scheme some time later. This will be the subject of my next post......

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Creeping Planning Applications - a Masterclass (Part 1)

I have a friend who has had to move into supported living in the Clacton-on-Sea area.

As a good citizen, (rights and responsibilities etc.), I thought I would look into the background of the brand new premises that my friend would be moving into. It was a revelation and it introduced me to the concept of the "Creeping Planning Application" (CPA).

To make use of this approach to getting round all sorts of planning rules and regulations you must be patient, superbly prepared and not at all impulsive. Success also relies upon the local planning officers being overworked and local residents being indifferent or unaware about how planning applications come to be successful.

It is a complicated story, perhaps not an easy read, but it will fill you with admiration for the focus and determination of those making the application to get what they want.

Here goes....... Oh, by the way, I will publish this in several instalments. Just like the "Creeping Planning Application" technique.... an exemplar of deferred gratification.

One more thing before I start. Although this is about a plot of land in Clacton-on-Sea in Essex, it can be universally applied across the UK....and indeed it is!

The property I have chosen for this exemplar of a CPA is (or was!) Grove Cottage, Jaywick Lane, Clacton-on-Sea, CO15 2DR. It was an attractive, thatched building in its own considerable grounds. See the aerial view here:

Aerial View of Grove Cottage

The label at the end of the above link is placed by Google in the wrong place (I think!). I am not a local, so I may be mistaken. Anyway, the building and its grounds that I am interested in is the one I have marked and roughly indicated in red below. I will come back to the blue line later!

Grove Cottage from Google Maps (see link above)

Whilst preparing this post I came across the Street View photograph of the building as in the picture below (at the end of the link too). I was fairly shocked to see what a lovely building this was! In fact, I would have thought it should have been listed. Sadly, that horse has bolted.

Grove Cottage in October 2012 from Google Street View (see link below)

Grove Cottage before its demise.

The "birds eye" view from Bing Maps, at the end of the link here, shows the house in better times, before it had been sold in 2010. The next picture is an extract from the Bing Maps view.

Grove Cottage - a birds eye view from Bing Maps - pre-2010(?)

On 31 March 2010 the property was sold for £650,000 and was purchased by, according to the title at The Land Registry (EX804229):

06821377) of 92 Station Road, Clacton-on-Sea, Essex CO15
1SG and of Willow Park, The Street, Weeley, Essex CO16

This is where the blue line on the illustration above comes into play...I think. We will look at that in a later post.

For the moment, a final caveat.. I may be entirely wrong about this whole thing and I am hopeful that readers will take the time to enter debate, via comments, about the process and my understanding of it.

Thursday, 31 August 2017

36 Main Street, Pembroke - An Appeal Against a Refused Planning Application

An application was made last year to make an opening in the town wall at the rear of the above property. Summary particulars are:


Validated Date:13-Mar-2017
Decision Date:19-Jun-2017
Application Type:List Bld
Site Notice End:14-Apr-2017
Publicity Notice End:19-Apr-2017
Area:Pembroke Town Council
Community:Pembroke: St Mary South
Main Location:36, Main Street, Pembroke, Pembrokeshire, SA71 4NP
Full Description:Formation of opening in existing town wall to permit pedestrian access
Status:Decision Made

This link allows you to view and download all the documents associated with the application:

The above documents include:

Location Plans here and here
+other items.

The applicant has decided to appeal against the decision to refuse this application. The appeal is to be determined by written submissions to the Welsh Assemby. The letter below gives information about the procedure for the appeal. If you wish to comment, please note the deadline for submissions - 29 September 2017.

Below is my submission to Pembrokeshire County Council in response to the original planning application.