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Portfolio > North East England 2 > Seaham Pier, County Durham                                                   Click on an image below to reveal enlarged version

Seaham Pier, County Durham, UK

Seaham Harbour in County Durham handles ships of up to 8,000 tonnes, with a maximum beam of 17m, length up to 120m and draft up to 6.7m. With 900m of quay frontage, this port facility can receive, store and distribute a broad range of commodities. It has 30,406 square metres (approximately 7.5 acres) of covered warehousing, and 6,000 square metres of purpose-built segregated open storage.

This port facility has excellent road and rail connections. Victoria Group Transport is based at Seaham . A new three-lane road directly links the site to the A19, providing good access to the North East of England and the M62 corridor. From the port facility, our own 400m rail siding links directly into the main line. The Marquess of Londonderry founded Seaham Harbour in 1828 as a port from which to export coal from his mines. Before the port was built there were no other buildings on the site. The town of Seaham was built about the same time. There is an outer harbour with two piers to protect the inner docks. A south dock was used by fishermen and the north dock for the coal trade. The gates to the south dock were opened by large steam engines, which are now at the Beamish Museum. The dockyard is a Grade II listed building protected by law. In 1828 work on building the harbour began. Within three years coal was being shipped out. It was the coal trade which led to the success of Seaham. The harbour lay close to the productive East Durham coal fields and soon much coal was being shipped to London. 

On Monday last, the new harbour of Seaham was opened, and although the opening was intended to be strictly private and attended with any ceremonial, yet the secret had transpired, and the anxiety of the public to witness this first essay was so great, that some. thousands of the


inhabitants of Sunderland, Shields, Stockton, Durham, and Newcastle were assembled to take an active part in the proceedings of the day. In the outer harbour, were twelve steam boats from the neighbouring ports, filled with gaily dressed company, and bands of music, and adorned with various coloured flags, and the inner harbour contained seven waiting for cargoes; amongst which was a beautiful new vessel, the grand object of attraction, called the Lord Seaham, of fifteen keels burthen. Her lading was completed about four o'clock, from and immense range of convenient staiths placed on the south side of the harbour- and as the time of high tide approached, the excitement of the public was intense, and the piers and banks were crowded with myriads of spectators, all anxiously awaiting to catch a glimpse of the first vessel which was to leave the harbour with a cargo of the staple commodity of the county. The signal was at length given, and she glided gently, steadily, and gracefully from the inner harbour, into the outer basin, where two steam-boats were stationed to tow her to sea. As she approached the mouth of the harbour, a grand salute was fired, Rule Britannia was struck up by the bands, and the immense assemblage testified their satisfaction by repeated cheers. Thus escorted (for the wind was adverse) the vessel cleared the entrance in gallant style, and as she advanced into the bosom of the deep, the cheers were renewed with redoubled vigour, and the crew responded to the utmost of their power. The sight was truly gratifying: the alarm which some had felt before she left her moorings, was completely dissipated, and the fears and doubts of all gave place to congratulation. The noble founder of the harbour was an anxious spectator on the south pier, and expressed himself perfectly satisfied with this first most propitious trial of his new harbour. The surprise and astonishment of those who had attend the ceremony of the laying the foundation stone on the 26th November,  1828, were extreme on beholding the wonderful transformation which had taken place in so short a period, the dry land on which they then stood was now excavated, and vessels were moored in safety, and loading with facility: and a town had sprung up which has now nearly a thousand inhabitants, who have found   a local habitation and a name where two years ago, there was not even a single cottage: and hundreds and thousands have received occupation and employment where the sound of the workman's hammer was never heard before.

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