Port of Bridgwater, Dunball Wharf etc.

Alan Parsons
5th August 2014, 20:02
Wondered if anybody remembers passages to the Port of Bridgwater (Dunball Wharf, Walpole Wharf etc) I spent many happy days ship watching there and being fortunate enough to be invited by the then Pilot, Norman Curnow, to join him piloting ships up and down the River Parret from Burnham on Sea. Anybody remember Norman who was the pilot from the early 1950's until he retired about 1987?
A really kind man who did many crew members a favour including, if he knew you well, lending them his car for the odd run ashore. He first went to sea from his native New Zealand in the 1930's under sail, served throughout WW2, sunk twice and proudly boasted he never got his feet wet. When he first went to Bridgwater he was one of 5 pilots and the only one would navigate the river after dark. He piloted sailing ships (Kathleen and May, Irene, etc )in his early days. He helped establish the oil jetty at Walpole Wharf in the 1980's so may be remembered by any ex Bowker and King men. Sadly he died a few years ago having returned to New Zealand for his last few years.
Only trade currently on the river is the sand dredgers from Hanson Aggregates, everything else has stopped. No more Crescent Shipping. Arklow Shipping, Everards or Carisbrooke.

Dickyboy
5th August 2014, 20:50
Sounds like a really nice and interesting man, and I think you are very privileged to have known him.

Pilot mac
6th August 2014, 08:40
Alan,
you may see some activity nearby in the near future. I believe a new berth is to be built at Hinkley Point to handle materials for the build of the new power station.

regards
Dave

Alan Parsons
6th August 2014, 09:14
Thanks Pilot Mac, not sure if there will be a new berth or dredging of the existing berth at Combwich which has been used in the past for the construction of the existing power stations. There was also talk of bringing in materials by barge more or less to the site and the barges drying out on the beach at the Point. It seems a shame that neither Dunball Wharf or Walpole Wharf (former oil terminal) are in use as they are both within half a mile of the M% at J.23.

Alan Parsons
6th August 2014, 09:17
Sorry, typing error, should read M5. Also Walpole wharf dates from 1957, not the 1980's. The oil terminal closed when some bright spark of a bean counter said that its costs were a few pence a ton higher than using road transport for the whole journey. Now the road tankers sit in traffic jams on the M4 and M5. I believe this is called progress!!

Alan Parsons
6th August 2014, 14:40
Perhaps the names of some of the ships (and their Masters) will bring back some memories.
The sand dredgers 'Bowcross' and 'Harry Brown'. One or other of them would be discharging at Dunball every spring tide. Sometimes the 'Peterston'

Bowker and Kings tankers discharging at Walpole Wharf. The 'Bude' 'Budleigh' 'Bisley' 'Borman' 'Bristolian' 'Berkley'

Crescent Shipping. The 'Ambience' (Captain Richard Beet) was a regular with alifoss from Belgium, then ballasting round to Cornwall for clay. Also the 'Ordinence' and Westerence'

Arklow Shipping. the 'Arklow View' and the 'Arklow Castle'. Captain Jimmy Campbell.

The German skipper owned 'Alma Koppelman' which brought timber from the Baltic in spring and summer for a local timber merchant. I understand this traffic now goes up as far as Avonmouth in larger ships and then back down the M5 by road transport! More progress.

Hall and Co's 'Daunt Rock' (Captain Cameron Gannie) with coal from Antwerp was a frequent visitor, also another 'Rock' boat sometimes called.

The skipper owned 'Hoop' ex Hoopride'

robinhood_1984
13th August 2014, 00:42
Now the road tankers sit in traffic jams on the M4 and M5. I believe this is called progress!!

This is true but as a truck driver and someone who tried working on coasters, at least the truck stuck on the M5 actually employs a British driver, rather than a ship that may or may not be British registered with a full Polish of Filipino crew. I'm as much in favour of coastal shipping as the next man, but not unless British truck drivers, or British people in general are actually to be given employment on those coasters, which of course would never, ever happen. Or shall we consign a hundred thousand British truck drivers to the dole just as happened with all the seaman in the past few decades as well?

gil mayes
18th August 2014, 15:32
Alan I quote,

EDF Energy has selected Hampshire-based Dean & Dyball Civil Engineering to build a temporary sea jetty at the site of its proposed new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset. The £30m jetty will be built subject to a final decision from EDF to proceed with the new nuclear project and the contract marks another step towards readiness for work to begin.

Construction of the 500 metre-long jetty will employ 120 people at its peak and it will allow materials for the proposed Hinkley Point C station to be delivered by sea. Each ship-load will take 250 lorries off local roads, reducing carbon emissions in line with EDF Energy’s transport and sustainability strategy. After the completion of the power station, the jetty will be removed and the area restored.
Gil.

Alan Parsons
20th August 2014, 15:05
Alan I quote,

EDF Energy has selected Hampshire-based Dean & Dyball Civil Engineering to build a temporary sea jetty at the site of its proposed new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset. The £30m jetty will be built subject to a final decision from EDF to proceed with the new nuclear project and the contract marks another step towards readiness for work to begin.

Construction of the 500 metre-long jetty will employ 120 people at its peak and it will allow materials for the proposed Hinkley Point C station to be delivered by sea. Each ship-load will take 250 lorries off local roads, reducing carbon emissions in line with EDF Energy’s transport and sustainability strategy. After the completion of the power station, the jetty will be removed and the area restored.
Gil.

Thanks for this GIl,

This proposal is very much in line with the work that the late Captain Curnow did about 30 years ago when he surveyed the foreshore at Hinkley Point with a view to running barges up onto the foreshore at HW to discharge materials for the additional nuclear power station which was being discussed then. There is an existing, albeit completely silted up,modern berth at Combwich which was used by Fishers heavy lift ships during construction of the now defunct 'A' station and the existing 'B' station. I don't know if this will be used at any stage in the construction of the proposed 'C' station but its use brings heavy trucks through the village of Combwich which would probably not be popular with local residents!! The last time it was used solely for movements of extremely heavy loads conveyed on road vehicles which were transported by Fishers ships.

It would be good to see the resumption of 'normal' cargoes to Dunball Wharf which seem to have stooped in about 2006.

Alan.

sandman
20th August 2014, 20:56
I have a small chart that Norman done back in 1956, of the parret, with lights,and courses.

gil mayes
21st August 2014, 08:23
The wharf at Combwich will be used as it is the only way to get heavy machinery to the site. The barge TERRA MARQUE will be used no doubt.
Gil.

doverpilot
9th December 2014, 15:20
An interesting thread as I knew Captain Norman Curnow, the Bridgwater Harbourmaster well, often 'helping him out' with piloting ships on the Parrett if there were multiple movements on the same tide for example. Having been Burnham 'born and bred' myself, I can clearly remember the steady stream of foreign coasters and sand boats passing Burnham on each set of spring tides, bound for both Bridgwater Dock and Dunball Wharf, with woodpulp, timber, fishmeal, aggregates etc. In addition to this trade, there were a number of foreign-registered tankers running to the BP depot at Walpole in the mid-60's, which all took pilots for each arrival and departure. Among these chartered vessels which were often to be seen, were the Theodora, Ronland, Thuntank VII, ANP, plus one or two other regulars at the time. Once Bowker & King started up in the Bristol Channel, the chartered tonnage soon disappeared and as one correspondent notes, it was indeed a shame when the Walpole fuel depot and jetty closed. During my early childhood and when home on leave from sea, I did literally hundreds of trips up and down the Parrett with the various pilots, including passages to and from Bridgwater Dock itself and also in to Combwich Wharf on the heavy lift Fisher boats (Aberthaw & Kingsnorth), which had huge Wynn's road haulers on board, delivering heavy lifts/loads for Hinkley Point power station. With age, comes nostalgia of course and each time I visit Burnham these days, I always take a walk along the sea front and think back to all the numbers of coasters which I used to know so well, in years gone by.