Leaving Pembroke for our hotel just outside Haverfordwest, we stopped in the small town of Pembroke Dock, on the banks of the River Cleddau…
Status: Pembrokeshire, Town, Wales
Eating & Sleeping: N/A
Attractions: Cleddau Bridge, River Cleddau, Pembroke Dock Promenade, Victorian Martello Tower etc
We parked up on the edge of Milford Haven, which is both the name of a town sat opposite us on the far side of the bay, and the overall harbour itself, which the River Cleddau empties into underneath the Cleddau Bridge, shown in the distance to the right.
Directly across from us, shown on the left is a town called Neyland, whilst lying in the Bridges shadow is the small village of Burton Ferry.
Pembroke Dock is a beautiful place, and we had stopped to relax on the promenade for a while after having already travelled a few hundred miles from Lancashire to Pembroke Dock, via Cardigan, St David’s, Haverfordwest and Pembroke!
The Cleddau Bridge is a mammoth construction, and offers some spectacular views of the local countryside, and the Welsh coastline as you cross over it. We had already used it earlier in the day to cross the Cleddau on our way to Pembroke (even if the SatNav neglected to mention it was a Toll Bridge! But a reasonably cheap one at that, as it was only 75p each way for a Car).
The Bridge opened in 1975, mainly out of necessity. Prior to it’s construction, the only way to get from the area around Neyland towards Pembroke was either a long detour to skip out the Cleddau, or to take a ferry across the River. Rising traffic numbers soon made both of these impractical, so the Cleddau Bridge was born. A 2nd bridge was actually built at the same time, as another river joins the Estuary near the Cleddau, called the Westfield Pill, which acts as the Eastern boundary of Neyland. The 2nd bridge crosses this River and acts as a lead up to the main bridge.
Even before it opened, the Cleddau Bridge was notorious for an accident that occurred whilst it was actually being built, in 1970. Construction was proceeding almost like a click together kit, split into box sections which joined together. Each section was lowered onto the end of the previous 1, building the Bridge up piece by piece. Unfortunately this led to part of the Bridge on our side of the River collapsing as it was being built, killing 4 workmen. The original plan was to open the route in 1971, however the accident forced this to be postponed until 1975.
Whilst we were here to relax, there were of course a few things to go and explore, starting with 1 of Pembroke Dock’s most famous landmarks, the Victorian Martello Tower, connected to the promenade by a short pier.
The Tower is 1 of a pair, and was completed in 1851 by J & C Rigby, a firm from London who also helped to construct the breakwater at Holyhead in North Wales. It’s primary purpose was to protect 1 of the main roads leading into the Dockyard, and was large enough to hold over 30 soldiers, along with nearly 200 barrels of gunpowder. This Tower is at the North Eastern edge of the Dockyard, and contains the Gun Tower Museum, whilst it’s counterpart is at the South Western edge on Fort Road, watching the approaches from the West. They are a stunning piece of Victorian engineering, and a famous landmark for the town.
On the previous picture, just to the left of the Martello Tower you can see a large ferry. Moving to a better position, we could make out that it belongs to “Irish Ferries”, and is called the “Isle of Inishmore”, which entered service in 1997, a year after she was launched. The name comes from a genuine island called Inishmore, the largest of the Aran Islands group off the West coast of the Republic of Ireland.
Inishmore began life transiting the Irish Sea from Holyhead to the Irish Capital city of Dublin until 2001, and now runs the Pembroke Dock (Milford Haven) to Rosslare Harbour route, also in the Republic.
Looking back from the end of the Martello Tower Pier, we gazed back across the sparkling waters of the harbour towards the promenade, and it’s charming row of riverside houses in multiple colours.
To the right is the boundary wall of the Dockyard, where various ships dock to access the local Oil Refineries, along with the Irish Ferries crossing the Irish Sea. You can see the top of 1 of the large Aircraft Hangars that typifies the Docks, and a little known fact is that it was in 1 of these Hangers that the full scale Millennium Falcon prop for Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back was built in 1979.
Pembroke Dock is a lovely little town, in 1 of South West Wales’s beautiful natural harbours. The train station in the town is at the end of 1 of the West Wales Line branches coming from Swansea, via Pembroke. The line runs all the way to London, and obviously connects with the Irish Ferries allowing easy onward travel upon arrival in the UK, whilst trains from Rosslare can take you towards the cities of Wexford and Dublin.
After a pleasant afternoon by the riverside, we moved on to our hotel, to rest and get ready for the following day, where we hoped to reach Carmarthen, Swansea, Newport, and beyond…