The Maritime Heritage Project

World Harbors from The Maritime Heritage Project in San Francisco.

Seaports of the World


° Bangor ° Swansea ° Cardiff

The Maritime Heritage Project started in honor of Captain James H. Blethen, a Welsh sea captain whose family had migrated from Wales to Maine on the East Coast of the United States in the early-1700s.

Captain Blethen, raised on North America's Eastcoast in in Maine, went to sea in 1829 at age 15 and spent 44 years aboard ships sailing from New York to European ports, then between San Francisco and San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua (bringing gold seekers to San Francisco where they headed for Northern California's mines), and on a troop ship along the coastline of America's Southern States during the Civil War. He closed his career by opening the mail lines between Hawaii and Australia/New Zealand for Webb Mail Lines.

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Map of England and Wales.


Wales is one of the four constituent nations which form the United Kingdom, located in the south-west of Great Britain bordered by England to the east, the Bristol Channel to the south, St George's Channel in the west, and the Irish Sea to the north.

Wales lost its independence in 1282 when it was conquered by the English King Edward I.


The Romans invaded Wales about 50 AD and about 55 AD they built a fort on the site of Cardiff. In the late 1st century the fort was reduced in size as Wales reached peace; However in the mid-3rd century the fort was rebuilt and strengthened to defend South Wales against Irish raiders. Towards the end of the century the Romans abandoned the fort at Cardiff. Cardiff had weekly markets and fairs during the middle Ages and it remain a small and quiet town, with trade between France and the Channel Islands (Guernsey, Jersey, Sark). Because it was expensive to move goods by land at that time, merchandise was transported through coastal waters to Bridgewater, Minehead, Bristol, Gloucester and London.

Ironbridge in Wales by Dianne Levy. Reprints available by clicking on the image.
Ironbridge, Wales

D. A. Levy, Photographer


During the late 16th century, 16 ships operated from Cardiff transporting farm produce such as cheese, salted butter, wool, grain and skins. Some coal and iron was also transported from Cardiff to other British ports. Tanned leather was brought from them to Cardiff along with malt, which was used in brewing. By the mid-1800s, the industrial revolution began: Wales was transformed as increasing amounts of iron were exported from Cardiff. In 1794 a canal was built and in 1798 a sea basin was created with a sea lock to allow ships in where they could be loaded or unloaded from barges or from the wharf.

Considerable trade to Bristol included quantities of oats, barley, salt butter and poultry of all kinds and from this town there are not less than 8,780 tons of cast and wrought iron shipped annually to London and other places.

The Atlas, Saturday, January 7, 1860
London, Middlesex, United Kingdom


During the 19th Century, Cardiff grew at a phenomenal pace. It jumped from fewer than 1900 people to more than 18,00 by 1851 and 60,000 by 1871.

Exports of coal, iron and grain helped the town grow, and industries such as shipbuilding, ropemaking, brewing, milling and paper-making developed as Cardiff became overcrowded and dirty because of the rapid growth. The industrial revolution included a shipbuilding industry and a rope making industry.

July 25, 1884, IRON
London, United Kingdom

The lamb of God at the base of a slate mine. Photograph c. D.A. Levy.
North Wales near slate mining sites.

Photographer: D. A. Levy


NORTH WALES -- Notwithstanding the disorganisation of the coal trade in the adjoining counties, the North Wales colliers keep steadily at work. Nor is there any movement on the part of either the masters or the men for a reduction or increase of wages. The railway waggon works are well employed, as are also most of the manufacturing trades, and some activity prevails in the building of yachts and steam launches on the Dee at Chester. The various chemical and other works that line the estuary of the Dee from Chester to Mostyn are also fairly well employed. The Van lead mine, which has had a successful career for a quarter of a century, has latterly been carried on only at a loss, and the shareholders have passed a resolution to wind this company up. In slate quarrying the men are respectfully protecting that they ought not to bear reduction in the price of slates. The slate trade, which a few weeks back showed signs of weakness, is recovering.

In the iron trade, the long hoped for improvement in prices is a long time coming. Orders are rather scarce, and there is a keen competition for them. A good deal is hoped for on the completion of the works for the manufacture of steel now in the course of erection.

Iron, October 10, 1884

Barry Dock and Railways Company.

Incorporated by special Act of Parliament, 47 and 48 Vic. Cap. 157, Session 1884

Their friends have already subscribed the larger part of the authorised share capital, are prepared to receive applications for £100,000 of the ordinary share capital of the Company, the unallotted portion of the proposed issue.

The object of the Company is the construction of a dock at Barry Island, seven miles from Cardiff and within the port of Cardiff, and the construction of railways of about 20 miles in length, from the dock to the Rhondda Valley, with access by junctions with existing and authorised railways to all the other great mineral producing districts of the South wales Coalfield. The dock will be constructed on a most favourable site in the estuary between the mainland and the Island. The area of the dock will be 40 acres, with a basin of 8-1/2 acres and a timber pond of 16 acres.

The depth of water available over the sill of the dock will be greater than that available at the other docks within the port of Cardiff. The dock will be fitted with the best appliances, and adapted for the accommodation of the largest ocean-going steamers now afloat. In three minutes after leaving the dock sates vessels will be clear at sea and in deep water. The favourable features of the site will admit of the dock being constructed at a cost which will be very small as compared with that of other docks in the Bristol Channel, and, consequently, the dividend to be earned on the dock under­ taking is expected to be larger than that of similar undertakings.

The whole of the gradients are most favourable, and the main line has been specially laid out for the accommodation of a large mineral traffic under the most favourable circumstances . . .

Practically, the whole of the traffic from the Rhondda Valley has been carried to the sea for shipment by means of the Taff Vale Railway, and the large dividends of that company have been earned chiefly by the carriage of this traffic, that company's dividends having been for some years past from 18 to 18 percent., and, by the issue of new shares at par to the shareholders, the dividend has been largely increased; and the Rhymney Railway Company, although it has no access to the Rhondda Valley, pays a dividend of 10 to 11 per cent; there are therefore good grounds for justifying the expectation that handsome dividends will be earned on the railways as well as on the dock.

It is expected that the dock and railways will be opened for traffic in 3-1/2 to 4 years, by which time it is estimated there will be a very large increase in the output of coal from the Rhondda Valleys, and that from new pits now being sunk by the promoters and Directors of this company and other persons and by various means the coal output of the whole district which will be served by the proposed railway and dock will be enormously increased . . . The scheme has practically received the approval of the shipowners of the United Kingdom.

Wales image by D. A. Levy available by clicking.
North Wales

D. A. Levy, Photographer


(Editor's Note: has a superb list of United Kingdom researchers/archives/museums relating to maritime history for England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland.)

The Maritime Heritage Project.



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The Other British Isles: A History of Shetland, Orkney, the Hebrides, Isle of Man, Anglesey, Scilly, Isle of Wight and the Channel Islands
David W. Moore
Their names bespeak a rich and varied past, belying their paucity of notice by historians. From the Norse Hjaltland comes the modern Shetland: islands nominally Scottish, steeped in Nordic culture, closer to the Arctic Circle than to London. Important Neolithic sites at Skara Brae and Maes Howe in the Orkneys wallow in anonymity next to Stonehenge. Holy Iona, island center of Celtic Christianity; the Isle of Man, former seat of rule over the Irish Sea; Anglesey and Islay, homes of forgotten Medieval courts at Aberffraw and Loch Finlaggan--these are just a few of the more than 6,000 islands that form the archipelago known as the British Isles. Inhabited for millennia and today home to half a million people, the offshore islands demonstrate that the British Isles comprise far more than just England, Scotland and Wales. This history of Britain's other islands sheds light on a fundamental but neglected aspect of the past. Focusing on the eight islands or chains that have long supported substantial populations, it tells the stories of Shetland, Orkney, the Hebrides, Anglesey, the Channel Islands, the Scilly Isles, and the Isles of Man and Wight. From their earliest Neolithic settlement, to Roman, Norse and Norman occupation, to the struggle to maintain their unique identities in today's world, the lives of these islands are a fascinating overlooked slice of European history.

First Welsh Reader and Writer: Being Exercises in Welsh, Based on Anwyl's Welsh Grammar (1909 )
Since the later Middle Ages, the traditional Welsh poetic metres in strict verse consist of twenty four different metrical forms written in cynghanedd. An awdl is a form of long poem, similar to the ode. The most popular metrical forms are the Cywydd, of 14th century origin, and the several versions of the Englyn, a concise and allusive verse form similar to the Greek epigram and the Japanese haiku and as old as Welsh literature itself."
Sir Edward Anwyl (August 5, 1866 ? August 8, 1914), was a Welsh academic, specializing in the Celtic languages.

History and Customs of Wales.
The Customs and Traditions of Wales (University of Wales - Pocket Guide)

History of Wales.
A History of Wales

A Concise History of Wales (Cambridge Concise Histories)

Wales: An Illustrated History (Hippocrene Illustrated Histories)

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