Wharf Info Requested

Can anyone help answer the following?

“I understand livestock was shipped to and from Highbridge wharf. Do you know how the animals actually embarked/disembarked? It seems from available photographs most cargo was ‘craned’, which is unlikely to have worked with cows and sheep.”

Many thanks to Jack for such an interesting question!

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12 responses to “Wharf Info Requested

  1. As I haven’t got a copy myself, I am not sure if the answer is in it, but there is a fascinating book about the wharf, Burnham’s jetty and the ships that used them, called:
    Maritime Activities of the Somerset and Dorset Railway
    by Chris Handley
    Published by Millstream Books, 18 The Tyning, Widcombe, Bath. 2001,
    A4 format, 160pp, many illustrations, ISBN 0 948975 63 6
    price (soft-back) £13.95.
    but I expect that you have already delved into it!

  2. A thought occurs to me. The cattle pens were on the side of the wharf sidings away from the wharf itself. Maybe they were there for general traffic, to and from the cattle market for example, rather than for cattle arriving by sea. If they were landed from ships, they would then have had to cross the railway tracks, which could have been tricky, as the wharf’s tracks were not set into a paved surface, as they are in some dockland situations. Driving cattle along roads was commonplace, until motor traffic became more commonplace between the World Wars. There was an entrance opposite the George Hotel, which would have only been about 100m from the cattle market.
    The wharf sidings would have supplemented the quite restricted area around the S&D goods shed on the eastern side of Church Street.
    There are maps and photos of the Wharf in C.W.Judge & C.R.Potts ‘An Historical Survey of the Somerset & Dorset Railway Track Layouts and Illustrations’

    • Thanks so much for your replies Phil. I have reserved a copy of the book from the local library for collection tomorrow so I will have a look and report back. Deb R

  3. I lived at the Clyce,very close to the cattle market ,but never saw any cattle being transported by ship,There were cattle pens very close to the railway. I only saw one ship dock at the wharf near Willets and that was to unload a container

  4. Like Jeff, I never saw any animal movements by ship during the many times I walked the Brue’s course, but the 1856 List of Tolls includes Fish (1d per basket), Horses (1/- per head), Oxen & Cows (6d per head), Sheep & Pigs (1/- per score) despite this, I can find no instances where animals were imported or exported through the Wharf.

    More info cna be read in “Maritime Activities of the Somerset & Dorset Railway” by Chris Handley, published by Millstream Books 2001

  5. Gordon has also been in touch to say:

    “Regarding the transport of cattle by ship from HB Wharf. I never witnessed any cattle being shipped by sea and have asked a few “Oldies – like myself!” and no luck.

    I do not remember them but some people do remember cattle pens near Willets Corn Merchants and if cattle was transported that would be the logical place as it seems Willets had their own Wharf and Railway sidings for loading/unloading when ships could sail up that far (before the river silted up). However, I did find out that a ship at one time carried passengers from Burnham and it seems it was capable of carrying cattle and sheep. You may be interested in this: http://www.sdjr.net/sd_shipping.html

    Gordon also spotted a wonderful picture on one of Burnham-on-sea.com’s forum threads. The picture is of Highbridge Wharf with the ship “Royal Firth” being unloaded and notes that if you use a magnifying glass you can pick out groups of people on the ship and on the wharf. The picture can be found here: http://www.burnham-on-sea.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=9044&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=30 – it is the last post on the page so scroll to the bottom. Apparently the grey building in the background of the picture was known to local children as the ‘Winkle Works’! Thanks again to Gordon and everyone who has contributed to this topic.

  6. I was lucky to have been born on the clyce. I have a small collection of watercolours by Nelson Baker,one of which shows the “Grey Buildings” with a crane loading an unidentified boat. The crane appears to run on railway tracks.
    I would be pleased to hear from anyone who has other pictures by Mr Baker or memories of clyce road.

    • Steve,regarding the cranes on the wharf,yes, they did run on railway tracks. There were four cranes , two short jib and two long jib.The “Grey buildings” were known as ” The Winkle Works”. I belive that they were some of the first concrete buildings in the UK. Oriiginally built to produce “eggletts”,this was coal dust mixed with cement. I once climbed the steel lader on the outside of the building,and at the top wre two large hoppers,still filled with coal dust.
      hope that this info is of some help.

    • Gordon writes “I can remember the Mr Nelson Baker Steve mentions and know of someone
      who has four or five of Mr Baker’s paintings, which I understand are of The Clyce
      and the river area. I have not seen them myself and regret that I do not own any.
      The paintings must be about 50-70 years old, if not more.”

  7. Thank you for the feedback(s). I raised the question having seen the piece in Chris Handley’s book which lists the tariffs for livestock, but it now seems that there was no livestock transportation by ship. Certainly cattle was transported via Burnham, albeit with occasional difficulty as some cows would fancy a stroll on the beach. At one time it seems a cow was ridden back to the jetty to board the boat by Walter Luxon, the founder of the baker’s shop on Burnham High St.

  8. My Grandfather George Dewfall was signalman at Highbridge ‘B’ box for most of his S&D service, and very often we would walk the banks of the wharf docks and Brue banks. I have a collection of S&D books and it says in one that exports from Highbridge ere mainly confined to bricks, tiles, agricultural products (including cheese) and cattle. Much of the latter went to South Wales whilst bricks & tiles went further afield. Oxen & Cows were 6d per head; Sheep & Pigs1/- per score; Horses 1/- per head. Prices taken from the notice board that stood about half way along the dockside, and re-produced in the Book “Maritime Activities of the Somerset & Dorset Railway”
    A lot of this detail was obtained from Vic Hardacre who lived at Huntspill I believe but who moved to South Wales. Some of Vic’s memoires are t the Somerset Heritage Centre now, I found them originally whilst researching at Obridge several years ago.

  9. Regarding the ability to cross the railway lines – there was a crossing point from Newtown Road that was manned. My grandfather George Dewfall was one of the persons who did this. He took on the job after the war having been in ‘B’ Box for the whole war. Whether or not cattle were taken over this crossing is unlikely due to the possibility of wandering of course, but vehicles did so, but whether they were cattle trucks I’m not sure. The main transport for cattle from and to the market was by train from pens near to the line gates in Church Street and near to where ‘B’ box was.

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