Chronology of Milford as a Town and Fishing Port



1790 Act of Parliament enabling Sir William Hamilton to establish the "proprietary town" of Milford between Castle and Hubberston Pills (or inlets).
1792 The American Quaker families of Starbuck, Folger, and others from the whaling town of Nantucket arrived.  The town was built on the American plan of three parallel streets (Front, Middle and Back), intersected by other streets at right angles.
1800 The "New Inn" was established on Front Street (later Hamilton Terrace).
1802 In August, Admiral Lord Nelson, Sir Wm. and Lady Hamilton stayed at the "New Inn" which was renamed "The Lord Nelson".  A Naval Dockyard was established on the eastern side of Hubberston Pill, near what is now Slip Hill.
1808 A chapel of ease, St.Katherine's, was consecrated at the eastern end of Front Street, in what was still the Parish of Steynton.
1811 A "Friends' Meeting House" was built beside the Quaker graveyard (begun with the burial of Abigail Starbuck in 1802) in Priory Road.
1814 The Naval Dockyard was closed, and moved to Paterchurch, later renamed Pembroke Dock.
1856 Acting on Brunel's advice, the South Wales Railway Company opened a line to Neyland.
1863 A rail spur from Johnston to Milford was completed.


Work on the dock in Hubberston Pill began on 5th August.


Fifty small boats were fishing from Milford.


179 vessels with crews aboard in Milford Haven on the Census night of 3rd April; none of them were engaged in fishing (but smaller local sailing vessels would not have had crews aboard).  Population of Milford 3,812.

1883 Steam trawler ALBATROSS M2 launched from the Castle Steel and Iron Works (S.Lake), Castle Pill.


The Lowestoft-registered steam trawler SYBIL was the first vessel to enter the newly-opened dock on 27th September.  First fish buyer established in port.


Twelve fishing vessels with a gross tonnage of 1,100 tons entered the Docks in January.


5,610 tons of fish landed.


Twenty-one fishing vessels were in the Haven and Docks with crews aboard on the Census night of 5th April, nine of them steam trawlers.  None of these were registered in Milford, though five of them were crewed by Milford men: AVONMOUTH (BL 4, later M 54, Skipper Geo. Hallatt ), GLEANER (SA13, Skipper Geo. Horth), HER MAJESTY (H 24, Skipper John Pettit ),  SYBIL (LO 37, Skipper John Dove), and VICTORY (H 1416, Skipper John Turner). 

Population of Milford 4,070.


14,000 tons of fish landed.


Neale & West opened Milford’s first ice factory, the “Cardiff Pure Ice & Cold Storage Company”.


18,245 tons of fish landed. Milford became the 5th largest fishing port in Great Britain.


A second ice factory was opened by Sellick, Morley & Price. Four drifters began mackerel fishing from the port.


Milford’s population was 5,102.


120 drifters landed 3,500 tons of mackerel, from the grounds near St.Ann’s Head and the Smalls.


‘Castle’ fleet moved from Milford to Swansea.


The sixty-six trawlers and 150 smacks in the Milford fishing fleet landed 28,000 tons of fish. 


Seventy drifters landed their catches at the new mackerel stage outside the Docks, with a mackerel market adjacent to it.


Milford ranked fourth in value of fish among fifty-six ports on the east and thirty-two on the west coasts of Great Britain. Eight of the Milford fleet lost: SHAMROCK M160, HINDUSTAN SN30, FULMAR SA12, MERLIN M162, CORNWALL M191, GENERAL ROBERTS H38, PALESTINE M167, MAREC BL9.


In January, 323 vessels with a gross tonnage of 46,132, entered the Docks, and the DEVON was lost with all hands off Land’s End.  44,289 tons of fish were landed during the year.  The Fish Market was completed.  Neyland opened as a fishing port.


“Patent slipway” built on Milford side of the Docks, near Hakin Bridge, for repairs and maintenance to fishing vessels. The "Bethel" home for seamen opened in Charles Street.


Milford’s population was 6,399.


Coal strike led to trawlers being laid up in port.  A large part of the Sellick, Morley and Price trawler fleet transferred to Fleetwood.  Just before Christmas, the liner EAGLE was sunk in a collision in the Haven, with the loss of 5 men.


Sixty trawlers taken up by the Admiralty; nearly 160 fishermen called up for RNR service.  Twenty-four Belgian trawlers and about 700 Belgian refugees arrived in Milford. [10% of the town’s population].


Seven current or former Milford fishing vessels lost through enemy action: AVANCE M119, GLOXINIA M126, DON GY151, VICTORIA FD37, DELTA B O-171, ROEBUCK M51, FLORA M233.


18,000 tons of fish landed.


Belgian refugees began to return home early in the year. Milford fishermen’s strike lasted over eight weeks.  26,000 tons of fish landed. Messrs. Sellick, Morley and Price disposed of their fleet of 18 steam trawlers, 3 to Fleetwood and the remainder to local owners.


46,000 tons of fish landed.


Coal strike affected sailings.  Milford’s population was 7,860.


Vigneron-Dahl equipment [an otter trawl with long cables that frighten fish toward the net] introduced aboard Milford trawlers. Second herring smokehouse built.


Fleet of 101 steam trawlers and eight sailing trawlers sailing from the port, employing over 1,000 fishermen.  Over 124,000 barrels of herring were landed. Third herring smokehouse built.


Two more smokehouses built. For the first time on record, Milford became the principal landing station for herrings in England and Wales.  110 steam fishing trawlers sailed from the port, plus a large number of drifters and smacks.


A German vessel landed a catch of Tiree herrings and other fish.


During the drift herring season [March-July], 150 E.Coast and Scottish drifters were based in Milford.


Iago STC transferred its ten large trawlers to Fleetwood. All but two of the crew of the ARRAVALE were lost in Bantry Bay.


Fleet of Spanish trawlers began to land catches at Milford, lowering the price of fish.  From June to 18th September, seventy-three of them landed 11,397 cwt. of fish.  Spanish influence led to adoption of “pair fishing” in Milford fleet until 1950s.  Milford’s population was 10,679.


Fishermen’s strike, July-September; 120 trawlers laid up, 2000 fishermen signed on the dole.  108 trawlers in Milford fleet, with 150 others using the port for eight or nine months of the year. Over 100 wholesale fish merchants in the port.  Firm of W. H. Kerr, trawler owners and managers, founded.


32,781 tons of fish landed, valued at £838,252. [The equivalent of £36,374,773 in 2002.]  7,000 tons were represented by hake, and Milford landed more skate, conger, megrims and witches than any other port.


Trawler owner David Pettit sold up; ten of their trawlers sold to Fleetwood.


Milford Docks Company formed a subsidiary: the Milford Steam Trawling Company.


In January, the GORDON RICHARDS was lost with all hands. Trawler owners Brand & Curzon went into liquidation; Docks Company and others formed “Milford Fisheries”, managed by O.W. Limbrick, providing repair shops, supply stores and fish sales. 44,000 tons of fish landed.


Milford fleet fell from 109 to 51, as trawlers were taken up by the Admiralty. 150 men called up into RNR. 39,000 tons of fish landed.


In September, JOHN BAPTISH, BASS ROCK and the RESPONDO were lost with all hands while fishing off the Irish Coast.  Fishing out of E.Coast ports was restricted, with many of their trawlers transferred to Milford; 36,000 tons of fish landed.


The WESTFIELD was attacked and sunk by enemy aircraft with all hands while fishing off St. Govan’s Head in July; nine other Milford trawlers were sunk by enemy action, and another foundered.  17,000 tons of fish landed; this rose to about 30,000 for each of the remaining war years. Around forty trawlers operated out of Milford until the end of the war.


Thirty-one Milford fishermen were listed on the War Memorial. In October, the GRENADA was lost, with only one survivor, off the Old Head of Kinsale.


A record 59,000 tons of fish were landed as trawling resumed after the War, with 90 trawlers in the fleet. In November, four crew of the CHARMOUTH were killed when a mine blew up in her nets off Ballycotton.  Five survivors were picked up.  The coal industry was nationalised, subsequently leading to higher costs for the fishing fleet as the quality of coal deteriorated, and eventually to the conversion of trawlers to diesel.


54,000 tons of fish landed.


Fishing grounds off the S and SW coasts of Ireland began to show signs of over-fishing; 48,500 tons landed. 92 trawlers in fishing fleet, 21 of them laid up by the end of the year.


41,000 tons of fish landed. Messrs. Yolland Bros. diverted three trawlers to land their catches in Fleetwood, over a controversy involving Hull skippers to be employed for fishing in Iceland waters. 


The MILFORD VISCOUNT was lost with all hands off the W. coast of Ireland, in April.  Just over 34,000 tons of fish landed.


Milford’s population was 11,717.  Again, 34,000 tons of fish landed.


31,500 tons of fish landed.


In February, eight of the crew of the RICHARD CROFTS were lost, with four survivors, off Tiree. Seventy-eight trawlers were sailing from the port.  29,500 tons of fish landed.  Meat came off the ration, decreasing the demand for fish, and therefore its price.

1954 On the night of 31st November, a storm hit Milford Haven, with winds reaching 120 mph at St. Ann's Head.  The freighter TRESILLIAN, 7,373 tons, sank in St.George's Channel, with only twelve survivors.  On 1st December, an inquest was held in Milford on three of those lost.
1955 Increases in the price of coal caused several trawlers to be laid up and others scrapped.


"Pair" trawling ceased with the closing down of JC Llewellin (Trawlers).  Forty operational trawlers in the Milford fleet.  22,500 tons of fish landed.  The "Bethel" (British Sailors' Society Hostel) in Charles Street closed and sold.


The ROBERT LIMBRICK was lost with all hands off Mull, in February.


Esso Oil Refinery, the first in the Haven, was officially opened.  With a fleet of thirty trawlers, the annual catch fell to around 10,000 tons at this time.


Milford’s population was 12,802.

1963 Milford's fishing fleet down to 28 vessels.


Texaco Oil Refinery was officially opened.


9,000 tons of fish landed from a fleet of twenty-three trawlers.


4,000 tons of fish landed, less than half the amount landed in 1890.


Gulf Oil Refinery was officially opened.


Milford’s population was 13,751. 

1973 The firm of trawler owner and manager W. H. Kerr was taken over by Boston Deep Sea Fisheries of Hull.


14 trawlers were in the fishing fleet, 6 of them owned by Norrard Trawlers.  Boston DSF pulled out of Milford.

1976 The port's operational fleet was down to 7, the result of high running costs, especially of fuel, as well as over-fishing by foreign vessels and the use by them of beam trawls.
1977 Mac Fisheries closed their fish curing premises at Goosepill after over 50 years at the port, citing the ban on herring fishing.
1978 Norrard Trawlers, owners of 5 of the 7 remaining trawlers in Milford, announced that they were going into liquidation.  This was later rescinded.
1979 In August, the former HMS WARRIOR, which had spent 50 years as an oil fuel hulk at Llanion, Pembroke Dock, was dry-docked at Milford, prior to her restoration at Hartlepool.


Under the EEC’s “Common Fisheries Policy”, Britain provided 60% of the resources, but was allowed to take about 30% of the catch, later improved to 37.3%. 


Milford’s population was 13,927. Three Milford-registered Spanish trawlers, with mainly Spanish crews, landed fish bound for the Continent, despite protests from Milford trawlermen.  In the 1980s, fewer than 100 active local fishermen, and some 100 people ashore, were directly involved in the trade.


Six joint Spanish/British owned trawlers were operating from the port.


A £425,000 new ice plant was completed.


Eight Spanish-owned trawlers laid up for twelve months in dispute as to whether they could be registered in a British port. David Morris, MEP, declared that the fish market should be closed down on health and safety grounds.


Bi-centenary of the founding of Milford.  The dry dock closed. 


The seven remaining trawlers in the last Milford trawler companies, Norrard and Southard, were put up for sale, and the companies put into liquidation.  The old ice factory was demolished.  The Docks were converted into a marina.  The “Tall Ships Race” started from Milford Haven.  The town’s population was 13,440.


Milford's only working trawler, the GILMAR, was sold in MarchA memorial statue to the port’s fishermen was officially unveiled by the Bishop of St.David's in September.   In October, unemployment in Milford stood at 28%. (UK average 11%, Wales 12%).  The laid-up NORRARD STAR, last of the traditional Milford trawlers, and built in Pembroke Dock, was scrapped.