Dr. Bill O' Gorman, from WIT, speaking about this site on WLR

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Quay to Waterford's success

Waterford's Quays have always been an important part of the city. They are a mile long, making them the longest street in Waterford.

In the early 1700s, the council decided to demolish the city walls facing the river. They used the remains of the walls to widen the quays and open them up for more commerce. More merchants settled in Waterford, as trade boomed and diversified. Waterford became a leading producer and exporter of bacon. Trade in butter and corn was also important and large stores were built along the Quays.

Markets grew in the area selling hay and straw, potatoes, fresh fish and vegetables. By the end of the eighteenth century, trade with Newfoundland, a large island off the east coast of North America that now makes up part of Cananda, was increasing in importance.

Nearly seventy boats sailed over and back from Newfoundland every year with about 5,000 people travelling from Waterford and the adjoining areas. As a direct result of the trade in the Port, many new jobs were created in the city. Goods were deposited along the quays before there were cars or trucks, so many people were needed to offload, upload and transport the produce around the quays.

Shipbuilding was also a major industry in Waterford City between 1820 and 1882. White's Shipyard and Malcomson's Ironworks Shipyard were the most prominent.

By 1929 the chief imports into Waterford were coal, maize, artificial manure, flour, cement, sugar and wheat. The chief exports were timber, oats, bacon, butter and livestock. The harbour was greatly improved in the 1950s. During the 1940s and 1950s coal, grain and timber were imported by ship.

In the 1960s and 1970s, cattle boats were regularly seen on the quays. Bell Lines Ltd. operated a successful container business on the Ferrybank side of the harbour for many years. In 1992, the Port was moved to Belview, a new location 4 kilometres downstream from the city on the northern bank of the river.

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