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Eastern Docks


Outer Dock

View this story in pictures

Inner And Outer Dock
On 16 August 1836, the first meeting of the Southampton Dock Company agreed to buy mudland next to Town Quay to build the town's first dock. This location was chosen because the water was deeper than at Town Quay so larger ships could berth. The foundation stone of the Open (or Tidal) dock was laid on 12 October 1838 in a ceremony watched by over 20,000 people.

Outer Dock
The first ships to use the dock were the P&O ships Liverpool and Tagus, ten months before the official opening. The London-Southampton railway had recently opened and it was possible for these ships to offload their cargo into rail wagons alongside the quay before being transported to London.

Princess Alexandra Dock: Ferry Terminal
The Outer Dock, as it was known, opened on 1 July 1843. Many ships were now using the dock, so three dry-docks were built nearby between 1846 and 1854. They could hold the largest steamers of the day. The first vessel to use the dry dock was the Royal Mail Steam Packet's Forth on 27 July 1846. Shipping from the dock increased quickly because of the nearby railway line so a new Inner Dock was built in 1851.

Princess Alexandra Dock: Normandy Ferries Reception
The Crimean War broke out in 1854, and most of Britain's troops passed through the Inner and Outer Docks on their way to and from Sebastopol. Many of the big steamships using the port were requisitioned - P&O ships carried over 100,000 men to the Crimea. Troops also departed from here in the South African and First World Wars. As the size of ships continued to increase, their berths moved to the Itchen Quays and the new Empress Dock. Cross-channel steamers were the only vessels using the dock for many years.

Princess Alexandra Dock: Ferry Terminal Waiting Hall
In 1963 the entrance to the Outer Dock was widened and the Inner Dock filled in. New cross-Channel car services were introduced and large areas set aside for handing vehicles. A distinctive new timber-arched passenger reception hall was built at Berth 2 for the new service. The dock was opened by Princess Alexandra on 3 July 1967 and named after her. The ferry services were withdrawn in 1984 and the dock is now a marina in the Ocean Village complex.

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