Berths 49, 50 and 51 are at the left-hand side of the Eastern docks, next to Town Quay. Built in the early 1900s, the three berths provide nearly 2000 ft (600 m) of quayside. Berth 51 was home to Harland & Wolff's ship repair and engineering workshops. Nearby was a tender station. Tender boats based here would ferry passengers to and from liners in Southampton Water that did not berth in the port itself.
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Trafalgar Dry Dock
To the north of the berths were the Customs House, the dock police
station and the engineers' yard. Between Berths 49 and 50 was the
Trafalgar dry-dock. It was opened on 21st October 1905, the
centenary of the Battle of Trafalgar, by the Marquis of Winchester.
The dry dock could take ships up to 900ft (270m) long.
'Berengaria' In The Floating Dock
However, in the 1920s, Southampton's dry-docks were too small for
the largest ships visiting the port. A notch had to be cut in the
end of Trafalgar dry-dock so that Cunard's Berengaria
could fit in it! Until the King George V dock was complete, a
temporary solution had to be found. In 1924, a floating dock was
ordered from Armstrong Whitworth & Co in Newcastle and based at
Berth 50. Measuring 960ft (288m) in length and 134ft (40m) in
width, it could accommodate large ships like Majestic and Olympic.
Floating Dock And Town Quay
When the dock was partially submerged, a ship would sail in one
end; the dock would be raised, taking the ship completely out of
the water. Fourteen electric pumps meant that the dock could be
lifted within four hours. In 1940 the dock was moved to Portsmouth
for wartime service and was later moved to Rotterdam.
Group Pose with Flying Boat Moored at Pontoon
In 1948, BOAC moved their flying boat services from the Western
Docks to a new Marine Air Terminal at Berth 50. At their peak,
flying boats travelled to places as far away as Australia and South
Africa. Services did not last long, and within ten years the last
service from Southampton departed for Madeira. Competition from
long-distance aeroplanes ended the short era of the flying-boat.