Southampton Ocean Terminal

Berths 43 / 44, Southampton Eastern Docks

Officially opened in 1950


  

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Since 1892, Southampton Docks have been owned by the railways. The docks were first owned by the London & South Western Railway (LSWR) from 1892 until the grouping in 1923. During this period the Eastern Docks (Old Docks) were created in 1911. After the grouping in 1923 the docks came under the ownership of the Southern Railway until nationalisation in 1948. During this period from 1927 to 1934 the Western Docks (New Docks) were completed. In 1933 the huge King George V dry dock was built to cater for the new giant Cunarders – Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth. Since 1948 the docks have been owned by the British Transport Commission. Finally in 1983 when the ancillary services of the railways were privatised the docks then passed to their current owner, Associated British Ports (ABP). These mighty docks have always been constantly developing and improving to keep pace with technology and changing trends so that they can keep ahead of the game. During the heyday of the ocean liner Southampton was from the 1930s onwards proclaimed as “The Gateway to the World” and soon became Britain’s premier ocean passenger port. Since the decline of the ocean liner the port has found a new role as a premier container shipping port and today in the 21st century as Britain’s premier cruise port catering for some of the largest cruise ships in the world.

During the Second World War, Southampton was heavily bombed and many of its facilities were destroyed or damaged. After the end of the war, the Southern Railway embarked on a massive programme of modernisation and reconstruction designed to provide the accommodation and facilities worthy of the national gateway the port was at that time. This work was continued on after nationalisation by the British Transport Commission. In 1962 the British Transport Docks Board was set up. In 1983 under the government of Margaret Thatcher the docks were privatised to form Associated British Ports Holdings PLC.

In 1947 plans were prepared for the construction of a large two storey terminal on the east side of Ocean Dock at berths 43 and 44. This terminal comprised comfortable Waiting and Customs Halls with all the facilities required by passengers entering or leaving the country. To make way for this new terminal, the bomb damaged dock sheds at berths 43 and 44 dating from 1911 were demolished in 1946 / 1947.

"It is a very great pleasure for me to be here at the opening of this great terminal. We're hoping to have many many visitors to this country. And first impressions are important. They'll say - Well we have been welcomed here - and they will realise something of what this country has been doing during these years. I have very great pleasure in declaring the terminal open."

Words of The Rt. Hon. Clement Atlee MP, British Prime Minister, at the Opening Ceremony, 31st July 1950.

http://www.britishpathe.com/record.php?id=34176

The building was completed in 1950 and on the 31st July 1950 was officially opened by the British Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Clement Atlee MP. The building was built in Art Deco style and was 1,297 ft in length and was called the Southampton Ocean Terminal and was designed to cater for the transatlantic liner services such as the famous Cunard Queens and other famous transatlantic liners of that time. There were sumptuous reception halls for the passengers on the first floor level and on the ground floor space for ships stores and freight. Also there was a railway platform to cater for Boat Trains from London bringing passengers to the liners. The RMS Queen Elizabeth was the first ship to use the new terminal. The passenger reception halls were linked to the ships via 3 pairs of power operated telescopic gangways. Conveyor belts also could take supplies and goods on and off the ships quickly and efficiently. Sadly by 1980 the ocean liner heyday was over having been superseded in the 1960s by the jet age and use of the magnificent Ocean Terminal declined, until in 1983 it was demolished.

However it has been replaced by the QEII Cruise Terminal at berth 38 / 39 which principally serves Cunard Line which was officially opened in 1966 by HM Queen Elizabeth II. The first liner to use the new terminal was P&O’s Iberia. This has recently undergone a refurbishment in 2003 including a larger embarkation lounge, refurbished passenger waiting area, larger luggage handling area and an overhead gangway for passenger in preparation of the entry into service of the new RMS Queen Mary 2 in 2004. The modernised terminal was officially re-launched on the 3rd October 2003 by Mrs Pauline Prescott, wife of the Rt. Hon. John Prescot M.P. (The Deputy Prime Minister).

 

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The First Class Reception Hall

 

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The Customs Hall

 

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The conveyor belt

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The Telephone Kiosks in the Reception Hall

 

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Passenger waiting to board the ship

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The passenger gangways onto the ship

 

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The cargo gangways onto the ship

 

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The Southampton Ocean Terminal in its final years before demolition in 1983




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