The History of Southampton Docks

Drive Personnel is an employment and recruitment agency specialising in the HGV driving sector and is based in Eastleigh near Southampton in Hampshire. Being based in the Southampton area and hence near Southampton Docks means that a number of our customers are involved in the logistics and transport of import and export freight containers. We therefore supply numerous class 1 HGV drivers on a daily basis to our customers driving container lorries.

Because of our involvement in providing HGV driver jobs at Southampton Docks we thought it would be interesting to provide some historical information about the growth of Southampton Docks.

Southampton Docks Cruise Ship

The port of Southampton is a major passenger and cargo port, it has been an important port and can be traced back to the Roman occupation of Britain nearly two thousand years ago and has a multifaceted history. From the Middle Ages to the end of the 20th century it was a centre for naval shipbuilding and a departure point for soldiers going to war. The port also played a role in the development of hovercraft, flying boat services, seaplanes and the Spitfire fighter plane. Before the advent of jet travel Southampton was Britain’s gateway to the world. The port also played a minor role in the history of Britain’s canals.

The modern history of the docks began in 1840 with the opening of the railway to London. The railway gave a boost to the port and ships started arriving and overwhelmed the quays.

The first dock was built in 1843, since then the passengers and cargo passing through Southampton’s docks have brought prosperity to the town. It became the gateway to the world and handled nearly half of the UK’s ocean-going passenger traffic and millions of tons of cargo. During the next 70 years the town’s docks grew rapidly to cover a large area now known as the Eastern Docks.

Eastern Docks

The Eastern Docks cover over 60 acres and provide nearly 3 miles of quayside. Most of Southampton’s traffic passed through the Eastern Docks until 1934 when the Western Docks opened. Within the Western Docks is the King George V dry-dock, one of the largest dry docks in the world.

Dry Dock

One of the world’s largest container terminals was opened in stages from 1968. Today the container terminal is the second largest in the UK and handles more than 1.5 million teus (20 ft containers) each year.

Container Terminal 5 (CT5) opened in March 2014 and provides 500m of quay with 16m of water depth. CT5 offers 23 container trains a day with gauge clearance for 9’6” high containers to major cargo-generating regions in the Midlands, North West, East Coast and Scotland.

There is a network of feeder services from Southampton Container Terminal to destinations around the UK and to the Republic of Ireland. Channel Island Lines also operates a freight and container service to the Channel Islands.Container Dock

Today the port supports around 15,000 jobs and contributes around £1billion to the UK economy and covers around 726 acres. Southampton Docks handles more trade for countries outside the EU than any other UK port Worldwide, about 90% of exports are transported by sea and despite the recession, world trade is expected to keep growing.

Container Ship

The diversity of trading activity in the Docks means there are hundreds and thousands of goods and products coming into and out of Southampton that need to be taken onto their final destinations all over the country.

This is where the logistics business has become important in transporting goods in all classes of vehicle including class 1, class 2 and light van. With workload set to increase this is good news for the logistics industry and as a result Drive Personnel is always looking to recruit HGV drivers with or without experience of container transport.