Milford Haven was planned as a new town in the early 19th century between the earlier settlements of Hakin and Pill. A dockyard built ships for the Admiralty, and there was a regular boat service to Ireland.
This early promise faded when the dockyard was moved to Pembroke Dock. The arrival of the railway in 1863 gave the town new impetus, and a large docks complex was built. This became home to the sixth largest fishing fleet in Britain and the town prospered and grew. The port was heavily involved in the build up to D-Day in the spring of 1944. Nearly 1,000 American naval personnel manned the town’s USN advanced amphibious base which included a hospital built in Hakin and a docks complex at Newton Noyes. The base had a complement of 71 officers and 902 enlisted men. The decline of the fishing industry in the 1950s was off set by the growth in the oil industry, with several refineries being built along the Haven.
Esso Jetty to Hakin Point
In Conduit Bay/ Little Wick, below the former Esso Refinery can be seen the remains of a slipway and a rail-track leading to a boathouse. This is where provisions etc. were landed for nearby South Hook Fort (see Herbrandston). Also stored here were the floating targets used for practice by the gunners at the fort. Between the Esso and Amoco jetties, a concrete pillar on the seaward side of the coast path is a ‘DRF’ – a depression range finder used to calibrate the 19th century gunnery defences.
Inland from Hubberston Fort, the housing estate of Hakin stands where an American military hospital was set up in preparation for D-Day. At Hakin Point (SM899 054) is a concrete jetty built by an American amphibious support unit during WW2 to support tank landing craft based at Milford Docks.
The first dockyard at Milford was the Naval Dockyard, constructed on the waterfront near the south-eastern shore of Hubberston Pill. The yard was rented by the Government on a quarterly basis from Sir William Hamilton, an arrangement which had come into being in 1800. In 1808 the Navy Board offered to buy the yard for £4,445 but this was refused as being inadequate. After further discussion the Navy moved the yard to Pembroke Dock. Various plans were subsequently drawn up for the enclosing of Hubberston Pill to create docks, but it wasn’t until 1888 that these docks were finally completed. Dreams of a Transatlantic liner service never materialised, and Milford became instead the base of a large fishing fleet. During the First World War, many of the trawlers were pressed into service as minesweepers and the fishing industry was kept alive by Belgian trawler-men who had taken refuge at Milford. In WW2, during the build-up to DDay, the docks became part of the US Navy advanced amphibious base which included the hut encampment and hospital at Hakin and the pier at Newton Noyes. In particular, LSTs (landing ship tanks) of the US Navy were overhauled in the dry dock and made ready for the Normandy landings. Since the war the fishing industry has declined steeply and the docks now enclose a yacht marina.
The role played by the port of Milford Haven in the preparations for DDay was recognised in 1994 when a memorial was erected on the Rath. Members of the Pembrokeshire Normandy Veterans Association hold an annual service there on June 6th.
St Thomas Beckett Chapel
Just off Pill Lane is St Thomas Beckett Chapel which was pressed into service as a magazine for the Napoleonic gun battery sited on the Rath. Of the battery – which stood on the curve of the Rath – no trace now remains.
At the bottom of Slip Hill in Castle Pill are concrete barges which were used as supply barges during the D-Day landings. Pill Point was the site of a balloon station during WW1.
Ward’s ship-breaking yard was located here between 1934 and 1956.
Marble Hall Road
A brick structure at the N E edge of the football field was an ARP Warden’s post during WW2. The British Beryllium Factory off Marble Hall Road was a wartime factory, built to process locally grown flax as Britain strove to create its own flax industry as foreign supplies dried up.
On a junction on the road leading to the hamlet of Liddeston is a much overgrown brick structure which was a WW2 Home Guard post. Below Liddeston, on the west side of Priory Pill, are the remains of a tank farm once used as an Air Ministry fuel depot and built as part of the 1930s expansion in British military infrastructure which also saw the opening of the Mine Depot at Newton Noyes. The former administration block for the fuel depot is the white building which can be seen set into the bank above Tesco stores.
An Experience Shared by Vernon Scott.
Hakin Point (SM899 054)