The development of the North-East coal ports 1815-1914 : the contribution of engineering
The development of the ports of the North-East was a direct consequence of the region's increasing coal production; existing ports were expanded and new facilities created. Improvement required capital and it became necessary to form commissions to administer the ports, subsuming the powers of individuals and companies. Through them the greatest and most beneficial developments took place. Of an engineering nature, improvements involved rail transport, trans-shipment facilities, the building of docks and breakwaters, and river deepening and straightening. The advice of the nation's most eminent engineers was acted upon and, through the works undertaken, coal shipments f rom the North-East increased from 3 to 35 million tons per annum over the century which began in 1815. Certain ports were over-capitalised, others starved of funds, but by 1914 all competed on equal terms. Based on throughput, all exhibited similar capital expenditure and annual revenue. Development was not uniform but, generally, capital expenditure resulted in increased coal throughput and revenue. Docks were built as necessary, their costs comparable with those of other U. K. ports. Their value was marginal although two of them were so efficient that they were equalled in unit throughput only by Cardiff, the principal port of the analagous South Wales coalfield. Mining, railways and ports were inter-dependent, collieries owning staiths and several railways themselves operating docks. In 1865 the ports came to experience the virtual territorial monopoly of the North Eastern Railway, its financial power unrivalled. Itself operating docks, it came to determine the strategy of coal shipments. This thesis explores the evolution of the ports and their railways, the contribution made by the engineering profession to the development of both, the formation of the region's port authorities and the relationships which existed within and without the governing bodies.