New North Quay warehouses

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The warehouses viewed from Fort Regent

The warehouses on the New North Quay which now house the Maritime Museum were built just before the end of the 19th century.

Increased sea trade

During the 1870s to 1890s seaborne trade was continuing to develop, passenger vessels were increasing in size and there was an ever increasing amount of cargo being transported in steamers which were replacing sailing ships.

To keep pace with these changes the Harbours Committee commenced a work programme which saw the first attempt to dredge the Harbour, and also widen the North Pier to provide more space to unload steamers and provide a quicker turnaround.

In 1893 the States agreed to complete the widening of the North Pier and to provide a landing stage at the end. As the North Pier was to become a passenger quay, there were questions raised regarding the clearing away of the unsightly sheds on the quay and replacing them with properly constructed buildings. In May 1898 the committee invited offers from merchants and others who might wish to rent space on the quay. In the States budget discussed on 6 April 1899 was an item for new offices and stores on the North Pier and these went out to tender in June that year, which was won by William Green.

In late September a clerk of works was appointed and the construction proceeded apace. Five sheds were built – four large (B, C, D and E) and one smaller unit (A) at the north end.

Original architectural plans approved in 1899 show the most southerly section as Harbour Works general coal store and fitters shop. Sections B to D are shown as stores for potato export and for coal and timber. The most northerly section is shown as a carpenter’s shop.

The plans also show that the original layout included a Harbourmaster’s yard at the north end of the warehouses with a small range of merchants’ branch offices beyond.

The stores originally had earth floors but these were soon changed to gravel and tar. A crane was added in D store and B store had a first floor added in 1902, with the other stores following soon after. In the 1970s cargo operations changed with the introduction of containers and the start of roll on – roll off services in 1973, which resulted in companies moving into purpose-built sheds, leaving the stores mainly unused and empty.

They were converted and refurbished as the Maritime Museum in 1996.

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