Dredging: Nothing new to port
Dredging to accommodate the world’s largest cruise ships is high on the port agenda in 2012 as the future of the Port of Falmouth hinges on whether or not funds become available for a multi-million pound capital dredging project to dredge a deep water channel into the docks.
A similar problem faced Falmouth Docks directors in the 1860s when dredging projects in dock’s waters had to be carried out with a steam dredger. The dredger Briton came to Falmouth from south Wales where her owner Richard Michell had used her on various dredging projects in Penarth Docks, Cattewater, Plymouth, Southampton and Swansea.
The Dock Company purchased the Briton from Mr Michell in 1863 for the sum of £4,400 which, in those days, was a considerable amount of money. At the time the docks was under the control of the Public Loan Commissioners.
Powered by a two-cylinder, 60hp steam engine the 80-foot Briton was fitted with two ladders 65 feet long with 31 buckets on each ladder. She could excavate to a depth of 41 feet and raised 1,800 tons of dredging spoil in 12 hours with four hoppers during the three years she worked for the Falmouth harbour commissioners. Working alongside the Briton in the port was the wooden hopper barge Pendennis. Both vessels were let on hire by the Dock Company when not in use around the port.