East Angle Bay Beach
East Angle Bay on the southern shore of Milford Haven Waterway, like its counterpart, Dale, at the northern entrance to the oil port has its own micro-climate.
Sheltered round the corner from the full force of the Atlantic gales and swells which frequently batter the entrance, both Angle and Dale are among the warmest and sunniest places in the country. Angle derives its name from the Norse for an angular nook or corner providing shelter from the weather.
East Angle Bay is a broad bight sitting snugly behind the anvil shape of North Hill, which forms the southern gatepost of the waterway entrance. It dries out considerably at low tide, providing many acres of sand and estuarial mud on which small vessels can beach at their moorings and where, traditionally, cockle and mussel beds flourished on the eastern flats. Overlooking the bay to the east is Jestynton or Eastington, the ruined mansion of the Perrot family, who also owned Haroldston House near Haverfordwest, birthplace of the famed Tudor knight and benefactor, Sir John Perrot. The Perrots had come into possession of Haroldston by marriage to Alice, daughter and sole heiress of Sir Richard Harold of Haroldston, both houses consequently becoming the homes of the Perrot family.
Who was Jestyn? He was a Welsh nobleman of distinguished lineage, grandson of the famous lawmaker Howel Dda, whose descendant Eleanor married Sir Stephen Perrot, one of Sir John’s 12th century forebears.
On the eastern headland at Popton Point, a Victorian fort, built in 1863 to defend the harbour from any covetous designs by Napoleon 3rd, was converted by the British Petroleum Company in 1958 as offices for their new Angle Bay Ocean Terminal, one of the first developments of the second Oil Age industrial ‘revolution’ which was to turn the waterway into a major oil port. The terminal, with its deepwater jetty, was linked by 60-mile pipeline pumping more than 9-million tons of crude oil a year to the BP Oil Refinery at Llandarcy, near Neath. Popton Fort was remodelled in the early 1900s into a hexagonal defensible barracks and was derelict in 1958 when BP took it over, transforming it into a state-of-the-art administration unit. BP has gone now but neighbouring Texaco (now Valero) took over the jetty to extend the terminal serving their large refinery half a mile to the east.
East Angle Bay is an important ecological study area, its marine environment undergoing regular monitoring by scientists at the nearby Orielton Field Studies Centre. It has been a valuable thermometer keeping check on the effects of the oil industry on the crustacean population of the mudflats, which have been hit by several major oilspills over the last half century, notably the wreck of the giant oil tanker Sea Empress at the harbour entrance in 1996 and that of the Greek supertanker Christos Bitas on the Hats and Barrels reef 10 miles offshore in 1978.
Thankfully, time has diminished much of the damage.