Milford Haven Marina
An ancient exile returning to Milford Haven after an absence of 60 or 70 years would not recognise the Dock area.
Where the basin was once crowded with trawlers at the peak of the hake fishing boom, it is now packed with yachts, cruisers and motor boats and the wharves and fishing industry buildings have been transformed into quayside shops, boutiques, salons, studios, cafes, art galleries and restaurants.
The half mile long fishmarket, which once echoed to the clamour of wooden kits, metal barrels, chugging trucks and the screams of scavenging seagulls, has vanished and the marina is relatively peaceful.
Haybale-sized chunks of ice no longer rumble overhead like transparent roller-coaster cars from the ice-factory to the fish market where the hectic labour of unloading and packing the catch created such a din. Now the only noises are the lapping of wavelets round the yachts, the wind symphony of a hundred rigging wires slapping the hollow metal masts.
At its peak over 3,000 people worked in the shanty town of offices, stores and workshops spread around the basin. It had its own post office, first aid centre, cafe, smokehouses, fishmeal factory, chandlers and smithy and the regular fish trains drew in alongside the fishmarket, passing under the bridge now overlooked by the Torch Theatre.
Now the marina accommodates 328 marina occupied by an astonishing variety of sailing and motor yachts and cruisers, from luxury craft worth hundreds of thousands to humble dinghies, motor, sailing and rowing boats.
The shops neatly slotted into the imposing quayside buildings offer a wide range of goods and services from ladies fashion to lingerie, gifts, refreshments, hair salons, furniture, toys and there are a few popular restaurants and cafes. The fare in these establishments includes much local produce, especially fresh fish caught locally or landed by foreign boats.
The views of the harbour attract a lot of visitors, with glimpses of berthed trawlers and supertankers, the passing Irish ferry and the to-ing and fro-ing of fishing boats, for Milford Haven still hangs on to what is left of its fishing industry, once one of the UK’s major ports.
The Museum is a fascinating mirror of the port’s and the town’s past, and overlooking from Hamilton Terrace is The Lord Nelson Hotel, a reminder that the great man once visited the town and praised its deep water harbour as the finest in the world bar Trincomalee.
The marina development includes a complex of stylish marine apartments. The boatyard seems constantly busy repairing, maintaining and restoring yachts and keel boats which can often be seen moving between the yard and the slipway on the cradle of a huge transporter.
Across the basin is The Phoenix Bowl, a 10 pin bowling centre, which also has a discovery centre for children and a popular indoor play area with facilities for birthday parties in which youngsters can let their hair down in a safe environment and enjoy simple party fare.