In the mid-1880s, due to the exceptionally deep water offshore, the small shipbuilding village of Neyland, on the north bank of the River Cleddau, was chosen by Isambard Kingdom Brunel for a railway terminus and steam packet port for crossings to Ireland and America. This move was to transform the fortunes of Neyland, bringing not only the railway and the port, but other attendant job creators such as a refrigeration plant which produced ice for packing fish for onward transport, and a wagon works. A huge pontoon was built for access to the vessels, and a station was installed for the rail passengers, who must have been somewhat confused to be confronted with signs saying 'Milford Haven'. Further prosperity came from Neyland's role in the sea trade with Ireland, Portugal and Brazil. However, in 1906 much of the trade was switched to Fishguard. In 1964 the final nail in Neyland's coffin came with the Beeching cuts, which put paid to the rail link.
Nowadays, Neyland is known for its excellent marina facilities at the Neyland Yacht Haven. Neyland is evidently proud of its Brunel associations. Each year there is a Brunel Festival, and down on the waterfront there is the Brunel Quay. In 1999 the locals raised £30,000 to pay for a statue of the famous engineer, but in a sad sign of the times the statue was stolen in 2010, probably by metal thieves. Last year the statue was replaced, so lets hope this one survives.
To the east of Neyland is the Cleddau Bridge, 820 metres long and linking Neyland to Pembroke Dock. Before the bridge was built there was the choice of a 28-mile journey by road or a ferry service. The construction of the bridge was marred by delay and tragedy. The bridge was supposed to open in 1971, but in 1970 disaster struck when four workers died and five were injured due to the collapse of a cantilever. Construction was halted after the tragedy, and the bridge finally opened in 1975.
|Photo by Penny Mayes, via Wikimedia Commons|