The History of Felixstowe Port

by | Aug 24, 2022 | 0 comments

Let’s start from the present time and explore how Felixstowe became one of the busiest ports in Europe and certainly the busiest and largest in the UK. The port is found on the northeastern side of the river Orwell estuary. The Harwich harbour and port lying across from it. Less than 100 miles from London, Felixstowe Port is the closest to Rotterdam and Europort. 

Provides more than 2.3 km of the continuous quay and an impressive 25 ship-to-shore gantry cranes. The port is host to over 3,000 ships a year and a staggering 4-million TEUs—twenty-foot containers—pass through yearly, with Alpessas Transport being one of the many companies operating out of Felixstowe.  

A massive contribution to the port’s successful growth is that it is the deepest water port in Europe. In June 2022, the record-holding for the most containers loaded on a single ship—the Ever Ace—berthed at Felixstowe Port. This 1,300ft ship can carry up to 23,992 standard containers – which certainly puts the advanced tech and logistics of the port to the test.


Going Back To The Beginning

Way Back To The 16th Century

The town itself has been around since before the Norman invasion. Previously known as Walton, the hamlet got its present name from Bishop Felix of Burgundy in the 7th century. From there, Felixstowe has played its part in the history of Kings and Queens of England. The town began building a fort in 1628. The Landguard Fort, as it is known, has been rebuilt and redesigned several times since then and played its part in the first and second World Wars. After being abandoned in the 1950s, locals and English Heritage took an interest in restoring the fort. As a result, the Landguard Fort continues to play its role in the cultural and social life of the community.

As a working port, Felixstowe has been around since 1875, when a local landowner Colonel Geroge Tomline founded the Felixstowe Railway and Pier Company, becoming a trading hub and a centre for tourism. 


The 1900s

The Port of Felixstowe’s growth continued, although its pier, constructed in 1903—the longest in Europe— was demolished to prevent enemy landings. It was never rebuilt. 

The port began to thrive in the 1930s. The land Felixstowe sits upon was bought by Trinity College Cambridge. In 1976 it was purchased by European Ferries. In 1991 P&O sold Felixstowe to Hutchison Whampoa of Hong Kong, a Fortune 500 Global company and the port remains in private ownership. 


Today & The Future Of Felixstowe Port

Today Felixstowe Port holds its position as the UK’s biggest port. The deep waters and ease of access throughout the UK by road and rail have contributed to its success. Technology has also contributed to the port’s growth and efficient logistic systems.

Extending the pier further, alongside building a new terminal, plus creating docks for the increasingly larger mega-ships will certainly ensure Felixstowe will hold its prominent position playing a pivotal role in keeping our trade moving along.

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