The Port of Felixstowe has launched a year of celebration to mark the 50th anniversary of the UK’s first operational container terminal. The year of celebration was launched at a customer function on 12 December by Lawrence Yam, Commercial Director of the Port of Felixstowe.
Firmly established as the UK’s largest container port, Felixstowe’s history has been marked by a succession of firsts. Originally known as the New South Quay, the first dedicated container terminal opened in July 1967, initially with just 500ft (152m) of quay and a single Paceco Vickers portainer crane.
Clemence Cheng, Chief Executive Officer of the Port of Felixstowe and Managing Director of Hutchison Ports Europe, said: “The Port of Felixstowe has come a long way over the last 50 years. From a single-berth operation with one crane we now have nine berths providing over 3,000 metres of deep-water container quay serviced by 33 ship-to-shore gantry cranes.
“The operation today bears no real resemblance to those early years. The scale and level of technical innovation have grown beyond recognition. But not everything has changed. Felixstowe was chosen in 1967 because of its proximity to the main shipping lanes and the main ports of Northern Europe. That remains a key differentiator but the position today has been improved by the development of road and rail links that are second to none.”
Change has been another constant at Felixstowe over the last 50 years. Landguard Terminal was completed in the 1970s followed by Trinity Terminal, the UK’s first post-panamax facility, which was built in phases through the 1980s and 1990s with the final phase completed in 2004.
Since then growth has continued. The most recent phase of development, Berths 8&9, was opened in 2011 and extended in 2015. The creation of the newest terminal involved the reclamation of additional land from the River Orwell but also includes the site of the New South Quay, bringing the story full-circle and ensuring that the largest container ships in the world are handled where the very first container ships visited 50 years ago.