HC Deb 21 February 1862 vol 165 cc593-5

said, he rose to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty, Whether the Government intend to complete the pier of Holyhead, which had been so long promised, and when? Three years had elapsed since the necessity of a new pier at Holyhead, for the Dublin packets was recognised by the Government, and yet, up to the present moment, nothing had been done. He hoped the noble Lord would be able to inform the House when the works were to be commenced. Nothing could be more unsatisfactory than the existing state of things.


Sir, in reply to the hon. and gallant Member for Chatham (Sir Frederic Smith), I cannot at this moment state exactly when the Report of the Iron Plate Committee will be made, because three very important experiments have still to come off. Those experiments are so important that the system of plating our iron-cased ships may be said to depend upon them. I believe they will be made next week. No fewer than three great authorities have proposed plans which must be thoroughly tested. One of these plans is by Mr. Fairbairn, who is himself a member of the Committee; another is by Mr. Scott Russell; and the third is by Mr. Samuda. We have prepared targets to represent sections of the side of a ship such as the Warrior, and the plans I have mentioned will be tried, I believe, in a few days. Upon that result depend our future proceedings with respect to iron-cased ships. I cannot admit to the hon. and gallant Member that the Iron Plate Committee have shown anything like slackness. They have had to carry out a vast number of experiments, and the question is one of immense importance, not to be dealt with in a short time. It involves the trial of all kinds of iron and various sorts of plates—hammered plates, rolled plates, and steel plates, together with the modes of fixing them; and, in fact, the wonder to me is, that the Committee have made so much progress within so short a period. I hope, however, that we shall have a Report before long. Of course, I cannot now state whether I shall be able to lay it before the House. That will depend upon the nature of the Report itself.

In answer to the hon. and gallant Member for Portarlington (Colonel Dunne), I have to state that nothing could be more unsatisfactory than the present state of the pier at Holyhead. That question has been afloat for a good many years, and we at the Admiralty have had all kinds of plans submitted to us. The original plan by Mr. Rendall, but which has at various times been altered and modified, and which would have cost half a million, was submitted to competent officers connected with the Admiralty; and they pronounced that if it were carried out as proposed, the packets would not be able to come alongside the pier at all during bad weather from the northward. There was a great deal of reason in what they said, namely, that if you made a pier parallel to the breakwater, and thus drove the sea, as it were, into a cul de sac, there would be such a commotion that vessels would be unable to get alongside the pier. The next suggestion was, that we should improve the present pier, which is undoubtedly very inconvenient, especially for passengers. I think it ought to be improved; but our engineers say that as long as there is a question of building a new pier, it will not do to lay out any large sum of money upon it. My own opinion is, that the best plan would be so to improve and strengthen the present pier as to enable it to give sufficient shelter to the packets and passengers as they come in. The whole subject, however, is still under consideration. Meanwhile, I may tell the House that another plan has been proposed—namely, to construct a pier upon an entirely new system. This system has, I believe, been adopted in the Isle of Man, and a pier constructed in accordance with it would, it seems, be much less costly than the great pier which I have mentioned, and which it was originally proposed to erect. The plan has been sent to the local authorities at Holyhead to report upon, and I hope in the course of a month to be able to give my gallant Friend a more distinct answer as to what we intend to do in the matter.