Port Royal – the old coaling wharves

Coaling wharves, late 19th century

At the eastern end of the town, where the old coaling wharves once were, the Port Authority of Jamaica is building a new floating pier and port facility to take cruise ships.  The FGSJ feels that the new port design does not do justice to the historic location but welcomes renovations. 

The coaling wharf was built in the early 1860’s with two large coal stores and a jetty.  The stores were open towards the harbour and their 3 other sides were enclosed by brick walls with substantial battered buttresses at regular intervals to resist the lateral pressure from the coal stored inside: of these only the south wall survives for either store.   

For the eastern store, the vestiges of this wall are within the first phase of the cruise ship terminal currently being built within the wharf. The FGSJ were asked to suggest appropriate ways of stabilising the wall.

Coal store walls, Old coaling wharves
(Andrew Smith)

When the contractor for the terminal moved onto site, they shoved large blocks of brickwork from the other walls into the mud just outside their compound: not only does the size of these blocks bear witness to the substantial adhesion achieved by some Jamaican mortars, they also provide an ample source of bricks for repairing the last remaining wall. 

The FGSJ has sent advisory sketches to the Port Authority of Jamaica and to Jim Parrent & Associates who have been contracted to carry out the repairs. 

Boundary wall, Old coaling wharves
(Andrew Smith

The contemporary boundary wall between the wharf and the road along the Palisadoes is still largely present but in poor condition.

The FGSJ inspected this with the Chair of the Jamaica National Heritage Trust’s Development Review Committee, who will try to get its repair included in the contract.

The article below about the building of the new cruise ship floating pier was in a recent issue of KUYA, the magazine of Coldwell Banker Jamaica Realty.

Anne M Powers