THE NEW DOCK.
A good deal has been said and written about the proposed New Dock, but beyond the fact that the EARL OF LONSDALE had powers granted him by Parliament, and has had for a good while, nothing is really known. Measurements have been taken and surveys made time after time, and rumour with her thousand tongues has circulated many stories, but when we come to examine the matter, it all resolves itself into this - we don't yet know how, when, or where a New Dock is to be begun.
We have been somewhat surprised to hear such conflicting opinions too, as to the value of a New Dock to the town as regards trade. Whilst many affirm that if Workington only had a good Deep Water Dock, and could accommodate vessels of great draught, the trade of the town would be much better than now, others declare that the case would be just the reverse.
Maryport is pointed out, and they ask, "What has the New Dock done for Maryport ?" It is contended that the traders of Maryport who deal in ships' stores, and sailors' requisites, do a great deal less business now than they did before the Senhouse Dock was opened.
Here is the evidence of one of them. He says: - "In the old days when the vessels had to lay about several days and sometimes weeks, the money of the crew was spent with us, and we had a first-class sailors' trade in this town. Now, the boats come in with one tide and are out with the next, and in nine cases out of ten, they don't leave a single farthing with any shopkeeper in the town. They get all their stores at Dublin or Liverpool or Glasgow, or some big place, and any sailors' trade that is now done by Maryport shopkeepers is a mere nothing."
Certainly this is gloomy evidence, and very likely it is the exact truth. We have heard the same tale before again and again, and one Maryport tradesman of long standing told us some time ago that he had found himself compelled to largely alter the nature of his stock on this very account. Now, we do not want anything in Workington that is going to further damage the shopkeeping interest, and if a new Deep Water Dock would give no better result than that, we would thank LORD LONSDALE to let it alone.
But on the other hand, a New Dock ought to benefit the town. True, if it be the private property of LORD LONSDALE, it will benefit him most, but in any case, if we can ship our manufactured iron and steel direct from our own port, instead of having to send so much by rail to other ports, surely this should and would be a boon to the trade of the district.
We were told some time ago by a friend who could have no interest in misleading us, that in one week over 6,000 tons of iron or steel rails had been sent from Workington to Maryport to be shipped there. That 6,000 tons would cost no small sum in carriage, and if makers could ship goods here as well as at Maryport and save this cost, they could both benefit themselves and pay better wages, unless indeed they used the relief as another means of underselling each other and playing into the hands of the gambling "speculator."
The recent orders secured by local works have made trade prospects a little brighter, but if those prospects - so far as we are concerned locally - can be enhanced or made brighter still by a New Dock, we think it is the bounden duty of the men of light and leading and of the authorities having charge of the town's interests to promote the undertaking by all the means in their power.
Workington is splendidly situated for doing a heavy shipping trade, and we ought to have fifty times the trading that we now have with the Isle of Man and with Ireland, not to speak of any place more distant.
Liverpool, Fleetwood, and Barrow, are alive to the advantages of the seaboard they have, and they reap the benefit of their enterprise, but our shipping facilities are somewhat like our main thoroughfares - one of two decades behind those of any other town at all similarly placed. Though it be as the voice of one crying in the wilderness, yet again we ask, "Are we, or are we not, to let this state of things go on ? And are we going to sit like babies a few more years waiting to see what LORD LONSDALE will send us !
"Heaven helps those that help themselves"