Image © Bob Jones
Latitude: 54º 52'N
Longitude: 03º 47'W
About KippfordKippford Pier and Slipway are all that remain of a once-thriving coastal port. The original fishing village on the river Urr expanded in the 1800s to accommodate a passenger and freight trade, ships of 350 to 400 tons routinely visiting the port. In the 1860s, the Caledonian Quarry Company built the present pier to load crushed granite into large vessels in the main channel. The pier survives, modified to a yacht marina. It is unclear whether timber jetties ever were used to assist other ships to load and unload, but the steamers and sailing packet ships on the Solway must have had some kind of jetty or boat tender to load passengers and freight. Any smaller vessels beached on the hard beside the river between tides.
There had been boat repair at Kippford for a long time, but in the early 1800s there was construction of small sloops on the shore. Because of the steep and narrow beach, ships to be repaired were floated sideways onto the beach and then winched onto blocks. This launching system meant that re-launching was also sideways, a difficult procedure that once nearly damaged a newly-repaired schooner. The Cummings then laid down a proper slipway, with a cradle onto which ships could be drawn. Once in place, a capstan winch ashore could draw cradle and ship up the well-greased slipway for repairs, then assist in the careful re-launching.
The slipway was finally disposed of about 1914, as the level of shipping declined. James and his brother John Cumming died, the lease was taken over by Mr. Collins of Birkenhead, but the business dwindled to small boat repair and ended in the 1920s.
There is still a small recessed slip, but this is not on the line of the slipway, which was slightly farther to the north. However, the Kippford Slipway Ltd., though largely a boat-chandlers, does keep up some of the old tradition.
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