WATERFORD CITY TRADE

From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837

This place has never been much distinguished for its manufactures; it had once some celebrity for the weaving of a narrow woollen stuff, which was in great demand in every part of Ireland, and was also exported in considerable quantities; but of this trade, and also of the hall in which the article was sold, there are now not the smallest remains. There were also manufactories for salt, smoked sprats; japanned wares of various descriptions, established here by Thomas Wyse, Esq.; and for linen and linen thread, which latter was celebrated all over Ireland, established here by a family named Smith, who brought with them a number of workmen from the north of Ireland; but all these have successively failed, as has also a glass bottle manufactory, which was established opposite to Ballycarvet.

A glass-manufactory of superior description was, however, established in 1783, and is now conducted by Messrs. Gatchell and Co., who have a considerable export trade, particularly to America: in this establishment about 70 persons are employed. There is a starch and blue manufactory, also two iron-foundries; and till within the last few years there was an extensive manufacture of glue, of which considerable quantities were sent to England.

There is a small establishment for rectifying spirits; and public breweries have been established and brought to such perfection as to supersede the necessity of any importation from England; they are conducted upon a scale affording the means of a considerable export of beer to Newfoundland, and latterly to England, which trade is progressively increasing.

But it is to its commerce, promoted by the favourable situation of its port, that Waterford is principally indebted for its importance, and for which it has been distinguished from a very early period. The liberal policy, adopted in 1704 and 1705, of admitting to the freedom of the city foreign traders of all descriptions, induced several merchants from Italy, Spain, France, Portugal, Holland, and other countries to settle here. Before agriculture became so extensive as it is at present, the principal trade was the exportation of beef, hides, and skins, not only to the English settlements but to several ports of Spain; cheese also, of an inferior quality, called "Mullahawn," was exported in considerable quantities, and an extensive trade was carried on with Newfoundland.

At present the principal trade is with England, to which is exported a large quantity of agricultural produce of every kind, butter, pork, bacon, flour and all kinds of provisions; and since the establishment of steam-packet communication, great numbers of live cattle have been sent across the channel. The value of these exports, in 1813, was £2,200,454. 16.; the average for the last few years scarcely exceeds £1,500,000; but this decrease is rather the result of reduced prices than of any diminution of the quantity. On an average of three years from 1831 to 1834, the quantity of provisions exported annually was 38 tierces of beef, 880 tierces and 1795 barrels of pork, 392,613 flitches of bacon, 132,384 cwts. of butter, 19,139 cwts. of lard, 152,113 barrels of wheat, 160,954 barrels of oats, 27,045 barrels of barley, 403,852 cwts. of flour, 18,640 cwts. of oatmeal, and 2857 cwts. of bread; and of live stock the number annually exported, during the same period, was on an average 44,241 pigs, 5808 head of cattle, and 9729 sheep, the aggregate value of all which amounted to £2,092,668. 14. per annum.

The principal imports are tobacco, sugar, tea, coffee, pepper, tallow, pitch and tar, hemp, flax, wine, iron, potashes, hides, cotton, dye-stuffs, timber, staves, saltpetre, and brimstone, from foreign ports; and coal, culm, soap, iron, slate, spirits, printed calico, earthenware, hardware, crown and window glass, glass bottles, bricks, tiles, gunpowder, and bark, from the ports of Great Britain.

Notwithstanding the extent of its export trade and the importation in return of foreign produce of every kind, the merchants and traders until recently have not invested much property in shipping of their own, but have chiefly employed English shipping; and even till the year 1820, the port was considered one of the worst in Ireland, in respect of the accommodation it afforded for repairing ships. This disadvantage has at length been removed by the construction of a dockyard on the bank of the river, opposite to the city, into which vessels of any burden may be drawn completely out of the water for repair, and in which have been built several vessels that are much admired for beauty of model and soundness of workmanship.

The trade of the port has been much promoted by the establishment of a Chamber of Commerce, incorporated by act of parliament in 1815. The building, in King-street, is large and commodious: the ground floor is occupied by the officers of the Harbour Commissioners, and the pilot-office; and there are a news-room, and a reading-room and library belonging to the Waterford Institution; the business of the savings' bank is also transacted here, and the upper part of the building is occupied as an hotel. The amount of deposits in the savings' bank, for the year ending Nov. 20th, 1833, was £77,073.

« Waterford City Topography | Index | Waterford City Harbour »

County Waterford | Waterford City | Waterford City Topography | Waterford Trade | Waterford Harbour | Waterford Charter | Waterford Diocese | Waterford Churches | Waterford City Geology | Waterford Parishes | Waterford Schools | Waterford Hospitals | Waterford City Antiquities


Library Ireland Facebook