This year marks 30 years since the first leisure boat took up residence at Milford Marina. Celebrating how it started and how it’s going now, we’ll be navigating through the last three decades as we touch on variety of topics and talk to some of our longest-standing members of the team.
Every great story has a beginning and it only feels right to start there. Although it may seem hard to believe, Milford Marina only started in 1991 and it all began with Milford Fish Docks.
The first vessel to enter Milford Fish Docks was steam trawler ‘Sybil’ back in 1888, Milford Waterfront even named one of the luxurious Floatel Cabins after the vessel. All throughout the 19th Century, Milford Haven was a popular and booming haven for the fishing industry and today, it’s now home to the largest fishing port in Wales and shares its waters with Milford Marina.
In this blog post, we speak to Marina Operative Tony Pakula. Tony first joined the Milford Marina team back in the 90’s as one of our original berthing masters and he’s no stranger to the scene…
As Milford Marina’s longest-standing member of staff, how far back does your history go with the fishing industry?
I started working down the docks back in the early 80’s. No marina here back then, but I was kept busy working as a ’casual’, mainly unloading cargoes over on K Wall, pre-Phoenix Bowl. Our tea room at the time was in the Sail Loft (which is home to COCO’s restaurant and the Waterfront Gallery today!) and I remember the regulars often having heated games of dominoes during their lunch breaks!
“Tommy Tony used to work on the docks….”
Milford Marina is right in the centre of the vibrant Milford Waterfront, which is home to a variety of eateries, shops, services and events. In what way has the environment changed from the 80’s?
The biggest difference back then was the industrial setting. There were warehouses on the Hakin side of the docks and then we had the Fish Market and Ice Factory on the Milford side. Then Enterprise Zone status changed everything. This was set up to encourage business developments, and by the end of the 80’s and start of the 90’s the docks as we knew it was history.
As a Marina Operative, you need to be a jack of all trades to keep up with the varying tasks. When did you join the Marina team and how has your role evolved?
I started working at the marina in 1995 as a berthing master. At that time the marina was staffed by some of the old Dock Police and Dock Company staff. This was before we had a computerised accounting system or even a cash register. All the lights would go out at midnight, and the main part of the job then was security patrols. There was no CCTV, and not many businesses had burglar alarms, any ships laid up usually had their own watchmen. Fast forward to today, our job role is even more diverse with no two days the same.
Milford Marina has been in operation now for the past 30 years, how has the marina progressed since opening in 1991?
Over the years, as more pontoons were added, the marina got busier, the boatyard expanded, and a new boat hoist and slipway came along too. The latest improvement is the new dock lock made possible by the addition of the Samson Gate. This development was very much in demand by the commercial inshore fleet, leisure crafts and pedestrians.
During the summer, Milford Haven attracts lots of holidaymakers who like to sit and have an ice cream at The Scoop, watching the boats arrive and depart the marina. With the pedestrian traffic light system in place, more and more locals and tourists are discovering they can complete a circular walk around the marina and docks.
Let’s talk boating! Tony, you currently berth your boat here at Milford Marina – what initially got you into the hobby?
Like many people in Milford Haven, boating was not part of my upbringing. It was only after getting the job at Milford Marina that I thought I’d better learn something about it. One of the Berthing Masters at the time persuaded me to try sailing with Pembrokeshire Yacht Club (they’re always looking for crew!), it was a great experience and all available right on your doorstep. Years later I bought my own boat and sail it during the summers.
Throughout your years working at Milford Marina, is there a particular memory that stands out to you?
I’ve had some good laughs over the years, mainly just day to day things. The customers we deal with come from all over the place, and now and again you hear some funny and interesting stories especially from the old-timers!
From pontoon expansions to the Samson Gates installation back in 2015 (allowing access to the marina in as quick as 10 minutes!), Milford Marina has flourished over the last 30 years. None of this would have been possible without the help and support from our berth holders and fantastic marina team both former and current. Thank you all!
If you’re interested in berthing your vessel at Milford Marina and be a part of our next chapter, use our easy Quote Calculator to receive a no obligation berthing quote instantly. Alternatively, for more information contact us on 01646 696312, where a member of the team will be happy to help.