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Take a look back at the evolution of the oil and energy industry in the Milford Haven Waterway. From whale oil to LNG, our small county is the hub to a world of resource!

In between the stories of the giant Sunderlands that flew close to the docks during WW2 and the amazing environmental and historical tales from Milford Haven lies the story of Milford’s energy industry.

The first oil age of Milford Haven - The Whale Oil Age - only lasted about 30 years as new gas fuelled street lights and other technology took over. By 1906 it was the sixth largest fishing port in Britain with over 500 people working either in the industry itself or in related trades. The fishing fleet continued to thrive throughout the first half of the 20th century, only really beginning to decline once fish stocks in the Atlantic started to vanish in the 1950s.

In 1960 the Esso oil company opened their refinery just outside the town of Milford, closely followed by other refineries and pumping stations such as BP, Regent (soon renamed Texaco), Gulf and Amoco. Then within a few short years both sides of the Haven were encrusted with the derricks, tanks and jetties of the oil industry. By 1970 Milford Haven was the leading oil port in Britain, the second largest in Europe.

After the “oil boom” in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Esso closed down shortly followed by others leaving the last one Gulf to close in December 1997. More recently when Murco Refinery closed in 2014 the town lost 300 jobs and saw many of its workers having to migrate to work on the oil rigs in the North Sea and abroad. Now it is home to Valero Pembroke Oil Refinery and LNG (South Hook LNG and Dragon LNG) and the new explorations into renewable energy that is making Milford Haven continue into the future as the energy capital of Wales and the UK.

Download the Heritage Walking Trails leaflet >

Darllenwch straeon y Deyrnas Ynni yn Gymraeg >

Drawing of Milford Waterfront by Milford Haven student

Heritage walking trail partners

These stories have been researched and written by the pupils of Milford Haven School, who have used their creativity to tell the stories of Milford Haven’s history in their own words.

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