they had bought the river's first dredger and soon embarked on erecting training walls built from slag acquired from local ironworks. By 1878, after 7 million tons of silt had been dredged from the riverbed it was claimed the Tees could take as large a vessel as any other port in England.
The North Yorkshire coast was renowned as a graveyard for sailing ships during sudden storms, there being no safe port. Although a breakwater at the mouth of the Tees had been discussed in 1855, it took a violent storm in 1861 when some fifty or sixty vessels were driven ashore
in Tees Bay to push the project forward. On 3rd November 1863 Isaac Wilson of the Conservancy Commissioners, later to be M.P. for be M.P. for Middlesbrough, laid the foundation
electricity became viable, a new revolving flashing light was installed, visible for ten miles. The new breakwater fulfilled its intention. Contained and guided, the river scoured its own bed. Coupled with a steady dredging programme, the depth at the mouth increased dramatically.
After 115 years of continued improvement the Tees Conservancy Commissioners were dissolved in 1967 when the Tees & Hartlepools Port Authority took over administration. They continued the dredging programme, further deepening the river, also constantly reclaiming land to snatch back almost 6,000 acres which have been put to good use. A measure of the Authority's success can be gauged by remembering those early days when 100 or 200 ton ships struggled to navigate the river, when today 150,000 tonne bulk carriers regularly berth at the Redcar Ore terminal. Now, under the management of PD Ports, the Tees is maintained at some 14 meters deep at the entrance, and over 15 meters at the Fairway buoy, river traffic amounting to over 40 million tonnes of cargo a year.
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stone of the South Gare Breakwater. Local ironmasters paid the Commissioners 4d (2p) per ton to remove slag from the works which was carried by rail to the gare. On completion in 1880 the breakwater was two and a half miles long and had cost £220,000. The first Lord of the Treasury, W. H. Smith, performed the opening ceremony.
The lighthouse was added shortly afterwards, the wick lit on 3rd November 1884, the Commissioners taking to the river to admire the new addition. When
Braving the weather on the Redcar Bay side of the Gare
A vessel passing into the River Tees, just south of the Redcar Ore Terminal, assisted by the tug on her port side.