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UK’s Top 5 Major Ports

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Updated on 10 Jan 2024
5 min read
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The United Kingdom consists of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. It’s an island nation with several influential cities in different spheres from sports to culture and finance. The UK is also home to some of the world’s most influential ports.

Five major ports in the United Kingdom

1. Port of Felixstowe

This port is located in Suffolk and it’s also the busiest port dealing with 48% of the country’s container trade. It happens to be the Europe’s eighth busiest port handling container traffic of 3.8 million TEUs. The port lies in the South East coast of the United Kingdom giving it access to the major ports within and around Continental Europe’s North West Coast.

The Port of Felixstowe is the United Kingdom’s first purposely built container handling port providing service to the world’s largest container ships. It comfortably accommodates mega vessels because of its water depth especially in the 8th and 9th berths which are dedicated to massive container ships. The port also has three rail lines which facilitate intermodal rail freight making the biggest facility of with this facility in the UK. Enhancements to the rail connections into the port are set to allow 47 freight trains to run through the port daily.

2. Port of Southampton

The Port of Southampton is a popular passenger port but it also handles a massive amount of cargo. Located on the south coast of the country it’s very centrally placed within the region with direct links to both the rail and road systems. This means transportation of passengers coming through the port is efficient as is moving cargo to and from the port. The excellent road and rail transportation are crucial since the port sees an estimated 1.7 million passengers annually from cruise companies like the Royal Caribbean, Saga cruise and Fred. Olsen Cruise line and local ones like Cunard Line and P&O Cruises.

The port handles vehicle cargo traffic running up to 820,000 cars annually. It’s equipped to handle the storage of these vehicles with 80 hectares of the facility dedicated to vehicle storage and five multi storey car parks dedicated as car parks. The port is home to the second largest container terminal in the UK handling over 1.5 million TEUs annually. It clears 23 containers a day to be dispatched to and from primary cargo-generating regions like the Midlands, Scotland, East Coast and North West of the country.

3. Port of London

Partly on the River Thames and the North Sea this port is the gateway to the UK’s financial capital. At some point this was the largest port in the world but now it holds the position of being the second largest port in the United Kingdom. In 2018, trade through the port reached 51.2 million tons which is a high that was last seen a decade ago by the port. BY 2035 the port expects a flow of cargo from its river lane routes to grow to up to 80 million tons.

The port of London lays claim to some of the best rail, road and sea links to the rest of the UK. All the cargo facilities found within this port are privately owned and also privately operated. They handle every type of cargo imaginable from containers to hazardous cargoes and food, people and machinery.

4. Port of Immingham

The common name for this port is Immingham Docks and it’s one of the major ports on the East coast. It held the number one spot as the largest port overall in the UK back in 2012. It remains the port with the largest tonnage capacity in the UK handling 55 million tones of the country’s cargo annually. This port plays a crucial role in facilitating the supply chain in the IK that guarantees the country sustainable electricity generation. This is because the port connects the Humber which is largely considered the energy estuary of the UK to the rest of the country.

The Port of Immingham handles 10 million tons of coal and 20 million of oil cementing it as the port with access to the country’s energy sources. Their Ro-Ro services serve the Scandanavian, Northern Europe and Baltic markets since the port is less than 24 hours away from these markets.

5. Port of Liverpool

This port is the most centrally placed port in all of the United Kingdom. That gives it diversity in handling various types of cargo ranging from agribulks, containers, automotives, dry bulk, forest products, energy products, metals, Ro-Ro, liquid bulks and project cargo.

The port has a massive $400 million shipping terminal which welcomes mega vessels to the port. But the port is also a tourist attraction site in its own right. It is home to the some of the country’s timeless classic buildings known as the three graces of Liverpool. They line the waterfront and stand in Edwardian Baroque architectural splendor.

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