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Milford Haven

Milford Haven - Overview

Milford Haven is a relatively new town which takes its name from the waterway on which it is situated. The natural harbour, which had been in use since the early Medieval period, is most famously associated with the landing of Henry Tudor in 1485 and the launching base for Oliver Cromwell’s 1649 invasion of Ireland. However, the town and built harbour of Milford Haven was only founded in 1790 by William Hamilton, who encouraged whaling families from Nantucket to develop a fleet here. In 1796 a military dockyard for the Royal Navy was developed, but after this moved to Pembroke Dock in 1814, traders took over and re-developed the site into a commercial dockyard.

Despite the town’s historical connection to the Welsh noble families of Pembroke and Tudor, it lies in the area commonly referred to as ‘Little England beyond Wales’. Following the Norman Conquest, Flemings were greatly encouraged to settle here and so replace the Welsh population. Ever since then, the Welsh- and English-speaking communities remain culturally and linguistically distinct.

Owing to its comparatively late foundation and strong ties to commercial seafaring, the town of Milford Haven was not traditionally considered a picturesque travel destination among nineteenth-century tourists. However, the town’s situation on the beautiful Welsh coast, the natural properties of the haven and easy access to the countryside was repeatedly praised by those who landed here. In 1894, Eugenie Rosenberger described how, after one particularly violent storm, Milford Haven experienced a small economic boom. Many crews poured their money into the public houses because their ships had to undergo extensive repairs and they were forced to remain on land for much longer than they had originally planned.

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