IT was the day that Pembroke Dock’s ‘boat came in’, heralding a new chapter in the maritime story of the community, the Haven and Pembrokeshire.

With Pembrokeshire’s ferry services making recent headlines it is appropriate to recall what a milestone day it was in May 1979 when the B&I ferry company made its first voyages to and from the brand new ferry terminal in the former Royal Dockyard.

To the £6 million terminal – built for the Milford Haven Conservancy Board – came a brand new ferry, the 6,812 ton Connacht, launched less than a year earlier in Ireland at a cost of £15 million. Since February she had operated on the Swansea-Cork route but now the Welsh destination would be Pembroke Dock.

This service renewed the sea link between the Haven Waterway and the south of Ireland after 70 long years, and a ferry connection which could be traced back to 1857.

The Connacht could carry 1,500 passengers and 350 vehicles and was the first of generations of ferries to operate twice daily voyages into and out of the Haven, initially to Cork and, within a couple of years, to Rosslare. Today Irish Ferries operate the same twice daily service.

Photographs in the Pembroke Dock Heritage Centre Archive of the Connacht ferry add to the rich maritime heritage of the dockyard town – and thanks are acknowledged to Heritage Centre Trustee Martin Cavaney and Volunteer Ted Goddard.