The original Port of Warrenpoint was constructed in the late 1770s and acted as a lightering port for the much larger Port of Newry.
Following the demise of Newry as a port town, Warrenpoint Harbour Authority was created as a Trust Port by legislation in 1971. The modern Port was completed in 1974 when it covered 28 acres. Since then, the Port has expanded to its current size of approximately 60 Acres.
The modern Port of Warrenpoint was developed between 1972 and 1974 with the acquisition of the old Harbour (Kelly’s Coal); the Dow Mac Cement yards; the acquisition of Warrenpoint Railway Station and marshalling yards; and the reclamation of land from the sea. This culminated in a working harbour area of approximately 28 acres.
Over the years as the Harbour’s business grew, it became imperative that further adjacent land should become available for storage and transiting of goods.
This was achieved by the purchase of the Taylor Jones premises in 1992; the Farrell’s Yard purchase in 1992; acquiring The Aylesforte House in 2007; and the Engalv yard in 2011. The Harbour then operated on just over 53 acre plot stretching from the Town Dock to the Roundabout.
Local historian Dr John McCavitt, amongst others, has documented significant evidence that President Biden’s great, great Grandfather, Owen Finnegan emigrated on board ‘The Brothers’ Ship from Newry’s satellite port at Warrenpoint.
The Finnegan’s would have travelled from the Cooley Peninsula in County Louth to the border and caught the ferry across at Narrow Water, before proceeding to the dock at Warrenpoint. ‘The Brothers’, under the command of Captain Sullivan, with Owen Finnegan on board, sailed from Warrenpoint on 10th April 1849, arriving in New York on 31st May.
The following year in 1850, Owen’s wife Jane Finnegan and their children, including James aged 7, great grandfather of Joe Biden, made the same journey to Warrenpoint. There they boarded the ‘Marchioness of Bute’ which set sail on 18th March and arrived in New York on 15th May 1850.
From 2007- 2011 the Authority undertook a £22 Million capital infrastructure project (under the terms of a Service of General Economic Interest with the Department for Regional Development) which included the construction of a 300m Deep Water Quay (7.5 Metres C.D), new Ro-Ro berthing facilities, additional land purchase, covered storage facilities and a new 100 tonne mobile crane.
The purchase of the Gilbert Ash site in 2012 brought the footprint up to 60 acres.
More recently the Authority has invested, with the support of Department for Infrastructure, in a new internal road layout, a Town Dock office facility in Warrenpoint and new equipment including an additional reach stacker for moving containers.
In 2019/20 in preparation for Brexit the Harbour undertook a six-acre project to improve the efficiency of the site and create more space. This resulted in the creation of six additional acres of usable space within the Harbour Estate’s 60 acre operational footprint.
Warrenpoint Port is one of the most efficient, when comparing throughput per acre to other ports in the UK and Republic of Ireland because of its relatively small size and significant tonnage.
The Port however, continues to have high demand for space and is in acquisition mode. The opportunities are limited but the Port continues to seek additional land, if it becomes available.