Plymouth is the largest city on the South coast. Located in Devon, it boasts one of the worlds finest natural harbours. In 2010 Plymouth handled 2.2 million tonnes of cargo traffic making it one of the busier UK ports. Plymouth has a naval dockyard and three separate commercial harbours. Cattewater harbour which is situated at the Eastern end of the city’s waterfront has the facilities for all commercial shipping and can handle container ships upto 150 metres in length.
Imports into Plymouth include refined clean oil products, agribulks, timber and specialist aggregates. Exports include both primary and secondary aggregates, china clay, grains and scrap metal. There is also a large fish processing plant, which receives fish on a seasonal basis, and exports frozen fish products. The main ports for freight to and from Plymouth are Cherbourg, Santander and the Channel islands of Alderney, Guernsey and Jersey.
The main arterial route for container transportation when coming inland from Plymouth is the A38. Leaving Plymouth and heading West on the A38 carries freight towards Cornwall. From here container transit can follow the many arterial roads into the heart of Cornwall. Taking the A38 arterial road East from Plymouth takes containers in transit quickly to the M5 motorway (44 miles). The M5 starting close to Exeter, takes quite a coastal route up the country, passing by Taunton (77 miles) and Weston-Super-Mare (101 miles), before passing by the city of Bristol (123 miles).
Plymouth goes way back in the history books, extending right back to the Bronze age. The first settlement was at Mount Batten, a peninsula facing onto the English Channel. Through both the Iron age and the early medieval period the port thrived as both a fishing port and a continental tin trading port. This was all to change with the later Saxon settlement of Sutton (later renamed Plymouth) With the new settlement having a natural harbour and open access to the Atlantic Ocean, Plymouth found wealth and also found itself of national strategic importance with the establishment of the British Navy. Throughout the Industrial Revolution Plymouth grew as a major shipping industry, including imports, and passengers from the USA, and the construction of ships, ranging from small fishing boats to battleships for the Royal Navy. This later lead to its partial destruction during World War II in a series of air-raids known as the Plymouth Blitz. After the war was over, the city centre was completely rebuilt to a new plan. Still today Plymouth is a very important and busy port for the Navy and for the freight business.