Word or phrase Definition
barge a large roomy boat for moving goods or cargo. There are lots of types; some sail, some are towed by horses or tugs and others have an engine.
basin a man-made hollow place that contains water for ships to dock in.
bollards iron posts used for tying ships to the quay side.
buoy a floating object tied to the bottom to mark a danger such as a wreck lying under the water or to show a channel.
cargo goods carried by a ship.
casual labour workers who are only taken on for work when needed and are not employed on a regular basis.
commodities goods or cargoes which are traded.
Conservancy Authority authority responsible for dredging, surveying the tideway, preventing pollution, lighting and buoying, removing wrecks and maintaining approach channels.
dock an area of enclosed water where ships are loaded, unloaded or repaired. They are often man-made. There are two kinds of dock: Dry dock and Wet dock.
dock company a company which owns or runs a dock or several docks.
docker someone who works in the docks, usually unloading ships and moving goods on the quayside.
dredger a vessel that collects up and scrapes silt away from the bottom of the quay and its walls.
dry dock an area where any type of ship can be serviced or maintained out of the water. It is sometimes also where ships are built and repaired.
ebb the going back or lowering of the tide.
export dock a dock where ships are loaded with goods which they are taking to other countries.
ferry or ferryboat a passenger or goods vessel that travels across narrow waters from shore to shore.
Feeder Canal this refers to the first mile or 1.6km of an artificial channel, which is Bristol’s Floating Harbour. It is downstream from Netham Lock. Its job is to feed water into the Harbour to maintain the level.
flotsam goods lost by shipwreck and found floating on the water.
flow the rising or coming in of the tide.
granary a storehouse for threshed grain or animal feed.
hold the whole interior area of a vessel below the lower deck, in which cargo is stowed.
harbour a coastal place of shelter for ships, which may or may not have ancillary facilities and cargo handling.
Harbour Master the official responsible for enforcing the regulations of a particular harbour or port in order to ensure the safety of navigation, the security of the harbour and the correct operation of the port facilities.
hull the body of a ship or boat.
import dock a dock where ships discharge goods or cargo which they have brought into the port from other countries.
jetsam goods thrown or jettisoned from a ship and washed up on shore.
jetty a pier or projecting structure that is built out over the water.
lighter a large boat or barge, mainly used in unloading or loading vessels which are unable to reach the wharves at the place of shipment or delivery.
lock a device for moving vessels between two areas of water at different levels.
mooring a device by which a vessel is held in place.
New Cut an artificial channel through which the River Avon flows. It is found to the south of the Floating Harbour.
pilot a person who is qualified, and licensed to steer vessels into and out of a port, or in certain waters. Also known as a helmsman or steersman.
Plimsoll Line or mark a mark, or series of marks, along the outside of a ship. The plimsoll mark shows where the water level should be when the ship is fully loaded. It is a safety feature introduced to prevent ships being overloaded and sinking. It was devised by Samuel Plimsoll (1825 –1898) who was born in Bristol.
port a place alongside water, which has facilities for loading and unloading ships.
quay a landing place, usually made of stone or iron, lying next to the water for the loading and unloading of ships.
salvage the term for rescuing or saving a ship and its cargo.
Scheduled Ancient Monument in the UK a scheduled monument is a ‘nationally important’ archaeological site or historic building, given protection against unauthorised change.
silt fine sand and earth carried by moving or running water and deposited as a sediment.
slipway water based parking place for a boat. Usually enclosed on three sides.
shipping company a group of people sharing the cost of running ships to carry cargo or passengers.
St. Augustine’s Reach the name given to an artificial diversion of the River Frome into a deep channel or ditch c. 1240s.
stevedore someone who works on board ship loading and unloading cargo.
tidal the periodic rising and falling, or following and ebbing of tidal waters.
transit shed a place where goods are stored for short periods before they are loaded on to ships or after they have been unloaded.
trow a type of sailing barge once seen on the River Severn and used to transport goods. The mast could be taken down so that the trow could go under bridges.
tug boat a small, powerful boat used to tow vessels.
warehouse a building in which goods are stored.
weir a dam placed across a river or canal to raise or divert the water, as for a millrace, or to regulate or measure the flow.
wet dock a dock where the water is shut in and kept at a given level to allow for the loading and unloading of ships.
wharf a platform built on or out from the shore. Ships can come alongside the wharf so that goods may be loaded or unloaded.
wharfinger a wharf owner.
wherry a passenger or goods vessel that travels up and down a stretch of water.

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