FRIDAY, APRIL 13: The new entrance to Hamilton Docks could be operational by the middle of next month, according to City bosses.
The construction of the four-way crossroads will see traffic lights and pedestrian crossings put at the junction of Front and Court Street for the first time.
But it will also signal a new chapter in the history of one of the island’s most important landmarks.
Historian Dr Edward Harris said: “The Hamilton Docks have been an ever- present feature of the city since the early 1800s when Hamilton took over from St George’s as the capital.
“The wharfs would have been one of the first things to be built in Hamilton just after 1815 to ensure that food and supplies could get into Bermuda.
“The docks and the people that work there have always played an absolutely vital role given our geographic isolation.
“And over the years the exact location of the docks has moved gradually from where the old Number One shed used to be, down by the Ferry Port, to where they are today.”
In the late 1960s and early 1970s the docks were a very different place from the site we see today.
Several companies employed hundreds of casual labourers to offload ships when they arrived at the Hamilton Docks.
The labourers would queue down Front Street hoping to get picked to work the ship in port.
Most of the cargo was on pallets and had to be manually unloaded piece by piece on to the dockside.
This all changed with the advent of containerization in 1969, which completely changed the landscape of shipping and port operations worldwide.
With containerization came greater efficiency. Ships could be loaded and unloaded far quicker, which in turn reduced waiting time for vendors and turnaround time for shippers.
This also meant a reduced demand for labour on the docks.
As Bermuda grew and commerce strengthened, container volumes and general cargo volumes grew steadily through the 1990s.
In 1992 container moves in and out of the island stood at 27,300. This number grew and peaked in 2007 at 45,000 moves.
This steady increase in container cargo caused congestion within the port and in 2003 the Corporation of Hamilton, which owned the port, demolished the number Eight stripping shed to increase container storage capacity from 700 to 1,000.
The cargo stripping operations were consolidated in the remaining Number Seven stripping shed.
Prior to 2003 there had been two stripping sheds in operation, Number Seven and Number Eight, where containers were stripped, or broken down, into individual recipient parts for customer collection from the docks.
Since the end of 2008 container movement has shown a marked decrease, and this continues to this day.
Container cargo volumes at the docks peaked in 2007.
And in January 2008 the Corporation closed the remaining stripping function in Number Seven shed and the port of Hamilton became essentially a container port.
In years gone by, dock workers also unloaded specialist cargo vessels, like paper boats that would bring in news print.
But most firms turned to containers and the only specialist cargo carriers that come into Hamilton these days are the car ships that arrive every month.
The new move to build a new four-way entrance at the entrance to Hamilton Docks to accommodate the new X-Ray Machine is the latest in a long line of changes that has shaped the landscape of the port over two centuries.
The City’s chief operating officer, Ed Benevides, told the Sun: “The latest information we have is that the crossing will be up and running by mid-May to June.
“It will be controlled by traffic lights and pedestrian crossing and we believe it will be even safer.
“The system has been designed to take into account traffic flow.
“And if the lights work as they are programmed to, we do not anticipate any problems.”