Major UK Ports – Popular Import & Export Locations

Major UK ports

While you can find us in Ipswich, Liverpool and Hull – in close proximity to the Ports of Felixstowe, Humber and Liverpool – we like to stay up-to-date with what’s going on at all the major ports across the UK. Check out our fact sheet to find out everything you need to know:

Belfast Harbour

Dating back to 1613 when a wharf was commissioned by Royal Charter, Belfast port has a long and rich maritime history. Already the most important port in Ulster by the eighteenth century, Belfast went on to play a huge role in the history of Northern Ireland – including acting as a Royal Navy base in WWII – and is now Northern Ireland’s leading logistics and distribution hub, handling nearly 70% of NI’s seaborne trade and 25% of trade for the whole island.

The Stats:

  • Turnover of around £55m a year
  • Operating profit of just under £29m a year
  • 23.06m tonnes handled a year
  • 1.51m passengers a year
  • 503k freight vehicles a year
  • 82 cruise calls a year

Port of Southampton & Portsmouth International Port

One of the oldest known ports in the country, Southampton’s history dates back to Roman times when the empire ran a busy port out of what was then known as Clausentum. Fast forward a couple of thousand years and the Port of Southampton is now the leading turnaround cruise port in Europe, as well as the second largest container port and deep-water port in the UK. The port’s distinctive ‘double tides’ and 500m quay give unrestricted access to the world’s largest vessels and the ability to handle cargo of all types.

The Stats:

  • 820,000 vehicles handled a year
  • 1.5m TEUs a year
  • 14m tonnes of cargo a year
  • 1.7m passengers a year
  • 15,000 jobs
  • £1bn to the UK economy

Portsmouth International Port operates departures and arrivals for cruise ships, cargo ships and passenger ferries.

Port of Dover

Nestled amidst the famous white cliffs, the Port of Dover was originally constructed in 1606 and has grown to become the busiest ferry port in the UK, with its award-winning cruise port, the second busiest in the whole country. Handling cargo as well as passengers, the port is popular for its excellent ongoing transport links via land.

The Stats:

  • 16m passengers a year
  • 2.8m cars a year
  • 2.1m lorries a year
  • 86,000 coaches a year
  • 9,000 container movements a year
  • 300,000 tonnes of cargo a year
  • Turnover of £58.5m a year

Port of Tilbury

Incorporating what was once a naval dockyard and the original East and West India Trading Company docks back in the early nineteenth century, the Port of Tilbury is now known as the ‘major gateway to London and the South East’ and is the capital’s major port.

The Stats:

  • 50.4 million tonnes of total traffic a year
  • 500,000 containers a year
  • Full range of cargo
  • The UK’s only port to serve both deep-sea and EU short-sea customers
  • The main UK port for importing paper

Bristol Port

From the first quays built on the River Frome in 1239 to the recent £475m development investment, Bristol Port has enjoyed steady growth that has seen it become the UK’s most centrally-located deep-sea port.

The Stats:

  • 12m tonnes handled a year
  • 600,000 motor vehicles a year
  • 6m tonnes of dry bulks a year
  • 25% of all UK aviation fuel imported
  • 25% of all animal feed imported
  • 10% of all UK coal imports
  • 10,000 jobs
  • £1bn to UK economy

Port of Tyne (Newcastle)

Another port dating back to Roman times, trade jetties have existed on the Tyne since as far back as 1200. Now, after a recent £120m investment, the Port of Tyne is busy and bustling with two car terminals, one cruise terminal, one ferry terminal and the capacity to handle both conventional and bulk cargoes from some of the largest vessels in the world.

The Stats:

  • 13m tonnes of cargo a year
  • 73m turnover a year
  • UK’s number one vehicle port for exports
  • One of the largest handlers of wood pellet in the world
  • Nearly one third of all UK’s tea imports
  • Capacity for 83% of world’s largest cargo ships
  • Liebherr and Gottwald cranes that can lift up to 120 tonnes of cargo
  • 31 cruise ships a year
  • 625,000 passengers a year
  • 14,000 jobs
  • 1% of profit donated to community action fund every year

Port of Oban

Once a small fishing, shipbuilding and trading hub, then an important WWII Navy base, the Port of Oban is now a busy ferry port, known as the ‘Gateway to the Isles’ for its ferry access to several nearby islands.

The Stats:

  • Ferries available to Lismore, Colonsay, Islay, Coll, Tiree, Mull, Barra, South Uist
  • Caledonian MacBrayne’s busiest terminal
  • 13,000 vehicles a year
  • Part of the British Ports Association

Port of Leith (Edinburgh)

As Edinburgh’s major port since at least the sixteenth century, the Port of Leith has played a pivotal role in Scottish history from welcoming royals throughout the ages to acting as an important shipbuilding and naval hub. Nowadays though, the port has thoroughly modernised, becoming Scotland’s largest enclosed deep-water port.

The Stats:

  • 1.5m tonnes of cargo a year
  • 40 cruise ships a year
  • 20,000 passengers a year
  • Capacity for ships up to 50,000 DWT
  • Proximity to all Scotland’s major motorways
  • Long tradition with grain and animal feed
  • Siwertal bulk uploader capable of 500 tonnes an hour
  • Storage for 50,000 tonnes of bulk
  • Renowned support services for offshore developments

Port of Rosyth

Famous for its Royal Naval Dockyard, Rosyth is now home to a bustling cargo, ferry and cruise port on the banks of the River Forth, a key gateway to Fife. The Port of Rosyth is also known for its unique freight ferry service that provides a connection between Scotland and mainland Europe.

The Stats:

  • Capacity for full range of cargo from timber to grain and animal feed
  • Long association with paper and forest products including an in-port timber treatment plant
  • 500m berth for cruise ships
  • Main marine hub for support to new Forth crossing
  • Host to famous vessels throughout the ages, including the new 280x70m HMS Queen Elizabeth

If you need assistance in moving full or part loads to/from any of these major ports throughout the UK, we can always help. Just get in touch with one of our logistics experts who can consult on the most efficient transport solutions for your business.