This tranquil harbour, sheltered from westerly winds, is popular for boating and other watersports, but in 1845 it was surveyed by the Admiralty as a potential ferry port. A steamship called Firefly was sent to Dale to determine whether the depth of water was suitable for “making it a station for the Waterford Mail Steamers”. The activity led one newspaper to speculate: “It is more than probable that ere long a line of mail road will be constructed through the centre of Pembrokeshire …. terminating at Dale.”
However, the authorities chose Neyland (east of Milford Haven) where the old village was razed for construction of a dock and railway facilities.
For centuries Dale's beach was used to land cargoes, some of them illicit. It’s said that the village was a hotbed of smuggling in Tudor times and later. French brandy was the main commodity. In 1894 locals got a flavour of olden times when a Glasgow sailing ship called Loch Shiel was wrecked at Thorn Island (over the water to the south east) while carrying 7,000 cases of whisky bound for Australia.
The press reported that the authorities had captured only 2,000 cases, and the remainder had “gone in all directions, from Dale to Milford Haven, from Angle to Castle Martin”. Men “could be seen helplessly drunk on field and cliff”. One young man, William Taylor of Herbrandston, died in a field from bingeing on whisky.
An Irish schooner was wrecked on rocks at Monkhaven, near Dale in 1858. A sailor died when he tried to save a crewmate clinging to the bowsprit. Four years earlier the Austrian brig Slava, of Venice, had run aground at Musselwick, near Dale. Milford Haven shipowners Greenish and Williams bought the ship for salvage because the law had recently changed to allow British registry of ships built outside the UK and its colonies.
In 1908 a gun weighing c.32 tons was landed at Dale. The government contracted a local company to haul it up to the West Blockhouse, and to haul an old gun from that fort down to Dale beach. The contractor couldn’t move the new gun off the beach until soldiers came to help. By the end of the second day the gun had moved just 400 yards. It took four days to complete the job.
Postcode: SA62 3RB View Location Map