Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Harwich

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HARWICH, a municipal and parliamentary borough and seaport town of Essex, England, is situated on the extremity of a small peninsula projecting into the estuary of the Stour and Orwell, 70 miles N.E. of London by the Great Eastern Railway. It occupies an elevated situation, and a good view is obtained from Beacon Hill at the southern end of the esplanade. The town is somewhat irregularly built, but the streets though narrow are well paved. It is defended by a redoubt mounted with heavy guns and by three martello towers. The only public building of importance is the church of St Nicholas, an edifice of white brick in the Perpendicular style, with stone buttresses and steeple, erected in 1821 at a cost of £20,000. The harbour is one of the best on the east coast of England, and in stormy weather is largely taken advantage of for shelter, Its entrance is, however, encumbered with rocks, and is dangerous without a pilot. The rapid accumulation of shingle threatened some years ago to block up the principal entrance, but this has been prevented by the construction of two breakwaters, having a length respectively of 1350 and 1000 feet. The shipping trade of the port was much injured by the removal, after the introduction of steamships, of the Hamburg and other packets from the station; but since the construction of the Great Eastern Railway steam packets have plied regularly between Harwich and Antwerp and Rotterdam. In 1878 1198 British ships entered the port with a tonnage of 298,227, and 35 foreign ships with a tonnage of 10,921. The number of British ships that cleared was 1233, with a tonnage of 296,095, and of foreign ships 28, with a tonnage of 8544. The principal imports are grain, timber, and tobacco, and the principal exports cement and fish. Shipbuilding has declined since the discontinuance of the Government dockyards. The prosperity of the town depends now largely on its shrimp and lobster fisheries, but there are also Roman cement works, breweries, and manufactories for artificial manure and for sails and tackle. It is much frequented for sea bathing, and its suburb of Dovercourt possesses a chalybeate spring, the spa-house of which contains a library and museum. Harwich in all probability occupies the site of a Roman station. In 855 a great naval battle took place opposite the town between the Danes and the fleet of King Alfred, and in 1666 another took place between the Dutch and the English. Harwich was created a parliamentary borough by King Edward II. in 1318 with the privilege of returning two members, but since the Reform Act of 1867 it has returned only one. The population of the municipal and parliamentary borough in 1871 was 6079.