NEWPORT'S longest serving harbourmaster has retired after more than 56 years working at Newport Quay.

Newport harbourmaster Wayne Pritchett, 76, started working at the quay in 1963. His first job was with HW Moreys, where he was responsible for the timber barges as they made their way along the River Medina.

He saw a great deal of change during the 1960s — the establishing of Dodnor Sailing Centre, the building of Island Harbour Marina, and the rise and demise of companies based at Stag Lane.

In 1965, he saw the Queen arrive by boat.

Wayne worked for the Island Transport Company between 1971 and 1972, on the motor barges MV Calbourne and MV Shalfleet.

In 1973, working for the Borough of Newport, he became the operator of Ballister — the last steam-propelled barge on the river.

Before the installation of a hydraulic digger, Wayne also operated the Isle of Wight's last remaining steam crane — an 1876 Grafton — clearing the beds at Newport Harbour and Stag Lane Wharf.

Wayne was appointed assistant harbourmaster in 1982, then harbourmaster in 1984.

He retires as Newport's longest serving harbourmaster.

Wayne said: "When I started down the quay, steam trains were still crossing over the river.

"Beer from Mew, Langton's, was being exported, also large shipments of grain from local farms."

Imports included fertiliser, animal feed, coal, general building materials, timber for local and petrol and oil for companies including Esso, Shell, and BP.

During his tenure, Wayne increased the number of leisure moorings at the Folly and was appointed boat inspector by the local authority, ensuring they were licensed.

After joining in 1987, Wayne is also the longest serving member of the Solent and Southern Harbour Masters' Association.

He said: "In 1972, more than 200,000 tons moved through the port. In the early 1990s, there were more than 70 yachts in the quay, which were used for winter storage.

"I have loved every moment working on the quay and the River Medina.

"But, at the age of 76, and more than 56 years, it is time to retire."

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