A Brief History
The Branch can trace its origins to early in the 20th Century when a number of associations were formed for the shipping fraternity in South Wales and the West. Members representing both Cardiff and Swansea were on the Institutes ruling council in 1914.
After the First World War, on the 1st December 1918, when the Institute set its first official scale of agency fees, the then Bristol Channel Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers (Cardiff) was one of eight member associations to adopt the scale. Furthermore in 1924, it's local students took the first formal examinations set by the Institute.
With the dominant coal exports from South Wales Ports, and imports of wines, tobacco, frozen meats, fresh produce, grain and lumber, the branch membership included brokers operating in all the major ports in South Wales from Milford Haven to Newport as well as Bristol, Gloucester, Sharpness and North Devon Ports. At its peak the branch had 484 Fellows and 65 Associates.
Between the Wars, international events altered the pattern of trade, so reducing the demand for coal, with oil becoming the fuel of preference, resulting in the former Coal Docks becoming Tanker Terminal Ports, with new refineries opening in Swansea and a dock specifically built for tankers opened at Avonmouth.
Following the end of Second World War, although Welsh Coal continued to be exported to the near continent, the trade diminished further following the increasing demand for oil. This resulted in a decline of the smaller agency and broking firms in Bristol and Wales. Despite these changes, students from the Branch continued to study for the Institutes professional examination by correspondence courses, supplemented by suitable courses provided by local maritime colleges. During this period, in 1966 the Branch split into two groups, separating the English ports from the Welsh Ports.
With large and specialist vessels becoming the norm, new ports were constructed for specific needs. Royal Portbury Dock, built in the 1970's is now a major port for the importation of motors vehicles, grain, dry and wet bulk.
By the year 2000 Wales and England re-united to form the South Wales and the West Branch, with steel and other non ferrous metals, petrochemicals, silicones and fresh produce, all important trades locally. The branch continues to thrive with some 110 members.