About Harwich

Harwich Ferry Port, or to give it its correct name, Harwich International Port is located on the southern side of the River Stour in Essex and has excellent road links from London and the Southeast and from the Midlands. Harwich International Port is owned & operated by Hutchison Port Holdings, the world's largest independent port investor, operator and developer. Stena Line operates daily ferry services using HSS fastcraft and conventional ferry from Harwich to Hook of Holland.

Harwich Attractions

The old town of Harwich is a conservation area and has many historic buildings. There are guided tours of Harwich to suit most tastes and interests plus a DIY tour for you to print out and take with you - click here for Tours of Harwich. Harwich also has superb views across the River Stour toward Shotley and across the River Orwell toward the busy port of Felixstowe - always a favourite for watching the huge container vessels being manoeuvred into and out of port, plus myriads of other commercial and pleasure craft.

Harwich Dining

Suggestions for local restaurants include Ha' Penny Pier Bistro: situated at the Quay. The baked haddock is just delicious and the person cost for a three-course meal including wine will be about £25. Another choice is Harborside Restaurant also situated at the Quay and with nice views across the River Stour. It offers good seafood and the Roast Cod is recommended! Per person, the cost for a three-course meal including wine will be about £30.

Harwich History

Harwich appeared around 1150 after the Rivers Orwell and Stour changed to their present course and the significance of the site on the promontory was realised. Harwich quickly became a thriving and important port offering the only safe anchorage between the Thames and the Humber. By 1253 Harwich had a market and in 1319 Harwich became a free borough.

In the 14th and 15th centuries Harwich was used as a base for ships used in the sea battles against Holland and France. Harwich ships and men were also prominent in the battle against the Spanish Armada in 1588.

The 17th century began with a rise in cod fishing and the bringing of coals from Newcastle, and Harwich seamen were prominent in the establishment of settlements in the New World. In 1604 Christopher Newport led the expedition that founded the first settlement at Jamestown, Virginia, and in 1620 Christopher Jones was captain of the Mayflower that sailed from Southampton with the Pilgrim Fathers and merchants who settled in New England. During the three wars against the Dutch, Harwich was again prominent. During the latter part of the 17th century a packet boat service began.

The 18th century was a time of great prosperity with packet boat captains and customs officers prominent in the control of the borough but it was not to continue in the 19th century when fishing was reduced and the packet boat service was transferred to Tilbury which had the railway connections that Harwich lacked. In 1808 the Redoubt fort was built to protect the town against possible invasion by the French. In 1883 Parkeston Quay (now Harwich International) by the Great Eastern Railway as a rail ferry port and saw a huge increase in traffic to the Continent.

Harwich was of immense importance during the two World Wars and in 1918 saw the surrender of German U-Boats to Admiral Tyrwhitt at Harwich. The first batch surrendered on 20th November and by 1st December, 1918, 122 had been handed over at Harwich. In the Second World War Harwich was a base for destroyers, corvettes / minesweepers, and trawlers, including Dutch, French, and Polish ships, and the town accommodated soldiers from Czechoslovakia.

Neighbouring Dovercourt is much older than Harwich and dates from prehistory with flints and bronze axe heads among relics that have survived. The Romans were also here in 1AD and relics of their camp on Beacon Hill have been preserved.

At the beginning of the 9th century the area was invaded by the Vikings and by 878 the area became part of Danelaw. A battle was fought by King Alfred's ships against the Danes off Shotley (opposite Harwich) in 885. Duvrecurt appears in the Domesday Book of 1087.

Harwich Access

Follow the main A12 from London to just north of Colchester, then take the A120 to Harwich. It is dual carriageway nearly all of the way. From Norwich, take the A140 to north of Ipswich, then the A45 bypass round Ipswich, then either onto the A137 to Manningtree and follow the signs to Harwich or onto the A12 toward Colchester then the A120 to Harwich.