2000 - Present
The first years of the millennium saw the continued expansion of Westminster Dredging from our Fareham base and renewal of much of our dredging fleet . Numerous major projects were secured throughout the UK & Ireland, including the land reclamations as part of the expansion of the Port of Felixstowe, the deepening of the approach channels to Southampton and Portsmouth and Newbiggin coastal protection scheme.
With the Boskalis acquisition of SMIT Internationale in 2012 Westminster Dredging was rebranded as Boskalis Westminster Ltd. to reflect the increased capabilities of the group, which now includes Boskalis Marine Services, who manage 14 vessels on behalf of the MoD to delivering training and range safety services around the UK coast. At this time our Mersey operations were moved from Eastham to Liverpool.
1980 - 2000
In 1982 the regional offices were closed, centralising the company at James Yard, Southampton (with responsibility for the UK and Ireland only) and retaining only the ‘Green Hut’ site office at Bromborough. Westminster’s own repair yards became of less importance as no new dredgers were being built and no conversions or in-house repairs undertaken. With these market developments Westminster Dredging moved to Dukes Keep in central Southampton during 1984.
Westminster Dredging moved to its present location at Westminster House, Fareham in 1991 as it offered better transport links. The first major contract procured here was the deepening and maintenance of the channel to Barrow-in-Furness to allow for the exit the Royal Navy’s Vanguard class submarines. Simultaneously, the Bromborough office moved to Eastham.
1960 - 1980
In 1963, John Holt Westminster Dredging was formed in Ghana and a year later, re-registered as Westminster Nigeria. The Niger Delta contract involved dredging canals and oil drilling locations, including constructing sand access roads in the intensive mangrove swamps. The first location at Opukushi, in the remote central Delta, had no designated approach. Safe access relied on reference to aerial photographs, and continuous hand-lead soundings, to determine water depth.
Beaver Dredging was also established in Canada, and major works began in the Arabian Gulf and Sweden and by the end of the 1960s, the group Company had established itself as a major organisation internationally.
During the 1970’s a new central office opened at Bentley and regional offices at Bromborough, Southampton, Gravesend and Newcastle were established.
1950 - 1960
Most port authorities operated their own dredging plant and proposals made by dredging companies to take over maintenance were repeatedly resisted. However, despite this, the financial benefit could not be ignored and finally long term total maintenance dredging by contract came into vogue.
In 1954 the company integrated with the James Company of Southampton. The Kalis family always had supervisors present on-site with senior management represented at muster times or shift changes. So when Bill Kalis (nephew of J.J Kalis) began managing the James Company, he was always present at Southampton berth 101 for reliefs, whatever the hour.
By the Late 1950s the success of the Merseyside works had solidified the company’s reputation for capability and professionalism, and a massive expansion began. The trailer (hopper suction) dredger was introduced and rapidly took over most of our maintenance work in the UK. One of the first major overseas contracts was in Lagos (Victoria Island, Nigeria). The ‘WD Enterprise’ was custom built for this project, making it possible to navigate safely under the severely restricted Carter Bridge.
1940 - 1950
J.J. Kalis re-joined and continued to manage Westminster Dredging after the Second World War. He was a knowledgeable dredging man, with a powerful personality, and a good judge of character. Although he was a disciplinarian, he was charming and diplomatic to clients, qualities that continue to run through our company.
In 1948 Westminster Dredging Company was awarded the contract for the large scale reclamation of the River Dee marshes for the construction of John Summers Steel Works. There was substantial engineering interest in this project because of the innovative profile suction dredger ‘Dee’, which was powered by electric cable from the shore, together with the very high Proctor densification achieved by hydraulic placement. After this many more projects were awarded, mostly involving mechanically breaking Triassic sandstone with Lobnitz rock breakers, marking the end of the Company’s reluctance to undertake rock dredging works.
1930 - 1940
The Kalis brothers; Kobus (J.J.) Kalis, Bertus (E.D.) Kalis and Wout Kalis were partners of the family owned company Boskalis of Sliedrecht (The Netherlands). Recognising expansion opportunity in the UK they secured a maintenance dredging contract with Lever Bros (now Unilever) for the dredging of Bromborough Docks on the River Mersey. The project employed bucket dredgers, barges, tugs and pump ashore units mobilized from Holland, and the project was a triumph.
Initially contracts used bucket dredgers and were mainly confined to the Greater Merseyside area, but they soon expanded along the UK coast.
Merseyside was the perfect base with a fully operational canal to the inland port of Manchester, and the Liverpool and Birkenhead Dock systems, as well as the Sea Channel approaches to the Liverpool Bay.
In London, in 1933, seeking an English name of impressive implication, the Kalis Brothers chose to register their company as ‘Westminster Dredging Company’.