Port of Tilbury expands handling of building materials

Port of TilburyTilbury is a major port for forest products and the UK’s leading port for plywood imports. The port is seeing growth throughout building materials including timber and plywood. Expansion plans for a new port terminal at Tilbury is set to provide a further boost. 

Although situated in Essex, the Port of Tilbury also provides a vital gateway for London and the south east of England as a whole.

How the Port of Tilbury will benefit the timber industry

Overall, Tilbury handles in excess of three million tonnes of forest products annually (including paper products) across 2.5 million sq ft of warehouse and outside space.

Tilbury supports a range of multimodal import modes (Breakbulk, Containers & RoRo). Forth Ports, which owns the Port of Tilbury, have invested heavily in mobile cranes and landside equipment.

“The port’s historical forest products business includes Travis Perkins, Meyers and James Latham, with Grimaldi breakbulk vessels coming in from South America and Africa, and Saga Welco breakbulk vessels shipping from the Far East.It’s a core business for the port and long may that continue. We are the largest importer of the combined forest products trade in the UK, with established trade routes for all origins (including Baltic, Scandinavia, Europe, Far East, South and North America).”


Paul Dale, Senior Asset Manager at the Port of Tilbury for Forth Ports

Specialist expertise at Tilbury is provided in the handling of paper and forest products, with many of the UK’s largest timber importers using the port due to the excellent links throughout the supply chain including shipping lines, importers, merchants and distributors.

In terms of solid wood, UPM, CTH and their group of companies, L&G Forest Products are large volume users of Tilbury. On the sheet material side, UPM, CTH and their group of companies, Meyer Timber, International Plywood, Panel Supplies, Caledonian Plywood, Lathams, Travis Perkins and Altripan have a large presence.

Tilbury has a wealth of experience and expertise in supporting companies like CTH, who have just celebrated their 50th anniversary trading with the Port of Tilbury.

The port continues to support the import of multimodal routing options (Breakbulk, Container and RoRo) which has allowed customers to expand logistics operations in southern England and provide a 24-hour delivery distribution centre at Tilbury to meet tighter order timescales.

What the development of the new Tilbury 2 means for the timber industry

Port of TilburyThe proposed main components of Tilbury’s new terminal, called Tilbury2, include a Roll-On/Roll-Off (RoRo) terminal for importing and exporting containers and trailers - also containing a warehouse - and a ‘Construction Materials and Aggregates Terminal’ (CMAT) for handling and processing bulk construction materials.

“Tilbury will continue to tailor our operations to our customers’ needs. You only have to look at where the majority of construction spend in the UK is – London. This positions Tilbury as an excellent location to support the growth. We are seeing more RoRo cargo. We are shipping more waste and construction materials, such as bricks and slate. Last year one large multi-national client shipped in 35 million bricks.”


Paul Dale, Senior Asset Manager at the Port of Tilbury for Forth Ports

Why Essex is the perfect location for a thriving timber industry

With Harwich - situated in the Tendring district of Essex - providing a further port option, Essex is an ideal solution for the timber trade.

“As the UK is the third largest net importer of timber in the world, the industry and logistics suppliers will be watching Brexit developments closely. However, Essex has the right skills and attitude to meet whatever lies ahead.Aside from the port-centric solutions available at the ports of Tilbury and Harwich for further processing before onward distribution to clients, Essex benefits from its proximity to London and the initiative to build 42,000 new homes a year. Essex can and does support the transportation of all kinds of construction materials into London as well as repurposing of construction waste.”


Robert Edge, Inward Investment Manager, INVEST Essex

Essex combines more than 1,000 acres of port-adjacent, tri-modally connected logistics and distribution sites with a specialist logistics workforce and fast access to UK, European and global markets – by road, rail, sea and air.

Establishing operations in Essex can enable logistics and distribution businesses to minimise costs, emissions and risks, maximise flexibility and efficiency in transport planning, and ‘future-proof’ supply chains.

INVEST Essex’s link to the timber Industry

Port of TilburyINVEST Essex has strong ties to Tilbury through Inward Investment Manager Robert Edge.

Robert Edge enjoyed a 10-year career for a major Colchester freight forwarder and has now been involved in inward investment promotion for 18 years, specialising in the logistics sector. Robert has close links to many of the leading timber traders who use the facilities at Tilbury.

To find out more about the Port of Tilbury see here.

To find out more about Forth Ports see here.

Robert Edge
Robert Edge

Inward Investment Manager (UK Multimodal Gateway:Essex)

+44 (0) 7740 179497


Following a ten year career with a major Colchester freight forwarder shipping everything from confectionery to oxygen plants, Robert has spent almost 15 years in inward investment promotion. Having had experience in China, India and the Middle East, Robert leads on the logistics and renewables sector.