St Petersburg in the 19th century
(St Petersburg, Russia)
At the start of the 19th century St Petersburg was Dundee's most important trading partner with 28 vessels arriving from Russia in 1815. This trade was mainly flax and remained important throughout the century but the raising of prices and poorer quality led to a relative decline (Jackson, Trade and Shipping). By 1829, imports of flax and hemp from St Petersburg were around 80000 cwt but this was half that coming from Riga. The same pattern can be seen in Arbroath (figures of 1881 for example).
If flax trade decreased, it was replaced by animal skins with more than 1400 reaching Dundee from St Petersburg in 1829 on the 35 ships docking from that port. The number of ships more than doubled by 1836.
St Petersburg was one of the few European ports to which Dundee exported in the early 19th century with three of four vessels sailing each year.
Most of the figures for St Petersburg - Dundee trade in the 19th century combine the figures for St Petersburg and Kronstadt.
St Petersburg was an awkward port to enter, nothing deeper than 8ft 9in could pass the bar so the larger vessels, which could not sail up the Neva, were loaded and unloaded at Kronstadt.
The engraving, by Willmore after Vickers, and published in 1835, shows the Admiralty from the Palace Quay after its remodelling by Zakharov at the beginning of the 19th century. The boat in the ca 1905 postcard is sailing past the Tsar's palace.
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© Douglas MacKenzie
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