Current Harbour Master Pete Bromley (L) with new Harbour Master Mark Veale (R) in front of Sutton Harbour Marina.

New Harbour Master at the helm in Sutton Harbour

A new Harbour Master has been appointed to manage Sutton Harbour in the heart of Plymouth, Britain’s Ocean City.

Mark Veale, a former Royal Navy officer and Warfare Specialist and previously Assistant Harbour Master in Looe, will replace well-known Plymouth figure Pete Bromley as Harbour Master of Sutton Harbour, joining Sutton Harbour Group this summer ahead of Pete’s impending retirement at the end of 2021 after 27 years of service.

Mark, who started work in July shadowing Pete, will take charge of upholding the regulatory demands of a statutory harbour authority for Sutton Harbour Group, oversee operations staff, represent the harbour’s interests professionally, and manage forward planning to ensure the harbour continues to evolve and meet the needs of its users.

Sutton Harbour is the historic heart of Plymouth, and home to both Plymouth Fisheries, one of the largest fresh fish markets in England and a fisheries hub for the South West region, and Sutton Harbour Marina, a luxury 5 Gold Anchor rated marina offering 420 leisure berths.

The Harbour Master’s role is a critical post for both Sutton Harbour Group and within Plymouth’s waterfront community, and involves working in close partnership with local authorities, the Queen’s Harbour Master and Cattewater Harbour Commissioners in the Port of Plymouth.

Mark Veale said he was “hugely proud” to take on the role as he was a born and bred Plymothian.

“I’m a local boy so for me, it feels like I’ve come home,” Mark said. “After 28 years in the military followed by five years as Assistant Harbour Master in Looe, I can think of no better place to further my professional growth than the city to which I have such a strong personal connection and vested interest.

“I’ve seen Sutton Harbour go from being a fishing port, with my first memories of the area being brought down as a little boy by my Grandma to see the fish market, to working in the Cider Press pub on the Barbican before I joined the Navy, and seeing the harbour change and grow every time I came home.

“I was overjoyed to be offered this position and elated to take up the role as I’m passionate about the Barbican and Sutton Harbour. I grew up here and I know how people feel about the area, I know that when people think about Plymouth, they first think of the Barbican and Sutton Harbour, the fishing fleet and the history, and careful stewardship of this area is vitally important for the port.”

Mark served in the Royal Navy for 28 years, joining in 1986, and leaving as a Petty Officer in 2015.

Since October 2015, Mark has been the Assistant Harbour Master for the Port of Looe, helping to manage the busy harbour with its mix of commercial fishing berths and leisure berths. Mark has regularly deputised for the Harbour Master, and helped to oversee and manage berths and moorings for fishing vessels operating out of Looe, affording him an extensive insight into the South West fishing industry and regional ports network and leading to positive working relationships with many stakeholders in the fishing and commercial harbour community.

Mark has an MBA Harbour Master Diploma (distinction) and an MLitt in Terrorism Studies from the University of St Andrews, as well as numerous maritime and leadership qualifications.

In his spare time, he is a keen sportsman enjoying martial arts, shooting, sailing, outdoor pursuits, cycling and running, and is a member of Mountain Rescue England & Wales and a volunteer with the Dartmoor Search and Rescue Group.

Mark added: “From my background, I have a foot in both camps. I’ve come to Sutton Harbour from Looe, a predominantly fishing port with tourism included, to Sutton Harbour which is an even greater integral part of Plymouth’s tourism industry. I’ve been a sailor too, and I’m hoping to bring some personality to the role as well as a fresh pair of eyes to hopefully take Sutton Harbour into the next decade with the same diligence and attention to detail that Pete has always provided.

“I’m aware I have big shoes to fill; Pete has been Harbour Master here for years and has a wealth of experience. I come from a different background to Pete but he’s been very good at showing me the ropes, and I’m learning from the master.”

Pete Bromley will be retiring at the end of 2021 after 27 years of service for Sutton Harbour Group, the last 20 some years as Harbour Master. He will continue to work as a consultant for Sutton Harbour Group on a part-time ongoing basis.

Pete, a former fishermen for more than 20 years, came ashore in 1995 to help Sutton Harbour Group develop and launch Plymouth Fisheries on the eastern side of the harbour, working closely with Plymouth Trawler Agents to set up the new fish market and revitalise the fishing industry in Plymouth. Pete served as the first Manager of Plymouth Fisheries before also becoming Harbour Master of Sutton Harbour a few years later.

Pete Bromley said: “I feel very fortunate to have been involved from the outset in helping to create and then manage a truly accessible new fisheries complex for Plymouth which put the fishermen first, as well as going a long way to supporting the vital South West fishing industry.

“I’m very proud to have paid an active part in this process, and helping fishermen to finally get a fair price for their catch has been personally satisfying. After 20 odd years as Harbour Master, it is finally time for me to step back, but I am delighted to be handing over to Mark, who I am confident is absolutely the best person for the job.”

Philip Beinhaker, Executive Chairman of Sutton Harbour Group, said: “Pete has been a tremendous asset for both Sutton Harbour and Plymouth, and he will be greatly missed. We are delighted to welcome Mark Veale to Sutton Harbour, and with his background in both the Royal Navy and more recently as Assistant Harbour Master in Looe, he brings a wealth of knowledge and understanding of the demands of managing a busy harbour serving both the fishing and leisure industries. This will be vital in his work for Sutton Harbour, where we have both a thriving fishing industry alongside the harbour, which has become an increasing popular UK visitor destination, as well as our award-winning marina for leisure boat owners.”