Wednesday, 18 January 2012

The Margate Sea Defences - the construction of the Stone Pier

In the Margate Historical Society archives there is a detailed account on the construction of the Stone Pier researched in detail by Mick Twyman and Alf Beeching . In a way this has become my hand book, and as Mick is no longer with us I am using both Alf's and Mick's research to put together as much physical evidence together to complement their research by taking photographs, recording my observations and obtaining samples of the stone pier during the sea defence works.
Mick's work is an historical account written for historians so I have listed some bullet points for those who are following the sea defence works as a matter of interest.

Towards the end of 1809 the go ahead to construct the stone pier was given working to a design by John Rennie. The bulk of the construction was to be built on timber piling driven 16 ft into the creek with stone resting on wooden sleepers. The construction was to be built in sections and infilled with chalk.

In late 1809 authorisations to acquire Whitby Stone, Fir,Elm, Beech timber piles and planks, along with Swedish hardwoods were given. Due to supplies problems with acquiring Whitby Stone , Purbeck Stone was also acquired.

Work begun in April 1810 with the first stone being laid with ceremony. In order to cut costs 2,000 tons of stone from the demolishion of the Reculver Church was shipped to Margate at a cost of one shilling a ton and used for the internal construction. Some of this stone was used to build the wall where the car park is today.

Due to a storm in 1811 part of the construction collapsed in a storm.

A decision in 1812 was made to put the remaining construction of the Pier and the running of the Harbour under the control of the new incorporated Margate Pier and Harbour Company.

The last remaining section of the Pier was completed in 1815 with the last 300 feet built entirely on wooden piles and sleepers.

In 1823 the Pier was lit by Gas Lamps .

In 1826 a sluice was opened and a granite pathway constructed as a cart road for for the removal of silt at sixpence a ton. The idea of the sluice was also to allow silt to drain out of the harbour as the tide went out, in fact the opposite happened with sand being pushed through from the outside in rough weather. Eventually the outside wall of the sluice was bricked up, however the entrance inside the harbour is still visible today.

In 1829 the lighthouse was replaced with a larger more ornate construction that collapsed in the storm of 1953 when the timber piling that supported the lighthouse and square head gave way.

There is also recorded damage to the stone pier in the gales of 1832, 1877 , 1897, 1953, 1971 and 1978. of which evidence hopefully will be uncovered as the under pinning of the stone pier is undertaken.

In the above diagram is the boundary of the where the Harbour ends and where the Main Sands begin. Which takes me back to 1981 when someone dumped a three piece suite off the square head. They dumped it at low tide and as the tide came in it became waterlogged and remained in situ much to the disgust of local fishermen who tied up alongside the square head. A request was put into Margate Pier and Harbour Company asking for it to be removed. This was refused because the MPHC said it is outside their boundary. So the fishermen had to remove it themselves, but they had the last laugh as they found out who it belonged to and dumped it in the front garden of the person who thoughtlessly dumped if off the square head.

1 comment:

Tony Beachcomber said...

I should also that this plan of the new and old piers is in the Whitfield archive.
The plan was drawn in 1811 by MR Boys who was one of the Harbour Commissioners.