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Piles of problems

Ports and harbours - West Bay, Dorset

West Bay's twin piers were built in 1740 with timber piles, enclosing rock fill and faced with masonry blocks. The harbour operated as a commercial port trading timber and fertilizer during the 18th and 19th century.

Storms in 1852 loosened some timber piles. These were replaced, but after further storm damage each structure was encased in steel sheet piles in 1950. It only became apparent in 2002 that pile depth was far shallower than assumed: they had been cut off short when they hit wayward timber piles.

In 1970 the east pier timber piles gave way and rubble spilled out onto the beach. By 1995 600m 3of the west pier had washed away beneath the sheet piles prompting WDDC to look for a long term sea defence solution.

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