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Harwich pier repair work is worth every Ha'penny

PUBLISHED: 10:22 23 November 2016 | UPDATED: 10:22 23 November 2016

New hardwood beams visible in the foreground during the restoration of Ha'Penny Pier in Harwich. Picture: Stephen Waller  www.stephenwaller.com

New hardwood beams visible in the foreground during the restoration of Ha'Penny Pier in Harwich. Picture: Stephen Waller www.stephenwaller.com

© Stephen Waller

Vital renovation work costing £340,000 on a Harwich tourist attraction is well underway.

A new diagonal hardwood beam, visible amongst the originals during the restoration of Ha'Penny Pier in Harwich. Picture: Stephen Waller  www.stephenwaller.comA new diagonal hardwood beam, visible amongst the originals during the restoration of Ha'Penny Pier in Harwich. Picture: Stephen Waller www.stephenwaller.com

The Harwich Haven Authority is funding the repairs to the town’s Ha’penny Pier which was built in 1852.

Despite its age – making it the oldest working timber pier in the country – the work being carried out is primarily to replace work from the late 1920s after part of the pier burnt down.

Jim Warner, assistant harbour engineer for the Harwich Haven Authority, said the replacement wood used in the 1920s was Douglas Fir and not as durable as the African hardwood used for the original pier, meaning it was beginning to rot and quickly.

He said: “These structures naturally do need maintenance. We inspect it routinely, with a major inspection every ten years, and at the latest check we found a couple of areas which needed more major repairs.

“It is one of the main tourist attractions for old Harwich, with listed buildings on it and the old ticket office used by the Harwich Society as a visitor centre. There’s also the cafe, moorings for visiting yachtsmen, and it is generally a nice place for a stroll and to watch the ships coming in and out of Harwich.

“The projected cost is a small price to pay. We are a trust port, obligated to make a surplus to invest in facilities for all harbour users.

“We view maintaining Ha’penny Pier in this context because people and businesses get a lot of use out of it, and it brings a lot of people to the town.”

The first phase of works, taking place now, is carrying out essential maintenance to 18 beams on the corner of the L-shaped pier. A second phase of similar work will take place at the same time next year on the end of the structure.

Timing has been carefully considered for the maintenance to take place. The eight-week programme for phase one began after the last paddle steamer trip from the pier, and will be completed – provided there are no unexpected delays – before the town’s New Year fireworks display, where the pier is a popular place to view the spectacle.

Phase two, beginning in October 2017, is expected to last around ten weeks.

Mr Warner added: “The beams and pilings are under the pier so people would not see it unless on the water, but it is all vital to keep the deck upright.”

Essex-based firm Amicus Civil Engineering is doing the work, and part of the pier is still open during the work.

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