Harbour Arm

From Historical Hastings

Between 1897 and 1899, £50,000 was set aside to create a Harbour for Hastings, which would permit smaller sea-going vessels to dock and unload their cargo.


The construction was quite unique for its time, utilising what the press referred to as 'Plastic' concrete that would flow into a man-made reef on the sea bed, which then served as the foundations for the remainder of the poured structure. It was intended that once completed, the concrete would form a single homogenous structure below the low water mark[1].

The foundation stone was laid by the Marquis of Dufferin and Ava in June 1897. The stone had a brass plaque which bore the wording

This inaugural stone was laid by the Most Noble the Marquis of Dafferin and Ava, G.C.B., KP.,G.C.M.G., G.C.I.E., formerly Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, on 16th June, 1897. during the construction of this harbour, and within a week of the commemoration of the Jubilee of Her Majesty, Queen Victoria.

Richard Idenden, Chairman of Commissioners. Arthur F. Watson, Clerk. Stanley T. Weston, J.P., Mayor. Alfred Edward Carey, Engineer. Panchard, McTaggart, Lowther and Co., Contractors.

Beneath the stone was placed a sealed bottle containing local newspapers, an image of the Queen and a number of coins of the realm[2]. Reportedly, the Dover harbour constructed at a similar time copied the design and construction methodology at Hastings.[3] Above the low water mark, extending the harbour inland beyond the high water mark was a timber trellis structure forming a bridge to The Stade. Over time, this was buried in the shingle where the longshore drift built up the beach on the western side of the arm.[1].

By the end of 1898, the harbour arm was completed and had a narrow-gauge railway line installed, the train being a prominent feature in the photographs of the opening ceremony, to facilitate unloading of colliers and other shipping vessels. An eastern arm was due to have been completed following the construction of the western arm; it was also under negotiation that a torpedo station would be located at the end of the former arm[4].

A storm in the winter of 1911/12 resulted in the loss of the timber 'bridge'[1] and a further collapse of the concrete occurred in 1946.

A lattice of concrete was placed in the gap in the harbour arm with 120 'stabits' - triangular concrete links - in 1976. This was phase one of a large-scale repair plan. In May 1980, a three-month-long scheme - the second phase - to repair the arm was commenced. The large gap that was in the wall was to be bridged by a bailey bridge in order a crane could be used to manoeuver additional blocks to further stabilise the gap[5]. This, however, was only a partial success because another collapse of part of the repaired structure occurred in 1983.


References & Notes

  1. a b c Hastings and St. Leonards Observer: Early views of Hastings harbour captured in time - Hastings and St. Leonards Observer, accessdate: 2 December 2019
  2. British Newspaper Archive Hastings & St. Leonards Times 19 June 1897 Pg. 0008
  3. Hastings & St Leonards Observer 12 June 1897 pg. 6
  4. British Newspaper Archive Evening Mail 18 June 1897 Pg. 0004
  5. The Hastings Chronicle: 1980 onwards – The Hastings Chronicle, accessdate: 25 January 2022