A £200,000 project to dredge Sharpness Dock and keep it open for business has revealed some unusual finds, as the port welcomes its largest ship in decades.
The project has seen an estimated 10,000 tonnes of silt removed from the dock using a process called ‘cutter suction’ dredging - similar to a powerful hoover being used to suck up sediment on the dock bed. It’s also uncovered some unexpected items believed to have been dumped there, including various car parts, steel ropes and a washing machine.
The work takes place as Sharpness Port welcomes the 128-metre long mega ship Rusich 7 from St Petersburg, as it arrives to collect a new gas metering system, produced in Gloucestershire before heading off to Azerbaijan.
The dock at Sharpness opened in 1874, and has played a key role in supporting local industry ever since. As one of the most inland working ports in Britain today, over 550,000 tons of cargo come through Sharpness each year, going to and from destinations all over the world. Given the size of the ships, regular maintenance is required to keep the historic site, known for its distinctive Victorian wooden piers, open for business.
Nick Worthington, waterway manager at the Canal & River Trust, said: “It’s the first time we’ve used this kind of dredging technique at Sharpness, and we’re really pleased with how well it’s worked. That said, we are finding lots of things in the dock that shouldn’t be there, everything from car parts to someone’s old washing machine, which obviously isn’t great for the port or the wildlife around it.
“Projects like this one are crucial to the continued success of the port. It’s easy to think about Sharpness as just being about shipping, but keeping this historic site going does much more than that- it supports local businesses, local jobs and provides a real link to our industrial history, as well as being a great place to come for some time out by the canal. We’re keen to put Sharpness on the map, so if you haven’t visited before we’d encourage you to come and see it for yourself.”