News article created on 14 August 2020

Repairing the North Pier at Sharpness Dock

We are using a combination of abseiling skills and a spider crane to repair a decades-old timber pier at Sharpness Dock in Gloucestershire. The work is a race against tide, time and weather on a river with the second largest tidal range in the world – the Severn.

Picture of engineers and and dock Engineers repairing the pier at Sharpness Dock

The task in hand

The pier dates back to 1874, when the Dock was opened, and some of its mighty eleven-metre-tall greenheart legs are original.

As a gateway from the River Severn to the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal the pier is exposed to huge tidal pressures, and mainly submerged, so a regular programme of repairs ensures it is kept in top condition.

This year our engineers are using a spider crane to bring in massive greenheart oak planks which will be fixed in place by a team lowered down on ropes suspended over the muddy riverbed.

Two men and crane lifting timber

The pier – vital statistics

Constructed  1874
Length  210m
Height from river bed 11m
Timber for repairs  60-70 x 3-5m lengths
Biggest bolts  250mm long coach screws
Length of repair project  3-5 weeks on a rolling year basis
Tidal range at the Dock  0.6m – 8.65m (can be even higher at certain times of the year)

Man abseiling down lock

About Sharpness Dock

Sharpness is one of the most inland ports in Britain and the Canal & River Trust is the statutory harbour authority. Each month the Dock welcomes up to 25 ships bringing in supplies from mainland Europe for the UK’s agricultural industry, and cement for the construction sector.